Four possible summer transfers for Barcelona

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There’s still three weeks to go before the summer transfer window officially opens, but that hasn’t stopped all of the major European clubs either announcing deals or positioning themselves to do so as soon as it hits midnight on June 30.

Barcelona have already secured Frenkie De Jong from Ajax, and after a string of world class performances since the announcement was made, it already looks like the Catalans are getting a bargain, and a player who is ready made for their midfield.

He won’t be the only new player to ply his trade at the Camp Nou next season, however, so let’s take a look at four more who are being rumoured to be wearing Blaugrana in 2019/20. Continue reading

How to be Great at Fantasy Football & Football Bets

Much loved and passionately followed, the joy of football enhances tenfold by linking it to the excitement and entertainment of fantasy football and sports betting. Fantasy football is a great way to be a part of the game in an intense manner, not just talking about it, but indulging in every aspect of football on and off the field. Sports betting, on the other hand, is all about putting your money where it matters with a chance to walk away with significant earnings that you can boast about, very much like winning a fantasy league title.

Whether playing in a fantasy football league or betting on the actual Premier League, there are striking similarities in the way a fantasy player or a bettor can go about making informed decisions. With a little bit of information and a whole lot of self-analysis, it is easy to come out on top and claim your trophy along with the team that wins the championship.

Watch More Games

It’s quite easy to bet on matches these days without having any prior knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right tactic. Whether you are playing fantasy football or trying to make money from Manchester City winning the Premier League, the more games you watch, the more informed decisions you can make. Do remember that getting an update about a particular match from a friend is not the same as watching it yourself.

They might have missed out on essential aspects such as who played, who didn’t, and what was the form of a particular player, that can come in handy to you when strengthening your fantasy team or placing a winning bet.

Listen to the Pundits

They are called “pundits” for a reason, and it pays to listen to expert analysis of games to better understand team dynamics. However, too much information is never useful and can often create unnecessary doubt. It is best to have a few trusted voices that you follow regularly and stick with them long term. Moreover, when looking at 2019 betting offers, check the leading bookmakers and read up on their recommendations.

Most bookies have detailed analysis of upcoming games to help punters make an informed choice. Best of all, punters can pick up some excellent bonuses, free bets, and enhanced odds while doing the above to increase their winnings.

Gut Instinct

The most vital aspect of playing in a fantasy league or betting is to follow your gut instinct. Take the recently concluded Premier League and the top scorers of the competition. Even though Liverpool came in second, and almost everyone had Mohamed Salah to take away the Golden Boot with ease, there were two other winners this year who went on to share the trophy. So, don’t get diverted by what everyone thinks, and stick with your instincts because the magic of football lies in its unpredictable nature that is full of surprises.

Spread Your Plays

Fantasy football enthusiasts very much like astute bettors tend to dip their hands in all
possible jars. While indulging in several fantasy football games can prove to be a little time consuming and confusing, if you are not mentally prepared for it, spreading your bets across the table in a sports competition can only lead to more favourable chances of winning big.

For fantasy football, being a part of different leagues is a fantastic learning experience, only if you remember not to go overboard and signup for more than you can handle.

Week 38: Best 11 Players of the Weekend in Fantasy La Liga

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La Liga has ended for another season. As we knew weeks ago Barcelona are champions and Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid made up  2nd and 3rd places respectively. Valencia grabbed the final Champions League spot from Getafe and Girona joined Huesca and Rayo Vallecano back to the Segunda division.

We take a look below at the final best team of the Spanish league season, who performed the best and were they in your team?

Formation 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Jaume- Valencia

A couple of shot stoppers got the required 7 points but we will give this to Juame since his efforts more than helped Valencia reach the Champions League position by finishing in 4th place. It was also Valencia’s 3rd win in a row.

Defender: Daniel Wass- Valencia

Keeping with Valencia, Wass was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win over Valladolid ensuring Champions League football. Wass made some very important interceptions.

Defender: Roberto Rosales-Espanyol

Roberto Rosales picked up a fantastic 9 points at the weekend as he scored Espanyol’s opening game and helped keep a clean sheet. The result gave Espanyol the final spot in the Europa League too.

