The Big Kick Offs
It's not just English football fans excited at the prospect of top-flight football getting underway again. Leagues around Europe have had - or are about to have - the big kick off. Bratwurst tours around the continent looking at the leagues which are just starting.
The Big Kick Offs continued
The Big Kick Off: Today (19/8/06)
Match of the Day: A minor (relatively speaking) Athens derby between Aigaleo and Panathinaikos tomorrow.
Title Favourites: Olympiakos (pictured) 1/3 [Stan James]
Bet of the Day: Motty to roll out the cliches... oh and Italy to win!
Paddy Power has opened an excellent Cliche Betting book on which overworked phrase will be used first in the BBC match commentary. I'm tipping 'This is it' at 9/1 and 'World Champions' at 10/1. As for the match itself, there is not a great deal of value available. The going rate for Italy to lift the trophy is 8/11, and that is where my money is going.
Bet of the Day: Miroslav Klose to show Pauleta how it's done
The third place playoff tonight sees the probable Golden Boot winner go head-to-head with a striker who has received a lot of criticism for his efforts in the World Cup. Paddy Power is offering 2/1 on Miroslav Klose to outscore Pauleta. Perhaps even more tempting are odds of 8/1 on Klose scoring with a header.
Bet of the Day: Portugal 0-2 France
It is a hat-trick for Bet of the Day now after Italy kept a clean sheet last night. Do we get to keep a Teamgeist or something?! Anyway, if you put £1 on our last three Bet of the Day's you will have nearly £10 burning a hole in your pocket by now...
France seem to have found form at just the right time, whereas Portugal struggled to make their extra man count against England. Paddy Power has a 0-2 win for France at 14/1.
Bet of the Day: Italy to keep a clean sheet in 90 minutes
Bet of the Day is on a roll with two winners in a row (England-Portugal to be a draw after 90 minutes and Beckenbauer to appear on TV more than Maradona during Germany-Argentina). Let's see how we can blow your winnings for you.
Gianluigi Buffon has only conceded a sliced own goal so far this tournament. Paddy Power is offering 21/10 on Germany not beating him in 90 minutes. I also have a strange feeling that Per Mertesacker will be sent-off (don't ask me why!) at 25-1!
Betting guide: the next England captain
Chelsea lionheart John Terry is hot favourite to succeed David Beckham as England captain. But is he worth backing? Here are the runners and their odds (William Hill):
Not much value in there, I'm afraid. Lampard at 8s is a joke price in a two-horse race. If you're feeling brave, wade into John Terry and add 50% to your stake. Dangerous business of course, but Terry seems to be a shoo-in, particularly as Steve McClaren had a central defender as his captain at Middlesbrough (Gareth Southgate).
Bet of the Day: England v Portugal to be a draw after 90 minutes @ 2-1
For me, today's England v Portugal quarter final has got EXTRA TIME scribbled all over it in big, black letters. So to relieve the tension of waiting for the inevitable penalty shoot-out, lump on the draw after 90 minutes @ 2-1 (Paddy Power).
In today's other game, Brazil v France, I like Ronaldinho to be official man of the match @ 5-1. He's yet to show his best and hasn't yet been man of the match at this World Cup. I expect the toothy showman to shine this evening.
Bet of the Day: Germany v Argentina
In his post, Guy was praying for an early goal in this afternoon's match between Germany and Argentina and I think he might get it. Germany have got off to flying starts in a couple of matches and they could do it again. Paddy Power is offering 7/2 on either side scoring in the first 10 minutes.
You can also get 13/8 on Franz Beckenbauer being shown on TV more times than Diego Maradona!
Bet of the Day: Brazil v Ghana
Yesterday's Bet of the Day may not have won you any money (only the width of a crossbar away from doing though), but it didn't cost you any money either. We will see if we can go one better today.
You would expect Brazil to have enough to see off Ghana in the end but after their shaky start against Japan and given the pace at which Ghana will start the game, the Africans might sneak an early goal. Striker Asamoah Gyan has looked lively and his first goalscorer odds of 14/1 with Paddy Power are quite tempting.
