Friday, April 8, 2011

Week-end Preview

Las Verglas Star came out second for a winning Place recommendation. A lot of interesting things going on in the world of sports this week-end with the golf Masters (can Rory do it?), the Grand National (will McCoy win again?), and of course the usual football and racing.

I was mentioning earlier this week that I thought La Liga was over. I can't see Barcelona losing the title with an 8-point advantage at this stage of the season. I think it is obvious for both teams as well that the race is over and that there are "better fish to fry", notably the Copa del Rey and Champions League where both teams look assured to clash again. So, this makes it a little tricky to analyze their remaining League matches because they will obviously not be fielding their best teams. So, as Real Madrid travel to Bilbao, Mourinho might feel the time is right to experiment with his team selection and give a rest to some players. I would not be surprised if Bilbao get a draw or even take the spoils there. Too unpredictable to forecast this game. Barcelona host Almeira. Again here, it looks certain that Guardiola will freshen things up and give a chance to fringe players. Even so, I cannot see them missing the golden 3 points available here. Barcelona as a Win is recommended.

The Premier League looks a more interesting proposition to follow as although Man Utd have a seven point lead (with an extra game played than Arsenal), their road to the title is somewhat more difficult than Barcelona. That's the competitive nature of the league, where even the lowest-ranked teams can spring shock results as they wage their own relegation battle. There is no doubt that Man Utd got a huge boost by beating Chelsea in mid-week, and their confidence will have soared with the return of centre-half Rio Ferdinand. They entertain Fulham who are by means an easy team to deal with. Mark Hughes teams always have character and will have a go at the hosts. Still, Man Utd should prevail in this one and should they fail to win the 3 points, a draw is a minimum result for them. A draw-no-bet on Man Utd is recommended.

In the other Premier League games, Chelsea should overcome Wigan. If they were in the thick of the title race, it would be a sure Chelsea win. Since they are (mostly) out of it, and that the Champions League return leg at Old Trafford will be on their minds, Carlos Ancelotti is bound to rest key players now that he has a full-squad at his disposal. Chelsea is a draw-no-bet recommendation. I like Aston Villa's chances against Newcastle on Sunday. Villa have to pick up points as they try to distance themselves from the relegation zone. Obviously the quality available in this squad means that they shouldn't be there in the first place. The positive vibe from the Villains is that Darren Bent is scoring. To me, he's one of the top 5 strikers in the league, and should score enough goals till the end of the season to get his team out of its precarious position. A draw-no-bet on Villa is recommended.

In the Serie A, Inter play host to Chievo. The big question is what kind of Inter will show up; a demolarised one after consecutive thumpings from Milan and Schalke at the San Siro? Or a re-energized one that is solely focused on retaining its Serie A title, now that they almost have both feet out of the Champions League? I see Inter grinding a win out of this, or a draw in case Chievo prove resilient. A draw-no-bet on Inter is the recommendation.

In France, Lyon and Marseille should either win or draw their home matches. Both of their title aspirations are slim as Lille is looking like a runaway winner, but they are working on maximizing points in their battle for Champions League/European spots.

Win: Barcelona
Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Inter Milan, Marseille, Lyon

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