Defender: Martin Mantovani- Huesca

Huesca are relegated but Martin Mantovani had a weekend to remember. Huesca beat Leganes 2-1 and Mantovani came off the bench to get 2 goals and win the game for his club, that’s no mean feat for a defender who hadn’t been in good form.

Defender: Marc Bartra- Real Betis

Real Betis stunned Real Madrid at the Bernabeu as they beat them 2-0 in the final game of the season. Bartra kept  a clean sheet which is rare away to Madrid and should be applauded and did fantastically well.

Midfielder: Adri Embarba- Rayo Vallecano

Adri Embarba has made a few team of the weeks and that is good going for a player that plays for the bottom club. They drew 2-2 against Celta Vigo with Embarba getting the first goal and then assisting in the second.

Midfielder: Carlos Soler- Valencia

Carlos Soler earned 6 points as he scored the first goal as Valencia beat Valladolid 2-0 to finish in 4th place. Soler has 31 points overall from 27 games played and that was just his 2nd goal of the season.

Midfielder: Victor Sanchez- Espanyol

Espanyol made it to the final Europa League spot on the final day of the season and some of that success was down to Sanchez who assisted in both goals in their 2-0 victory, to earn 5 points.

Midfielder: Daniel Parejo-Valencia

Parejo has been one of the stalwarts and make up of Valencia’s team for some time and he was able to earn 4 points at the weekend and squeeze into the team of the weekend as Valencia beat off Getafe to finish in 4th place.

Striker: Iago Aspas- Celta Vigo

Iago Aspas is the 5th best striker in fantasy la liga and he scored both of Celta Vigo’s goals when they drew 2-2 with Vallecano. What was impressive is that they were 2-0 down with just ten minutes to play.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona

Of course it’s that man again, the one and only Lionel Messi who rounds off the best players of the weekend on the final day of the season. Messi scored another 2 goals as Barcelona drew their final game away to Eibar finishing 2-2. It was Messi’s 36th goal of the season.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best La Liga Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play www.liga-fantasy.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ligue 1: Week 37: Player Picks for the Weekend

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Most of the major European leagues have finished but in France Ligue 1 doesn’t end until the end of the month. PSG are champions of course and Lille and Lyon look like they will get Champions League places. Relegation is still up for grabs though, could Caen really survive and take down the 2017 champions Monaco, it looks more likely as the season draws to a close.

Below we pick in a 4-4-2 formation the players that could be most likely to shine and earn you points this weekend.

Goalkeeper: Stephane Ruffier- Saint Etienne

Stephane Ruffier has been superb in goal for Saint Etienne and the club have conceded just 3 in the last 6 games. They will be at home to Nice and this is the clubs last roll of the dice. Ruffier can be added to your team for 7.5m.

Defender: Marcelo- Lyon

Marcelo has played 31 times and is ranked as the best Lyon defender this season. Lyon are at home and really need the win. They will have a tough game against Caen who are fighting to stay up, but Lyon possess more quality and Marcelo is just 8m.

Defender: Dani Alves

Dani Alves for PSG could have a good game, this is PSG’s last home match of the season and it may well be Alves last game for PSG given his age. He will want to put in a good performance and they are playing Dijon who are really struggling, Alves could well earn some valuable points here.

Defender: Hilton- Montpellier

Hilton has played almost the whole season and Montpellier kept a clean sheet in their last game as they try and finish the season on a high. They are playing Nantes at the weekend but they are at home and every chance to get a good result, he is 6m.

Defender: Lamine Kone- Strasbourg

Kone has a had a decent season and has become a staple figure in the side. It is true that Strasbourg have just 1 clean sheet in their past five games however the club will feel confident that they can do so when they entertain Rennes at the weekend and Kone should be looked into.

Midfielder: Remi Oudin- Reims

Oudin is valued at 10m but he has had a great season for Reims even if the club are going through a difficult spell. He has assisted in 3 goals and scored a further 10 and with the season almost near the end he might be worth sticking in your team.

