Now how exciting could this be!

“Very” is the answer, sports betting fans.

It’s Wales vs Ireland in these two semi-finals, and there’s simply no recovery from disappointing rugby results at this stage of the season. One slip and you go home.

For Leinster, can they go one better than last year?

Certainly, betting odds (outright Leinster @ 1.70) suggest so as they prepare to host Wayne Pivac’s Scarlets (outright @ 13.00).

The men from mid-Wales have nothing to lose, and there could be doubt in Leinster’s minds after their 17-13 reverse at Ulster last weekend.

Both will be confident, having defeated each other this season so far.

The atmosphere in Dublin will be electric and there’s no doubt the hosts are tough to beat on home soil.

With their formidable pack and home advantage, Leinster will be favourites but Scarlets are worth a punt, especially with those odds.

Wales vs Ireland mark two takes place less than 24 hours later and this one seems clearer to call.

Ospreys have lost five of their last six and only crept into the semi-finals, while Munster at Thomond Park is a difficult proposition.

The devastation caused by the passing of the legendary Anthony Foley has taken them on an emotional run as they aim to honour their much-loved former coach and player.

Ospreys have almost overachieved by reaching the last four, but anything can happen at this stage.

This clash of the clubs, which dominated the competition for four years from 2009-2012, will likely to go the way of Munster for the third time this season.

With them priced @ 2.30 to win the competition outright and Ospreys @ 13.00, the gap seems too wide.

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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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The need to keep sports betting fans alert

Not all midweek football games had an end-of-season feel to them.

For one side it was a coronation.

For two others, it’s vital to keep alive Champions League qualification hopes.

Certainly enough to keep many sports betting fans interested.

You also excelled if your name is Sergio!

Chelsea 4-3 Watford FC

A seven goal thriller at the Bridge as Chelsea got their title party started with Cesc Fabregas scoring an 88th minute winner to ensure the celebrations did not fall a little flat.
There’ll be another one this weekend too when Antonio Conte may again make changes with an eye on the upcoming FA Cup Final.
Watford more than played their part here but didn’t quite have enough to enjoy a draw.

Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland

The fact it took 72 minutes for the Gunners to break the deadlock meant the majority inside the Emirates Stadium weren’t totally comfortable until much later in the evening.
Still, there was a certain inevitability about rock bottom Sunderland’s 25th league defeat, courtesy of a double from the Arsenal talisman Alexis Sanchez.
It will be interesting to see both when these two clubs next meet in the league and who will be in charge of both sides.

Manchester City 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

Sergio Aguero chose an ideal time to remind his employers why they would be mad to let him leave this summer.
The diminutive Argentinian played a part in all three goals as City rounded off their home league campaign with ease and said farewell to his fellow countryman, West Ham bound defender Pablo Zabaleta.
West Brom defended all night and, in truth, have had one eye on their summer holidays for weeks.

Southampton 0-0 Manchester United

An end-of-season encounter if ever there was one.
Perhaps there was an inevitability this would be a draw – given this was the Saints’ 10th and United’s 15th draw of the campaign.
An early home penalty, wrongly awarded, was saved by the excellent Sergio Romero. An Anthony Martial shot struck the post for the visitors as their players aimed to both impress, and avoid injury, in a bid to secure a place in the squad for next week’s Europa League Final.


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Fantastic Coppa Win is the First Step for Juventus

Juventus 2-0 Lazio

One down, two to go. The Bianconeri stormed to the first third of an historic treble with a convincing Coppa Italia win at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

And with the league title within reach this weekend, betting odds on the domestic double are tight. Max Allegri’s team loves the biggest football games, and if the league is pocketed soon, attention will switch to the Champions League final where the Old Lady faces Real Madrid.

Italian football betting pundits who predicted Juve would overcome an in-form Lazio side were proved right in the first 25 minutes as the favourites hit the Romans with a lethal double strike.

