Spain has achieved something that no team in history has accomplished, by winning two European championships and the World Cup in 10 years. To say that they dominated international football for a decade would be an understatement, but in Brazil, they will be challenged by tough opponents. The hosts are credited with a better chance to prevail and Argentina comes in second, but what’s surprising is that Germany is also ahead of them in the bookmakers’ preferences.
This doesn’t mean that Spain will be a pushover, in fact those who bet on them to win for the fourth time in a row will increase their investment eight times. The odds are terrific and it is definitely worth taking a leap of faith with the reigning European and world champions. The same can’t be said about them winning the group stage, not because they don’t have the first chance to do it at the expense of Netherlands, Australia and Chile, but because odds are ridiculously low.
The Netherlands are a team that somehow finds new and surprising ways of disappointing fans and football specialists alike, but at least on paper they have a great team. It is hard to forget how they made the final four years ago and it would be stupid to dismiss them as underdogs. Basically, these two teams will play for the first place in Group D and the winner will probably pick up the consolation prize of finishing second.
It is more important that it looks to win the group, because strong teams are expected to come from the other groups and the last thing that Spain needs is a breathtaking match in the round of last 16. This is probably going to be the last major competition for a handful of the players, with some of those who made history at the last final tournaments expected to retire the next year.
Vincent Del Bosque knows that he has another challenge besides managing a somewhat aging team, with the biggest problem to tackle being the one of keeping players motivated. When a team wins so many international trophies in as little as a decade, it is easy to understand why some players start to take victories for granted. Furthermore, they tend to lose motivation and are no longer willing to put everything on the line for a victory, because they did it so many times before.
On the bright side, Spain suffered a humiliating defeat to Brazil earlier this year and allowed three goals without scoring one, so that match could serve as a wake-up call. The group stage will provide them with several opportunities to test their starting formation and the Netherlands will be a tough nut to crack. If Vincent Del Bosque can draw the right conclusions from this initial phase and make certain adjustments in his first 11, Spain will be a team that everyone will hope to avoid in the elimination rounds.
Sevilla ended its five-game winning streak over the weekend, at Bilbao, where the visiting team allowed three goals while scoring once. As a result, they can kiss the Champions League goodbye, since they have no way of closing the gap separating them from the Basque team. Just a few days after missing out on an important objective for 2014, they travel to Valencia and prepare for a siege that will last at least 90 min.
The hosts will be throwing everything they’ve got at Sevilla because they are more or less in the same situation. Both teams failed to win anything notable this season and now that a Champions League berth is out of the picture, winning Europa League is the only thing that matters. The visitors are in a better position, since they won the first leg and didn’t allow a goal, which means that scoring once on the road should be enough to advance to the finals.
The same three injured players that were unable to play one week ago will miss from the starting formation, but none of them is really important for Sevilla. Bacca and Gameiro are fit to play and they will pair up front for the first time in many weeks, as coach Emery chose to use them alternatively. Tonight they will spearhead the offensive and even though the visitors won’t come out firing from the first minute, they will have plenty of opportunities to score a goal.
Valencia knows that unless they take an early lead, everything could be lost and as a result will be compelled to field an offensive starting formation. With five players injured, their options are relatively limited but even so they are real threat for Sevilla and the head to head record speaks for itself. The two teams met 20 times in Valencia and the hosts prevailed 13 times, but not any victory will do.
As far as punters are concerned, there is no point in backing the hosts to qualify, because the odds of Valencia winning by three goals to none are remote. On the other hand it is worth taking a leap of faith with the hosts to win the match in 90 minutes at odds of 2.30 with most bookmakers. Sevilla would probably score the goal its needs to qualify for the final, but it’s hard to believe that they will win the second lag as well.
Earlier this season, nobody credited Sevilla with the chance of finishing on one of the spoils eligible for the champions league. Following their string of disappointing results, many assumed that they will be more likely to back of their city rivals in an attempt of avoiding relegation. 2014 has been an excellent year for Sevilla and so far they can be satisfied with their performance, but it would be a mistake to dwell on this relative success.
They won five games in a row and delivered a stunning blow to Real Madrid, by defeating them at home and jeopardizing their chances to win the championship. Unlike the former leaders who kept them in check for 90 minutes, Celta Vigo is more likely to defend and try to avoid defeat at home. The hosts have greatly improved their position in the standings and for the first time in many months they are sitting comfortably above the relegation area.
