Copa América Betting Preview

The 46th edition of CONMEBOL’s headline tournament, the Copa América, is being held in Brazil and features a range of intriguing storylines.

Few tournament hosts have ever been under as much pressure to win a home tournament as Brazil are in 2019. The competition marks the centenary of their first Copa América triumph and offers the chance for redemption from when they last hosted a major tournament – the 2014 World Cup, during which the Seleção suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Germany. History in their favour though, as Brazil have won every Copa they’ve ever staged.

History of the Copa América

The Copa América is probably international football’s most random and, dare we say it, disorganised event. It is also the oldest international continental football competition around, having been first staged in 1916, and determines the continental champion of South America. With only 10 members, the South American football federation – CONMEBOL – has taken to inviting teams from other federations, such as CONCACAF and the Asian Football Confederation, to participate. Mexico are the most regular guests, having participated in every tournament since the policy began in 1993.

Ecuador and Venezuela are the only nations of the ten CONMEBOL members not to have won the tournament. Uruguay are the tournament’s heavyweights, having won the inaugural edition of the competition and amassed 15 tournament victories in total. Argentina are the most regular hosts, having staged the competition nine times, while the United States are the only non-CONMEBOL country to host. Throughout the years, the competition has been held at constantly changing intervals – with this year’s edition the fourth to be staged between 2015-2020!

Copa América 2019

Chile were slated as the original hosts of the 2019 Copa América, with Brazil supposed to hold the 2015 tournament. The locations were switched due to Brazil’s stacked schedule of international sporting events around this period – the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics.  

The 2019 Copa América will be the final edition to be played on odd years and with 12 teams. As from 2020, the tournament will take place every four years, in the same year as the UEFA European Championship. This year’s event will feature both Asian Cup finalists, with losers Japan making their second Copa América appearance and winners Qatar making their Copa debut. For the first time since 1993, Mexico will not be appearing.

COPA AMÉRICA BETTING ODDS

Host’s Brazil are under excruciating pressure and placed as favourites at 11/10 (2.10) to win the tournament. Lionel Messi seeks his first international trophy with Argentina who are 7/2 (4.50), while Chile, winners of the last two tournaments, are 12/1 (13.00) to triumph again. An invited team has never won the tournament, with Mexico coming closest as losing finalists in 1993 and 2001, so it’s no surprise that Japan at 80/1 (81.00) and Qatar at 100/1 (101.00) are complete outsiders to win. 

Copa América 2019 Contenders

Brazil – The Seleção have not made it beyond the quarter-finals in any of the past three Copa tournaments, even falling at the group stage three years ago. Coach Tite has turned to experience in an effort to win the Copa for the first time in 12 years; Daniel Alves of PSG and Manchester City’s Fernandinho have both made returns to the squad. Brazil will look to instil more defensive solidity into their general play than was evident at last year’s World Cup, with the emphasis on goalscoring falling to the Premier League trio of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Richarlison.

Argentina – La Albiceleste are a hot mess. For a while, Lionel Messi’s participation looked in doubt with the global icon sitting out all of Argentina’s post-World Cup friendlies last year. The team enters the competition with inexperienced caretaker-coach Lionel Scaloni at the helm and a number of established names jettisoned – only nine of the Russia 2018 squad remain, while just five players survive from the last Copa. Messi continues to divide opinions in his home nation as in the Messi-era Argentina have won nothing on the international stage at senior level. Since 2004, the year before Messi debuted, Argentina have contested four of the five Copa finals, losing them all.

Uruguay – While Brazil and Argentina have seemed in permanent flux over recent years, Uruguay have been the very model of consistency. Coach Oscar Tabarez has been in charge since 2006 and overseen an era of stability and resurgence. The side features a good blend of experience – Diego Godin, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani – and relative youth – Maxi Gomez and Jose Maria Gimenez. Uruguay are the most successful side in the history of the competition and have a particular fondness for upsetting the hosts. A run to the final is almost guaranteed.

The Rest – Chile waited nearly a century to conquer the Copa, then promptly went and repeated the feat next time around. The reigning champions overcame Argentina on penalties in the last two finals, but this tournament seems a bridge too far for an ageing squad. Colombia look like dark horses and have assembled a squad that combines physicality with attacking flair, and have, in James Rodriguez, a player who has performed well on the international stage in Brazil before. Japan and Qatar, meanwhile, are highly unlikely to become the first invited nation to lift the trophy.

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.

England vs Argentina: FIFA Women’s World Cup Betting Preview

On Friday, England hope to remain unbeaten in the FIFA Women’s World Cup group stage as they take on a plucky Argentina side in Le Havre, France.  

