Revitalised Fulham fighting valiantly for EPL survival

Currently sitting just outside the relegation zone, but level on points with Brighton, Fulham’s much improved form has ensured they’re in with a real shot of avoiding relegation.

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Making a terrible start to life back in the Premier League by losing eight of their first 11 games, Scott Parker’s team have steadily gotten better over the last couple of months to put themselves back into the picture for safety. Having lost two of their last 10 Premier League matches, their uptick in results has been fantastic to see, as the team has also been playing some quality football.

Recording impressive wins over Liverpool and Everton in this period has demonstrated what a force to be reckoned with they’ve become.

Having a manager in Parker that’s given them focus, a clear playing style and remained positive has clearly helped them too. “Never am I looking at a league table and that will be my stance through to the end of the season,” Parker said.

“We got to this point we are now by concentrating on us and what we need to do. Our sole focus is us. The energy you lose from worrying about the what-ifs is really negative and it can sink you. We are now getting into the last run of games where everyone remembers – this is the moment.

“The journey this season has been nothing short of brilliant for me, because I have seen the team develop and the players grow, but in this moment now, this is where it is. We have got momentum and are in a very good place. We have been through a bumpy road, but have come out.”

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While they’re coming on in leaps and bounds, the issue has been that they’ve struggled to turn their good play into wins, with them drawing far too many matches. Indeed, the fact Fulham have drawn more games than any other team in the Premier League (11) evidences this aptly.

While they’ve passed up many chances, their defending has eye catchingly improved, with them only conceding 12 goals in their last 17 matches. This has unquestionably been an integral component towards their success, with the likes of Joachim Andersen, Tosin Adarabioyo and Alphonse Areola in goal forming a formidable base.

Boasting immense quality in midfield, with players such as Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Harrison Reed, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mario Lemina and Tom Cairney has given them depth and differing options depending on the opposition.

Possessing plenty of firepower going forward, with Ademola Lookman, Ivan Cavaleiro, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Josh Maja among their options, they’ve proved their worth admirably.

How they’re so tactically flexible and can operate in many various systems is a testament to Parker’s ability to instill his demands onto his players.

Related: Benefits of Using a Betting Spreadsheet

While it won’t be easy for them to stay up, especially considering they still have to play some quality teams in the form of Manchester City, Leeds United, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, they’ve proven they can hold their own against any team.

Priced at 2.80 to get relegated, which is a decent bet to consider, Fulham are understandably one of the favourites to suffer the drop. But with 10 games left to play still and their form heading in an upward trajectory, Fulham will back themselves to stay in the division.

Only time will tell if they, in fact, can, in what looms as an enthralling end to the season.

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Brooklyn Nets emerging as NBA title contenders

Having just recently won 11 of their last 12 matches, that includes notable wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets have emerged as legitimate title contenders.

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Possessing a star studded team, which contains their big three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, they’re an absolute force to be reckoned with on the offensive end especially. With Harden in lights out form, the newly signed superstar spoke recently about his fast start, making a point to praise his colleagues. “I just try to come in and make an impact on the game every single possession. The best that I can. And my teammates have done an unbelievable job of helping me with that, coaches as well,” Harden explained.

“So, I just try to bring my knowledge to the game and my skill set to the game and to this team. Hopefully, that’s good enough.”

Must Read: Full-time or Half-time Bet? Which One Is Better?

Irving then went on to speak about Harden’s brilliance and how exciting the team’s looking right now, stating: “When James is being James, it makes our job a lot easier. And so we got to get used to somebody special like that, things like that in terms of breaking records. So, I can’t wait to be right alongside of him, my name in Nets history — and all the guys on our team where we’re just breaking records as a team, and then individually we’re stacking up with some of the best to ever play.”

Fresh from becoming the first team in 11 years to sweep a west coast road trip to 5-0, the Steve Nash coached team are proving their title credentials. The bookmakers clearly see them as challengers, with them currently priced at 4.00 as second favourites just behind the Lakers at 3.75, which appears like a good bet right now.