Midfielder: Arber Zeneli- Reims

Sticking with Reims, is Zeneli another player that can switch it on and create chances. Reims have not been in good form but have the quality to finish the season well and they will be playing Bordeaux who have been very poor this season so their luck could change. Zeneli can be yours for just 6.5m.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr-Rennes

Sarr has been in good form for Rennes as they take on Strasbourg away at the weekend it what could end up being quite a close game. Sarr has scored 7 goals and also assisted 6 times and he is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Wylan Cyprien- Nice

Cyprien has so much quality but what tends to happen is that he goes through periods of the season quiet. The question is can he finish it on form and with a bang? He can be brought into your team for a bargain 5m and Nice will be playing Saint Etienne at the weekend.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Nicolas Pepe has been one of the best players in Ligue 1. This is Lille’s last game at home to secure 2nd place and it all looks set for Pepe to add to his goals this season. He should be taken on.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- PSG

This could be Cavani’s final game in Paris as he is set to leave the club. He has scored so many goals for the club. Kylian Mbappe is struggling with fitness and Neymar is banned from this game, so this should be Cavani’s time to step up and score a few goals. He is 13m which is expensive but at the same time the players will be creating many chances for him, that’s for sure.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here fantasyligue1.com

 

 

 

The History & Rise of betting in football

When was the last time you watched a football match from start to finish without seeing a single betting brand? Whether you watch at home or in the stadium, you’ll have seen one somewhere. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is open to interpretation and who you ask.

It used to be that placing a bet on a football team to win required a trip to a betting shop on your street. Now, you can bet on when you think a specific player will score a goal in a match  (within a 10-minute range) without leaving your house. Football betting has evolved into live betting, known as In-Play betting, and if you can take your money out if you don’t like an event is going (called Cashing Out). It’s akin to wagering at a roulette table and leaving when you’ve had enough – a sense of control over your own financial destiny.

But how did football betting get so popular? What caused the rise and evolution? This article will investigate the history of football betting and pinpoint key moments of change.

The Football Pools

One of the first major practices in football betting were the football pools. There was already a history of football match predictions before the football league had even started. A year before the Football League was formed, a “one guinea prize” was given to whoever predicted the results of four football matches*. Then in 1923, the Littlewoods Football Pools was founded. Its popularity lead to more pools being created over a 23-year period. Jackpots increased and the first million pound winners came from a syndicate in 1986. But the creation of the National Lottery hampered the Pools with its larger jackpots. Littlewoods Pools was sold for £161 million in 2000, along with Zetters and Vernons in later years, re-branded as The New Football Pools. Although they aren’t as popular as they were, a man from Scotland won the highest pools jackpot to date in 2010, winning £3,001,511.

Changes To Gambling Law In The UK

In 1960, the government passed the Betting and Gaming Act. The main purpose of the law was to “take gambling off the street”. Fans of Peaky Blinders may have seen young men running around to collect money from punters and that’s what they wanted to stop. This allowed betting shops to open.

Ladbrokes

Before that, Ladbrokes was established by Mark and Cyril Stein. Once the law was passed, they used their profits to open shops and began revolutionising football betting. They became the first bookmakers to introduced fixed-odds betting on football matches. This differed from parimutuel betting where the payout wasn’t decided until the end. Punters could figure out what they’d win and make better decisions on what to bet. Ladbrokes grew in popularity and stature, adding stakes in casinos, hotels, and bingo halls.

The Gambling Act 2005 relaxed laws on betting even further, allowing betting companies to advertise on radio and television. Yet another door opened for the sports betting industry.

Sky Sports

As betting shops grew, the biggest change in football betting behaviour took place in 1992. Greg Dyke (who was then the chief executive or LWT and later became chairman of the FA) met with representatives from Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to propose a breakaway from the Football League. The proposal was incentivised with lucrative TV deals. Sky Sports was formed in 1991, starting as The Sports Channel in 1990.

British Sky Broadcasting had already created Eurosport in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union (celebrating their 30th birthday this year) and had a healthy sports programming market before the Premier League started. It was that clout that helped form the league and in return, they won rights to cover matches in the UK. But for viewers, it was the chance to experience exciting football from their sofas and place bets at the bookies beforehand. The flow of money was astronomical and like nothing the sport had ever seen. Football had become more than a mere spectator sport – it was a money sport now.