Bet of the Day: Paddy Power's Penalty Points
Paddy Power is offering a full refund on first or last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast bets on the Switzerland v Ukraine match if the game is decided on penalties. That gives you plenty of options, but I am going to go for a 0-1 win for Ukraine with Andriy Shevchenko to score the only goal at 22/1.
Bet of the Day: Portugal to beat Holland on penalties
It won't be too long before we see the first penalty shootout of Germany 2006, so it would not surprise me if it was today. I expect Portugal and Holland to be quite evenly matched, but if it does go to penalties I would back Portugal to triumph. Blue Square has 11/1 on Portugal winning on penalties or William Hill has 11/4 on the match going to penalties.
Bet of the Day: Argentina to see off Mexico
You may not be surprised to know that there is no value in backing Argentina to beat Mexico this evening, so I'm going to stick my neck out. A 3-1 win for Argentina with Maxi Rodriguez opening the scoring gets you 66/1 at William Hill.
Bet of the Day: Draws galore in Group F
The way the World Cup seems to be going for France at the moment I am tempted to go for a draw with Togo at 11/2. A safer bet is perhaps a draw between Switzerland and South Korea at 19/10. That result would see both teams progress from Group F at the expense of France unless Les Bleus beat Togo by more than a two goal margin. [Odds via Paddy Power]
Bet of the Day: Accumulator on today's matches
Stick an accumulator on Italy to beat the Czech Republic, Australia to beat Croatia, Brazil to beat Japan and Ghana and the USA to draw. With Blue Sq that will give you odds of around 25/1. You can place a similar bet but with Ghana to beat the USA and still get 16/1.
Bet of the Day: Argentina to beat Holland 2-1
There is not a great deal of value in today's match betting, so I'm going to go for a correct score. Blue Square has a 2-1 victory for Argentina against Holland at 8/1. Or you can lengthen those odds to 40/1 by placing a Scorecast bet with Carlos Tevez to open the scoring. Tevez is set to start because Hernan Crespo picked up a yellow card in an earlier game.
Bet of the Day 2: Sweden v England to finish 1-1
Paddy Power go 9-2 on a 1-1 draw tonight, and I'd have to say that's a scoreline I favour – I can see England scoring first, in the first half, and then we'll probably have a crappy second half in which the Swedes peg us back and get an equaliser.
If you fancy a scorecast/first scorer double, then John Terry to score first in a 1-1 draw is an appealing 75-1, again with Paddy Power. John Terry is a likely goalscorer from corners and free-kicks, particularly given England's set-piece strength. I like this bet a lot.
Bet of the Day: Ecuador to beat Germany
Bet of the Day winners are like buses; we waited ages for one and then two came along at once. Yesterday we predicted four or more goals in the Spain-Tunisia game and a 3-1 win for Spain. Stick with us we could be on a roll...
Immediately after the first round of Group A matches I had a flutter on Ecuador to beat Germany, so I might as well stick to my guns. Unfortunately, it looks like star striker Carlos Tenorio (pictured) will be rested, which will not help Ecuador's chances. Blue Square has an Ecuador victory at 7/1.
Bet of the Day: Spain to continue their goalscoring form
Spain's form against Ukraine, and Tunisia shipping two goals in an open game against Saudi Arabia, suggests that there could be goals in today's 8pm BST match. Blue Square has four or more goals being scored at 9/4 or 11/1 on a 3-1 Spain victory.
Bet of the Day: Australia to kick their way through Brazil to score
Australia are a pretty rough team at the best of times, so the frustration of facing the likes of Ronaldinho and Kaka should lead to them picking up a few cards. Blue Square is offering evens on there being the equivalent of five yellow cards or two red cards in the game, which seems quite likely.
A little more generous are the odds on an Australian to score anytime. Mark Viduka has the shortest odds, and even he is 3/1. Tim Cahill at 4/1 and Harry Kewell at 5/1 are also worth a mention.