Their objective for 2014 is to finish about these psychological threshold, so that they will be playing in Primera Division for at least one more season. March has been a terrible month for them, with a single victory in five games and even though their injured players have returned to fitness, Celta was unable to win back-to-back games. Their inability to score goals is by now chronic and this could be a problem against a team that limited Real Madrid to a single goal.
Sevilla had quite an intense schedule this month and they are still fighting a battle on two fronts, in an attempt of making the semifinals of the Europa League. Overtaking Athletic Bilbao won’t be easy, but the good news is that their rivals are facing the leaders this weekend and it is quite possible for them to lose at home. There is no point in settling for a draw in Vigo and the visitors can afford to take more chances than they usually do in an attempt of securing victory.
If this strategy backfires and Sevilla loses the game as a result, there will be no consequences whatsoever and they will simply have to focus on consolidating their position. There are still six days left before they will be facing Porto in Europa league, so it is only fair to assume that the visitors won’t be resting any players. Bookmakers offered terrific odds of 2.50 for a road win tonight and given Sevilla’s recent results this is a great opportunity to round up your bankroll.
PSG lost a single official match this year, after going down by the odd goal in the friendly game against Real Madrid. They comfortably seat at the top of the domestic championship and the fact that they drew 1-1 away from home at Monaco greatly helped their cause. A five points advantage over their bitter rivals could prove enough to lift the trophy in 2014, but Paris Saint Germain has higher expectations than that.
Winning the Champions League would prove beyond doubt that the massive investments were worth making and will provide the club owners with the incentive to spend even more money in 2015 and beyond. During the group stage, they encountered little opposition and won four games out of six, while the narrow defeat to Benfica was simply the result of lack of focus and the absence of any real stake.
It goes without saying that tonight the stakes are as high as they get, because losing away from home at Leverkusen with complicate their mission in the second leg. PSG face a difficult opponents this month but kept a clean sheets twice and is still undefeated, not to mention that they, after a convincing victory over Valenciennes. A narrow margin victory over the German side would be regarded as a major triumph, but even scrapping one point would be acceptable as long as PSG scores at least one goal.
Leverkusen is on a downswing, with three defeats in the last month and they have a hard time scoring goals both away and at home. After a disheartening last-minute defeat in Freiburg in late January, they fired back with consecutive victories, only to be eliminated from the German cup by the team playing in the second flight. Schalke04 also got their number and defeating them over the weekend, which made it possible for Dortmund to come within striking distance.
The fact that the Germans didn’t rest any players for that difficult Bundesliga match says a great deal about their Champions League expectations. The hosts realize that they are the underdogs in the double legged fixture and that they are in dire need of a victory in front of their fans. It is only fair to assume that Leverkusen will come out firing on all cylinders and play aggressive football, in an attempt of taking an early lead. The odds for a home win are juicy but the more likely outcome is a low scoring draw.
Some milestones seem impossible to hit but teams such as Real Madrid do it frequently so you have to give them credit. This year, they are trying not only to win the championship but also to win 10 consecutive games without conceding a goal. They are just one step away from this objective, with more than 10 consecutive victories, but in each of the last 9 games they kept a clean sheet.
They didn’t face Atletico Madrid or Barcelona over the span though and they didn’t even lock horns with Real Sociedad for what that matters. This is why it is only natural for punters to think twice before backing them at full stakes to win at Bilbao without conceding a goal. Their opponents are in excellent form and both teams played midweek in Copa del Rey, so fatigue is affecting both of them just as much.
Add to this the fact that Bilbao is one of the most offensive teams in the league and it should become obvious why they are not to be underestimated. To put things into perspective, they were the only team to have defeated Barcelona this season away from home and the visitors couldn’t even consider themselves unlucky. The hosts dominated the match and winning it was a just result, so they will probably employ the same strategy against Real Madrid.
This has been a surprising weekend in Primera Division to say the least, with Barcelona suffering the first defeat at Nou Camp. Atletico Madrid has a good chance to get on top, but they also face a tough opponent as Real Sociedad had a week off after their Copa del Rey opponents declined to play this Thursday. As for Real Madrid, they are in for a tough match in Bilbao where the local team enjoys extraordinary support from its fans and the stadium is expected to be packed with them.
