16 June 2012

Euro 2012 | Greece v Russia Preview | Betting Tip

Russia, clear leaders of Group A arrive at this match in the National Stadium knowing that a win will see them winning the group and playing the runner-up from Group B.

While the BBC website is reporting that Russia have no injuries, Dick Advokaat at his press conference has confirmed that Aleksandr Kokorin has a hamstring injury ruling him out of the rest of the tournament, and Konstantin Zyryanov has an illness, which makes him doubtful for the Greece game.

For Greece, however, this is a game which they have to win in order to progress.  And they will dos without their first choice goalkeeper, Costas Chalkias, and Avraam Papadopoulis.  Sokratis Papastathopoulis returns following his one match suspension, however.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

I can only see a win for Russia here; they have played so much better than the other teams and are the only team to have a positive goal difference in the group and Over 2.5 Goals can be backed at 2.04 (21/20) at Betfair.

Euro 2012 | This much we know | 2nd Round Summary

Group A

Russia are the only team in this group to have a positive goal difference, which is a fair refection of their dominance so far.  They have to play Greece, who have been woeful in their two games thus far, and who are not going to qualify.

The czech Republic and Poland play each other, and Poland need to win this match, or else the Czech Republic and Russia will go into the quarter finals.

Group B

The so-called "group of death" has seen the death of the Netherlands.  Their shock defeat, caused entirely by profligacy of their strikers (they have had 46 goal attempts producing 1 goal over 2 games).  This has left Germany leading this group.

Germany play Denmark next, in a game which Denmark must obtain a result better than Portugal, and Portugal play the Netherlands. As these matches are played concurrently, Germany must also get at least a point from this game.

Group C

Spain are, as expected, top of this group.  The surprise is that Croatia are second, thanks to an unexpected draw with Italy and a defeat of Ireland.

By a mathematical quirk, if Spain and Croatia manage to score a 2-2 draw (or any higher score draw) then the Italians match with Ireland will be a dead rubber.

On the assumption that Italy beat Ireland, they will qualify if Spain or Croatia win.  So the chances are that Italy and Spain will qualify from this group.

Group D

The next matches in Group D will show us how good England are compared to the others in the group.  England have to play Ukraine, for whom it will be a home match.  England will need to ensure that they get a point at the very least.  If England lose, they will need to hope that France lose also.

15 June 2012

Euro 2012 | England v Sweden Preview | Betting Tip

Tony Blair, following his 1997 election victory told his more left-leaning backbench MPs not to forget that it was New Labour what won it.  By which he meant the the voters had returned New Labour, and not the old socialist Labour.

At whichever stage England leave this Euro 2012 tournament, Roy Hodgson might well echo these sentiments in a press conference.  It will have been a defensive 4-4-2 what (nearly) won it.

Although it has been widely reported that Andy Carroll will be called into the team with Oxlade-Chamberlain relegated to the bench because Sweden are rightly perceived to be fragile against high crosses and corners, I don't expect England to be very much more attack minded than in the France game.

Andy Carroll gives England a target man they missed against France, and I expect an old fashioned 'attack on the break' type of game similar to the last one, albeit looking to get round behind the Swedish defence as often as possible.  Ukraine did this with some success, as can be seen here;

Analysis by FourFourTwo Statzone [iTunes link]

One word of caution; Steven Gerrard said, a little dismissively, at yesterday's press conference, "Sweden are no France."  To which the obvious answer is "England are no France, either."  Let's hope that that comment doesn't come back to haunt him.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

England are good defensively, and have yet to score more than one goal per game under Roy Hodgson, so I expect a low scoring game which England should have the ability to win.

With that in mind I suggest England to win (Draw No Bet) at Betfair at 1.74 (8/11).

Tottenham Hotspur | Who was Spurs best manager? Redknapp

Following Harry Redknapp's surprise (to me, anyway) sacking by Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, I thought I would have a look to see how successful he actually was as a manager.

Note that I used the term successful, as opposed to 'good.'  I am seeking not to determine the impact of Mr Redknapp  as a manager in the last 4 years, just his 'winnngness' if you like.

It is as well also to restrict analysis to the modern era.  This can be defined in many ways, but taking it to mean since the inauguration of the Premier League in season 1992-93 the table of the top 20 managers in the club's history below shows that Harry Redknapp has won 49.5% of his matches, more than any other Premiership era Tottenham manager.