Bet of the Day: Pavel Nedved to open the scoring against Ghana
Pavel Nedved - scorer of spectacular goals - was overshadowed by team-mate Tomas Rosicky in the Czech Republic's 3-0 win against the USA. Don't be surprised to see him trying his luck early on against Ghana to open his World Cup account. Blue Square has Nedved at 8/1 to open the scoring, or you can get 7/1 on Rosicky if you back him to continue as he started.
Bet of the Day: Ivory Coast to beat Holland 2-1 and Didier Drogba to score first
Ivory Coast were unlucky not to come away with a draw from their match with Argentina. Holland looked comfortable in possession against Serbia & Montenegro, but their defence did not look strong. Blue Square's Scorecast has an Ivory Coast 2-1 victory with Didier Drogba opening the scoring at 65/1. Alternatively you can get 10/3 on an Ivory Coast win of any description.
Bet of the Day: England 3-1 Trinidad and Tobago
William Hill is offering 5-2 on 6ft 7in Peter Crouch and 6ft 8in Dennis Lawrence (pictured) to swap shirts at the end of the match! That is a bit of a risk though because I don't think Sven has any intention of Peter Crouch finishing today's game. William Hill also has 12-1 on a 3-1 England victory, which is a bit more tempting.
Bet of the Day: Ukraine to beat Spain
Bet of the Day has enjoyed a similar start to the World Cup as Poland. It arrived so full of promise and hasn't got any wins yet! In fairness we have been highlighting some bets where you might actually win a bit of money rather than tell you the blatantly obvious. Here we go again.
I expected Spain to cruise through Group H, but looking at the lethargic opening performances of many of the big teams it would not surprise me if Ukraine shocked them. Blue Square has a Ukraine win at 16-5.
Bet of the Day: Brazil to make a point but Croatia to give them a match
World champions Brazil get their Germany 2006 campaign underway against Croatia in tonight's 8pm BST match. After all the hype, I am sure Brazil will want to show they mean business. It is not worth betting on them to win, but you can get 21-10 from Blue Square on there being more than four goals in the match. Sounds pretty good to me with Brazil's attack and Croatia capable a grabbing a goal too.
Bet of the Day: USA to surprise Czech Republic
We have already stuck our necks out and predicted that the USA will qualify from Group E, and a winning start will be important for that. Most bookies, including William Hill, have a USA win at 11-4. Not a bad price for the fifth best team in the world! If you are reluctant to put money on a USA win, you could back Landon Donovan to get on the scoresheet. His odds of 3-1 are quite generous for a player who has 25 goals for his country.
Bet of the Day: Angola and Portugal to draw
Many pundits are predicting a derby game feel to Portugal's clash with former colony Angola. Last time the sides met Angola had four players sent off. If Angola can keep Portugal quiet in the first 20 minutes (and keep more than seven men on the pitch) expect a nervy affair. Given that so many derbies end in draws, 7-2 is a pretty good price from Blue Square. Certainly no value in backing a Portugal win.
Bet of the Day: Peter Crouch to score a hat-trick against Paraguay
If you do want a flutter on the game, you can get 40-1 on Peter Crouch to score a hat-trick (William Hill and generally). Successive hat-tricks for England is very unlikely (hence the odds) but Paraguay's lack of inches at the back has been well publicised and Crouch (pictured looking mean and moody) could benefit.
If that is a bit too extravagant for you, you can get 9-2 on a strong Ivory Coast side to pull off a shock against Argentina this evening (again William Hill and generally).
Peter Crouch to top score in the World Cup?
As Crouch-mania sweeps the country I was very surprised to see that William Hill still have the world's greatest footballing giraffe at 40-1 to finish as the World Cup's leading goalscorer. He is certainly an outsider, but if he was to grab a goal or two against Paraguay I think those odds might be slashed fairly swiftly. Could be worth a responsible flutter.
