Friday, April 26, 2013

Brazil World Cup Title Success in Serious Doubt

Brazil look increasingly unlikely to win the World Cup on home soil next summer after another disappointing performance on Wednesday resulted in the squad being booed by their own supporters.

A Brazil squad comprised of domestic-based players met Chile in a friendly on Wednesday night to celebrate the re-opening of the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, but their performance on the pitch was far from satisfactory.

An estimated 53,000 spectators filled the stands yet were left unsatisfied almost immediately when Chile’s Marc Gonzalez knocked in a rebound from close range to give the away side the lead on eight minutes.

Despite Brazil taking the lead in the second half through young superstar, Neymar, the overall team performance was less than satisfactory and Eduardo Vargas’ wonderful effort from distance earned Chile a draw and gave Brazil boss, Luis Felipe, Scolari another headache.

The boos that rang out across the stadium at full time are unlikely to disappear unless Brazil start winning games and sadly they have found this hard to come by, much like England, who need more home wins.

Because they will host the 2014 World Cup, they do not need to qualify for the tournament, meaning for the past two years they haven’t played a competitive match.

Friendlies, sadly, still account for your FIFA ranking and, with two defeats and four draws from their past seven games, Brazil find themselves at a record low 19th place.

Of course, the ranking system is skewed by the fact Brazil are playing friendlies and therefore the desire to win is not so great – while all opposing teams want to beat the Samba Boys – yet there is nevertheless a growing discontent in the country regarding the team’s performances.

Scolari is pressured with managing the expectations of a nation ahead of the World Cup and nothing but victory will satisfy the Brazil fans. It is a tough ask and not one many Betfair football pundits think he can achieve, for the team are struggling simply to eke out meaningless wins a year before the finals.

Monday, March 25, 2013

England Running Scared

Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic thinks that England are running scared ahead of their vital World Cup Qualifier in Podgorica on Tuesday, and he has accused the English players and media of making their excuses before the game even kicks off.

Montenegro’s biggest threat certainly comes from their two strikers, Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic who both ply their trade in Italy, with Fiorentina and Juventus respectively.

As well as making their mark on the Italian domestic game the two both have good goalscoring records in European football  and have bagged 24 goals in 53 international games between them and Brnovic hopes that the pair can make light of Roy Hodgson’s defensive selection headache on Tuesday.

"We have Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic. Maybe England are more scared of this game than we are," Brnovic said to Premier League betting news pundits.
The last time that England played away in Montenegro, in October 2011, they came away with a 2-2 draw but, at that stage, their qualification for Euro 2012 was as good as secure.

On Tuesday, however, England must win to kick start their World Cup 2014 qualification campaign and Brnovic knows that the pressure will firmly be on the Group H favourites.

This, he suggests, could explain why the English media are already making excuses for England’s performance; "I can say such English legends and journalists are already trying to resort to excuses for what will happen on Tuesday. Everything seems to bother them," he said to the football betting news.

England will certainly not get an easy ride in Montenegro but they should be confident that they have the necessary quality to dispatch Brnovic’s side.

If, as the Montenegro coach, hopes England are provoked by his words and allow themselves into a dog-fight then they could come away from Podgorica with little to show and little chance left of topping Group H.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Premier League Quality Lacking in Afcon

On the eve of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, former Leeds United and South Africa captain, Lucas Radebe, told a national newspaper about his fears for the tournament after another low turnout from Premier League players.

The tournament, which kicked off in South Africa on Saturday, is Africa’s major international football event and is widely anticipated to be an exciting contest this winter. Yet poor scheduling, according to Radebe, is keeping top-flight players away from the competition as they choose to represent their club sides instead.

“The only way to change it is to bring the competition in line with the European leagues but that is something the organisers don’t want to do,” Radebe told The Independent.

“But now [players] are suffering because clubs know they will lose them for more than a month in the middle of the season and can be reluctant to let them leave.”

