Posts Tagged ‘quarter finals’

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 22

02/07/2010

Running Total: -3.8 units

Hmm it seems any bet I suggest on here is bound to lose. Spain had to wait until the second half before taking the lead against Portugal, therefore scuppering day 19’s tip.

Today we have Holland v Brazil and Ghana v Uruguay. The former should be a good match but I’ve lost count of how many times that’s been predicted. I don’t think Holland should be as high as 7/2 to win that match but Brazil have looked very good so far.

Ghana have done brilliantly so far but in the interests of my Suarez top goalscorer bet I’ll be hoping for a Uruguay win. Let’s go with him to score anytime.

Bet of the day:

Luis Suarez to score anytime vs Ghana @ 2/1.

T.

Champions League Quarter Final, Second Leg Preview – Arsenal vs Villarreal

15/04/2009

We meet again

Just as with the 2006 semi final between these clubs, both sides still had all to play for after a tight first leg. Last time out Arsenal took a 1-0 lead to El Madrigal and had Jens Lehmann to thank for a last minute penalty save from Juan Riquelme (just look at the fear in his eyes below) which put Arsenal through to the final by that solitary first leg goal. Three years on, things are are still close even if the teams are rather different. The first leg finished 1-1 but Villarreal will not be overawed by trying to get a result at the Emirates. 

 

A week ago

The first leg was the proverbial game of two halves, with Villarreal dominating Arsenal in the first half before the Gunners gradually took control in the second. Two equally brilliant but quite contrasting goals were scored; a thirty yard rocket into the top corner by Marcos Senna was answered in style by Adebayor in the second half, who chested a long ball in the area before expertly volleying a scissor kick into the corner. Sadly for the neutrals Senna is apparently injured and will miss the match (I’m still not convinced it isn’t Spanish mind games however) while the Gunners have their own worries with Gallas and Djourou being out for weeks, leaving Toure and Silvestre the pussycat as the only fit centre backs. 

As mentioned both teams have had massive player turnover since meeting three years ago. If we take a look at the second leg lineups from that 2006 semi final we can see that only Senna, Venta and striker Franco remain from that Villarreal starting XI. Arsenal meanwhile, only have Toure, Eboue, Fabregas and sub Clichy still on the books at the Emirates. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the second leg is the return of the bald defensive legend Pascal ‘turns like an oil tanker’ Cygan to play against Arsenal for the first time since leaving. Oh and some guy called Robert Pires too.

 

Super, super Bob

Yes, I was jesting slightly earlier, this match is all about the mercurial Frenchman’s first return to Arsenal since leaving them in the summer of 2006. Following all the buildup in the first leg he ended up being on the bench before coming on. This may well be the story this evening as well but I imagine at some point he will be on the pitch.The reception for him when he does come on should be something very special. Should Cygan somehow make the bench and subsequently the pitch, I’m sure he’ll be well received too. He was a legend in his own special way too… Going back to Pires, he spent six glorious seasons at Highbury in which he won two titles, two FA Cups and a Footballer of the Year award. He pretty much single-handedly led Arsenal to the title in 2004 and scored 84 goals in 284 games. One of the best left wingers Arsenal ever had, he was for a while one of the best players in Europe. His Gunners career came to a slightly subdued end after he was the one to make way for Almunia in the Champions League final when Lehmann got sent off. It proved to be his last game for the club and also meant he was never afforded a proper goodbye. That will change tonight. Besides, this bit is a basically an excuse to post this video.

 

Tonight’s game

I think the match will be quite tight again but Villarreal will certainly miss Senna and Cazorla in the middle of the pitch. I imagine they won’t control possession as much as they did in the first leg but they’ll still be a threat through neat play and patience. They’re capable of getting the away goal they need to make things interesting but at home the Gunners should have a bit too much firepower to not score themselves. Walcott’s pace will once again be important down the right hand side, while Fabregas should have a bit more freedom to operate in the middle in the absence of Villarreal’s top men. The key question lies over who Wenger will pick at left back, after Kieran Gibbs had a somewhat rocky game on Saturday. It has been suggested that Sagna could fill in there while Eboue plays right back, but I reckon Wenger will keep faith with the youngster and offer a bit more defensive protection by picking Denilson and Song in midfield. Though a goalless draw is good enough, Arsenal have to be positive and go for goals. I think it may take till the second half to break Villarreal down but as long as Silvestre and Gibbs aren’t too threatened on the left of defence, superior options going forward should see Wenger’s men go through. 

 

T.

