The Bundesliga is Heating Up from Top to Bottom!

Despite Bayern Munich’s domination, the Bundesliga still have plenty of football games and matchups that are expected to heat up online betting.

At the top five, Bayer, Schalke, Leipzig and Gladbach are tied at 31 points and will all eye to get the upper hand against each other this Week 20. Meanwhile, at the bottom, FC Koln, Hamburg and Werder Bremen are clinging on their slim hopes of survival and will continue to fight as they look to pull themselves closer to safety and surprise their football betting detractors.

WEEK 20 SATURDAY:

Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

In what could be the matchup of the week, Bayern host a team that they haven’t beaten in their past three meetings. However, the difference for the Bavarians this time is that they are a new team under Jupp Heynckes, who has led them to an 11-1 league record since taking over.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Monchengladbach

Frankfurt are hoping to crack into the top five, and they have a good shot at doing so when they play Dieter Hecking’s struggling Gladbach. It should give the Eagles an extra boost that Die Fohlen haven’t won against them since 2016.

Borussia Dortmund vs SC Freiburg

Freiburg have always had a hard time stopping Dortmund because of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. But with the wantaway Gabon international doubtful to play again, the visitors could well be able to win. Freiburg’s poor away form is something Christian Streich has to consider (and solve) though.

RB Leipzig vs Hamburger SV

While both teams need the win here, the odds of Hamburg reigning supreme are low. Leipzig are in contention for a runners-up place for a reason; and with ten-goal man Timo Werner ready to help the Bulls bounce back from last week’s defeat, it’s hard to see Hamburg putting up a real challenge…especially on the road.

FC Koln vs Augsburg

There’s an aura of optimism surrounding Cologne as they won three straight games. Two of those are against fellow strugglers, but the fact that they beat Gladbach a fortnight ago should give them the confidence that they can take on any team—even Augsburg who pummeled them with three unanswered goals last September. Koln Draw No Bet @ 2.03 seems the best bet to make.

VfB Stuttgart vs Schalke 04

Schalke are still without a win this 2018, though that will likely change when they visit the slumping Stuttgart. Offence continues to be the issue for the home team as they failed to score in four of their last six outings. In contrast, the Royal Blues have scored 10 in the same stretch.

WEEK 20 SUNDAY:

Werder Bremen vs Hertha BSC

The previous meeting between the River Islanders and the Berliners ended in a draw and all signs point that it won’t be different this time. Both clubs are in a winless skid, losing one and drawing the other in their last two games each.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz 05

Who would have thought that Bayer will sit second after their struggles at the start of the season? Die Werkself have lost just once since October—against Bayern Munich—so it’s unlikely they will fall again to the O-Fives who are conceding goals at a surprisingly higher rate than they did earlier in the campaign. Go for Bayer -1.50 @ 2.20.

WEEK 20 MONDAY:

Hannover 96 vs VfL Wolfsburg

Hannover are in a good run lately and look poised to contend in the top-five.  The hosts, however, need Niclas Fullkrug to maintain his scoring form if they are to pull out a win against the Wolves that have already drawn 11 games, the most in the Bundesliga so far this season.

I expect this one to end up tight, but I don’t doubt Hannover’s attacking quality. With that said, choosing Hannover -0.50 @ 2.33 is a reasonable move.

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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Granit Strikes Through to Fire Happy Gunners to Wembley

Granit Xhaka scored the vital goal as Arsenal came from behind to book a Wembley showdown with Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.

And City, the betting websites’ favourites to lift the first trophy of the season overcame a spirited fight from Bristol City at Ashton Gate, to set up that mouth-watering final. Very few, if any, betting tips suggested the Sky Blues would falter, but the London derby was much harder to call.

Arsenal 2-1 (2-1 on agg) Chelsea

The pre-match betting odds had Chelsea as slight favourites and they came out firing on all cylinders, so it was no surprise when they went ahead after only seven minutes. Eden Hazard collected a through ball from Pedro and clinically slotted the ball home to put the Blues one-nil up. But the lead lasted just five minutes before Arsenal got back into the game thanks to a huge slice of luck. Nacho Monreal’s header had plenty of power but ricocheted off Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger before flying into the net.

The Gunners were lucky to go into half time level, and Chelsea unlucky to lose Willian through injury. But Arsenal came out in the second half with more purpose, Alexandre Lacazette working hard to stretch the Chelsea defence and his toils were rewarded when Granit Xhaka poked home his cross.