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Boasting some quality depth to support their elite operators, players such as Jeff Green, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Landry Shamet, Tyler Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and now Blake Griffin as of this week has been immense for them too.

Moreover, having Nicolas Claxton back, who missed 32 games due to a knee injury, is positive news, for the gifted centre will certainly increase their chances of success.

While they need to improve on the defensive end to tighten up, the star studded Nets have so much talent across the board, including many game changers who are always invaluable in the playoffs, which all points to them being a massive challenger for this season’s NBA crown.

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Miocic vs. Ngannou set to excite at UFC 260

UFC 260 is set to be a cracker, with the night headlined by Stipe Miocic facing off with Francis Ngannou in a rematch for the heavyweight title.

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Miocic, who’s the current champion and is regarded as one of the best heavyweight fighters of all time, actually heads into the bout as the underdog, with him priced at 2.32 whereas Ngannou comes in at 1.59.

Considering Ngannou suffered his first career loss at the hands of Miocic back in 2018, the Cameroonian will be eager to avenge this loss by beating the American. In what was a brutal five round fight that Miocic controlled due to his superior experience and wrestling game, the judges all saw him as the clear winner. With all scorecards reading 50-44, Miocic completely outclassed the emerging star, on a night where he became the first UFC heavyweight to successfully defend his belt three times in a row.

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Talking to Joe Rogan, Ngannou spoke insightfully on what a great learning experience that fight was for him. “I had two different feelings from that fight,” he said.

“First, obviously I was very upset and disappointed that I didn’t win the fight. As everyone who is fighting for the title, you want to go out there victorious. But to be honest, I always look at that fight since the fight day, just after the fight, I look at it and now I’m like, ‘This is good.’ I learned too much in that fight because even though I was on the level, fighting for the world title, I still have some missing parts in my game and in my experience.”

Coming out all guns blazing in that fight, Ngannou also mentioned how he regretted doing so, for there was no need considering it was a five round bout where he should have conserved his energy.

In what looms as a clash of the titans, it’ll be intriguing to see if Ngannou can survive Miocic’s excellent wrestling and boxing game in his quest to land that lethal left hand of his, which has seen him stop many adversaries already.

All will be found out on Sunday March 28, where these two giants of the heavyweight game will clash in Las Vegas to decide who’ll be crowned champion.

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What is Sports Betting?

Imagine sitting in the pub together with your buddies, enjoying a keg of Guinness and a Premier League match on the telly.

Everybody’s eyes are glued to the screen in anticipation.

And after more than an hour of watching, your favourite team finally scores the winning goal. You cheer your lungs out. You couldn’t be happier! So, you celebrate with even more kegs with your buds and come home with spirits over the moon.

Sounds like a fun night, ain’t it? But don’t you think it would’ve been even more fun if you actually won something more than just a hammered night? Something like, let’s say… actual money?

That’s where the beauty of sports betting comes in.

Sports Betting: Defined

Simply put, sports betting is the act of placing wagers on any sporting event. It involves predicting the result of a game and placing a bet on the outcome that you see as most likely to occur. Some of the most popular sports events with the largest betting volume include English football (or soccer), American football, and horse racing.

Now, while it may seem like a modern-day form of betting, you probably didn’t know that sports betting has been around since the dawn of the ancient Romans. They placed bets on gladiator fighting, chariot races, and even animal fights.

Consequently, when they invaded Britain in 55 BC, the Romans brought their fondness of sports betting in the country where it flourished for thousands of years.

These days, sports betting found its way throughout Europe, the Americas and as far away as Australia — creating a culture as diverse as the people who enjoy it.

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How Does Sports Betting Work?

If you’re still new to the whole betting scene, sports betting can seem complicated — with all the numbers, teams and markets. However, it’s not as difficult to understand once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

So, how does sports betting work? Allow us to explain it to you through an example.

