Aberdeen tries to cause another upset in Europa League

Aberdeen was the underdog in the first leg against Groningen, simply because the Dutch side was more experienced in playing in European competitions. The first leg could’ve easily gone either way, but when action shifted to the Netherlands, it was the Scottish team that looked more dangerous upfront. The visitors took the lead early and then extended their advantage in the first half, which left the Dutch team fight an uphill battle that proved to be impossible to win.thesoccer

This time, they try to cause another upset away from home, but they will play against a considerably better opponent. Real Sociedad used to be a force to be reckoned with, especially when they had home pitch advantage, but in the last couple of matches they were unable to build on this edge. Bookmakers are not very optimistic about the visitors’ chances of avoiding defeat, but those who favor Aberdeen will find a couple of morale boosting arguments at http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28508332.

Last time the Spanish side played in the European competition, things took a turn for the worse relatively early as they failed to advance from the group stage. Granted it was the Champions League that they were trying to survive, the disappointing performance both at home and away left fans with only unpleasant memories. With the domestic championship on break, Real Sociedad got themselves busy with a string of friendly games, but the results were subpar.

They got plenty of matches against Dutch teams but only won against Nijmegen, while dropping points against top competitors. Some of the best players were traded in the season break and the replacements are unlikely to provide the cutting edge that they need to return to the elite of Spanish football. Losing at home against Aberdeen would only amplify the misery, which explains why the hosts are under so much pressure ahead of this fixture.

The visitors will use a standard 4-4-2 formation with McGinn and Rooney upfront, as they were the most prolific scorers in Europa League qualifiers. They are hardly world-class strikers, but might prove good enough against a stiff defensive who fails to respond properly to counterattacks. There is no head to head record to use as reference, but Aberdeen didn’t lose in the last eight games, while winning five of those matches. By comparison, Real Sociedad won just once in the last six games.

Colombia can extend flawless run into the last 16

Columbia was credited with the first chance to win its group and at one time it was ranked among the favorites to lift the trophy Brazil. The reason for why the South Americans were held in high regard by both bookmakers and football specialists is that they had one of the best offenses. Falcao was supposed to spearhead the attack, but the gifted striker got injured many months before kickoff and despite their best efforts, the therapists couldn’t get him fit to play.Colombia vs Uruguay

He didn’t even travel with the national team to Brazil, but in his absence a couple of young striker stepped up and they did a fine job throughout the group stage. The manager expected to have a difficult time in choosing between the second and third striker, but nobody could’ve anticipated the interesting turn of events. Colombia used different strikers in the three games so far, but each combination proved to be successful and that’s why it is anyone’s guess how the starting formation will look like on Sunday.

Pekerman is very likely to stick to Rodriguez who didn’t disappoint him in his two games played so far, but it appears to be a mistake to keep Martinez on the bench either. The striker was finally given a chance to sign against Japan and he made the most of this opportunity by scoring twice and barely missing a hat trick. Naturally, he will run into a much more difficult opponent in this stage of last 16, but Uruguay defenses proved to be equally permeable.

Under the right circumstances, Colombia can keep an opponent under constant pressure and prevent it from using any of its offensive weapons. This is great news against a team that has a remarkable trident of strikers, with names such as Suarez, Forlan and Cavani on the list. The reason for why Uruguay is not celebrating their performance in group D, is that they have a hard road ahead and a couple of obstacles that have the potential of turning into huge issues.

To start with, Forlan is a talented but aging striker who can no longer sustain the intensity of a World Cup football game and is very likely to play less than one half. In fact, the coach decided to keep him on the bench early on and he never got the chance to play in the decisive match against Italy. The other big problem is that Suarez could get suspended as a result of improper behavior in the last match, when he allegedly bit an opponent.

Add to this the fact that Cavani is not playing at full potential and is yet to score goals for his team and it is obvious why Uruguay is credited with the second chance. The head to head record is in their favor, but they allowed plenty of goals when things didn’t go according to their plan and home pitch advantage meant a lot for this team. This is not the first time that they are narrow underdogs at the World Cup 2014, but they are clearly playing against better opponents, who are credited with odds of 2.10 to prevail.

Germany squad outlook for World Cup 2014

Among the teams that deserve to win the World Cup, Germany has a place of its own because the European nation missed out on numerous opportunities. With the kind of players that they bring to Brazil, they are entitled to expect to make the final and they have no reason to fear any opponent. On a good day, the German machine can steamroll past any other squad, which explains why bookmakers are willing to credit them with the third chance to lift the trophy.

thesoccerblogBrazil is clearly a favorite and Argentina comes in second, but Germany has a better chance than Spain to win the most prestigious tournament in football, at least if we are to trust the bookies. They don’t have a particularly easy group, with the likes of Portugal trying to block their way, while Ghana and the United States count on a miracle. The European nations are favorites to finish on the first two spots, but the outcome of the opening game would change all that.