And that seemed to give Arsenal more impetus as they continued to press, Alex Iwobi coming close in a one on one with Willy Caballero, the big keeper just getting his foot to the ball. But two was enough for Arsenal and another final for Arsene.

Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 on agg) Manchester City

The one-goal margin in the other match suggests a tighter contest than it was in reality as Manchester City built on their first leg advantage with a deflected goal from Leroy Sane and a second from Sergio Aguero shortly after half time.

But the Championship outfit didn’t give up and, in front of a passionate West Country crowd, hit the favourites twice on the break, through Marlon Pack and Aden Flint, before Kevin de Bruyne restored daylight with the last clinical kick of the game.

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Southgate welcomes Nations League

England boss Gareth Southgate has welcomed the new UEFA Nations League tournament and believes England can benefit from it.

The new tournament begins in September with the draw pairing England with Spain and Croatia.

They are in League A with the four leagues having promotion and relegation and the new competition will largely replace international friendlies in a bid to give teams more competitive matches.

Southgate, present at the draw in Switzerland, welcomed the new concept, though he acknowledged it was a tough draw for England.

He told Sky Sports: "The whole concept of this tournament is that you play high-quality matches and competitive matches, so that criteria is fulfilled with the group that we're in.

"In particular Croatia we haven't played for a little while so we're looking forward to that and of course Spain, one of the best teams in the world. It's good to test ourselves in these games."

Southgate also commented on Jack Wilshere who, after a frustrating time with Arsenal, is now back as a regular starter, giving him renewed hope of making the England squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia.

"It's a real plus to see him playing as well as he is and playing regularly. He is a player who nobody has ever questioned the quality that he has," he added.

"That's great because we want our best players to be available and in good form."

In Russia England have been placed in a group with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. They are 9/2 to exit the competition at the group stages while they are 11/5 to be defeated in the quarter-finals.

Harry Kane is 16/1 to be the tournament's leading goalscorer.

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O’Neill to sign new contract

Michael O'Neill has demonstrated his commitment to Northern Ireland, agreeing to a four-year contract extension.

The new deal, which means he will remain as Northern Ireland manager until 2024, comes just days after O'Neill turned down the chance to become Scotland's new boss after talks with the Scottish FA.

Speaking at the Nations League draw, where his team were placed in a group alongside Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, O'Neill said that terms were largely agreed and he expects to sign the new deal shortly.

He said: "I think it's important that I commit to Northern Ireland, I intend to do that and we hope to have something done within the next week."

O'Neill also talked a little about turning down the chance to become Gordon Strachan's successor as Scotland boss, adding: "I felt that I needed to talk to Scotland but the IFA have been great since the Switzerland game, they've offered me a fantastic contract to stay and I just felt it was the right thing to do.

"I had discussions with a lot of the senior players and a lot has been made of the team getting older but, having spoken to the players, they believe they have at least another campaign in them and it's up to me to try and develop the team further."

O'Neill took charge of Northern Ireland in 2011 and guided the team to their first ever European Championship in France in 2016.

They then performed creditably in finishing runners-up to Germany in World Cup qualifying for Russia later this year but lost out to Switzerland in the play-offs.

Russia are 33/1 to win the World Cup on home soil with England 16/1 and defending champions Germany priced at 9/2.

Northern Ireland are 250/1 to win the 2020 European Championships.

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FA Cup: Manchester United Lead 13/1 Six-Fold

The Carabao Cup entertained us in midweek. As seems to be the way at this time of year, we have back-to-back cup fixtures with the FA Cup fourth round taking place this weekend.

It’s a weekend dominated by football, and one we can be sure will be riddled with cliché. No ‘magic’ of the cup here, though, just a bit of chat and a few predictions for the televised matches.

 

Yeovil Town vs MANCHESTER UNITED

Landing a tie with Manchester United was a dream for Yeovil Town. The Somerset club notched a 2-0 win over Bradford in the third round to give them an opportunity to face Jose Mourinho’s superstars.

This is a welcome distraction for the League Two outfit, who are sitting just two points above the relegation zone. Yeovil lost at home to rivals Chesterfield last time out.

Manchester United are expected to give Alexis Sanchez his debut in this one. Mourinho will likely rotate a fair bit other than that with Premier League fixtures following in midweek and the Champions League soon to return.

I’m expecting an easy United win here, which means a goalscorer bet provides the best value.