Paddy Power to refund bets if Crouch's team-mates do the Robot
Paddy Power, never ones to miss a trick, are offering refunds on all losing 1st/last goalscorer bets for tomorrow's England v Jamaica friendly, if three or more England players celebrate a goal by doing the infamous Peter Crouch robot dance. If that doesn't interest you, the general match odds are as follows:
England 1-8, Draw 6-1, Jamaica 16-1
Create your own World Cup bet
3bwin, who are calling themselves 'the world's first community-based football betting site' have just launched in the UK. Their USP is that you can select which football matches are part of your bet, who can bet and how the bet is divided. (Think of an office sweepstake and apply the same betting rules to a footie match.) Still not quite sure how it all works, but sounds interesting.
World Cup Song Contest: the odds
William Hill has released odds on which World cup song will chart the highest (chart position on day of World Cup final):
Evens Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Jurgen Klinsmann? by The Tonedef All-Stars
7/4 World At Your Feet by Embrace
9/2 We're England by The TalkSport All-Stars
8/1 Time Of Our Lives by Il Divo
14/1 Three Lions 06 by Baddiel & Skinner
25/1 Hurry Up England by Jimmy Pursey/Virgin Radio
33/1 We Are The Champions by Crazy Frog
50/1 That's England Alright by Joe Fagin
50/1 Eanie Meanie by Jim Noir
World Cup Song Contest: the odds cont…
Difficult to compete with the marketing power/reach of The Sun, so I can understand why Who Do You Think You're Kidding… is hot favourite. Interesting that Three Lions is still in the mix – I wasn't aware they'd re-released it, but the bookies fear that happening, obviously.
In terms of value, I think Crazy Frog is a cracking bet at 33-1. Seems v big price for an act that has already had a massive No.1 in this country.
Personally, I'm backing Joe Fagin's That's England Alright. It's the best song and is the real people's choice. 50-1 is an insult to Joe!
Strange that Tony Christie's Is This the Way to the World Cup? isn't mentioned. I would have thought that it had as good a chance as any song listed above?
10 World Cup bets that could make you rich
Still more than 20 days to go until the start of you-know-what, so let's take a look at some interesting long-range bets. Nothing like a cheeky little bet to keep things interesting/make you rich/ruin your day… (prices correct at time of publishing)
1 Carlos Tevez to win the Golden Boot 40-1 (generally)
Argentina are too strong to f**k up again, and I can see Tevez really making a name for himself in Germany. 40-1 is a very attractive price.
2 Group H to be highest-scoring group 8-1 (Stan James)
The bookies have Group H as only sixth-favourite in this market but I see a group containing Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia as one of the most open, goal-rich groups.
3 France to win World Cup 14-1 (Bet Direct)
France are some way behind Germany, Italy and England in the running, but don't forget they have a fired-up Thierry Henry in their side, not to mention a pool of experienced, world-class players like William Gallas, Lilian Thuram, Zinedine Zidane, David Trezeguet, Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele. I rate them as the strongest European nation going into Germany '06.
10 World Cup bets that could make you rich cont…
4 England vs Paraguay to finish goalless 13-2 (William Hill)
England are notoriously slow starters and Paraguay aren't exactly goal machines. I predict a cagey, frustrating match with no goals.
5 Wayne Rooney to play no minutes at the World Cup 5-4 (William Hill)
Really sticking my neck out here, but I really think Sven will be forced to accept Rooney's injury (no mattter how fast he's progressing) and bring in Jermain Defoe as a last-minute replacement. Just a hunch.
6 USA/Ghana to finish 1st/2nd in Group E 50-1 (Sky Bet)
Sounds crazy but why not stick a quid on? I really think Italy and Czech Republic are both too old and overrated - youth will prevail at this World Cup. The USA and Ghana have a realistic chance to cause a big upset and progress at the expense of the European superpowers. Nurse, the straitjacket please…
7 Steven Gerrard to be England's top scorer 8-1 (Ladbrokes)
Not a bad punt at all, given Sven's comments about playing Stevie G as a second striker. And he is in cracking form.