Indeed, Radebe is absolutely correct in his assertion that Afcon players have missed out despite the standard of football in Africa growing to unprecedented levels. For while African players now litter Europe’s major leagues the development of international football on the continent is still way below its potential.

Players cannot or do not want to play in a tournament that cuts into their season. In 2011, there were 37 internationals from Africa in the Premier League, yet a year later just 13 attended the Africa Cup of Nations; that is over half of the 28 that played in 2006, despite six further years of development.

This year will see 15 Premier League players in the competition plus a good number of others from around Europe. Yet there is real concern from Premier League betting fans that if players – such as Steven Pienaar of South Africa and Morocco’s Marouane Chamakh – continue to stay away, then the tournament will fall into neglect within the next decade.

Afcon organisers have already switched the biannual event to odd years in order to avoid clashing with World Cups– a decision that should progress to playing in the summer months if they are to make this tournament available to all players.

Interested in the Afcon? Pay a visit to the African Cup of Nations website on Betfair for the latest odds, picks, and news for the tournament:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lennon boosts midfield ahead of Champions League ties

Celtic boss Neil Lennon already appears to be preparing for the future after the club agreed a deal with Central Coast Mariners for young midfielder Tom Rogic.

Rogic, 20, has attracted much interest from British clubs this January transfer window after making his international debut in 2012. The Australian has developed into a key player for A-League team Central Coast, who topped the 2011/12 table before falling in the playoffs.

According to reports in Australia and the UK, the Mariners have confirmed a deal has been reached between the two clubs – thought to be in the region of £400,000.

“Central Coast Mariners FC wish to officially advise that terms have been agreed for the transfer of Tomas Rogic to Celtic FC,” a club statement read.

“Rogic will now travel to Glasgow from Spain with the Bhoys, and will discuss personal terms with the Scottish giants over the coming days.”

Togic will join up with the squad this week and could be in line for a place in the first XI come the
weekend – where the Hoops face Hearts at home in the league. For many fans in the betting world, it is a progressive move that proves Lennon is already thinking about the future of this team, which many have claimed has peaked now it’s reached the Champions League last 16.

Some of Celtic’s big-name players, such as Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper, are expected to leave in the summer and Lennon here has shown his dedication to replacing that talent once it leaves Scottish shores.

He beat off interest from QPR and Reading for the 20-year-old Togic and, although not the finished article yet, this midfielder playmaker should be a Celtic Park favourite by next season.

Don’t forget to check out the Betfair FA cup  site for all the latest betting news ahead of the fourth round next weekend. There will also be plenty of interviews, odds, tips and expert opinion – check it all out here:

Monday, December 31, 2012

Time for Bentley to Shine

Once described as the “next David Beckham”, David Bentley has found it hard to live up to the mantle of one of the great icons of the game but, with the midfielder set to return to English football, it might well be time for Bentley to show what he is capable of. 

Having burst onto the stage at perennial football betting favourites, Arsenal, and learning his trade with some of the Premier League greats in the early 2000s, Bentley soon found first-team games with the Gunners hard to come by.
Manager, Arsene Wenger, clearly saw something in Bentley that was not fitting in with his ethos at the north London club and the youngster was shipped on loan to the likes of Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers, before making a permanent move to Ewood Park.

Bentley has pretty much been a nomad ever since and a move to Tottenham Hotspur saw further loan spells with the likes of Birmingham City, West Ham United, and, most recently, Russian outfit, Rostov.

However, the now 28-year-old looks like he has done plenty of growing up and a return to White Hart Lane is set for next month with a host of clubs interested in the midfielder.

Bentley told Sky Sports: "I have really enjoyed my time at Rostov and I am feeling fully fit after playing on a regular basis.

"I will return to Tottenham in January and find out what is happening with regards my future, but ideally I want to be playing - whether that be at Tottenham or somewhere else."

