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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.

Premier League Odds: Man City puts unbeaten record on the line

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The megabucks transfer of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona has sway over a couple of English Premier League lines – one immediate, one long-range.

As league play resumes, undefeated Manchester City is a +120 favorite away at Coutinho-less Liverpool, who comes back at +205; the draw offers +260 on the three-way moneyline and the total is 3.0, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Whether it is relevant that Man City’s last win at Anfield in 2003 is debatable, since City has become such a well-heeled club in the years since. But this could be a tricky matchup for the Citizens since key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne will likely to be marked by the physical Emre Can.

The loss of Coutinho notwithstanding, Liverpool still has firepower with the EPL’s No. 2 scorer, Mohamed Salah, along with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The 5-0 scoreline from the teams’ first league game at City was an anomaly, as Liverpool was a 10-man side after a red card in the first half.

The 3.0 total pays -120 for the over, and there’s probably just too much potency in each team’s attack for anyone to record a shutout. If one is going chalk with a City pick, then Raheem Sterling with his knack for late-game tallies is worth a side bet in goal scorer props.

Huddersfield Town (+160) has not lost at home this season against a lower-placed team, but West Ham United (+190, +200 draw) is on an uptick with a win or draw in six of its last seven games. Five of the last six games in this matchup have had fewer than 2.5 goals. The 2.0 total pays -110 either way.

Watford (+135) is in a funk with one win in six league fixtures, but Southampton (+195, +230 draw) is winless in nine. These sides’ last eight games have had a combined 34 goals (4.25 per match), so the 2.5 total with over paying -105 is very good value.

Chelsea (-375), off a short turnaround from a Carabao Cup match, hosts Leicester City (+1000, +475 draw). Chelsea will have captain Gary Cahill on its back line, but its finishing has been problematic lately. Leicester, which has both conceded and scored in 14 of 22 games, is even money on the goals line at +1.5.

Bournemouth (+355) let Arsenal (-145, +310 draw) off the hook during their 2017 fixture by blowing a three-goal lead. Bournemouth, with striker Callum Wilson up front, offers great value for the upset. In any event, there should be scoring; the over on the 3.0 total pays 2.5.

Meantime, Man City’s 15-point cushion on second-placed Man United has destroyed any value in EPL champions futures, as it’s dropped to -10000. The best futures prop might be for top goal scorer. Tottenham’s Harry Kane (-185) is the homegrown favorite, but he has only one more goal than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (+400), who at 4-to-1 offers enticing value. Liverpool, which is 6-2-1 without Coutinho this season, should still have sufficient playmaking support to get Salah his scoring opportunities.

City’s Sergio Aguero (+500) and the aforementioned Sterling (+2000) are four and five goals behind Kane respectively, but they could cancel each other out and also get spotted in league games if City continues advancing in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup competitions.

Arsenal, Liverpool Highlight Premier League Betting Slate for Weekend

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Right now, $100 “risked” on Manchester City on the odds to win the Premier League would bring a grand return of three dollars and three cents, meaning bettors who play the futures game are looking elsewhere for value.

At the midpoint of the season, undefeated Man City is at -3300 at the top of the EPL outright winner board with Manchester United (+2000) as a nominal second favorite, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. City’s next four fixtures are against a motley crew of Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Watford, so it seems highly dubious that their lead is set to shrink.

In top four props, Man United (-900) and Chelsea (-500) are kicking up plenty of chalk. The prices on Arsenal (+150) and Liverpool (-165) could be subject to some wild fluctuations over Christmas week, since they play head-to-head Friday. Liverpool has a potent offense, Arsenal is a riskier play since it will have the diversion of Champions League in the new year.

Tottenham Hotspur (+160) has seen its price rise due to a couple recent losses. Longshot Burnley (+10000) plays six of its next nine games against teams currently in the top six.

As noted, Arsenal (+140) is just a slight home favorite against Liverpool (+180, +250 draw) in a Friday matchup, even though the Reds won 4-0 at home when the rivals met in August. Liverpool, with a diverse attack that includes goals leader Mohamed Salah, has scored in bunches on the road and could do so again.

Despite his place on the scoring table, Salah (+275) is still second favorite to be top goal scorer behind Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who trails him by two.

Everton (+475) and Chelsea (-165, +280 draw) each played earlier this week, but Chelsea has a deeper cache of outfield players with the likes of N’Golo Kante and Marcos Alonso rested. Chelsea is +115 at minus-1.0 goals and the over on the 2.5 total pays +105.

Last-place Swansea City (+220) fired manager Paul Clement this week and might need a game or two to get collected, while Crystal Palace (+135, +210 draw) is playing much better. Whether Swansea City nets a goal could be staked on whether Wilfried Bony (hamstring) is 100 percent available.

Burnley (+575) has held five opponents in a row to fewer than two goals and it thrives at frustrating talented teams. Tottenham Hotspur (-200, +305 draw), with a five-game road losing streak, could have a low boiling point, so Burnley is great value to take at least a draw or maybe the full three points.

Leicester City (+340), given forward Jamie Vardy’s history of stepping up against top-end teams, have an outside shot of upsetting Manchester United (-125, +260 draw), but the Red Devils will have Paul Pogba back to spark counter-attacks. The over on the 2.5 total could be an easy hit.

Brighton & Hove Albion (+160) is on a seven-match winless skid, but Watford (+190, +210 draw) has lost three in a row and the Hornets will not have leading goal scorer Abdoulaye Doucoure (suspension). Watford has allowed some multi-goal games lately, so Brighton’s Glenn Murray has a good chance to boot one home in this one.