Two defenders undid the Lazio rearguard, first Dani Alves volleyed home sweetly on 12 minutes after Alex Sandro found the full back with a beautiful pass. And then when defensive rock Leonardo Bonucci met Sandro’s corner unmarked, he finished with all the cool of a top striker to make it two.

Juve had more chances, while Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio tried to get back in the game, Keita hitting a post and Ciro Immobile heading a good chance wide.

Lazio continued to threaten in the second half; Keita shot wide from a dangerous position, Immobile tested Neto in the Juve goal and the Keita blasted over when he should have side footed home. If you don’t take your chances, recovering from a two goal deficit against this formidable Juventus team is impossible. The Bianconeri was never at its best in the second half and while Gonzalo Higuain worked for openings up front, they were happy to see the game out, with Neto in commanding form.

When Alves found Higuain, as the clock ran down, Juve’s leading scorer almost made it three…but two was always going to be enough.

Next stop for Juventus it’s Crotone, and then the big one.


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Hornets confirm Mazzarri departure

Watford have confirmed that manager Walter Mazzarri will leave the club following the last game of the season, at home to Manchester City on Sunday.

Italian Mazzarri took charge at Vicarage Road last summer, following the departure of Quique Sanchez Flores after just one season at the Hornets helm.

His tenure started in solid enough fashion, but Watford have won only three of their last 13 Premier League games to tumble down into 16th place in the table, although they are safe from the threat of relegation.

That loss of form prompted talks between Mazzarri and the club hierarchy, which have resulted in the decision to make a seventh managerial change in the space of five years.

A statement from chairman Scott Duxbury confirmed: "After the board discussed with Walter Mazzarri the club's future goals and aspirations, it was decided he will be stepping down from his position as the club's head coach after the final game of the season.

"We thank Walter and his staff for the contribution they have made to Watford Football Club over the past year."

Prior to taking charge at Watford, Mazzarri had managed the likes of Sampdoria, Napoli and Inter Milan in his homeland, with both Samp and Napoli finishing as runners-up in Serie A under the his guidance.

Mazzarri's final bow at Vicarage Road comes on Sunday, when Man City arrive knowing that they need to avoid defeat to ensure a place in the Champions League next season.

Earlier on in the campaign, the Hornets were beaten 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium, with Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva the City goalscorers.

Watford are 7/2 to gain a draw on Sunday, with a 2-2 scoreline priced at 20/1, while Troy Deeney is 11/4 to score at any time and end a run of seven games without a goal.

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Pochettino rules out Spurs exit

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino has pledged his future to the club, who he expects to challenge for the Premier League title again next season.

The Argentinian has been mentioned as a possible target for Inter Milan this summer, but Pochettino has no target other than trying to help Spurs win a third league title in their history.

Ahead of a Thursday evening clash with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, he told reporters: "There is no buy-out clause in my contract, I will stay here next season.

"There are many rumours, but I am committed with the club, no reason to leave the club. I will be here for pre-season.

"We were so close again this season, but like last season it was not enough. I am sure next season we will try again to fight. We need to do better, be stronger, improve in every area to try to win."

The South American, who took charge of Spurs in May 2014, is under contract until the summer of 2021, having previously enjoyed spells at the helm of Espanyol and Southampton.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has admitted that he may have to alter his tactics for the trip to Leicester on Thursday, with both Kyle Walker (ankle) and Kieran Trippier (concussion) ruled out.

Pochettino could opt to move Eric Dier to cover at right-back, or decide to switch to a three-man defence against a Foxes outfit also hit by a number of injury absences.

Spurs are 8/1 to win 2-1 at Leicester on Thursday evening, with Harry Kane – who has scored in four of his last six games – 10/11 to find the net at any time.

Victor Wanyama, the opening goalscorer in the 2-1 win over Manchester United last time out, is 22/1 to score the first goal of the game again.

