This was a Sports Betting Scare Averted

My word, Chile were given a scare.

But the law of averages in football games suggest you can’t keep a good team down for long and so the pre-match betting odds, which suggested the two big guns in Confederations Cup 2017 Group B would progress, were proven correct.

At half-time a surprise was on the cards, however.

James Troisi chipped the ball coolly over Man City custodian Claudio Bravo and Australia led the South Americans and were even threatening to knock them out. One more goal would have been enough and the Socceroos dared to dream in Moscow.

That is until Martin Rodriguez poked home from six yards out and ended the Aussie adventure, although they will take a lot of heart from their showing.

Psychologically, Australia must have known they were unlikely to get two more goals but they came close to winning the contest and have improved as the tournament has worn on.

Just like Chile, Germany didn’t have it easy in Sochi either but the African dream was all but ended two minutes after the re-start.

That’s how long it took debutant Kerem Demirbay to fire home a right-footed drive, after some lovely skill from Julian Draxler, and make the breakthrough.

That finished off Cameroon, whose luck in this tournament seemed to be summed up when Georges Mandjeck was forced to pull-out in the warm-up.

They remain a work in progress with quality in bursts but also have a tendency to switch off in games at vital moments.

Their race was run just after the hour when Ernest Mabouka was seemingly harshly sent-off (with the help of the much-maligned VAR), moments before a fine crossfield pass from Joshua Kimmich found Timo Werner who nodded home the second.

To their credit, Cameroon kept going and were rewarded when Vincent Aboubakar halved the deficit, taking advantage of unconvincing goalkeeper from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

But Werner, on the back of a fine season with RB Leipzig, soon swept home the third and Germany had pole position in Group B.

Chile now face European champions Portugal – it should be fascinating.

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Vukovic eager to boost World Cup hopes

He's played more A-League games than anyone else, but Danny Vukovic is set to move overseas to improve his chances of staying in the Australia squad.

The Sydney FC keeper is expected to join Belgian side Racing Genk, as a replacement for fellow Australian Mat Ryan who is heading to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Vukovic forced his way into Socceroos contention on the back of an excellent season with the Sky Blues, who won the double of Premier's Plate and championship.

With the World Cup in Russia just 12 months away, he feels playing overseas will give him the best chance of making coach Ange Postecoglou's squad for the tournament.

Vukovic, who has made 278 A-League appearances overall and played with five of the league's ten teams, says now he has his foot in the door of the Socceroos he intends to stay there.

"Playing in Australia, although I've been playing well, I'm on a level playing field with all the Australian keepers there," he added. "Playing overseas is a different story; I think the level of football in Europe is considered better so I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Vukovic, who won his first A-League goalkeeper of the year award last season, says he's wanted to play overseas since he was a child. "Also coming into a World Cup year, playing overseas in a good league I think will help my chances," he added.

It won't be the first time the 32-year-old has played overseas, though he'll be hoping his move to Belgium will work out much better than the time he spent with Japanese side Vegalta Sendai in 2014.

He failed to make a first-team appearance in five months, but feels he has learned from that challenging experience.

Sydney FC are 9/4 to win the Grand Final.

Australia are 10/1 to win their final Confederations Cup group game against Chile, who are 1/3 with the draw 9/2.

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Can suffers injury scare

Germany boss Joachim Low has revealed that Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has suffered a minor injury.

Can sustained the problem during a training session in Sochi as the Germany squad stepped up their preparations for Sunday's Confederations Cup Group B match against Cameroon.

The 23-year-old is a doubt for the encounter with Low announcing that: "He bent over on the pitch. His boot got stuck in the grass. We will have to see how he feels because he had to break off training."

Germany are 4/11 to beat Cameroon and 13/5 to win the Confederations Cup outright after beating Australia 3-2 and drawing 1-1 with Chile in their first two group encounters.

"Three or four changes are possible against Cameroon; seven or eight would be a bit exaggerated," added Low.

"Tony Rudiger will be back in the line-up because Cameroon have very quick players. He is a strong physical presence and is very quick. He will be able to counter the Cameroon players.

"This will probably be the match with the most legwork and the most taxing match. There is no other squad who likes more to go into the on-on-one situations in the competition."

Arsenal told Lacazette’s price

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has told Arsenal what they will have to pay if they want to sign Alexandre Lacazette this summer.