The game can easily go either way so it makes perfect sense for punters who are hell-bent to bet on this game to back the hosts in one way or the other. The best odds are obviously for a double chance wager, but a Draw no Bet type of bet will also trigger ice returns. Last but not least. Risk-averse players can easily wager on the hosts not to lose by two goals on more at odds of almost 1.70.
Real Madrid remains within striking distance and in the unlikely event that neither Atletico Madrid nor Barcelona win tonight, they could be tied for the lead. Tonight they won’t have home pitch advantage and will travel to meet a team that caused them plenty of headaches in the past, but they are still big favorites to win. The reasoning is simple, as they sit on the 3rd place and face a team that hit rock-bottom two months ago, but there are a couple of more arguments in favor of backing the visitors.
They have just two players missing due to injuries and their defense is impeccable, so there is no reason to worry about the hosts actually capitalizing on their advantage. Real Madrid is undefeated in more than three months and have recently extended its winning streak in all competitions, to 7 in a row. They pack quite a punch offensively and a quick glance at the head to head results will only reinforce the conviction that they are going to win again in Sevilla.
The odds for an away victory are dismal and risk-averse punters will have to choose between backing them at better odds to cover the spread or settle for odds that have no value. It is not worth the risk and the fact that Betis is bound to defend with two thick lines is going to further complicate the visitors’ mission of winning by 3 goals or more. This is why those who are hell-bent on betting on this match should contemplate the possibility of wagering on the number of goals.
There is no consensus about what type of wager would be more appropriate, as the hosts are not going to try anything funny but defend for 90 minutes. Some consider that Betis will suffer a meltdown and the 3.5 goals line will be crossed, but we think that punters should bet on the exact opposite. Check out this link http://tipsteracademy.com/#!tips/football/spain/liga-bbva/2014/01/19/betis-sevilla-vs-real-madrid to get a better picture about what tipsters are waiting from this game and make an informed decision.
There is no better time for Sunderland to face Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light than this afternoon, as the visiting team is in awful form. They lost 4/5 games and scored a single goal over the span, being lucky to avoid defeat at Swansea. Add to this the fact that they have four injured players, including Clark, Okore, and Bennett and it is easy to see why the hosts are credited with the first chance by bookmakers.
Both teams are in dire need of points and that’s why this is not the time to wager on an indecisive result, even though the odds for such an outcome are alluring. Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar are uncertain for tonight as they will have to go through some fitness test, but at least the hosts are very likely to have striker Fabio Borini fit to play. He will pair up with Fletcher and the two of them pack quite a punch, something that sounds worrisome for the ailing Aston Villa.
What these two teams have in common is that both of them struggle at home, which is in fact the only reason for why punters might be reluctant to back the hosts at full stakes. Sunderland didn’t win this matchup in the last two years, despite the fact that they faced Aston Villa four times, but before that they won three consecutive games. Each time they prevailed by 1-0, an outcome that has excellent odds for those who are credit the hosts despite their recent home struggles.
The visitors have a slightly better midfield, with players completing over 75% of their tackles, but their contribution to the offensive phase remains minimal. The bookies are favoring the home side to prevail, but given the fact that the odds are inching closer to even value, punters should make up their minds quickly. If they are to go against the trend and bet on Aston Villa to cause a major upset, they shouldn’t wait any longer as the odds are expected to drop.
By contrast, Sunderland fans should fund their online accounts and wait for the kickoff as there is a very good chance to enjoy boosted odds as the start draws near. Most previews for this fixture suggest that the players to watch tonight are Ki Sung-Yeung and Fabian Delph, with both of them also having surprisingly high odds to score.
Even the worst losing streaks eventually end, so it comes as no surprise that some punters are inclined to trust Levante to win tonight over Elche. The hosts are mired in a five games losing streak and found it virtually impossible to score goals, with a single ball sent into the net over the span. The upside is that their defensive is playing much better than before and they rarely concede more than one goal per match, yet this is nothing more than a pale consolation for the team heading towards the relegation area.
Two weeks ago, they lost to Getafe in a match that was flat and unassuming from the first minute to the final whistle. As the visiting team, Levante made no effort to take the lead in the first half and even more surprising was the fact that once the hosts scored in the 79th minute, they didn’t react in any way. This has been the story in many of their recent defeats and they need to change something soon before they finally hit rock bottom and will be forced to fight an uphill battle to avoid relegation.