Let’s take one of the matches from the Premier League last 18th August 2019, Chelsea vs Leicester City. Based on last season’s results (2018-19), Chelsea stands at 3rd and Leicester at 9th. Hence, we can assume that Chelsea is the stronger team and has a better chance of winning.

Therefore, the odds of the game may have gone like this:

Chelsea Win = 1.73
Draw = 3.84
Leicester Win = 5.14

The odds serve as the multiplier for the amount of money you’re willing to bet. Thus, suppose you place a bet worth £100 on Chelsea and they win, you get £73 in profit. If you place a bet on a draw, then you get to win £284 in profit. Meanwhile, if you chose to bet on Leicester, you get to win £414 in profit.

This type of betting is called 1×2 betting, and it’s one of the simplest types of betting markets. Now, to make things more challenging, bookies or bookmakers (those who are responsible for accepting bets) modify the odds into handicaps, totals, money lines and more.

We shall tell you more about the other betting types in the next section of this article. For now, you need to know that the odds of the match can change depending on the following factors:

  1. Team stats
  2. Home and away
  3. Head to head records and recent team forms
  4. News (including injuries, suspensions, etc)
  5. Market confidence

Analysing these factors can help you choose the best odds to place your money in. Therefore, sports betting isn’t just winning by chance. It involves critical thinking, analogy and, of course, a little bit of luck.

Must Read: Labouchere Sports Betting System

Different Types of Sports Betting

Now that you know what sports betting is and how it works, the next thing that you need to know about is the types of sports betting.

1. 1X2 Betting

Since we’ve already given you an insight about 1×2 betting and how it works, we shan’t dive-in too deep on this one.

Basically, in 1×2 betting, 1 represents the home team, the x for a draw, and 2 for the away team.

However, aside from what you already know, 1×2 betting has a strategy called Double Chance bet wherein you combine two of three possible results of the game. Hence, you have the choice of betting between home-draw, draw-away or home-away (1X, X2, 12).

Through this strategy, you can get a higher chance of winning a bet. Unfortunately, not all betting platforms offer the option of double chance betting. On top of that, the odds in Double Chance bets are lower compared to choosing just 1, X or 2.

2. Handicap Betting

Handicap betting is best used when one team is greatly favoured over their opponents. To counter the apparent partiality in a team’s capability, Asian sportsbooks offer a handicap to equal the playing field.

In handicap betting, points or goals are added and deducted from teams for betting purposes. The handicap is based on the final score to conclude the game’s result for the betting purpose, which might differ from the actual outcome.

For example, in football betting, the handicap for the supposed example might be (0.5, 2.020) and (-0.5, 1.917) for Barcelona and Tottenham, respectively. If the end result was 1-0 for Tottenham, the bets on this team would win since the odds (0.5) is insufficient to change the result, which is often called covering the handicap.

barcelona fc

However, if the match finished in a 1-1 draw, the bets on Barcelona would win since the odds (0.5) added to the team’s final score is sufficient to point the match in their favour. The handicap can also vary by seeming as a split, such as +0.5 & +1 or -0.5 & -1. This takes your stake and successfully places two handicap wagers, one in each option.

Consequently, you can win both bets, just one, or you can lose both.

The same thing can be explained when betting on tennis. However, handicap betting on tennis differs depending on whether it is a Set Handicap or a Game Handicap.

Set Handicap and Game Handicap

In a Set Handicap, it changes the betting odds significantly since it is now based on added sets.

For example, Maria Sharapova -2.5 sets vs Shuai Peng +2.5

Here, punters are given 2.5 sets. Hence, at +2.5, you win if she comes out victorious or loses the match by just 2 sets.

Game Handicap, on the other hand, works almost the same procedure as the Set Handicap. However, it is based on the individual scores of each set in a match.