TIP: Alexis Sanchez to score @ 3/4

 

Peterborough United vs LEICESTER CITY

Peterborough caused one of the upsets of the third round to book a tie against Claude Puel’s side. Aston Villa were the victims, losing 3-1 at home to the League One side.

Leicester required a replay to get past Fleetwood Town. The first game was a televised snoozefest, and the second was not much better, though we did get treated to some sweet VAR action.

The Foxes have returned to form of late. Their last outing saw an easy victory over Watford, while Peterborough smashed Oldham 3-0 in the league.

I was surprised to see Leicester at 11/20 to win this one. It’s a decent price, and I think well worth making up part of this acca.

TIP: Leicester to win @ 11/20

 

Newport County vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Newport are unbeaten since Boxing Day. Their dramatic victory over Leeds United was one of the stories of the third round, and that match that will go down as a great FA Cup upset. Mike Flynn's side are now within three points of the automatic promotion places in League Two.

Form might well not be enough to see off this Tottenham team, though. Mauricio Pochettino could rotate again, which may mean a rare start for Fernando Llorente.

That will save Newport’s defenders from Harry Kane, but that is unlikely to be enough.

Spurs were disappointing at Southampton last weekend. That was an off-day, however, and I fully expected Pochettino’s men to win this one comfortably.

TIP: Tottenham to win @ 1/6

 

Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion

Liverpool host Alan Pardew’s West Brom in the late Saturday kick-off. The Baggies have put together a positive run of sorts by taking four points from their last two league matches.

The fact that is worth mentioning shows how much they’ve struggled this term.

The Baggies evaded a comical-looking banana skin to cruise past Exeter City in the third round, while Liverpool rejoiced as Virgil van Dijk headed a late winner in a feisty Merseyside derby.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were frustrated by Swansea on Monday, though, in the most Liverpool of Liverpool things in history. Pardew’s team have the capability to be similar infuriating, and might show up Liverpool’s lack of creativity again.

TIP: Liverpool to score under 2.5 goals @ 3/5

 

Chelsea vs Newcastle United

Chelsea finally got their first win of 2018 on Saturday and Blues fans will be expecting their side to build on that success. At Stamford Bridge, the current Premier League champions are usually rock solid.

Newcastle saw their four-match unbeaten run end at the hands of Manchester City. We can expect a similar, ultra-defensive approach from Rafael Benitez in this one. The Magpies boss Benitez opted to absorb at Stamford Bridge last time out, but gave Eden Hazard too much freedom and were punished with a 3-1 defeat.

via GIPHY

Hazard and Willian were instrumental in their latest Premier League victory as well, and the Blues will be looking to build momentum as they head into an extremely challenging period in February and March.

Newcastle will be up against it in this contest – just as they were back in Decemer. It could follow a very similar pattern…

TIP: Chelsea to win @ 4/11

 

Cardiff City vs Manchester City

Manchester City recovered from their Liverpool blip to dispatch Newcastle last weekend. That was soon followed by a dramatic win away at Bristol City to confirm their place in the Carabao Cup final.

Pep Guardiola’s men remain on course for a quadruple. Okay, it’s ludicrously unlikely, but that’s the narrative that will get banded about if they win this one.

Cardiff are having quite a season of their own, mind. Two points off automatic promotion to the Premier League, Neil Warnock’s side are in decent form despite a poor period around the turn of the year.

I expect the Bluebirds to make it tricky for the Premier League leaders early on, but anything more than that is too much of an ask. City’s quality will shine through again.

TIP: Manchester City to score over 2.5 goals @ EVS

 

*Odds subject to change – correct at time of writing*

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Can Super Chung Shock Betting Odds Once More?

Chung Hyeon is the newest darling of tennis fans and sports betting circles around the world after becoming the first South Korean to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.

While the illustrious trophy is still far from reach, betting websites and casual watchers are looking at the 21-year-old with great interest.

Of course, there’s the match between Marin Cilic and Kyle Edmund, but all eyes are fixated on the duel between Chung and Roger Federer.

Marin Cilic (CRO) vs Kyle Edmund (GBR)

Cilic is the heavy favourite to end up as a finalist at the Rod Laver Arena, but Kyle Edmund will do everything in his power to upset the party.

Kyle Edmund kicked Grigor Dimitrov out of the tournament in four sets in relative ease. Meanwhile, Cilic got a bit of a boost from Rafael Nadal’s injury to get himself to the Last Four.