At least in theory, they would benefit from the first match ending undecided, as they will need to win at least four points in the other two games to have a good chance at surviving Group G. What actually happens is that neither Germany nor Portugal is willing to settle for the second-place and will fight it out to win the group. The idea is to avoid a potentially lethal fixture with Argentina or Brazil in the next round and it goes without saying that it is easier to defeat Ghana or the US in the group stage.

Low has most of the players who competed in the European championship two years ago fit to play, even though some veterans announced their retirement. The manager is in a fortunate position of having a relatively healthy squad, with players that are quite young yet immensely experienced. A quick glance at the offensive line will reveal the fact that midfielders and strikers younger than 25-year-old have already played hundreds of games for formidable European clubs.

Bayern Munchen is not surprisingly the team that provides most of these talented players, but there are other top clubs where German midfielders and strikers play. Opponents will feel like they are hit by a tsunami, since Germany can attack with six players if needed and still have a solid defense. Overall, they have the most balanced team among all nations competing at the World Cup, even though individually they might be slightly behind Argentina and Brazil.

Discipline and fighting spirit are not in short supply and the farther Germany goes at the World Cup 2014, the better their chances are to play their a-game. Pressure is high as always, but the Germans know how to handle it and with Joachim Low at the helm, they shouldn’t be underestimated. The odds are not great, but it is worth betting on Germany to win all the games in the group stage and stick to this plan until they lock horns with Brazil or Argentina.

Benfica needs a single point in Turin

Benfica won the domestic championship with four rounds before the regular season ends and have a good chance at winning the Portuguese Cup as well. They will be facing Rio Ave in the final and start as favorites, so the only trophy they need is Europa league. Their chances of making the finals are relatively good, after winning the first leg, but the goal allowed in the second half hurts their chances.Benfica

Juventus needs to win and a narrow margin victory is what they will be aiming, after also winning Serie A this Monday as a result of a 1-3 victory on the road. They managed to keep their team healthy and with no absentees to worry about, the host will be fielding a standard 4-4-2 starting formation. Things would’ve been far more complicated, had the Portuguese won the first leg to nil, so the goal scored by Tevez would weigh heavily in the balance.

The Argentinian striker played decently well in the first leg and the fact that he scored his first goal in a European competition after a 5 years break was encouraging. It goes without saying, that he will feature in the starting formation once again, alongside Vucinic, but Llorente is also an option. The Spanish striker is the second most prolific player in their rotation after Tevez with 15 goals in 32 games, but he had some fitness issues that kept him away from the pitch.

Juventus is wary of the Portuguese’s offensive prowess and they will be gradually increasing the pressure. The trick is not to allow Benfica to take the initiative, because once they establish a beachhead in the other half, they are hard to counter. The visitors have several offensive players that can catch the Italians on the counterattack, not to mention that the hosts are counting on aging back line.

This is going to be a very tight fixture that could easily go either way, depending on what happens in the first 30 minutes of the game. If the hosts take the lead, then the match is going to slow down a bit and Juventus will be trying to score the second goal at the end of position or play. The bottom line is that the Portuguese side only needs one goal to be sure that the game won’t take a turn for the worse. The odds for Benfica to win or draw stand at 2.35, which is tremendous value, so this is the best choice for this fixture.

Splitting points is a convenient option for Granada

Perhaps one of the least interesting matches in Primera Division this weekend will be played in Granada, where the local team welcomes Levante. They are separated by just three points in the standings and they have a safe cushion ahead of the relegation area with no chance whatsoever of playing in a European competition next season.Granada vs Levante

This safe distance from both areas of interest make this a rather dull affair and many punters are contemplating the possibility of betting on the draw. Granada is in better form and they used to know how to extract maximum value from those games played in front of their fans. It definitely helps that the visiting team hasn’t won many games recently and bowed before some of the weakest teams in the league.

Celta Vigo and Betis made short work of their defenses and got away with all six points, despite the fact that they are both in miserable shape. Levante squandered manypoints in March, but they were fortunate enough to have their contenders struggling over the stretch. There is no pressure whatsoever in winning games, especially those played on the road and that’s why coach Caparros uses a single striker.

It comes as no surprise that he prefers David Barral match after match, as this gifted forward has the most goals scored for Levante. Naturally, he will receive plenty of attention from the home team tonight and this will make it very difficult for him to send dangerous shots at the opponent’s net. By comparison, Granada will be pairing El Arabi with Riki and it is quite possible for Ighalo to join them in the second half if the hosts fail to score.