Related: In-Play Asian Handicap Explained

3. Totals or Over/Under Betting

A totals bet, or over/under betting, is also a common form of betting. It can be an alternative to 1X2 and handicap betting. However, the focus in this type of bet is not on finding the winner of a specific match, but predicting the end result of game variables such as the total goals, runs, points, or any other measurable variable.

Some sports trading platforms like VOdds provide bettors with a number of bookies that offer the option of whether the total goals or points be either over or under their evaluation of the match.

For example, in a match between Liverpool and Chelsea, the total goal is set at Over 2.50, 2.0800, and Under 2.50, 1.9090. If you placed a £10 bet on the game to have over 2.5 goals, the final score was 2-1, a total of three goals, you will earn £20.80, initial stake included. If you bet on the total goals to be under 2.5, you would earn nothing.

A totals bet is basically the same for tennis betting, but also depends on whether it is a total games over/under and total sets over/under.

A totals game is close to a 50/50 wagering proposition. Bookies predict how many games shall be played in a particular match. For example, a set is predicted to have 2.5 games, punters can now bet that there will be over 2.5 games, or under 2.5 games.

Unlike the Over/Under total games, a totals set is not a 50/50 wagering proposition as one of them is much more likely to happen than the other. It also depends on how many total sets will be played in the match.

4. Proposition Bets or Specials

Proposition bets (also called “prop bets”) or specials is a type of wager that is done mostly to add a little more thrill into the whole betting scene. It involves placing bets on specific points or occurrences in a sports event that doesn’t have anything to do with the result of the match.

For example, “Will Cristiano Ronaldo score the first goal?” “Will Stephen Curry score more than 33.5 points?” and so on.

man's hand grabbing a chip out of an orange bowl

Because of the casual vibe of prop bets, some people aren’t huge fans of this betting type. Hence, you may only see this in a handful of betting platforms. However, despite this, you can still make good money from props.

What most people probably don’t notice is that props involve more than just guessing and luck. It also requires a ton of analysis and knowledge that you can only acquire if you’re truly familiar with the sport and its elements.

In a props bet between two players, say LeBron and Curry, you can ask a few questions to help your decision making. Did one of them suffer any injuries in the past few years? How did each of them play in the last season? Which one of them has scored more than the other on average?

Thus, being informed can help you gain more than just money from betting. You can also acquire additional knowledge that you can use to boost your profits by wagering on other sports betting types.

5. Point Spread

Point spreads involve odds that provide an advantage or disadvantage to a given team based on their history of wins and loses. Basically, the favourite team (-) are set to win the game by a number of points and are therefore the disadvantage. On the other hand, the underdog team (+) shouldn’t lose the game by a number of points, hence they’re at an advantage.

Sounds a little confusing, right? Here’s an example to make it easier to understand.

Let’s take Chelsea and Leicester again. Based on their history, Chelsea would be the favourite team and Leicester shall be the underdog. Hence, the odds of the point spread may look something like this:

Chelsea -2 (-110)
Leicester +2 (-110)

Betting on Chelsea would mean that they must win the match by two points or more in order for you to win the bet. On the other hand, betting on Leicester would mean that they must win or not lose the game by more than two points for you to win the bet.

Therefore, if Chelsea wins the match by 4-1, then they would have covered the 2-point requirement of the bet and you’d win. At the same time, a bet on Leicester would’ve been a loss because they lost the game by more than the 2-point requirement.

Aside from all the betting types that we’ve tackled above, there are still a lot of sports betting types out there — most of which depend on the sport. Hence, if you want to be a successful bettor someday, the best way for you to become profitable is to study the type of betting commonly used for the sport of your liking.

Which Sports Can You Bet On?

soccer balls on a field

Now, since we’ve already mentioned about betting on other sports, we took the liberty of showing you a handful of the most popular sports than you can bet on. Additionally, we sprinkled the type of betting that fits well with the sport.

1. European Football

European football is one of the most popular sports that a lot of punters place their bets on. More often than not, it’s because it’s easy to bet on a football match because it can only end in either a home win, a draw or an away win.