I still think Cilic will win this match, but Edmund should be able to steal a set or two. Punters should look at Cilic’s -1.50 Asian Handicap for 1.70.

Chung Hyeon (KOR) vs Roger Federer (SUI)

Young Gun Chung is more than excited to be at this stage of the tournament than anyone else in the world. He said that he’s ready to play whoever won between Federer and Tomas Berdych.

I hope he’s ready for a tough fight as Federer looks as timeless as ever. Save his tough clash with Alexander Sverev, the Swiss champion won all of his games in straight sets.

I expect a fantastic game between this two, given how Chung scrapped for every point in this tournament so far. I won’t be surprised if Federer takes the other Finals spot, but I’ll be more than happy to see Chung stand on top.

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Football Bets on Los Blancos ain’t What They Used to Be!

Okay, Barcelona are one heck of a team, but what has happened to the Catalans’ biggest nemesis?

Few La Liga online betting fans would have predicted Real Madrid would be 19 points off the pace after 19 football games. Yes, Zinedine Zidane’s stars have conceded a point a game to Barcelona! And with a difficult visit to Valencia on Saturday, things may be about to get worse.

WEEK 21 SATURDAY:

Athletic Bilbao vs Eibar

All eyes will be on Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte in the weekend’s curtain-raiser. The defender has attracted Manchester City’s interest, and no wonder given Bilbao’s defensive record which saw them concede only 22 goals. And now on a nine-match unbeaten run, the 12th-placed hosts are at 1.86 to beat and leapfrog eighth-placed Eibar.

Valencia vs Real Madrid

A record of two wins, two draws and two defeats is hardly the sort of result to trouble the top four, but that’s the reality for Real Madrid. They did hit form last week though, thrashing Deportivo 7-1; but travelling to third-placed Valencia is a different proposition. Los Blancos are at 1.91 to win with a -0.75 goal handicap, and boy do they need a win.

Deportivo La Coruna vs Levante

This is a real six-pointer and if Depor can overcome Levante, at odds of 1.99, they will move out of the bottom three at their visitors’ expense. Both teams are lacking in confidence: Levante on a run of three consecutive league defeats and Depor thumped last week by Los Blancos, but home advantage could tell.

WEEK 21 SUNDAY:

Villarreal vs Real Sociedad

The Yellow Submarine are a single point behind Los Blancos and will climb into the top four if Valencia get a result and they manage to beat Real Sociedad. The hosts are unbeaten in five while Sociedad are down to 15th after three consecutive losses. Villarreal to win at 2.19 looks like good value to me.

Malaga vs Girona

Despite earning an impressive point away against Eibar last week, Malaga dropped to bottom place and six points from safety. Girona, in tenth, took a point from Atletico Madrid as they now have a constant threat with ten-goal man and former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani.

Atletico Madrid vs Las Palmas

Likewise, Las Palmas have the daunting task of visiting second-placed Atletico. Diego Simeone’s men have been beaten only once in the league but were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Sevilla this week. Meanwhile, Las Palmas stunned Valencia last weekend to move off the bottom; so you never know…

Leganes vs Espanyol

In another Madrid against Barcelona clash, the minnows of Leganes entertain Espanyol as they battle for mid-table superiority. Currently 13th and 14th, this will be a good tussle. The hosts have won four from five at home, while Espanyol have won their last two on their travels.

WEEK 21 MONDAY:

Barcelona vs Alaves

How far can Barca stretch their lead at the top and over Real Madrid? Currently, the advantage over second-placed Atletico is 11 points, and they will at least maintain that when Alaves come to town. The visitors have done well to climb out of the bottom three with ten points from six games, but they will, rightly, see this as a free hit.

Sevilla vs Getafe

The Copa has been a useful diversion for Sevilla after a poor run of results, with two wins against Atletico sandwiching a league victory over Espanyol. Coach Vincenzo Montella seems to have his new men back on track, though ninth-placed Getafe are no pushovers with seven-goal Angel Rodriguez continuing to impress.

WEEK 21 TUESDAY:

Celta Vigo vs Real Betis

And we have another cracker to close the weekend when seventh-placed Celta host Real Betis, four places but just a single point back. Betis have won the last two fixtures between these two, but they must keep a close eye on 12-goal Iago Aspas if they are to prosper again.

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Vargas targeting February return

Newcastle Jets could have star import Ronald Vargas back in action next month.

