Thursday, 23 May 2013

Neymar must still Impress at Conf. Cup

News that Neymar has agreed in principle to join Barcelona after the 2013 Confederations Cup this summer means even more pressure is on the striker to perform in a Brazil shirt.

Neymar reportedly agreed to join Barcelona last Wednesday after much resistance, with many surprised sports betting fans assuming he would stay in South America until after the 2014 World Cup before transferring to Europe.

Well, a year early and with Barcelona in slight dire straights following a disappointing Champions League campaign the move has gone through – but now Neymar must show his worth for his national side.

Brazil kick off this summer’s eight-team tournament on 15 June and the majority of Confederations Cup punters expect the Samba Boys to make the final come the end of the month.

Neymar is part of a strong attacking unit that also includes Chelsea’s Oscar, Hulk of Zenit and Fred, who has recently found good form at Brazilian club side Fluminense.

Yet it is the small 21-year-old that is expected to get the goals this summer and the eyes of the world will be watching him now he’s joined Barcelona.

Neymar has impressed many over his blossoming career. Three years ago he was not part of the Brazil World Cup side that travelled to South Africa but since then he’s become the main forward outlet of the team, playing every game of the 2012 Olympics last summer and bagging three goals.

What most inspired the watching fans over that two-week tournament was the player’s confidence to go for goal. Neymar forced 26 shots in just six games, proving why he is such an exciting player to watch and why Brazilian fans expect so much from him.

Well, this summer he must replicate that form and justify why Barcelona are set to spend millions bringing him to Spain. The youngster has handled pressure before but this is a whole new ball game.

Neymar may get his chance on Sunday against England. Hodgson's men need to keep the Samba Boys guessing. Visit the Betfair website for more Confederations Cup Tips.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Allardyce says Carroll Signing is Main Priority

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce says the club will do all they can to sign Andy Carroll as he believes the striker is key to their chances of moving to the next level.

The Hammers finished off their season in fine style on Sunday, with skipper Kevin Nolan netting a hat-trick as they beat relegated Reading 4-2 at Upton Park, to confirm their position in the top half of the table.

Having been promoted via the play-offs last season, it’s been a highly successful campaign for the East Londoners and with Allardyce recently signing a new two-year contract, the future certainly looks bright for West Ham.

However, the boss is certainly not looking to rest on his laurels and knows he has to continue to build his squad if they are to develop.

Key to their chances will be keeping Carroll, who after arriving on loan from Liverpool last summer, has established himself as a key member of the starting line-up.

The two clubs are currently locked in negotiations over a permanent deal, with the player’s wages thought to be one of the main stumbling blocks.

Allardyce knows just how important the 24-year-old's signing could be to his side’s chances and has made hammering out a deal for the player his main priority for the summer.

"If we can start with Andy Carroll that would be a great achievement for us as he can only get better and better," the experienced boss said. "Then we build around that in terms of how we want to improve next year, with better quality. It is our target to make it a permanent situation."

"Hopefully we can get somewhere in the near future to do that.  It’s our main priority.  There are negotiations between the club and Liverpool.”

Bet on Premier League on the Bet365 website for all the latest picks for England's top division. Did you know that you can now listen to free live football commentary courtesy of Bet365?

Wenger Not Going Anywhere

With the managerial merry-go-round going on at full speed in the Premier League at the moment, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has insisted he has no plans to leave the Emirates any time soon.

The Frenchman is now by far the longest standing manager in the English top flight, having seen Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson decide he will retire at the end of the season after over 26 years at the helm at Old Trafford.

With Everton’s David Moyes filling the void at the Theatre of Dreams and Chelsea looking set to say farewell to Europa League winner, Rafa Benitez, this summer, stability is something Arsenal can enjoy going into next season.

Amid rumours of a possible move to Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain this summer, Wenger has been keen to play down any speculation regarding his future in north London. However, some pundits do believe that he still needs to find Arsenal's missing jigsaw pieces.

He said: "The rumours about my future? It does not bother me, it is part of the interest of the footballing public. You have to live with it and try to educate people.