Not even a cup match against a team playing in the third league helped them improve their record and once again Levante conceded a goal late in the game. This brings their losing streak to five in a row and against a stringy team such as Elche, it is very likely that the downswing will continue. To make matters worse, the hosts will be playing without four of their key players and their already ineffective offense will suffer the most.
The visitors are missing Manu and Lomban but they’ve been playing without them for a couple of months now and have plenty of alternatives to replace them. The main concern for Elche is to stay focused until the final whistle, as two of the most recent three defeats were the result of a goal scored in the final minute of overtime. Villareal has been the executioner in both cases and Elche can’t afford to drop points after fighting for one and a half hours.
This is unlikely to happen tonight as they face a toothless opponent, with a shattered morale and this presents punters with multiple betting opportunities. The easiest way to handle this fixture is by betting on Elche not to lose at odds of 1.70 with most bookmakers.
Ajax secured a narrow margin victory over Celtic in the previous round, but they were not particularly convincing against the Scottish team. They are now left with no choice but to win one of the last three games, if they are to advance to the next stage of the Champions League. This plan is a bit far-fetched, because the team from the Netherlands will be facing Barcelona at home this round, while the final fixture pits them against AC Milan in Italy.
A more reasonable scenario is for them to finish third and in order to play in Europa League next spring, they can’t afford to be losing both remaining games. It all depends on whether Celtic finds the strength of causing a major upset, an unlikely scenario as well. One week ago both teams had the same chance, but now Celtic are trailing. For the time being Ajax has the tall order of finding a way to shut down Barcelona, one of the most powerful teams in the world. http://www.4football.net/ajax-tries-to-capitalize-on-celtics-road-games-woes/.
The good news for the hosts is that they have greatly stepped-up their defensive efforts and conceded a single goal in the last six games, in all competitions. A narrow margin defeat to Vitesse was the only one to score their otherwise flawless record and they now hope to extend the winning streak against the Spanish giant. Securing the objective depends on their ability to block the corridors for Barcelona’s fast and incredibly talented strikers, something that is made easier by the fact that Messi will be missing.
The visiting team has all but secured qualification and it is most unlikely that AC Milan will find a way of offsetting the five point deficit. As a result, they are more concerned about avoiding injuries and consolidating their position in Primera Division. Barcelona will be playing games every three days in the next three weeks, which means that they have to rest key players whenever the stakes are low.
This match is a prime example and that’s why punters should refrain from backing the visiting team, especially with bookmakers underpricing them greatly. Depending on bankroll, willingness to take chances and desired profits, punters can take the double chance wager or back Ajax with the cover of +1.5 goals handicap. Even if Barcelona wins in Amsterdam, they will probably earn a narrow margin victory that will still make the aforementioned bet a winner.
It’s been a while since Celtic advanced from the group stage in the Champions League and the reason for their lack of success is a subpar performance away from home. While everything seems possible when Celtic plays in Glasgow, on the road, they are yet to win a game and this campaign is so far every bit as disappointing as the previous ones. Much to their credit, the Scottish team won the home game against Ajax weeks ago and came painfully close of drawing the match is played with Barcelona and AC Milan.
Tonight they will be traveling to Amsterdam without their captain, as Scott Brown is suspended for this fixture and joins Georgios Samaras and Mikael Lustig on the bench. The two players are yet to shake off injuries and even though they travel to the Netherlands for this match, it is uncertain whether they will be used from the first minute. The same goes for Kris Commons and Beram Kayal who are definitely on the land, but not completely recovered, therefore coach Neil Lennon might use him only the second half.
It is self-evident if the hosts lose the game tonight, they have no chance whatsoever to advance to the next stage as they have earned just one point in three games so far. The last rounds will see them traveling to AC Milan while entertaining Barcelona at Amsterdam arena, in matches that will see the Dutch side starting with the second chance. The good news is that Celtic is among the worst traveling teams in the Champions League and Ajax has an excellent opportunity of collecting all three points.
The visitors are wary of what awaits for them it Amsterdam and will focus mostly on bolstering their defenses, while trying to surprise the hosts on counterattack. The strategy worked brilliantly in the first leg and if Samaras returns to fitness, the visiting team could record a rare victory on the road. Punters would be better off taking any chances tonight especially with the odds for a home victory revolving around even value. This is a do or die situation for Ajax and given the fact that they play at home and have no injury concerns, they should be able to win their first match in Group H.