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Messi, Argentina favorite to win Copa America Centenario Tournament

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Lionel Messi ought to be motivated heading into the last four of the Copa America Centenario, since the world’s greatest soccer player has his first chance to win a major international trophy with Argentina as the betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Argentina, which has outscored their four opponents 14-2 ahead of Tuesday’s game, plays the upstart United States in the semifinal at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Argentines are listed at -175 on the tournament champion board, with the United States listed as the +800 long shot. Chile and Colombia, who meet in the second semifinal on Wednesday at Soldier Field in Chicago, have odds of +325 and +500.

For Tuesday’s semi, Argentina is the heavy -220 favorite, with the underdog United States at +650 and a draw at +330. They are 6-2-2 all-time against the Americans, and Messi will be complemented by other threats such as striker Sergio Aguero of Manchester City. It is a safe assumption that Argentina will control the possession time.

The wild card will be the stout back line that the United States has built under coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Like many North American or northern European teams, they have a size advantage that can keep skilled opponents from completing plays in the 18-yard box. The likes of D John Brooks and D Geoff Cameron will pose an obstacle to Messi, which will assist in the Americans’ effort to stretch out the scoreless portion of the match, and perhaps force Argentina to go to extra time or penalty kicks.

Meanwhile, Chile is listed as a slight +150 favorite to prevail on Wednesday, with Colombia at +195 and a draw at +215.

Chile is minus a critical element, since MF Arturo Vidal, of Bayern Munich, is suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards. Lacking Vidal will affect Chile somewhat, but the world’s fifth-ranked team isn’t exactly lacking for depth. Bettors should try not to fixate on how good Chile looked during their 7-0 quarter-final win against Mexico, since margin of victory in the previous game is not necessarily predictive.

Colombia, conversely, prevailed against Peru in their quarter-final after a penalty shootout. Colombia’s lineup has been in flux throughout the tournament, and it has not won outright in either of its past two games. Striker Carlos Bacca, of AC Milan, has said he will play in spite of an ankle injury. In David Ospino, Colombia also has one of the best goalkeepers still active in the tournament.

The Copa America final is on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Manchester City Tops EPL Futures, But Manchester United Has Chance to Move

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While Manchester City is moving deeper into minus-money range, Manchester United can show it’s a challenger by winning a rivalry match this weekend.

Riding a five-win streak in the league, Manchester City is the -150 favorite on the odds to win the EPL championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Manchester United (+275) has had the benefit of a soft schedule so far, but manager Jose Mourinho’s men can make a statement during matchweek 8 by winning on the road against rival Liverpool.

Chelsea (+800) and Tottenham Hotspur (+1400) remain the darkhorses.

Although Liverpool (+175) is at home for the aforementioned feature match against Manchester United (+155, draw +235), not having speedster Sadio Mane at winger will limit the Reds’ ability to counter-attack. There is a chance of Manchester United playing shutdown soccer and counting on the likes of Romelu Lukaku to poke in a decisive goal. Knowing the stakes, the under on the 2.5 total is inviting.

There is an even tighter three-way moneyline involving host Burnley (+165) against West Ham United (+175, draw +210). West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is getting close to having his first-choice lineup, but Burnley has been the most cohesive squad and is at home, where it’s been tough since the start of last season.

Swansea City (+110) takes a winless home record into action against sagging Huddersfield Town (+275, draw +210). With both teams scuffling offensively and Swansea F Wilfried Bony (hamstring) being uncertain to play, this smacks of a potential 1-0 game. The total is 2.0.

Manchester City (-650) is home to Stoke City (+1800, draw +750). City has scored four goals in three of their last five matches against Stoke, which means both the over on the 3.5 total and the even-money payout on City covering the minus-2.5 goal-line both look reachable.

Neither Brighton & Hove Albion (+220) nor Everton (+135, draw +205) is inspiring great confidence. Brighton is missing three first-choice players, while Everton has had only two men, Oumar Niasse and Wayne Rooney, score a goal this season. The draw offers almost as much value as a Brighton victory.

And Leicester City (EVEN) hosts West Bromwich Albion (+300, draw +225) in the Monday betting matchup. The Foxes need the three points to get out of the relegation zone, and should be able to set up a fresh-legged Jamie Vardy for a goal.

 

Manchester City remain minus money on EPL futures ahead of visit to Chelsea

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The price on Manchester City in English Premier League outright champion betting remains steady, but doesn’t reflect their latest injury woes. Manchester City are the -110 favourites on the EPL champion futures board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with rival Manchester United coming down to +250.

Chelsea (+500), which coincidentally host Manchester City in the feature game of matchweek 7, have also come down slightly. Tottenham Hotspur (+1400) also pose good value as they continue to get comfortable playing out of Wembley Stadium.

Manchester City have another long-term absence on the back line, as left-back Benjamin Mendy (knee) is out for two months at least. Center-back Vincent Kompany has also been AWOL this season due to injury. Any stumble could cause City’s price to rise.

Chelsea (+175) are the slight moneyline underdogs at home to Manchester City (+150, +245 draw) on Saturday. With Alvaro Morata in peak form and Eden Hazard showing he can run for a full 90 minutes, Chelsea should be good to at least break City’s shutout streak.

With this being the quintessential six-pointer between top-of-the-table teams, a draw might be a zero-sum outcome.

Huddersfield Town (+750) might get exposed by Tottenham Hotspur (-280, +360 draw). The Spurs pulled Harry Kane early in their Champions League match to preserve him for Saturday, and they are even money on the minus-1.5 goal-line. Now that teams have more intel on Huddersfield, they might be easier to break down their resilient defence.

Stoke City (+190) might be a shaky moneyline play at home against Southampton (+150, +220 draw), since seven first-choice players, including four defenders, are banged-up. Southampton, with F Manolo Gabbiadini returning up front, might be good for at least a draw. The goal line is also a pick’em.

West Bromwich Albion (+125), which are on a five-match winless streak in all competitions, host Watford (+255, +205 draw), who are on a three-game road win streak. The under on the 2.0 total is at even-money, indicating belief this might be a 1-0 game either way. Watford will be in their first outing since MF Nathaniel Chalobah (broken kneecap) went down, so it’s hard to predict how they’ll manage without him.

Newcastle United (+390) welcome Liverpool (-150, +295 draw) on Sunday. Their last six matches on Newcastle’s home pitch have had 19 total goals, but the over on the 3.0 total is still even money. Liverpool will push the envelope on the attack with Sadio Mané back from a three-match ban, and they do not defend tremendously well on the road.

Manchester United (-600) face yet-to-score-this-season Crystal Palace (+1800, +600 draw).  Romelu Lokaku is going off at +210 to be the first goal scorer, and there’s a prop that pays +155 if each team scores a goal. Palace have to slot one home eventually, and Man United won’t have their most formidable lineup after playing a Champions League fixture in Russia on Tuesday.