There are basically two ways of tacking this game, one being a wager on the hosts to prevail at odds of 1.90, counting on the visitors’ poor form. Both punters will prefer to place a wager on an exact score, with 0:0 and 1-1 being the most likely results. If the game heads for an inconclusive result, none of the teams will take unnecessary chances to force victory and will probably accept a mutually convenient draw

Must win Champions League match for Manchester City

citybarcaUnlike 2013 when they didn’t survive the group stage, Manchester City made it through and they lock horns with Barcelona. The 2012 champions will try to would behind them the failure of last season when they were crushed by Bayern Munchen both at home and away. Securing a spot in the quarterfinals shouldn’t be a big challenge for the Spanish side, as long as they can leave England with at least one point. They are not the best traveling team and quite often during the group stage they settled for a draw.

At least in theory, keeping a clean sheet and splitting points wouldn’t be a disaster for Manchester City, but this means that the British side would have to score at Nou Camp. They’ve had a busy schedule this February and win just a bit over half the match is played this month, including a critical cup fixture with Chelsea. They only had three days to rest ahead of this important Champions League match and they’ve got their best players fit to play.

It goes without saying that Pellegrini will not rest any players for the upcoming Premier League match against Stoke this weekend, instead he will throw everything he’s got at Barcelona. Alvaro Negredo and Dzeko are the two strikers that he will be counting tonight to catch the visiting team offguard, with the latter struggling to return to form. Negredo didn’t play this weekend due to a knee injury but he is completely recovered and is expected to feature tonight from the first minute.

Barcelona scored six goals over the weekend without conceding one and they pack quite a punch up front, with Messi, Neymar and Pedro spearheading the offensive. In Champions League fixtures they seem to be more interested in preventing opponents from scoring than to take a lead themselves, but this doesn’t mean that Barcelona will be toothless in Manchester. All the aforementioned players are deadly on counterattack and they don’t need too many opportunities to score.

To make matters worse, City is struggling with subpar goalkeeping the season and have been shifting between Hart and Pantilimon. The former will be given the green light tonight but he is dependent on his back line to keep him out of harm’s way. Overall, this appears to be a balanced game that could go either way and punters who insist on wagering should choose the draw for the sake of better odds.

Villarreal makes small step towards ambitious goal

This weekend has been truly spectacular as far as Primera Division fans are concerned, unless you are rooting for Barcelona in which case, it is a forgettable one. The reigning champions suffered a complete meltdown in front of their supporters when they lost to Valencia and allowed three goals for the first time this season. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid could take advantage of their slump and overtake them, but both these teams are facing tough opponents.

Villarreal vs Osasuna February 3 2014 Betting Tip villarrealReal Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are no pushovers and although they don’t expect to win the title this season, they have their sights locked on the Champions League. Both are in good position to secure such a spot, but they are not the only ones in this race. Villarreal can be the fortunate winner of this extraordinary weekend, as they are the only one of the top 7 teams that fights a weak opponent.

Osasuna comes visiting and players are under no impression that more than a draw would be possible, especially with their recent results. The small team from Pamplona is trying to avoid relegation, its recurrent objective and it is far from celebrating success. Granted they are safely about the dangerous area, there are only a few points separating them from teams sitting on relegation spots.

Tonight they will field their standard formation featuring Riera, Torres and Armenteros the three players that scored the vast majority of their goals. What is somewhat surprising is the fact that only the former is a striker, while the other two are midfielders who sometimes shoot at the opponents’ net. By contrast, the hosts have a solid roster and a couple of players who are more than capable at finding he breaches in a permeable defensive such as Osasuna’s.

Uche, dos Santos and Perbet are the ones that Villarreal will be counting tonight and it is most unlikely for any of them to be retired even if the hosts take the lead early in the game. They simply can’t afford to take chance and see Osasuna tying the score in the final minutes of the match, so the hosts will keep pushing until the last whistle. This is why punters shouldn’t settle for the match line and instead bet on Villarreal to cover the -1.5 goals spread. It shouldn’t be too difficult and the odds are just good enough to warrant the effort and risk taken.

Atletico Madrid expected to start a new scoring festival

atleticomadridIt’s been a while since Atletico Madrid failed to win in two consecutive weeks, but that’s exactly what happened in January. They drew at home against Barcelona in the most anticipated game of the month and then settled for a 1-1 draw away at Valencia in Copa del Rey. That incident had no consequences as the team from the capital won the second leg and advanced to the next stage of the competition.