England entered this tournament amongst the favourites to lift the cup. Ranked 3rd in the world and fresh from winning the SheBelieves Cup, the Lionesses entered the World Cup in form – despite some concerning performances in recent friendlies. Having finished 3rd last time out, Phil Neville’s side have experience of going deep in the tournament. Should they make it through the group stages to the knockout rounds, Germany and USA are sure to be their biggest obstacles. Hosts France are also expected to make the most of home advantage and progress through the competition.

England

In their first Group D fixture, England met a Scotland side who they’d comprehensively beaten 6-0 at Euro 2017, the last time the sides met in a major competition. This time out, while the outcome was the same – a victory for the Lionesses – the performance was anything but.

The match started in open fashion, Nikita Parris giving England the lead on her World Cup debut when she converted a video assistant referee awarded penalty. Player of the match Ellen White then doubled the advantage for Phil Neville’s side before the break. England tired in the second half and allowed Scotland back into the game when Claire Emslie took advantage of a poor pass from England captain Steph Houghton and fired in from close range.

Argentina

Argentina’s story – and position within the women’s game – is very different from England’s. In their opening game they put in a resilient performance to earn a 0-0 draw with 2011 World Cup winners Japan, a team ranked 30 places above them in the FIFA rankings. Coming into the game they had lost all six of their previous World Cup matches. The fact that they even qualified is a miracle in itself.

The team returned to action in 2018 following a two-year hiatus, with no games or coach in place during that period due to a dispute with their own football association. Put simply, the Argentine FA refused to finance the team – a stark contrast to their English counterparts who receive the most investment of any women’s team in Europe. During their last World Cup appearance, in 2007, the team was made up of amateur players and it’s only this year that the AFA took the decision to finally support a professional league in the country.

ENGLAND VS ARGENTINA: FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP BETTING ODDS

England enter this fixture as overwhelming favourites to win at odds of 1/11 (1.09). Argentina are given very little hope of achieving victory over Neville’s side at 23/1 (24.00).

England vs Argentina: FIFA Women’s World Cup Betting Tips

Anything other than an England win would be a monumental shock and lead to serious questions being asked of Phil Neville and his squad. England are favoured more to win the tournament – at 8/1 – than Argentina are to win this game.

With such little value to be found in backing an England win, we’d opt for another option that is almost guaranteed for England and that’s attacking focal point, Ellen White, to score anytime at 3/4 (1.75).

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.



Golf: U.S. Open Betting Preview

On Thursday, the 3rd golf major championship of the year, the U.S. Open, begins. The 119th edition of the tournament will be held at Pebble Beach Golf Links, California, to celebrate the centenary of one of golf’s most iconic venues.

The most controversial event in golf, the U.S. Open, is upon us. Traditionally scheduled as the 2nd major championship of the year, the 119th edition of the tournament has been moved for 2019 and now follows hot on the heels of the U.S. PGA Championship.

Fans and players alike will be hoping that a change of date will not be the only thing different about this year’s contest. Over recent years the event, run by the USGA (United States Golf Association), has been a constant course of consternation for players. With complaints about course setup, prize purse and rules enforcement continuously at the fore, there have even been talks in recent years of boycotts from leading players.

So, this year’s tournament is perhaps of more importance than ever before. Get it wrong again – repeating the mistakes of the past and bringing disrepute onto the hallowed grounds of Pebble Beach – and next year’s tournament could see a very different field.

U.S. Open: Pebble Beach

For the U.S. Open, Pebble Beach Links has been set up as a par 71 course over 7,040 yards. While the AT&T setup at the course normally results in a score of double figures under-par for the winner, this is the U.S. Open! So, it’s highly unlikely anybody will match Tiger Woods U.S. Open record at Pebble Beach of -12 back in 2000, when the Tiger finished 15 strokes ahead of second place in arguably the greatest performance in the tournament’s history. Last time the course hosted the tournament, in 2010, Graeme McDowell would prove victorious at level par.

As for the course itself, it’s an icon and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. Designed by a pair of locals, the course was opened in 1919 and is located on the Monterey Peninsula, with the course hugging the California coastline and offering panoramic views of Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Nine holes are located adjacent to the coastline, with hole 8 undoubtedly one of the most recognisable in all of golf.

2019 Majors

If you somehow missed Tiger Woods winning the Masters – we can only assume you must have been living under a rock somewhere – you missed one of the greatest sporting redemption stories of all time. Following injuries, surgeries, trials, tribulations and no small amount of controversy, Woods won his first major for 11 years in epic fashion, coming from behind to secure his first win at Augusta since 2005.