8 England to score under eight goals in the tournament 11-8 (Coral)
In 1990, England scored seven goals
In 1998, England scored seven goals
In 2002, England scored six goals
In 2006… England will score under eight goals, again
9 Brazil to score 4-5 World Cup goals 28-1/Brazil to score 2-3 World Cup goals 150-1 (Ladbrokes)
OK, this almost certainly won't happen, but Australia, Japan and Croatia are no mugs and will pull out all the stops against the tournament favourites. What's to say that Brazil won't be on the end of a huge shock this year? At 150-1 and 28-1, I'd be willing to stake 50p on each bet to find out.
10 Total World Cup goals to be under 154 6-4 (Stan James)
Defences are so well-organised these days, as the low-scoring Champions League proved. There are 64 matches scheduled for this World Cup, so the average goal-per-game ratio would have to be higher than 2 for you to lose out - can't see that happening, cause there will surely be several 0-0s and several 1-0s.
As long as you gamble responsibly, you'll be fine… (nervous cough)
Betting guide: Theo Walcott specials
Paddy Power is never slow to
jump on the bandwagon offer tailor-made bets to punters, as its range of Theo Walcott specials proves. Click below to see what we make of their odds on young Theo…
T Walcott to score in the World Cup (excluding penalty shoot-outs) 2-1
Not exactly tempting value, particularly as Sven may play him on the wing.
T Walcott to play vs Paraguay on 10 June 5-2
Much more tempting bet. We know Sven likes to use his subs and his pace could prove crucial at the end of a match.
T Walcott to start against Paraguay on 10 June 12-1
Avoid this – unless England suffer several more unfortunate injuries, Walcott won't start.
T Walcott to score against Argentina in the World Cup 20-1
The chances of England meeting the old enemy are slim – let alone Walcott scoring a goal. No value here.
T Walcott to break one or more of his metatarsals in the World Cup 50-1
Doesn't bear thinking about…
So not a lot to tempt punters there – bet a few quid on Walcott to come on against Paraguay at 5-2, but otherwise keep your cash in your wallet.
You can also have a free £25 bet whilst you're at it. How does that sound? Too good to be true eh? Nonesense! Stan James have come up with Viva La Volley, a corking little game that'll see you rattling overhead kicks in the stand in no time at all!
Better still, you can make a league, so you and your mates can get in the mood for the World Cup by falling out with each other over little men volleying wondrous goals into the net.
Bet warned though... the first few attempts will be difficult...
then... addiction kicks in, and it's game over for any work you might
have to do in the office.
Betting guide: Golden Boot
Three months before the 2002 World Cup, Ronaldo was a generous 25-1 to be the tournament's Golden Boot. The Brazilian was recovering from an injury, hence the long odds, but he had to be backed at that price and didn't disappoint. I slammed on £20 and won back £500. Cheers, Ronny.
So who's going to win the ultimate Golden Boot this time? Blue Square's odds are here while our take on the key contenders is after the turn.
This year, however, the Golden Boot market is wide open. Ronaldo and
compatriot Adriano are joint favourites to win the Golden Boot in
Germany. Both are available for around 10-1 but this is poor value –
Brazil are likely to share the goals around (don't forget Ronaldinho
and Kaka) and their group is tricky. My recommended bets would be:
Fernando Torres at 33-1 Torres (pictured) is a fine young striker, and he's approaching his peak. Plus, Spain have a relatively easy group (they're in with Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia).
Luca Toni at 20-1 Not well known outside of Italy, but could be this year's Toto Schillachi. Great finisher.
Carlos Tevez at 40-1 Devastatingly talented young Argentine. Very fast and deadly in front of goal.
Ruud van Nistelrooy at 16-1 All that time spent warming the Man Utd bench means the Dutchman will have fresh legs. He'll also be ultra-determined to prove Fergie wrong and show that he's still a world-class player. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders.
Achtung! Bookies fear Germany
I've noticed that the bookies, sheep that they are, have sneakily shortened Germany's odds to win the whole shebang. They obviously fear the home-advantage factor, not to mention the Germans' uncanny knack of peaking in World Cup years. Both Ladbrokes and Coral have Germany at a risibly short 7-1. I'm sure they were about 16-1 just a couple of months ago. The German's 4-1 defeat of the USA in a recent friendly has clearly got the bookies running scared.