However, just as we told you about other betting types, you can also have a little fun and place bets on handicaps or totals. Just make sure that you pile up your knowledge about the teams by reading match previews and news.

2. Tennis

While tennis may not be as thrilling as watching a basketball game or a boxing match, it’s still quite popular among punters.

However, if you’re thinking about betting on tennis, we highly recommend that you focus on one area — men’s or women’s, Challenger circuit or Grand Slam — because you can’t effectively analyse every match.

The best betting types that fit well with tennis include:

  • Handicaps
  • Over/unders
  • Outright winner
  • Sets

3. Basketball

This one’s pretty obvious as basketball is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular sports in the world. We wouldn’t even be surprised if you’re one of millions of fans that enjoy the playoffs.

Anyway, as popular as it is, it’s also one of the favourite sports that punters love to bet on. Some of the most commonly used betting types for basketball bets include:

4. Cricket

Quite the popular sport in the Indian subcontinent, it has also caught the eyes of professional punters all over the globe. The main reason behind this is because the sport has games all throughout the year.

Some of the cricket leagues that you can follow include: Indian Premier League, Twenty20 Cricket Leagues, ICC World Cricket League, and many more. Also, how can we forget to give you the best betting types that go with cricket? Here they are:

  • Match outcome
  • Game score
  • Man of the match
  • Top batsman

5. Boxing

When a major fight is about to come, you can expect that there will be oddsmakers and bookmakers who will take advantage of it. You can owe that to the millions of fans all over the world who love contact sports.

Since a match can go up to 12 rounds for huge championship fights, there are a ton of ways that you can enjoy betting on boxing. Some of the most popular betting types include:

  • Outright winner
  • 1×2
  • Total round or over/under
  • Winning method
  • Round betting

Where Can You Place Your Bets?

hand placing a piece of puzzle

At this point, you’re now stocked with all the knowledge that you need about sports betting. So, the next thing that you’re probably itching to know is where can you place your bets.

Now, the easiest way to go is to bet online. It just all comes down to which bookmakers or aggregators you choose to use.

Bookies and Aggregators

In terms of choosing a bookmaker, we have an entire article that can help you with that. However, just to give you some insight, bookmakers or bookies are people or groups that collect your bets.

Meanwhile, an aggregator such us VOdds shows you a list of bookies together with the odds that they offer for that specific game. So, basically, you get to compare which odds can give you the highest profits should you win a bet.

Check out these related articles about betting methods:

Ready… Get Set… Bet!

Now that you have everything you need to know about sports betting, you are now ready to become a professional punter. Just don’t forget that betting requires tactful thinking, a ton of patience, and, of course, luck.

So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it the first time, just make sure that you’re more ready the next time around. Happy punting!

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andrea pirlo

Pirlo’s Juventus struggling to hit their straps

When Juventus made the tough call to sack Maurizio Sarro after winning the club’s ninth straight Serie A title, they opted to boldly replace him with former star player Andrea Pirlo.

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Despite having no previous coaching experience at the professional level, the decision was certainly an eye opener, but understandable given his successful career as a player with the Old Lady.

Currently sitting third in Serie A and having lost their Champions League Round of 16 first leg against FC Porto 2-1, the pressure is building on their rookie manager. Although he’s shown some signs of being a shrewd tactician, Juventus have struggled to consistently get results, as they’ve lacked fluidity and cohesion on many occasions.

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The fact they’ve only managed to draw winnable games against Benevento, Crotone and Verona (twice), plus lost to Fiorentina, has cost them dearly in the league. As things stand, they currently sit seven points behind table topping Inter Milan, which is definitely not a position they’re accustomed to finding themselves in.

Only sixth best in Serie A in terms of goals scored, they haven’t been able to frequently carve out quality chances, as they’ve too often relied on Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Federico Chiesa saving them with moments of magic. Ronaldo especially has been their saving grace, for the legendary attacker’s already scored a wicked 19 goals in the league and 26 in all competitions.