The PGA Championship went a little more to form, with Brooks Koepka winning the tournament – held at Bethpage Black – for the second year in a row. Since winning his first major, the 2017 U.S. Open, Koepka has been the dominant force in major championships and finished tied 2nd behind Woods in the Masters. While he hasn’t won either of this year’s majors, Dustin Johnson has finished 2nd in both tournaments.  

U.S. OPEN BETTING ODDS

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson lead the field as favourites, both at 8/1 (9.00) to win the tournament. Brooks Koepka is just behind at 9/1 (10.00), while Masters winner Tiger Woods is best of the rest 12/1 (13.00).

U.S. Open Contenders

Rory McIlroy – The Northern Irishman enters the U.S. Open fresh from victory at the most recent tournament, the Canadian Open, where he shot a nine-under 61 to win by seven shots and secured his 16th PGA Tour title in the process. McIlroy may be the man in form, but he hasn’t won a major for 5 years. While he’ll no doubt be in contention, a winner is likely to come from the American contingent, so why not back Rory McIlroy to finish as Top European at 3/1 (4.00).

Brooks Koepka – Since winning his maiden major championship, the 2017 U.S. Open, Koepka has been the dominant force in golf’s major championships, winning half of the majors since (four of the last eight) and three of the last five. Win the U.S. Open and the World No.1 will become the first player to win the tournament three times in a row since Willie Anderson in 1905.

Dustin Johnson – Having secured his first major win with victory at the 2016 U.S. Open, Johnson seemed in prime position to go on and dominate the sport. Unfortunately for the big-hitting American, things haven’t quite panned out that way. The phrase “always the bridesmaid never the bride” could well have been coined for Johnson, who has seven top-five finishes in majors, finishing runner-up on no less than four occasions, two of which have come in this year’s majors alone.

Tiger Woods – Was Tiger’s Masters win the icing on the cake of a legendary career? Or the start of a new era of dominance for an icon of the sport? The U.S. Open could hold the answer to that question. It was no surprise that Woods followed up his Masters victory with a poor showing at the PGA Championship where he failed to make the cut, entering the tournament undercooked having basked in the glory of his comeback win. Tiger’s current game is well suited to Pebble Beach though and he’s been here before, winning his first U.S. Open in 2000 on this very course.

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.

UEFA Euro Qualifiers: Betting Preview

On Saturday, World Cup losing finalists Croatia host Wales, while World Cup winners France head to Turkey, in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers.

While the Nations League may be doing it’s best to grab the headlines at the moment, the competition will never be the premier UEFA international tournament. That spot will always be reserved for the Euros. With the qualification cycle well underway, we’re going to focus on last years World Cup finalists, Croatia and France, in this preview. Reigning champs France face a tough trip to Turkey, while Croatia host Ryan Giggs’ Wales.

Croatia vs Wales

Since losing the World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium, Croatia have been in mixed form, with clear differences in performance between home and away fixtures. They’ve been spanked 6-0 by Spain and defeated by England at Wembley Stadium in the Nations League. But, beaten Spain and drawn with England at home. Thus far in the Euro qualifiers, they’ve beaten Azerbaijan at home but been defeated in Hungary. Currently, in Group E, four teams sit on three points, so with only the top two qualifying automatically, Croatia need to find their form quick sharp if they want to make it to the tournament proper.

Having missed out on World Cup qualification, Wales will be desperate to make it to the Euros again, having qualified for the tournament for the first time in 2016. To do so, Wales are pinning their hopes on a combination of youth and fresh blood. Manager Ryan Giggs has capped 12 new players in his 11 games in charge, with more than half of the debutants aged under 22. In the Euros, Wales have only played one qualifier thus far, defeating Slovakia 1-0 courtesy of a Daniel James strike. Gareth Bale is set to play for the first time since April having fallen out of favour at Real Madrid.  

Turkey vs France

Like Wales, Turkey qualified for Euro 2016 but missed out on World Cup qualification. Unlike Wales, Turkey didn’t make it out of their group in the Euros. Thus far they’ve earned two victories from two fixtures in qualifying and sit level with France atop a relatively weak Group H on six points. Thus far, Turkey are looking like the strongest team behind France. They’re yet to concede a goal while recording comprehensive victories over Albania and Moldova.