"There will undoubtedly be a rotation of coaches, with a game of musical chairs. It concerns a lot of people but it is a rotation with respect to big-name coaches, so no matter where they go, there will always be great coaches everywhere."

It has been well documented that Arsenal have waited a long time for silverware, having not lifted a trophy since winning the FA Cup back in 2005, much to the chagrin of fans who bet sports.

However, Wenger still seems to have the hunger to win titles and the Frenchman is clearly very determined to do that with the Gunners.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Charting Chelsea’s Long Season

Chelsea’s Europa League title success is just reward for a gruelling season that saw a surprise managerial change-around midway through the campaign and the club play in eight different competitions.

As we near the final day of the Premier League season, Blues fans can breathe a sigh of relief. They have won a trophy, qualified for the Champions League, and miraculously kept a squad together over 69 competitive fixtures.

Their only major downfall was in the Champions League, where Roberto Di Matteo failed to inspire the same guile and courage that steered the Blues to the final just a few months earlier, despite heavy support in the odds on Champions League.

Chelsea crashed out of a group they really should have won, coming third behind Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk. But Wednesday’s Europa triumph was adequate silver lining for that dark cloud on their season and at least they’ve earned a trophy – unlike Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City, and Liverpool.

In the Premier League, the remit was to stay in the title race but Manchester United’s dominance meant that was impossible, so Rafael Benitez gets a B+ for finishing third (assuming they win on Sunday).

The League Cup was by no means a priority yet they still made the semi-finals: an achievement replicated in the FA Cup, where they came up against a City side desperate to make something of their own season.

Remember, Chelsea also had a jet-lagging trip to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, which they lost in the final, suffered defeat in the UEFA Super Cup and lost a start-of-season Community Shield clash with City.

When the final whistle blows at Stamford Bridge this weekend, the Blues will have completed their 69th game of the season, almost fitting two Premier League campaigns into one.

The fact they continued to battle hard against Benfica right to the end is a credit to the coaching staff, Benitez, and the players themselves, who proved last season’s success was no fluke and that hard work really does pay off in the end.

Check out the End of Season Report on Betfair for more insight into the Blues’ most recent campaign.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Champions Across Europe

Last weekend saw a number of European football clubs crowned champions of their domestic leagues, securing historic titles and Champions League football for next season.

While the English and German title races ended long ago, there was still much to play for across the continent heading into the weekend. Here is a brief round-up of who those champions are:

Serie A – Juventus
It wasn’t the prettiest of games but Juventus did enough against Palermo to scrape to a 29th Italian title and defend the trophy won last season. Arturo Vidal’s disputed penalty conversion was enough to see off Palermo and, with little competition for the Serie A title this season, fans placing a bet on football saw few rivals to Juve in the Italian league.

Juventus now have 11 more Italian league titles than any other club and look set to strengthen this summer.

Eredivisie – Ajax
A third successive Dutch title was secured at the weekend as Ajax punished Willem II Tilburg 5-0 to stay four points clear of PSV with one game remaining. In winning the title, boss, Frank de Boer, becomes the first manager to claim three successive Dutch championships.

It was Ajax’s 32nd Eredivisie success and PSV need to find a gem or two in their youth set-up to challenge next season.

Super Lig – Galatasaray
Boasting Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder, and Felipe Melo in their ranks, Galatasaray surprised few football betting news pundits by winning the Turkish league title; a 4-2 victory over Sivasspor in Istanbul earned them a 19th domestic championship.

Galatasaray impressed in the Champions League this season but are seeded in the third pot for the group stage in 2013/14, meaning they are likely to concentrate on winning the Super Lig again next term.

Superliga – FC Copenhagen
Copenhagen celebrated a 10th league title on Sunday despite their 0-0 draw with city rivals, Br√łndby. It was their third successive draw as they limped over the line with three games to spare after a spirited chase from FC Nordsj√¶lland added false excitement to this foregone conclusion.

Copenhagen qualify for the Champions League group stage next season and, while unlikely to qualify out of their group, are a good outside shout to push far in the Europa League.