New avenues of betting

“You don’t wanna miss this!” The sort of line you’d hear before a big match on Sky Sports. But what if you’d forgotten to place a bet at the bookies? Could you risk running out and missing the start? What if there was a queue? If only you could place bets at home. People had phoned in to place bets with bookies before but it wasn’t ideal. Football television deals weren’t the only advancement in the 90s. Home technology was exploding at the time with the internet and mobile phones entering households around the country. Online casinos began popping up on the internet in the mid-90s due to new laws introduced overseas.

By 2000, two of the biggest online betting companies were formed – Bet365 and Betfair. The former was created by Denise Coates, daughter of Stoke City chairman Peter Coates, in a portakabin (via a loan from Barclays, sponsors of the Premiership between 2001-2016). As of March 2018, had revenues of £2.86 billion. They offered free bets as welcome offers to new customers, markets on global sports, and lower leagues. Now you could place bets on third tier Dutch football if you wanted.

Betfair was founded in June 2000 and became the first betting company to sponsor an
English team, when they sponsored Fulham during the 02/03 season. The notable difference between Betfair and other bookmakers were they were a “betting exchange”. This meant punters can back or lay an outcome, or trade bets in-play. But there’s always an edge for the bookie and Betfair’s came from a commission on all bets placed.
Smartphones and tablet computers became affordable items in the mid-to-late 00s and
bookmakers started shifting focus on mobile betting. Bet365 became exclusively online by 2005 and Betfair were already there from inception. In-play betting was introduced and suddenly punters could experience everything about a football match without lifting their feet (but definitely lifting a finger).

Conclusion

What does this all mean for the future? Has football betting hit its ceiling? It’s doubtful. 45% of Premier League clubs had a betting/gambling company as their main shirt sponsor in 2018/19, according to Statista. When you think the first one was in 2002, that’d make it 5% back then and less than 2% for the whole Football League. Growth is crucial to keep the industry thriving but the lives of punters needs to be a priority. Problem betting is still increasing as millions of pounds are squandered annually.

Self exclusion is an act of restricting problem gamblers, practised by online bookmakers. The number of self excluded gamblers has grown nearly 41x times between 2010/11 and 2017/18**. While football betting may have given fans a sense of control over what they watch and how they react to outcomes, this shouldn’t be at their psychological expense.

* – (“Our Football Prize Competitions”. Cricket and Football Field. Bolton. vi (155): 8. 10 September 1887.)
** – Reseach figures compiled by Betting Circle- https://europeangaming.eu/portal/latest-news/2019/04/29/44298/infographic-
the-state-of-problem-gambling-in-the-uk/

Wolves 2-1 Manchester United: Back to back defeats for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

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Manchester United had a really good chance to stamp a marker of being the favourites to win their first silverware in the FA Cup under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Though, the quarter-final fixture was not straightforward with it being a difficult one against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves away from home, a side that have picked up a number of results against the Premier League’s top-six so far this season.

Overall, United started on a positive note and dominated possession for majority of the match, but failed to breakdown the opposition’s defence and did not test goalkeeper John Ruddy until the final moments of the game. Meanwhile, Wolves were defended in numbers and created the bigger chances and were ruthless on the counter, with the goals coming from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest match…

Squad has been burned out from top to bottom

With Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku unavailable due to current injury problems, whilst the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic have been rushed back into the starting line-up, it is not a surprise that the team have struggled to get going following the monumental Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain. The side have been lacking the quality from the bench to help them effect and turn the game around, leading to back-to-back defeats.

On top of that, Solskjaer himself has not got the ideal options available for him to use in the squad as a whole and the blame should definitely be referred back to the board and Ed Woodward. When looking at the current team and the fact that only Diogo Dalot, Fred and Lee Grant came into the club in the previous summer transfer window, it can easily be stated that the new arrivals was simply not enough to allow Jose Mourinho or Solskjaer to guide the side to a successful season.

The problems in the final third have started once again

At this moment of time, the problems in the final third have returned to what it once was in the final months of Mourinho’s time at the club, where the front three fail to provide enough creativity and movement on and off the ball. There was one stage in the match last night at Molineux Stadium, where it had seemed like Martial and Rashford were nowhere to be seen in the opposition’s half.