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Cech states European preference

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has admitted that he would rather play in the Champions League than the Europa League, having won both competitions while with Chelsea.

The Gunners won 2-0 at home to Sunderland on Tuesday evening to take the fight for a top-four finish in the Premier League into the final game, although Arsenal need either Liverpool or Manchester City to slip up to achieve that goal.

Cech, a Champions League winner in 2012 and a Europa League winner 12 months later, says he would prefer to be in the former, but has no qualms about having to make do with the Thursday night competition instead.

He told reporters: "A European trophy is a European trophy.

"I have to say you want to have the Champions League one rather than the Europa League one, but you can see more and more big teams are treating the Europa League with respect.

"Now you can qualify for the Champions League too and I have to say it is a fantastic memory for myself to look at the (Europa League) medal.

"I only played in it once and was fortunate in one go to have won it, but obviously I would rather be in the Champions League, that's for sure. Let's see what happens."

Arsenal have kept their top-four hopes alive with a run of six wins in their last seven league games – conceding just one goal in four consecutive victories in their last four outings.

On Sunday they play host to Everton, with Liverpool at home to relegated Middlesbrough and Manchester City away at Watford.

The Gunners are priced at 6/1 to secure a top-four finish, with Liverpool 1/10 and the Citizens available at 1/500.

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Dyche eyes new recruits

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has indicated that he will be strengthening his squad this summer.

After securing promotion from the Championship in 2015/16, the Clarets have enjoyed a fine season in the top-flight, largely because of their great form at Turf Moor, and are currently 15th in the Premier League table.

However, Dyche is keen to keep improving and will look to add several new players to his squad before the 2017/18 campaign gets underway in three months' time.

Burnley have only one won match away from home this season, at Crystal Palace, and host West Ham in their final match of the campaign on Sunday.

The Clarets are 13/10 to beat Slaven Bilic's team and 9/1 to win the encounter 2-1.

Dyche said: "There's more to come, but we do need to add to it. We need to add for in-house competition and quality reasons to keep it moving forward, and it is going to be a big challenge.

"Everyone talks about having money, it's not about that, everyone's got that in the Premier League – some more than others – but it's about situations arising where the club are willing to go 'alright, this is where we can go to without ruining the club'.

"So it's a very delicate balance, the idea of recruitment in the Premier League."

Sam Vokes is 7/4 to score at any time against the Hammers on Sunday.

Injuries start to bite for Foxes

Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare has a large number of injury problems to contend with as the Foxes aim to finish a mixed season off in style.

City play host to Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday evening, with Shakespeare having plenty to ponder in both defence and midfield.

At the back both Wes Morgan (hamstring) and Robert Huth (foot) will be absent and are also unlikely to feature at the weekend, meaning that Josh Knight and Elliott Moore could be handed opportunities.

In the centre of the park, Shakespeare is having to plan without Andy King (hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (thigh), while and Nampalys Mendy (ankle) remains sidlined.

However, the Foxes coach is trying to remain focused on the task in hand of securing a finish in the top half of the Premier League table, 12 months on from a famous Premier League title triumph.

He told reporters: "We won't be doing a lot of training in the next few days. We'll make sure we do enough to be competitive in the games, but the injuries have caught up with us. There's two games left and others will get their opportunities.

"The players can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've said before about their attitude and professionalism and I expect us to have a real good go to finish as high as we can."

City have failed to win any of their last three home league meetings with Spurs, with the clash of the two sides at White Hart Lane earlier this season ending in a 1-1 draw.

Leicester are available at 7/2 to take all three points on Thursday evening, with the draw priced at 14/5, while striker Jamie Vardy is 8/5 to score at any time.

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Europa League Final: United Favourites To Complete Trophy Collection

Manchester United and Ajax are no strangers to European glory and one of them will add to their trophy collection when they meet in a mouth-watering Europa League final in Stockholm on May 24.