Sorely lacking creativity in midfield, this has been an area that they will want to improve in moving forward so they can enhance the amount of goalscoring opportunity they conjure.

Although they’ve underwhelmed offensively, plenty of upside has been found on the defensive end, with them possessing the best defensive record in Serie A, only conceding 20 goals in 21 matches. Full of quality in their stopping ranks, the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Matthijs De Ligt, Merih Demiral, Giorgio Chiellini, Danilo and Alex Sandro have given them depth and experience to handle most opponents well.

With things not going to plan under the guidance of Pirlo so far and injuries playing their part, it’ll be intriguing to track their progress through what looms as a crucial final third of the season.

Only time will tell how they fare, but with a squad boasting so much quality expectations will be high that he can get them firimg on all cylinders sooner rather than later – which is definitely easier said than done.

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aussie jack miller motogp

Aussie Miller rated a dark horse for the MotoGP crown

Fresh from finishing seventh in last season’s MotoGP Championship, Australian rider Jack Miller, who finished second in the final two races of last season, will come into this campaign full of confidence.

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Courtesy of impressing over his three years with Satellite Ducati team Pramac, Miller earned himself a ride in the works Ducati works team.

In what’s set to be a fierce and tight title race, if he can avoid any non finishes and keep consistently picking up points, he’ll give himself an excellent chance of winning. Indeed, the case of last year’s champion Joan Mir illustrated this perfectly, for the Spaniard won his only race of the season in the second last round at Valencia.

Courtesy of Wiki Comms

Miller, who finished on the podium four times in what was his best season yet in MotoGP, is certainly highly rated by his fellow competitors too, who see him as a real threat. When Maverick Vinales was recently asked who he believes was the strongest challenger for this year’s championship, he stated Miller. “I think Miller can be one of the guys because he was doing really well last season and understands well the strong points of the Ducati,” he explained.

Priced at a reasonable 7.00 just behind Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, and level with the likes of Vinales, Alex Rins and Fabio Quartararo, he’s certainly considered a contender by the bookies.

Interestingly, the last time a Ducati rider won the title was 14 years ago when fellow Aussie Casey Stoner claimed glory, which could be a good omen. Even though the correlation is nice, Miller’s just focused on the task at hand. “For me, a big motivation was growing up watching guys like Troy and Casey ride in these colours,” he asserted.

“That’s why I think it means something extra-special for me as it’s something I grew up idolising. Pressure is what you put on yourself, I think I’m my own biggest critic. I put enough pressure on myself as is, I don’t need to go looking to try and find it.

“I don’t think it gives me any extra pressure. Those guys were and still are fantastic motorcycle riders and I’m just trying to be the best I can be, but for sure you want to arrive on those guys’ level. But only time will tell.”

Motivated, on an improved bike and ready for a title tilt, watching how Miller fares will be captivating, as he’s unquestionably in with a chance to take home the coveted MotoGP crown in 2021.

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underdogs lazio vs bayern

Underdogs Lazio set to push Bayern all the way in their Champions League clash

In irresistible form in Serie A and having won seven out of their last eight league matches, Lazio has certainly been one of the finest teams in Italy.

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Playing with confidence, conviction, and clarity, Simone Inzaghi’s men have impressively registered wins over some quality teams including AS Roma, Sassuolo, and Atalanta during their purple patch.

Well drilled by their organised Italian manager, the players have executed his demands to perfection of late on both sides of the ball. Producing the goods and on top of their game, the Eagles are primed to push Bayern Munich all the way in their Champions League Round of 16 clash.

While Bayern is heavy favourites at 1.07 and Lazio are extreme underdogs at 7.00, the match should be much closer than the bookies suggest. Extremely dogged and hard to break down, their well-drilled backline should provide tough resistance to Bayern’s star-studded attacking unit. Experienced and battle-hardened, the likes of Francesco Acerbi, Stefan Radu, Luiz Felipe (currently injured), Patric, Wesley Hoedt and Mateo Musacchio ensure they have quality and depth at centre back.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Intense and fierce in their duels, they relish battles on the ground and in the air, as they compete manfully in their quests to recover possession.