For sure, if Lukaku was fit and in good condition to play, the side would have played more down the flanks and would have sent constant crosses into the box for the Belgian international to pounce on. However, with his much needed presence missing, the back-three/five of Wolves were able to isolate United’s attackers and left the midfielders with no choices but to play backwards or sideways.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got outdone by Nuno Espirito Santo  

Since his arrival as Manchester United’s interim coach from the middle of December, this has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game where he has tactically been dominated and outdone by the opposition. In his favour, Wolves have actually eased down in the league over the last couple of weeks and have quietly been preparing for this match through less training and more resting.

On the other hand, the signs of a goal coming were there in the early moments of the second half, with the hosts becoming more comfortable in possession and attacking with intent along whilst both Matt Doherty and Ruben Neves enjoying a lot of space and time on the ball. Had Solskjaer and Mike Phelan spotted this and looked to match up with Wolves’ setup, the game could have potentially been more balanced and the side would have had more control to the match.

Huesca dare to dream of the greatest escape

Huesca

Huesca are the latest provincial Spanish club to enjoy a remarkable rise through the ranks in recent years. In 2008, they reached the second tier for the first time in their history. In 2017, they recorded their first top half finish in the campaign and, last year, they won promotion to the Primera for the first time ever.

Their first win did not take long – a 2-1 victory at Eibar on the opening day. A rousing comeback the following game against Athletic Bilbao rescued a point at San Mames and, for 13 glorious minutes, they led at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. But they lost that game 8-2 – the second of a 16-match streak in which they could not land a league victory. Continue reading

What to expect from El Clasico (x2)

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For the first time in Barcelona’s rich and storied history, they will play two Clasico fixtures against Real Madrid back-to-back at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Not once since 1899 has that happened, and many commentators are suggesting that whichever of the two Spanish behemoths comes out on top over the two matches, they can look forward to another hugely successful season.

In Europe, Los Blancos reign supreme and have done for just over 1000 days now, a quite astonishing statistic in the modern era. Continue reading

Are Barcelona hitting poor form at the wrong time?

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Even before the new Spanish league started Barcelona were installed as favourites. The bookmakers were not silly and realised that too much had changed at Real Madrid for them to compete this season, no Zidane and no Ronaldo meant transition and then Julen Lopetegui was sacked and the best Madrid could muster was Santiago Solari to steer the ship until the end of the season. Madrid looked doomed and Barcelona looked set on to win yet another league title.

And so the title played out that way, at one point just a few months back, Barcelona had gone 10 points clear of Real Madrid, and then February happened.

With 23 games played and 15 more still to go Barcelona are in 1st place but the gap is not just 6 points. Real Madrid have swallowed 40% of that gap up after going their last 5 games in a row unbeaten and winning all of those matches. Of course it’s not as if Barcelona have started to lose games because they haven’t. They have lost just 2 all season. But they have drawn their last two, which in the league can really affect your standing.

First there was the 2-2 draw at home to Valencia and that was followed up by a disappointing 0-0 result away to Athletic Bilbao, where the team including Lionel Messi gave a listless display. That same weekend Real Madrid had just beaten rivals Atletico Madrid in their classic derby by 3-1 which has made all the difference to the league standings. And of course it has been 3 games in total without a win for Barca who also drew 1-1 in their Copa del Rey match with Real Madrid.

The league then is all to play for, even Atletico have a chance as they are just a point behind Real. After that there is no chance for the others. But can Barcelona hold their nerve in what was supposed to be a write off season for Real, who now has a second wind?

Well let’s be honest and say that Barcelona are still in the driving seat. They have the most points, have scored the most goals and have conceded just 23 all season. They are still the team to beat but not many people thought that it would end up being this hard, and they have made heavy weather of it somewhat.

Next weekend they will play 15th place Valladolid at Nou Camp and will be massive favourites to beat a team who have won just 3 games on the road all season and won none of their last four matches away from home. Meanwhile Real Madrid will be trying to keep up the chase when they take on Girona at home, both will be expected to win and one could well think that this league could go down to the last couple of matches. Watch this space.