World Champions France do not appear to be suffering a World Cup hangover. Admittedly they failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Nations League, but they only suffered one defeat in the competitions league stage, losing to a resurgent Netherlands side. Since then, Les Bleus have won four fixtures on the bounce, scoring four goals in each of their qualifiers, with Giroud, Mbappe and Griezmann all netting in both matches. Turkey should present the only obstacle to France topping the group and securing automatic qualification for the tournament.

UEFA EURO QUALIFIERS BETTING ODDS AT ENERGYBET

Croatia are strong favourites for a home victory at 3/5 (1.60) with Wales 23/5 (5.60) to achieve a win on the road. As reigning World Champions, France are favourites to win the match with odds of 8/15 (1.53), opponents Turkey are 53/10 (6.30) to cause an upset.

Euro Qualifiers Betting Tips

Croatia may have been dominant at home but they’ve had a leaky defence, keeping only one clean sheet in 13 fixtures; while Wales have registered a goal in five of their last six fixtures, so we’d back Croatia to win and both teams to score at 16/5 (4.20).

France have scored two or more goals in six of their last eight fixtures – with Antoine Griezmann hitting the back of the net in each of the last three games. Meanwhile, Turkey have kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight fixtures. So, who do we trust? The Turkish defence, or the French attack? We’re going to have to back the unit that contains Griezmann and Mbappe, so we’ll opt for France to win and more than 2.5 goals at 13/10 (2.30).

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.



Netherlands vs England: UEFA Nations League Semi-Final Betting Preview

On Thursday, the Netherlands will face England in the semi-finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League competition, in Guimaraes, Portugal.  

When the tournament was first announced, confusion ensued as to what exactly the UEFA Nations League was and how it worked. Now that we’re past the unnecessarily complicated league stage and into the knockout phase, things are much more straightforward. Beat the Netherlands and England are into the final and in with a chance of winning their first silverware since 1966. While nobody is claiming that winning the Nations League is equivalent to the Euro’s or World Cup, it could certainly be a launching pad for this relatively young squad to go on and achieve further success.

Netherlands

Every international tournament has a “Group of Death”. For the Nations League, it was League A, which contained World Cup winners France, serial silverware winners Germany and the Netherlands. Having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Oranje have embraced youth and seen a resurgence under manager Ronald Koeman. Ajax quartet Daley Blind, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek will be hoping to make up for their Champions League final loss to Spurs by dumping the English national team from the competition.

The Netherlands have a decent recent record given the quality of the opponents they’ve faced, winning four, drawing two, and losing two of their last eight games. Amongst those fixtures, the Netherlands have faced France twice and gone against Germany on three occasions. At this stage, it’s unknown if the Champions League winning duo of Dutch captain Virgil Van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum will feature in the match following their exertions in Madrid.

England

Over the past 12 months, English football has been a force across international and UEFA competitions. For the first time ever, both UEFA club tournaments featured a clean sweep of finalists from the same country with Chelsea and Liverpool overcoming Arsenal and Spurs, whilst Gareth Southgate’s national side reignited a nation and made it to a World Cup semi-final.

With a youthful squad full of exciting talent, there is much optimism surrounding a Three Lions team that, thus far, seems to be embracing the new-found expectations being heaped upon its shoulders. There’s been no post-World Cup slump, with a run of six victories, and just one defeat, in eight matches following the tournament. During that run, England have score 20 goals, beaten Spain 3-2 away from home and exacted revenge over World Cup opponents Croatia with a Wembley victory.

NETHERLANDS VS ENGLAND: UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL BETTING ODDS

England enter this fixture as marginal favourites to win at odds of 7/5 (2.4). The Oranje are 2/1 (3.0) to achieve victory and consign Gareth Southgate to another semi-final defeat.

Netherlands vs England: UEFA Nations League Semi-Final Betting Tips

Both sides enter the semi-finals having topped their respective groups with identical records: played four, won two, drawn one, lost one. So, both sides should be confident of beating the other, even with the difficulty of predicting the line-ups given the number of players who featured in the weekend’s Champions League final (two for the Netherlands, seven for England)

The last time the sides met in a competitive international fixture was over 20 years ago, during Euro 96, in which England secured a 4-1 victory. Since then, the Netherlands have been the dominant force in the friendly fixtures between the sides, winning three, drawing four and losing just once. However, that loss came in the last match between the two sides, with England winning 1-0.

Neither side has had a dominant defence of late, the Dutch have conceded in seven of their last 10 matches, while England have only kept clean sheets in five of their last 15. So, we can see goals in this game. We can also see England using their World Cup experience to positive effect and progressing to the final. We’re backing England to win and both teams to score at 7/2 (4.5).

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.



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