Win %
 Frank Brettell
 Arthur Turner
 John Cameron
 David Pleat 
 Harry Redknapp
 Bill Nicholson
 Arthur Rowe
 Fred Kirkham
 Jimmy Anderson 
 Percy Smith
 Doug Livermore
 Ray Clemence
 Martin Jol 
 Peter Shreeves
1984–1986 & 1991–1992
 Jack Tresadern
 Peter McWilliam
1913–1927 & 1938–1942
 'The Directors'
 Joe Hulme
 Keith Burkinshaw
 Terry Venables
 Billy Minter

So why would you sack a successful manager?  The Chairman, David Levy, is said to be disappointed to have lost out on a Champions League spot.  Tottenham were 10 points clear of a guaranteed Champions League spot when the FA sacked Fabio Capello as England manager.  Immediately the media and England fans started a campaign to get Harry Redknapp installed as England manager.  According to Harry Redknapp, it was complete coincidence that this coincided with a drop in form for Tottenham.

14 June 2012

Euro 2012 | Croatia v Italy Preview | Betting Tip

Italy had a well-deserved draw against Spain in their first match and will be looking forward to a hard fought win against a Croatia who come from a relatively easy win against an out-of-sorts Ireland.

Italy have no new injury worries, and Prandelli will need to decide between starting with Balotelli, who gave an unimpressive performance against Spain.  The obvious alternative is to promote Di Natale from the bench.  Croatia looked weak at set-pieces, and Italy will hope to test them as often as possible.

Croatia may consider themselves lucky that Shay Given, the Irish keeper, had an off day in their last match, and with a fully fit squad, may like to pit two strikers against an Italy defence which many suspect is susceptible to crosses and corners.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

This is a difficult game to call.  So, being conservative, I would plump for Italy win or draw available at Bet365 for 1.33 (30/100).

13 June 2012

Premiership Rights To Be Shared Between BT and BSkyB

For the first time BT will share the rights to show Premiership matches with BSkyB from the 2013-14 season.

There will be 154 matches, an increase of 16 in the current deal, 116 of which will be broadcast by BSkyB.

The deal is worth £3.018bn, an increase of £1.25bn (approximately £14m more per club) on the current deal.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said;

"We are entering a new era with financial fair play, I'm hoping it will get invested in things other than playing talent. It should also be able to achieve sustainability," 
Good luck with that, Mr Scudamore.  I wonder who will end up paying the extra £1.25bn?

It also remains to be seen how BT will deliver the programmes.  They can be expected to push their broadband packages, but will this mean that those who do not have fast internet access available (those who live in 'not-spots') will also not have access to Premiership matches?

12 June 2012

Euro2012 | Denmark v Portugal Preview | Betting Tip

After shocking The Netherlands in their first match of the tournament, Denmark are reporting no injuries for their next match against Portugal.  Denmark are developing a habit of defeating teams which are, on paper at least, better; having already beaten Portugal three times in the previous four occasions the two teams have met.

Portugal are also injury free.  Following their much criticised defensive performance against Germany; a match which they lost,will need to win this encounter.  Their coach, Paulo Bento, said to reporters;

"There are no favourites tomorrow.  Of course, Denmark are better placed, but we'll give 100%, and having beaten them before, we can beat them again."

Betfair have other ideas.  The betting exchange has Portugal at 1.94 (20/21), and they are, man-for-man, the better team.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

My advice for this game would be to lay Portugal with the intention of backing them for higher odds soon after the game starts.

Euro2012 | Match Preview Greece v CZech | Betting Tip

The two teams stride out at the National Stadium in Warsaw this evening having had quite different encounters in their first match.

The Czech Republic will be smarting from their 4-1 defeat to Russia.  Statistically, though, the Czechs pretty well matched their Russian opponents; except, of course, in the one stat which matters, the final score.  One key difference was that the Czechs played a little higher up the pitch than Russia, as can be seen below.

Screenshots from the FourFourTwo Stats Zone App

The Greek side, however, although they managed a draw with hosts, Poland, will need to play tonight without their first choice centre halves.  Sokratis Papaastathopoulis is suspended for tonight's encounter, somewhat harshly in most people's view, and his partner, Papadopoulos, is injured.