Lacazette, who scored 28 Ligue 1 goals for Lyon last term, had been expected to join Atletico Madrid this summer but the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to uphold the La Liga club's transfer ban prevented a deal from being completed.

The Gunners were thought to now be leading the race to sign the prolific striker, but Aulas has warned the Premier League side that a transfer is far from certain to be completed in the next few weeks.

"I do not intend to sell Alexandre quickly, because there is always the option of Atletico Madrid signing him on 1st January 2018," Aulas told L'Equipe. "I also listen to what Alexandre says.

"I saw [Arsenal manager] Arsene [Wenger] during the match between France and England. I was with [Lyon general manager] Gerard Houllier and I understand he told Gerard that there could be an interest from Arsenal.

"But it is premature to say that things will be done. It takes a very large transfer. We cannot let a player of that quality go without a replacement.

"Everyone knows Atletico were going to pay €53million plus a €12million bonus. That's €65 million. The Arsenal executives are well informed, they will have to be in that range."

Lyon have been linked with a move for Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, with Aulas adding: "There has been an approach, at some point, for Giroud. He is a boy that we like, who scores lots of goals and who has a lot of ambition for Russia [the 2018 World Cup]."

Arsenal are 12/1 to win the 2017/18 Premier League title, while Manchester City can be backed at 15/8, Manchester United at 3/1 and Chelsea at 10/3.

Paulinho ponders Barca’s offer

The former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho has claimed that Barcelona are keen to sign him this summer.

The 28-year-old Brazil international is currently plying his trade in China with Guangzhou Evergrande but says the Catalan giants have made an offer to secure his services.

Paulinho featured in 45 Premier League games for Spurs before moving to China in 2015.

He has also been linked with Bayern Munich, but said of Barcelona's interest in him: "They made contact with my agent and there is an offer on the table.

"It makes me feel happy that a great club like Barcelona is interested in me – that's priceless. I haven't been given a date to give my reply; I speak to my agent every day.

"But Barca and my club would need to sit down and talk about it and reach some kind of arrangement. The two parties are talking."

Paulinho has won two Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League during his time with Guangzhou.

Barcelona are 5/1 to win the Champions League in 2017/18 while Real Madrid can be backed at 5/1, Bayern Munich at 11/2 and Chelsea at 12/1.

Hughes signs for Watford

Marco Silva has made his first signing as Watford boss, bringing former Derby midfielder Will Hughes to Vicarage Road.

The 22-year-old moves to the Premier League for £8m and has signed a five-year-deal.

He is currently on international duty, with the England under-21 squad at the European Championships in Poland, but will join the Hornets squad when he returns to the UK and the move brings to an end a six-year association with the Rams.

Joining the club from school he made his first-team debut in 2011 and went on to play 187 times for Derby.

Twice he would have been hoping to play for them in the top flight. They reached the Championship play-off final in 2014, losing to QPR and then were beaten semi-finalists in 2016, losing out over two legs to Hull City.

Hull's promotion lasted just a season but their manager from January onwards, Silva, impressed during his time at the KCOM Stadium and he joined Watford last month.

Hughes is his first signing but unlikely to be his last as the new head coach tries to ensure an improve in Watford's fortunes.

They survived in the Premier League but lost their last six league games to leave them 17th in the table, six points clear of relegated Hull.

The Watford squad will play pre-season games on a tour of Austria before they kick off the new Premier League season at home to Liverpool on 12th August.

Watford are 6/4 to be relegated from the Premier League next season with Swansea 9/4 and newly promoted Huddersfield 4/7.

The Hornets are 8/1 to finish in the top half.

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Football Betting goes on but the Hosts are gone!

So Russia has shown it can put on a football tournament, but its team hasn’t given the slightest glimmer of hope that it can win one.

It’s not a great surprise, and betting tips widely predicted the outcome of today’s Confederations Cup matches. Russia’s players would be going home if they weren’t already there! Mexico beat the hosts to qualify for the semi-finals, and Portugal saw off New Zealand with some ease in the final two Group A football games.

Mexico 2-1 Russia
In a tense first half at the Kazan Stadium, home fans’ hopes were lifted on 29 minutes when Russia scored to put themselves in a qualifying position. Persistence paid off after Fedor Smolov hit the post and Aleksandr Samedov eventually scored at the second attempt. But the lead lasted just a minute before Mexico defender Nestor Araujo rose highest to loop a header into the Russian net.

