Inter Milan streaking ahead in Serie A

Currently sitting six points clear of rivals AC Milan with a game in hand at the top of the Serie A table, Inter Milan have really come into their own in 2021.

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Having lost only one game in 2021 back at the start of January against Sampdoria, Inter have been a real force to be reckoned with after this setback, for they’ve subsequently won nine of their last 11 matches (drawn the other two).

Moreover, the fact they’re in the midst of an eight game winning run accentuates their electric form.

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So effective defensively, they’ve impressively only conceded 26 goals in their 27 games, which is the second best record in Serie A. Organised, well drilled, efficient pressers and excellent in their duels, Antonio Conte has built a team that’s extremely challenging to break down. With some excellent central defenders in Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni and Stefan de Vrij, this trio in his three at the back system have excelled ahead of the experienced Samir Handanovic in goal.

When defending deeper the wing backs will often drop back to form a back five, but their impact has certainly been felt most keenly going forward. Adding width and depth to attacks and stretching defences out of shape, the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Ashley Young and Ivan Perisic have been vital.

Shifting the focus to the midfield, and Conte has plenty of talent at his disposal in the form of Marcelo Brozovic, Nicolo Barella, Arturo Vidal, Christian Eriksen, Stefano Sensi and Roberto Gagliardini. Possessing a nice blend of hard running, power, creativity and energy, Inter certainly have a fine array of options to select depending on the opposition or if any players are unavailable.

Boasting the most lethal strikeforce in Serie A in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who’ve scored a whopping 19 and 14 goals respectively in league action, the duo have been exceptional. The fact Lukaku has eight assists and Martinez five has amplified their impact.

Able to both score and create, this, in combination with their almost telepathic understanding and intelligent movement, has seen them be a nightmare for defenders all over to contain.

Seeing as the Nerazzurri have scored the joint most goals in Serie A with 65 alongside Atalanta serves as further testament to their offensive strength.

With no European commitments to worry about, Inter’s lead of six points with a game in hand over AC Milan will certainly be difficult for anyone to overcome. Priced at 1.05 by the bookmakers, they certainly believe Inter will come out triumphant.

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Consistent and full of quality at both ends of the pitch, Inter are unquestionably favourites to claim their first Scudetto since the 2009/2010 crusade, which would be a fitting reward for what’s been a terrific season.

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Barcelona closing the gap in La Liga title race

On an exceptional run of form in La Liga, Barcelona have been on the charge to reel in Atletico Madrid, as they’ve impressively cut their lead from double figures to just four points.

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Having won 13 of their last 16 league matches and unbeaten in 16, Ronald Koeman’s team are certainly in red hot form. Although they suffered the setback of bowing out in the Champions League, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Blaugrana, allowing them to focus their attention more on La Liga.

Seeing as they have had many injuries to deal with, their title push will get even stronger when the likes of Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho return to the fold.

Considering all the presidential election drama that’s been running in the background and the Lionel Messi saga, Koeman deserves immense credit for keeping his squad focused.

With Messi in masterful form, the fact he’s scored nine goals and supplied five assists in his last nine matches has been instrumental towards their rise up the standings. Ably supported by the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite and Trincao, Barca have been a formidable force going forward. Indeed, the numbers depict this aptly, as they’ve scored 11 goals more than any other team in the league with 61.

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Possessing plenty of quality in midfield, with big names such as Frenkie de Jong, stalwart Sergio Busquets, Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig helping them dictate and control matches.

On top of boasting one of the finest goalkeepers in world football in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, they have some emerging talents putting their best foot forward in the backline, with players such as Oscar Mingueza, Sergino Dest, Ronald Araujo and Junior Firpo playing with hunger.

When Barcelona boss Koeman was asked about his team’s title chances, his comments made for interesting reading. “First of all we have to look at ourselves and focus on winning. The team is very motivated at the moment, but not because of our rivals’ results, because of ourselves,” Koeman noted.

“We are playing with a lot of energy and the team is in incredible physical shape. We know from experience it’s not easy to stay at this pace and maintain this level of quality.”

Priced at 2.88 to claim the coveted La Liga title just behind Atletico Madrid at 1.72, the bookmakers certainly give them a real chance of coming out on top.

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With still 10 games to play, including a mammoth clash with Atletico and the clasico with Real Madrid, watching how they fare in the final third of the season will be absolutely fascinating in their quest to win their 27th league title.

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Boxing: Povetkin vs. Whyte a huge heavyweight clash

Alexander Povetkin and Dilian Whyte’s heavyweight bout looms as an intriguing fight, as the pair will do battle for the WBC heavyweight interim title.

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Considering Povetkin defeated Whyte in their first fight, Whyte will be desperate for revenge. Enlisting the help of former American boxer Harold Knight, who’s notably helped the likes of Lennox Lewis and Anthony Joshua, this looks like a smart move by Whyte’s camp. “I was brought in to bring some American flavour. To add that world championship experience, to add small little things to the recipe, to work on Dillian’s balance, to work on his jab and work on his defence,” Knight noted.

“Dillian’s already like a pitbull, already like an assassin, so I’m just adding a little gunpowder to the mix; a little pizazz, bring some maestro to it, so the world can see he has taken it to another level.

“We want Dillian to be able to use some of his weapons that have been dormant. He has them already, but needs to be reminded of them. He has them, but needs to ‘do what Emmanuel Steward would do’ – bring the fire and bring the smoothness out. Dillian already has all of this, I’m just adding a few more bullets to his arsenal.”