Both sides edged through thrilling semi-final second legs, with Jose Mourinho's men overcoming unfancied Celta Vigo as the Dutch giants dug deep to sneak past Lyon.

Now they have one more hurdle to clear to get their hands on more European silverware and it is United who are fancied to win the competition for the first time after being priced up as the 4/9 favourites to lift the trophy.

The Red Devils are 10/11 to win in 90 minutes while Ajax are 37/20 in the outright betting and 16/5 to triumph without the need for extra time, with odds of 23/10 for at least an extra 30 minutes to be needed to separate these teams.

With a place in the Champions League available to the winners, there is more than just a European trophy at stake and Mourinho has targeted all his efforts on winning the competition rather than securing a top-four place in the Premier League.

Getting to the Europa League final is a slog for any team and Mourinho felt his injury-hit squad could not realistically compete on both fronts.

In terms of their route to the final, United finished second in their Europa League group to Fenerbahce after winning in Ukraine against Zorya in the final match but St Etienne in the round of 32 was relatively straightforward.

Rostov, one of the sides that dropped out of the Champions League, were also comfortably overcome, although it took extra-time to overcome Anderlecht at the quarter-final juncture. The semi-finals were not much easier as Celta pushed until the last and could have denied United in the last few seconds of their semi-final.

Ajax had finished top – above Celta – in Group G. Having edged past Legia Warsaw and FC Copenhagen – two sides that had been in the Champions League group stage – Peter Bosz's men beat Schalke 4-3 on aggregate after extra-time to reach the semi-finals.

Ajax sent ripples around European football by thrashing Lyon 4-1 on home turf but had to battle to keep the French side to a 3-1 win in the second leg.

They have not travelled well and United’s status as favourites is partly based on doubts whether the young Dutch side can cope with the occasion at a neutral venue where their fans will be outnumbered.

In their favour is the fact that a serious knee injury has denied Swedish top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic the chance to win the Europa League on home soil.

It has left a large void for United that Marcus Rashford has done well to fill, playing an integral role in both matches against Celta Vigo having fired United through the quarter-final against Anderlecht with a fine, extra-time strike.

Still only 19, the forward's finishing is as impressive as his movement and composure and Rashford is the favourite to score the first goal at 21/5 while he is 7/4 to score at any time and 27/10 to be on target in a United win.

Rashford is one of several key players for United and Ajax are another team built on collective effort. What the Dutch side lack in experience they make up for in talent and youthful exuberance. Kasper Dolberg, Ajax's own 19-year-old front man, has flourished this season and is 7/1 for the first goal while Bertrand Traore, Hakim Ziyech and Amin Younes are other attackers to have impressed.

Davy Klaasen is Ajax's captain while Justin Kluivert – son of Patrick – and Matthijs de Ligt are talented teenagers.

Neither side has achieved their ambitions in the league this season. United won the League Cup but their hopes of a top-four finish would have been vastly increased had they shown a cutting edge during a 25-match unbeaten league run punctuated by draws.

Ajax went into the final weekend with hope of succeeding PSV Eindhoven as champions but leaders Feyenoord held their nerve at home to Heracles, meaning the Amsterdam side finished a point behind them despite a 3-1 win against Willem II.

As well as Ibrahimovic, United will be missing several more star names. The list includes David de Gea but that is for selection reasons, with Mourinho having confirmed Sergio Romero will start in goal barring injury.

The Argentina goalkeeper has played 11 of the 14 Europa League matches this season and will get the nod to start the final.

“No dilemma, no dilemma,” Mourinho said when asked about the selection poser. “They are two fantastic goalkeepers. I never saw in all my career two goalkeepers to be so friendly because it is a position where you always have a little bit of rivalry, especially if you are both the same kind of level.

“We are speaking about the Argentina national goalkeeper and the Spain national goalkeeper. They are friends and they support each other all the time. I never saw a bad face, I always saw them supporting each other.