As Russia tried to fight back in the second half a freak of a goal broke their hearts on 52 minutes. When a huge clearance bounced towards the Russian penalty area Hirving Lozano lobbed over the keeper to score the most route one goal you’ll ever see.

The Russia fans found their voices in a passionate attempt to lift their heroes but when Yury Zhirkov was sent off for a second yellow it all went quiet again.

New Zealand 0-4 Portugal
Portugal’s emphatic win takes them through to the last four as group winners and the top man was in on the act again. Cristiano Ronaldo crashed the bar with a header minutes before putting the Portuguese ahead from the penalty spot. And before half time, Manchester City new boy Bernardo Silva struck to make it 2-0. Milan signing Andre Silva brought a fantastic goal from Stefan Marinovic mid way through the second half, but then beat the All Whites keeper with an individual effort with ten minutes to go. Nani made it four with a clinical finish in injury time.

 

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Antonio eyes Old Trafford return

West Ham wing-back Michail Antonio is hoping to boost boss Slaven Bilic by being fit and ready for action at the start of next season.

The 27-year-old England international missed the final six weeks of last season due to a hamstring problem, but Antonio is confident that he is on course to feature for the Hammers when they travel to Manchester United in mid-August.

He told his club's official website: "The rehab is going well, I'm on schedule and where I want to be. I had a short break at the end of the season, but since then I've been back in at the training ground every day.

"It's been a lot of gym work, just to get the strength back in the hamstring and remove the scar tissue. That's all progressing well and I'm raring to go for the new season.

"I had played in basically every game last season and the season before that, so maybe my body just needed a rest.

"I haven't kicked a ball now since early April, which is frustrating, but I am really looking forward to getting back next season."

Antonio has scored 17 goals in 55 Premier League appearances for the Irons since his arrival from Nottingham Forest at the start of September 2015.

West Ham finished down in 11th place in the Premier League last season, enduring a mixed first season at their new home, the London Stadium.

They are available at 11/8 to finish in the top half of the table next season, with Leicester City priced at 4/5 and West Bromwich Albion 9/4.

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Clement keen on solid start

Swansea City head coach Paul Clement is eager to start the new Premier League season strongly and avoid another battle to beat the drop.

Clement took charge of the Swans at the turn of the year and helped City pull clear of the relegation places thanks to 26 points gained from 18 league games.

And the former Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich assistant manager is keen to ensure that his side avoid being dragged into another fight for survival by starting the 2017/18 campaign in good form.

He told Wales Online: "The key to making sure we do not have the same sort of season is starting strongly.

"Every game is important and we want a good tally by the halfway point, so we can avoid the pressure and suffering we have had in the second half of last season.

"It is all planned, six weeks (of pre-season) gives us plenty of time to get the players fit and get some tactical ideas into them.

"We did not have time to do that in January because the pressure was on and it was so hectic. This gives us a less pressurised environment in which to do all those things.

"We need to build and get better, build on what we have done. Twenty-six points in half a season is impressive, do that over a season and you bang on the door of Europe."

Swansea are available at 9/4 to be relegated next season, while they are 4/11 not to be relegated and are priced at 13/2 to finish in the top half of the table.

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Wagner happy with striker signing

Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner believes his club have made a significant addition to their squad, having brought in striker Laurent Depoitre from FC Porto.

The 28-year-old Belgian joins the Terriers for a club record fee, having signed a two-year contract with the Premier League new boys.

Depoitre spent just one season in Portugal and found first-team opportunities limited, having previously impressed during his two seasons with Gent.

The forward, who scored on his only international appearance to date against Andorra in October 2015, helped Gent win the Belgian League title in 2015 – scoring 12 goals during that campaign and matching that return a season later.

And Wagner is pleased to welcome a major recruit to Town, telling the club's official website: "He is a proper striker, one who has played for a very good Belgium side, featured in elite European competition and who has won domestic titles.

"It is great news that we have had the opportunity to sign a player of his quality and now we will focus on getting him back to the top form he showed only a season ago.

"He scores goals and is a real worker too. His attitude on the pitch is exactly what we need, plus he is a very good character off the field too."

Huddersfield won promotion to the English top-flight via the play-offs, clinching promotion with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Reading at Wembley.

The Terriers are 4/7 to be relegated next season, with Brighton priced at 6/5 and Watford available at 6/4.

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