A smart pressing team also, you can guarantee Inzaghi will come prepared to combat the German champions, as they harry opponents in a coordinated, organised fashion.

Meanwhile, on the offensive end, they’re not to be underestimated either, for sharpshooter Ciro Immobile always poses a huge threat with his clinical movement and finishing. The Italian striker is then ably supported by the likes of Luis Alberto, Joaquin Correa, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Felipe Caicedo, who offer varying degrees of creativity and physicality.

The formidable Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic in midfield will usually be joined by someone like Lucas Leiva or Gonzalo Escalante, who provides defensive security and structural stability to allow them to shine in more attacking areas.

Plenty of thrusts notably arrives from the wingbacks, with Adam Marusic and Manuel Lazzari never shy in going forward to add width and depth to attacks, which vitally stretches opposition backlines.

Having coached Lazio since 2016 and developed his team into a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, Bayern will need to be on top of their game to oust the Italian outfit. Despite heading into the match as clear underdogs, it was interesting to hear former player Giuseppe Pancaro speak about how highly he rates this team. “I like this Lazio a lot. I have the feeling that they can also have their say in the fight for the title, just as I think Bayern Munich must be careful. I don’t think that double game is obvious, if Lazio is in good shape, it can do well against anyone in Europe.”

Upon considering Bayern hasn’t been at their best and conceding goals with regularity, Lazio certainly has a fighting chance to cause an upset. Only time will tell if they, in fact, can, but they’ll definitely come out firing ready to defy the odds and progress to the quarter-finals.

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cricket india vs england

Cricket: India head into third test vs. England as favourites

Heading into the third test full of confidence after beating England comprehensively by 317 runs in the second test, India are justifiably favourites to take a 2-1 series lead.

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The bookmakers clearly think so too, for they’re priced at 1.63 favourites, whereas England are at 4.20.

Absolutely dominating England with bat and ball, India had many star performers who stepped up for the home side. To start with, Rohit Sharma and Ashwin both scored centuries while Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant notched fifties. This was in stark contrast to England, with none of their players getting above 43.

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Then on the bowling side, Ravichandran Ashwin and debutant Axar Patel terrorised the away team by combining to take an amazing 15 wickets.

With criticism flying in about the state of the pitch and how quickly it deteriorated, this certainly helped India, who won the toss and were able to bat first. England, in fairness didn’t use this as an excuse publicly, but this didn’t help their cause when facing the Indian spin kings on a pitch that suited them.

England’s spinners definitely benefited from the conditions too, for they took a collective 14 wickets between them.

India captain Kohli’s comments when asked on the pitch made for interesting reading, stating: “I think our application with the bat was outstanding,” he explained.

“The conditions were challenging for both sides but we showed more application and grit and determination to battle it out. We didn’t panic out there looking at the hard turn and bounce on that pitch. So if you put up that kind of batting performance and you string in those important batting partnerships then we know that our bowlers are going to do the job.”

Another key talking point that arose from the match was England’s rotation policy, which saw them heavily change their team from the first test, which they admirably won. Former star Kevin Pietersen spoke out against this stance emphatically, stating: “I’m pretty upset that England won’t field their strongest team for any of the four Test matches against India,” Pietersen said to Betway.

“Yes, they won the first Test after winning the toss, but for a guy like Jimmy Anderson to be sitting around watching the second match when you’ve got Stuart Broad bowling 75mph dibbly-dobblers with the wicket-keeper standing up just doesn’t make any sense to me. You’ve got Jos Buttler back home, Jonny Bairstow only flying out for the last couple of matches, and now Moeen Ali is going home, too.