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With Povetkin now recovered from coronavirus, which forced the fight to be delayed, the Russian recently stated how he feels good and is ready for this colossal showdown. He is, however, rated as the underdog at 3.60 by the bookies, whereas Whyte is at 1.36.

If their first fight is anything to go by, this one should be full of excitement and drama too. In that bout, all the signs were pointing towards Whyte winning, as he knocked down Povetkin twice in the fourth round before the Russian knocked out Whyte with a devastating uppercut in the fifth.

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In what’s set to be a fascinating fight between two of the elite fighters in the division, the winner will most likely be rewarded with a mammoth fight against the winner of the two scheduled fights between Joshua and Tyson Fury.

This would be a fine prize indeed in terms of getting a title shot and receiving a hefty purse, which will only add to the occasion on March 27 for Povetkin and Whyte’s fight in Gibraltar.

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US Betting

Growth of the US Betting Industry: Why UK Betting Giants Are Taking Interest

The United Kingdom has always been one of the countries that pave the way for legalised gambling. This is not surprising since it has a rich history when it comes to this industry. Nowadays, the gambling and sports betting industry has been becoming bigger and now many countries are rising to the challenge. The US betting industry is a great example. 

Due to the years of regulation, gambling was largely illegal in the United States. But, now, with reforms taking place in many states, the US is experiencing the huge profits that the online betting industry brings. They now understand the significance of most people wanting to know how to earn passive income, which they can achieve through smart gambling.

US BettingCourtesy of Pick A Sportsbook

Ever since the overturning of the PASPA law back in 2018, multiple states have been taking advantage of the legal sports betting opportunities that come their way. Recently, there are three states that have authorised sports betting while others are approving or expanding casino gambling.

The three states that have approved sports betting are Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana. According to a gambling historian with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, David Schwartz, “It appears that Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with legalised gambling. The addition of casinos in Virginia and racetrack casinos in Nebraska indicates that casino-style gambling is on the upswing as well. We have reached a point where voters seem satisfied that legalising gambling will offer positive returns for their state.”

New Jersey BettorCourtesy of Casino.org

How are UK Gambling Giants Reacting to the US Betting Industry?

Many UK firms are taking an interest in the US betting market ever since the PASPA law was overturned. You have the owner of Ladbrokes, Entertain, having a takeover bidding war with US casino giant, MGM resorts. MGM is seeking to acquire Entain with a proposal of £8.09 billion. Unfortunately, it was turned down by Entain. But, had it been approved, MGM would have expanded its business in the sports betting sector. Furthermore, Entain also started out in the US in 2018 with licenses in three states. With the change in the law, they also further grew their business. 

Aside from that, you also have UK betting companies making their move, such as William Hill. Although it already entered the US market back in 2011, it has expanded its business in 2018 by securing a 20% investment from Caesars. In addition to that, you also have Flutter Entertainment, owner of Paddy Power and Betfair, which has its own selection of betting partnerships with US brands. Just recently, Flutter entered into a £3.1 billion deal with FanDuel, US-based daily fantasy sports and online betting company.

With the increasing demand for legalised gambling in the US, it will soon surpass the UK. In fact, experts have predicted that the US sports betting market will exceed the UK one by 2023 if things continue on in this way. 

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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.”

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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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Sevilla an outside shot to progress in their UCL tie with Dortmund

Despite getting off to a brilliant start by taking an early lead in their first leg Round of 16 Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla were subsequently torn apart by the electricity of Borussia Dortmund in transition, as the Spanish outfit lost 3-2.

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Unable to contain the exceptional Erling Haaland, who scored an exceptional brace after Mahmoud Dahoud leveled the scores with an exquisite strike, Sevilla have it all to do in the away leg if they’re to progress to the quarters.

Looking to become only the sixth team to overcome a home first leg loss, Julen Lopetegui’s men will come out firing in their quest to beat Dortmund. Full of quality and usually defensively solid, a testament to the class of last season’s Europa League winners comes from how they’ve only lost two of their last 37 matches in Europe.

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Currently sitting fourth in La Liga, just five points behind Real Madrid, they’ve unquestionably been one of the elite teams in the division, which will ensure they’re fearsome adversaries for BVB, who are coming off a crushing 4-2 loss to Bayern Munich at the weekend.

Possessing the second best defence in La Liga, with them only conceding 20 goals in 25 games, Lopetegui’s created a formidable stopping unit.

Meanwhile, when going forward, Sevilla have built up impressively and passed the ball with incision to create many excellent chances. Their only issue has been converting some of their chances, with Youssef En-Nesyri and Luuk de Jong, plus others, often missing some very presentable chances. En Nesyri has improved immensely, though, for the Moroccan striker has been in great form, scoring 17 goals in all competitions. Further attacking threat notably comes from quality operators like Lucas Ocampos, Papu Gomez, Suso, Munir El Haddadi and Oliver Torres.

Blessed with plenty of experience in midfield, the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Fernando and Joan Jordan form an outstanding trio in the middle. Boasting one of the best central defensive pairings in Europe, Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos, have illustrated emphatically why they are coveted by many of the biggest clubs on the continent.

While Los Rojiblancos will need to produce a flawless display on both sides of the ball to defeat Dortmund away from home, if they can find their groove offensively and hold firm defensively, they’ll be in with a fighting chance to cause a massive upset.

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