It remains to be seen whether he has a future under Spurs boss, Andre Villas-Boas, but Bentley is looking forward to getting back to England and having one last proper crack at the rigors of the Premier League – and, with it, a shot at playing for his country at World Cup 2014.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another FIFA project leading to World Cup schedule worries

Work on a number of projects for the 2013 FIFA World Cup are reportedly behind schedule, with transport infrastructure and stadiums lagging behind construction deadlines.

There is a major concern in the footballing world that Brazil won’t be ready to host the tournament with just 18 months to go before the first match is scheduled to be played. Only last month FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke revealed host city Manaus was lagging behind schedule and was less than 50% complete despite needing to be ready by December 2013.

Although Manaus may be ready for the World Cup, Brazil must have the stadium up to FIFA-recognised standards six months before the world descends upon Brazil, in order to carry out extensive safety and events testing. If they fall too far behind, Valkce suggested cities may even be struck off the schedule.

“You cannot have the stadium six weeks in advance, that is technically impossible,” he said.

“There is no plan B, you can always decide to take one stadium off. We did it in Germany for the Confederations Cup and South Africa for the Confederations Cup. It works.”

Indeed, Valcke’s words should come as a real warning to Brazil to get their act together over preparations for the World Cup. The same warning was given to South Africa before the 2010 tournament, with the Rainbow Nation spending way above budget to ensure operations eventually met deadlines.

The same is destined to happen in Brazil, where the country’s Audits Court have already condemned a $650m light railway project as being so far behind schedule it won’t be completed by summer 2014.

FIFA, it seems, have once again got themselves in a mess. Thankfully Brazil’s jewel in the crown, the Maracana Stadium, is only slightly behind schedule. Yet this is a real warning to future World Cup hosts like Russia and Qatar that work must be started as soon as possible if they are to avoid delay problems and spiralling costs.

Don’t forget to check out the Betfair Capital One cup odds specials ahead of Leeds v Chelsea next week, as well as the latest news, tips, expert opinion and the latest  FA Cup odds

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turkey deserves Euro 2020 final rights

The one nation to reject UEFA’s proposals for a continent-wide 2020 European Championships was Turkey. They were right to do so. The Turkish FA had been planning a bid to host the tournament themselves yet were scuppered by UEFA president Michel Platini’s insistence that Euro 2020 should have numerous host cities.

The corridors of the Turkish FA must have been shaking as UEFA’s executive committee made the decision in Lausanne last Thursday. It was the brainchild of Platini and received much criticism when first voiced last year, yet support has grown for the idea after witnessing financial and infrastructure difficulties leading up to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

So, UEFA have taken the decision to stage a Europe-wide tournament, leaving Turkey in the cold. Instead of welcoming nations to bid for the tournament, potential stadiums will vie for the chance to become one of 12 or 13 host cities across the continent.

As good as this idea may be, does anyone else not feel that Turkey has been cast aside here? Had FIFA pondered the possibility of hosting a global 2018 World Cup when England were bidding for the rights two years ago there would have been uproar.

Turkey’s build-up efforts for their bid have been completely ignored by UEFA and European football in general; isolating their FA and making them look like ‘the bad guys’ for objecting to Platini’s idea.

There must be some sort of compensation for Turkey, who were led down a glitzy avenue only to be bundled into a dark closet and muffled. There are reports the FA will bid for Wembley to host the final. Well, why not give that honour to Turkey, the only country that bothered to show interest in the first place? Turks will certainly be of a nervous disposition when the IOC decides between Turkey, Madrid and Tokyo for the right to host the 2020 Olympics next September.

Istanbul has hosted major games before and Turkey was ready to invest millions into infrastructure. Galatasaray’s fantastic new 52,000-seater stadium proves the Turks can stage games to UEFA standard and so should rightly host the Euro 2020 final.

Don’t forget to head to Betfair for all the latest CapitalOne Cup Betting markets now we have reached the quarter-final stage. Plus you can also use their Football In-play betting markets to have a bet while the match is being played.