“I think it is fair that Sergio is going to play the final and David accepts. He accepts that especially because he has already played Europa League matches and if we win the trophy, David wins the trophy because he played two matches against Feyenoord and against Fenerbahce.

“But if everything goes normal and we have no problems, Sergio plays the final.”

Regardless of who is in goal, United are 32/25 to keep a clean sheet and are 21/10 for victory in 90 minutes without conceding.

Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Tim Fosu-Mensah are on United’s injury list while Eric Bailly is suspended following his moment of madness in the second leg of the semi-final.

So impressive since arriving from Villarreal last summer, the 23-year-old was shown a straight red card for raising his hands during a heated end to the 1-1 draw.

Injuries and suspensions have added to Mourinho’s frustration at a fixture schedule which he has described as “crazy”.

Balancing the desire to win with resting players has been difficult and Mourinho joked it would have been worse was it not for Ander Herrera's sending off in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea.

“The accumulation of the games, I never had that,” Mourinho said. “You know that in all of my career I was never (knocked) out of European competitions in the group phases and in the last 16 I was out only once. So I reached the semi-finals 10 times, I go always until the end of the competitions.

“In the League Cup I normally go far. In the domestic competitions cups, I won in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal so I normally have a lot of matches. But like this I never have, I never have.

“This situation of you play a final and the game that you should play that day is going to be postponed until the last week, for the last week! This is crazy.

“And I repeat the same – thank you Michael Oliver because we were out in the FA Cup because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster. I don't know when we would be playing that game.

“I never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries, not small, not the injuries that you say 'okay, hamstring, two weeks'.

“No. It's surgery, boom, boom. It's surgery – one knee, another knee. Another foot. Just big surgeries.

“So fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It's very difficult, really very difficult. But we are there and we go to the final.”

Mourinho may feel things have been stacking up against United but adopting such a siege mentality is nothing new and the Red Devils are still not short of quality, especially in midfield where the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini should be able to dominate.

The summer break is now on the horizon but Mourinho will demand one last effort from his players as United seek to win the only major trophy to have eluded them in their success-laden history.

After edging past Celta Vigo, Mourinho said: “In the end, when the game was difficult, when they were better than us and we were in trouble and not playing well, it was that mentality, that desire, that togetherness that made the boys fight until the end.

“The final means an opportunity to win a trophy, to be back in the Champions League and to end the season in the perfect way because it is the last match of the season.”

If they do have to dig deep, United are 9/1 to clinch victory in extra-time and 13/1 to come out on top in a penalty shootout but their fans will hope for a less stressful evening. United are 28/25 to score first and win the match while they are also 13/5 to win by at least two goals.

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Injured Rose suffers setback

Tottenham fear that Danny Rose, who has been sidelined since January, may not have recovered from his injury in time for the start of next season.

The England international has been forced to have exploratory surgery on his left knee after returning to training recently.

The 26-year-old full-back sustained a medial knee ligament injury in a goalless draw against Sunderland at the end of January.

A club statement read: "Danny Rose recently returned to first-team training. However the problem has not resolved fully, therefore a decision has been made to proceed to surgery.

"He will now return to action next season."

Meanwhile, Dele Alli says he is privileged to have played a part in the club's success in the last two seasons.

Spurs have challenged for the Premier League title in each of the last two campaigns, eventually finishing third last term before settling for second spot this season behind champions Chelsea.

Alli said: "There are a lot of positives to take. We're all disappointed that we couldn't do it in the end and win the league.

"But you've got to say Chelsea played very well. It's important we don't forget about how much we have done. We look at the positives and it's a great place for us to build from.

"It's been an unbelievable experience for me this season – we've been playing so well. I'm happy to be part of the team when we're playing like this."

Spurs face Leicester on Thursday in their penultimate match of the season and are 17/20 to beat the Foxes with Alli 8/5 to score at any time at the King Power Stadium. Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino's team are 8/1 to beat Leicester 2-1.