In order to progress, both teams will want a win from this encounter.  Greece will face Russia in their last match and so will want to put 3 points in the bag tonight, but the Czech Republic could be out of the tournament if they fail to win.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

These teams may well cancel each other out, but there should be goals, so I will tentatively go for a 1-1 draw, available at 7.4 (13/2) at Betfair.

If the Correct Score market is a bit rich for you the draw is currently priced at 3.3 (9/4).

Don't put your shirt on it, though.

11 June 2012

Euro 2012 | What Now For England

As a wave of small-time thievery swept England this evening, with thousands of England fans leaving their homes and pubs saying - "We'll take that," following Roy Hodgon's England team's 1-1 draw with France, the question of what this means for the England team.

The England performance was certainly at the very least, workman-like.  They were out-passed and suffered from only having 35% of possession, but defended well and kept France down to just the one goal from 21 attempts (12 of which were blocked).

As this will have been the most difficult match for Hodgson's men, playing Sweden next, followed by Ukraine, qualification from the group should be relatively straightforward.

England is available on Betfair at 1.61 (8/13), which seems like a good price.

After Sweden, there remains a more difficult encounter with Ukraine, who responded well to the home crowd's encouragement to beat Sweden 2-1.  England, however, will have Wayne Rooney available which should offer more firepower in front of goal.

German Team Bus Clamped

Dutch fans clamp German team bus in dastardly prank.

Hat-tip to offthepost

Spanish Press Reaction

The press and media in Spain are generally as jingoistic as those in any other country; especially so now that they have a world-beating football team.

AS, the sports paper whose editor famously said: "We are handsome, Spanish, Catholic, and we support Real Madrid."  So you know what you are going to get. leads with;

[A tie between two greats.  The Italy game surprised Spain who are still in the running.  Cesc Fábregas equalised after a goal by Di Natale.  Fernando Torres held the win in his boots.]

Which I agree with, apart maybe from the surprised bit.  That Italy were a good team who had the ability to frustrate Spain shouldn't have surprised too many.

El País led with.

[Spain hasn't been matched. The team equalised a goal by a good Italy (1-1) and lost its way to victory thanks to the mistake of Torres.

Game Preview France v England 11-06-12

After the Netherlands game against Denmark it would be tempting to conclude that Denmark's organisation defeated a flair team of superstars and so a relatively poor England team could win the competition.

That may be a mistake.  Denmark were not all that well organised defensively.  There were outstanding performances from the centre halves Agger and Kjær for sure, but The Netherlands were allowed 32 attempts on goal, only 5 of which were on target.  Well organised teams do not allow that many goal attempts.  The fact is that The Netherlands were profligate in front of goal and were made to pay by a team who scored with one of their 8 goal attempts.

Having said that, I think England could get a point from this match.  Roy Hodgson's teams are usually well organised defensively, and England have had quite a few days to be drilled.  Steven Gerrard made light of the expected over 30 degree temperature at yesterday's press conference, but England don't always perform well against strong teams in the heat.

France only scored 1.5 points per match in the qualifiers and only let 4 in.  They also have some significant injury concerns in Diarra, M'Vila and Matuidi, which also points to the draw being a good possibility.

10 June 2012

Game Preview: Spain v Italy

Spain are the bookies' favourites for both the competition and this match; Betfair have Spain at 1.8 (4/5).  Neither team have lost a match in the qualifiers, and they both scored more than 2 goals per match.  The only fly in Spain's ointment being he loss of their striker of choice, David Villa.

One tactical move to look for in the match can be gleaned in this quote from Prandelli:

"De Rossi is totally convinced about his ability to play centre-back," Prandelli said. "He has played there for Roma and if he had to play in this position he won't simply be a defender but a defensive midfielder. We want to use him in this position because during the match we could make tactical changes.

Italy can therefore be expected to flood the midfield to prevent Spain from playing.  As this will probably be Italy's most difficult match, I have a suspicion that it could be a low scoring affair.  Italy will be looking to get the ball to Pirlo and then on to whoever is chosen up front.  Balotelli anyone?

Injuries and Suspensions

Italy have Andrea Barzagli unavailable (he may be replaced in the squad).

Spain have no injury concerns