The Venezuelan has been on the sidelines since suffering an horrific broken ankle against Brisbane Roar in October.

It was initially feared he would be out for the rest of the season, but the 31-year-old says his recovery has gone better than expected.

"The truth is that [the leg] is much better. It's going the way that we want," added Vargas.

"Everything is progressing in the time that I've been out, thanks to God. I think in four weeks or six weeks, [I want] to be playing again."

Despite being without Vargas since round three, the Jets have been the surprise package of the A-League season and are second in the table behind Sydney FC.

They managed to bolster their squad with the addition of Argentine playmaker Pato Rodriguez as Vargas' injury replacement.

The pair played together in Greece at AEK Athens, with Vargas playing a key role in helping to get Rodriguez to the Hunter.

"He's very fast. He has many characteristics that we're going to take advantage of here," said Vargas of Rodriguez. "Now I have the opportunity again to be with him here, so I hope that it's positive and good."

Meanwhile, the Jets have re-signed keeper Glen Moss on a one-year deal for the 2018-19 A-League season.

The New Zealand international was the first signing made by Ernie Merrick following his appointment as coach last May.

He's played eight times this season, deputising for Jack Duncan in the early part of the season before joining the first team when the young keeper was struck down with a foot injury.

Newcastle are 4/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Jets are 13/5 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 21/20 with the draw 5/2.

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Phoenix release fringe forward Watson

Wellington Phoenix have released striker Hamish Watson, after the Kiwi struggled for game time under coach Darije Kalezic.

The much-travelled 24-year-old had been with the A-League side since 2016 when he signed initially as an injury replacement player after Roy Krishna was sidelined.

He managed 39 appearances overall for the Phoenix, of which 13 were starts.

Watson, who played for New Zealand at U-20 level, scored five goals for Wellington but this season he's only spent 67 minutes overall on the pitch.

He is to spend the rest of this season in the New Zealand Premiership, where he's previously played for Team Wellington.

Watson spent time in England after having an initial two-game stint with Wellington, playing four games for Grimsby Town in the Conference Premier in 2014-15.

Kalezic said of the forward: "Hamish is a player who is very good to work with, he's very professional, and he's one of the local boys, which is important for the football club to have for connection and identity.

"Unfortunately he has not had enough match time over the past few seasons, and his expectations of future matches was not very high.

"We support his choice to take the step to Premiership level in order to play game time, build confidence and rediscover his love for football, and hopefully make a step forward again in the future."

Wellington have picked up seven points from their last three games and can close the gap on the top six sides by beating Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

Kalezic will have to shuffle his defensive unit for the match, with Daniel Mullen the latest centre-back in doubt through injury.
Marco Rossi is suspended and Dylan Fox will be out for another week with a hamstring injury.

Wellington are 20/1 to finish in the top six.

The Phoenix are 8/5 to beat Adelaide, who are 17/10 with the draw 12/5.

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Roar humbled by Filipino side

Coach John Aloisi blasted his Brisbane Roar side after their season fell to a new low with defeat to Filipino side Ceres-Negros.

The Roar slumped in front of their own fans at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, going down 3-2 in their Asian Champions League playoff.

The Philippines Football League champions have only just started pre-season, but two goals from Spaniard Bienvenido Maranon helped them secure a major upset.

Brisbane have only won four of their 17 A-League games this season and are eighth in the table.

Aloisi has already been given a vote of confidence by the club's owners, and insists he's the right man to continue to lead the team.

But he was hugely disappointed with the way the players performed against Ceres-Negros.

"They (the players) obviously underestimated them, I know I didn't … I knew they could cause problems," said the coach after the game. "Even when we went 1-0 up the players must've thought they were going to cruise through that game.

"You can't think you're a professional footballer because you put on a jersey; you need to act like a professional each day you turn up to training and play and represent this club. Tonight was not good enough from anyone."

Massimo Maccarone gave the Roar the lead on 35 minutes but Maranon had the visitors back on terms two minutes before the interval.

He struck again midway throught the second half and Omid Nazari added a third 10 minutes later.

Eric Bautheac pulled one back for Brisbane with four minutes to go but it couldn't prevent them from exiting the competition at the first hurdle.

It was an embarrassing night all round for the Roar, who had to play with just 10 men for more than five minutes when Bautheac's numbers fell off his shirt.

Brisbane are 9/2 to finish in the A-League top six.

The Roar are 5/2 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 11/10 with the draw 5/2.

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