“I understand that bubble life isn’t easy, it’s really difficult. But surely these guys want to play? It’s incredibly disappointing. They should have come out all guns blazing for this series.”

With no shortage of talking points surrounding the series, the third test looms as a fascinating encounter, as cricket fans all over the world will be watching with interest as these two giants of the cricket world battle it out again this week.

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Chelsea

Chelsea slight favourites to overcome Atletico in colossal Champions League tie

Although Frank Lampard was the man in charge when Chelsea finished top of their Champions League group ahead of Sevilla, he’s since been replaced by Thomas Tuchel after Chelsea endured a torrid run of form.

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Now with Tuchel at the helm, the German manager’s done an exceptional job of bringing some positivity back to Stamford Bridge, for he’s hit the ground running. Instilling an interesting 3-2-4-1/3-4-2-1 formation from the outset, the tactically sophisticated boss, who notably led Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last term, has crucially won four of his five matches in charge.

Already we’ve seen some encouraging developments from his strategy, as Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have formed an impressive partnership in central midfield while the likes of Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Olivier Giroud have shown signs of fitting in to the new system well.

Courtesy of Flickr

Facing challenging matches with Newcastle United and Southampton in the league up next, Tuchel will then face his biggest test when Chelsea play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16. Although they’ll head into the clash as slight favourites, with them priced at 1.81 compared to Atletico at 1.91, Chelsea will have their work cut out defeating Diego Simeone’s men.

Playing fantastically well and topping La Liga by eight points with a game in hand, Los Colchoneros have been exceptional so far this term. So hard to break down defensively and with Luis Suarez in devastating scoring form, they’re unquestionably a force to be reckoned with.

Considering Atletico have the best defensive record in La Liga (only conceded 13 in 21 games) and the second best attack (scored 44), Chelsea will need to be at their best to beat the outstanding Madrid based outfit.

With the first leg coming away from home at the Wanda Metropolitano, Chelsea will be eager to score a vital away goal to give them a huge boost heading into the home leg.

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Set to be a stern examination to see how far they’ve come under Tuchel, you can guarantee the master tactician will have his team extremely well prepared to face off with one of Europe’s elite outfits.

In what will be a captivating clash of the titans, watching the tie unfold will be must see viewing for football fans all over the world.

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Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz flying high in the NBA

Having devastatingly lost their game seven playoff clash with the Denver Nuggets to end last season when Mike Conley’s shot bounced out, the Utah Jazz have quickly put this setback behind them, for they’ve started this term in exceptional fashion.

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Currently possessing the best record in the Western Conference, they’ve impressively won 21 of their 26 matches. “I really feel like we came back this year with a purpose,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said. “I really feel like we have a chip on our shoulder, and we need that if we are going to do what we want to do this year.”

Equalling their best start to a season in franchise history, the team that has won 17 of their last 18 games have risen in the championship winning odds to $16, which places them as sixth favourite.

Courtesy of Pixy

Possessing a brilliant team spirit and collective cohesion, coach Quin Snyder deserves immense credit for bringing together the team. Thriving and seemingly going from strength to strength with every passing match, the fact they rank in the top five for both defensive and offensive efficiency, plus rank first for three point shooting, illustrates how brilliant they’ve been.

With star man Donovan Mitchell leading the way offensively and Gobert, who’s arguably the best defensive player in the league, crucial on the defensive end, these men have helped give them a fine base to work from. Ably supported by the likes of the experienced Conley, towering Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic, sharp shooter Joe Ingles, sixth man weapon Jordan Clarkson and the improved Royce O’Neale, the Jazz have certainly hit their straps with valuable contributions all over.

While they’ve started the season impeccably, it’ll be fascinating to see if they can keep up their tremendous level. Considering the Jazz are facing the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers in the next two weeks, this will give us a better idea of how they stack up.

Having not made the NBA finals for 23 years or qualified for the Western Conference finals since 2007, this could well be the year they make a serious playoff run, which would certainly be the best remedy to treat the disappointment from last season.

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