Champions League Quarter Final Previews – Chelsea vs Liverpool & Bayern vs Barca

14/04/2009

ITV must be gutted that they’ve ended up with the two dead games tonight, with the real excitement likely to be at Porto and the Emirates tomorrow. I guess Chelsea against Liverpool could potentially still be open to Liverpool progressing but the 10/1 odds on the Scousers suggests it’s unlikely. Bayern against Barca will be a formality in that there’s no way the Germans can overcome the four goal deficit but Barca still have to go through the motions and complete the 90 minutes. I don’t have the time/inclination to do proper previews for these two games but here are a few thoughts.

 

Chelsea vs Liverpool

In contrast to the previous four years of boredom we’ve had to sit through, the first leg at Anfield was surprisingly open. The four goals we saw a week ago matched the combined total from the previous four battles at Anfield between the two clubs. Even though Liverpool took an early lead, Chelsea hit back with two goals from Ivanovic of all people and then a third from the Drog. He could have had a hat trick having earlier missed two very presentable chances.

Tonight’s game should be open even though the matches at Stamford Bridge have also been previously tight. Indeed last year’s five goal thriller was completely out of character (after one lousy goal in three previous games) but hopefully a sign of things to come. Liverpool need to attack from the off though despite all the rumours will do so without Steven Gerrard. Chelsea can afford to sit back and play on the break but will be wary of the three goals in eight minutes they conceded against Bolton at the weekend. I can see Liverpool getting two or three goals (especially with Terry out) but I can’t see them do it without conceding themselves. Chelsea will go through, but perhaps not without a scare.

 

Bayern vs Barcelona

Rent a quote master of hyperbole Franz Beckenbauer branded Bayern’s performance in the first half of the first leg the worst in their history. Perhaps, but they were missing key defenders Lucio and Lahm as well as Klose up front. The former two will be back tonight to provide at least some semblance of a challenge for Messi and co but Barcelona won’t sit back, they’ll try and get their away goal early and put any lingering doubt to bed. If they do, you could see another spanking on the cards.  Barcelona go through, obviously. Bayern might actually score this time though, which would be nice for their fans.

 

T.

Champions League Quarter Final Preview – Man Utd vs FC Porto

07/04/2009

Preamble

When this draw was made a couple of weeks ago it seemed like Man Utd were clear favourites to progress against the Portuguese champions. Indeed that is still very much the case – you get 10/1 on a Porto win tomorrow night and 9/2 on Porto getting through full stop. Now I know United are a force to be reckoned with at home in Europe but 10/1 is an absolutely ridiculous price in a Champions League quarter final and is worth £2 of anyone’s money on Betfair. I think the bookies are underestimating Porto, especially in light of Man Utd’s somewhat dubious recent form. 

Fergie - much to ponder

Fergie - much to ponder

 

Squeaky bums

Whilst domestic form doesn’t necessarily always translate into European form, Fergie will be wary of being over confident. Recent defeats to Liverpool and Fulham were followed by a less than convincing win over Aston Villa at the weekend. Considering six weeks ago this side looked like they could never concede, the defence is quite shaky at the moment. This is not helped when Ferguson decides in his infinite wisdom that it’s a good idea to play Gary Neville at centre back against John Carew. The mistake was rectified in game, but not before Neville was given a torrid half hour. Rio is still out so Evans will look to form a solid base with Vidic. A clean sheet would be much appreciated, given ten have been conceded in the last five games. Further forward you’re likely to see the usual suspects in midfield and attack with Tevez likely to partner Rooney up front while in midfield you could maybe expect Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo and Park. 

 

Jose’s shadow

The last time Porto got this far, they went and won the whole tournament and the world was introduced to the Special One AKA Jose Mourinho. Indeed it was at this same stage in 2004 that they faced Man Utd and proceeded to knock them out with 1-1 draw at Old Trafford after winning the first leg. Cue Jose’s jig down the Old Trafford touchline.

Anyway, that’s all history now but Porto haven’t managed to reach the same heights since, despite winning the league three years running. They currently have a solid, counter-attacking team that has a pair of very effective strikers in Lisandro and Hulk. Both have the ability to cause the United defence some problems – Lisandro has six European goals already this campaign while Hulk is like a good version of Julio Baptista (not saying much I know). In midfield Rodriguez will pull the strings centrally and will be supported by Meireles and Gonzalez. 

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

 

Prediction

It will be interesting to see which Porto turn up, the one brushed aside 4-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in the group stages or the one that classily won the return leg 2-0 (though against an understrength Gunners). In the last round Atletico were knocked out on away goals in a tight affair, but I remember from the highlights that Porto missed enough chances to have put the tie long beyond doubt. Man Utd will be hoping that following his double against Villa, Ronaldo has come into some form. He always makes sure he noticed in big games, but not always for the quality of his play. They will target the Porto keeper Helton who isn’t the most convincing and hope too that Rooney has one of his nights where everything comes off. I do think the price on Porto is too big but at the same United are justifiably favourites and will hope to take a clean sheet into the second leg, ideally topped off with two goals of their own.

 

T.


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