Now it is time for them to earn three more points in Primera Division, as Barcelona is also expected to win comfortably away from home at Levante. Since the two teams are separated by their goal average and none has lost a game in a long while, winning this fixture against Sevilla is of critical importance. Luckily for the hosts, their opponents are not only vulnerable to rapid counterattacks, but have struggled in the past against Atletico Madrid.

To think that Sevilla was struggling at the bottom of the standings with their city rivals and now compete with tough teams for a Europa League berth is impressive. They have risen to the challenge and won several games at home, but on the road they are still struggling to win consecutive games. They were outplayed and outshot by Elche in the previous round and can consider themselves lucky not to lose that fixture, after tying the score with 1 minute left in the match.

Numbers speak for themselves and those who want to see how Sevilla matched up against Atletico, should head on to http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/liga/2013-2014/atletico-madrid-sevilla-fc-632001.html. These figures are reliable, but what is more important is that the numerous absentees in their backline are going to provide the hosts with plenty of opportunities to score. Suarez is the only player missing from their rotation and he doesn’t play a critical role so his absence will go unnoticed.

One way to tackle this match would be the straightforward one of backing the hosts to win or even cover the spread of an Asian handicap. The odds are decent for the second type of bet, but those who expect the hosts to score a few goals should better wager on the totals market. Over 3.5 goals to be scored is the kind of bet that can more than double your investment without taking big chances, but risk-averse players could also settle for the 2.5 line.

Excellent odds for a Newcastle road win

newcastleWest Brom hasn’t won a match in two months and prevailed just once in the last 15 fixtures, which explains why they are the underdogs tonight. Newcastle is not the best traveling team but the players don’t settle for second best and are more than willing to put everything on the line. The best proof is that the team didn’t draw a single match on the road and won 5/9 fixtures.

Keith Downing has good reasons to be worried about his position as manager, given the fact that his team is winless in 10 games. To be perfectly fair, he is not to be blamed for most of these defeats as he only took over in early December when Steve Clarke was sacked. Unless he finds a way of turning the ship around soon, West Bromwich is very likely to relegate at the end of the regular season, which would be a catastrophic event for the club.

Right now, they stand two points clear of the relegation zone, which is hardly encouraging and they can’t afford to slip any further. By contrast, Newcastle won eight out of the last 10 games and except for the narrow margin defeat to Arsenal, they were impressive throughout December. Furthermore, they have an impeccable track record in head to head games, winning or drawing all games played against West Bromwich in the last two years.

For the first time this season they have a genuine chance of tying Manchester United and Tottenham for the sixth place, even if for just a couple of hours. The aforementioned teams will compete in the final match of the day and the winner will probably leapfrog two teams to secure the fourth place. The visitors will make very few changes in the starting formation as the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal is hardly worrisome.

The odds for an away victory stand that 2.80 with most bookmakers, which is plenty of value Given the Way, Newcastle played recently. West Bromwich drew the last three games but it is unlikely for them to secure another point, so there is no point in sacrificing these odds for a double chance wager. The least risk-averse players can do is to take the visiting team with the cover of a 0:0 Asian handicap which has the stakes returned if the game ends in a draw.

Granada favorite against depleted Rayo Vallecano

granadaOne reason for why the hosts are still struggling at the basement of the standings is that they miss a couple of essential players. The injury list recently gone wider and this time they will be playing without seven essential players, with the midfield being particularly affected. With a single victory in the last eight games, Rayo Vallecano is clearly heading into the wrong direction and unless something changes soon, they will slip again into the relegation area.

Granada used to have the same problem a couple of weeks ago and many still regard them as a strong candidate for relegation, but for the time being they are far away from the dangerous zone. They have a habit for winning back-to-back games and even though there winning streak was snapped by Barcelona, they shouldn’t drop points at Rayo Vallecano. Granada has already collected valuable points against main counter candidates for relegation and they would gladly settle for a draw tonight.

The good news for the visitors is that they don’t have any injury concerns, unlike their rivals who struggle to put together a competitive team. If opportunity arises, Granada will try to take the initiative despite not having home pitch advantage and filing their performance in Copa del Rey we would be wrong to credit them with the first chance. The key to victory tonight would be to maintain constant pressure in the first half, because with their midfield ravaged by injuries and suspensions, the hosts are unlikely to withstand pressure.

Bookmakers are extremely and surprisingly generous with the visiting team, with bold punters having the opportunity of tripling their investment if they back Granada to win in regulation time. A far riskier proposition that has odds only slightly below even value is the double chance wager, which pays off if the visitors win or draw. Granted there haven’t been many games ending undecided when Granada was on the pitch, this somewhat awkward statistics shouldn’t have a deterring effect on punters.