Getty Images

Euro 2016 final: Griezmann, France favored to beat Ronaldo, Portugal

Leave a comment

While it often pays to be counter-intuitive before a championship matchup that has a heavy favorite, France is the chalk pick for the Euro 2016 final at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for a reason.

France, which has pumped in nine goals in their last three matches, are listed at +110 to defeat Portugal on Sunday at Stade de France in Saint-Denis and become a three-time European champion. Portugal, led  by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo but also bearing the baggage from having been a bridesmaid four times in major tournaments since 2000, is the longshot at +350. The draw is at +210.

Many observers labeled the France-Germany semifinal, which Les Bleus won 2-0, to be the real final. France has been lethal at finishing during the knockout stages, with Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann now up to a tournament-leading six goals. Their win against Germany illustrated how they can still get on the scoreboard without being ahead in possession time.

Skeptics who are still fixated on the fact France’s opening goal of the semifinal came on a penalty kick would also do well to remember they probably would have broken through sooner if they were facing any goalkeeper other than Germany’s Manuel Neuer.

France manager Didier Deschamps has a healthy lineup. France has also won 10 consecutive matchups against Portugal since 1975. It is also notable that the goal total has been two or more in 12 of the 14 Euro finals.

The best-case scenario for Portugal and Ronaldo might involve poking in an early goal and winning ugly through tough-minded marking. It’s decided role reversal from the days when Portugal often fell victim to that style of play, most notably at Euro 2004 when Greece pulled off a 1-0 upset in the final.

Portugal seems to have made the attitude adjustment required to win with defense. Left back Raphael Guerreiro should return to bolster their back line after being held out of the semifinal against Wales on Wednesday. The effect of his return could be negated if Pepe, who trained apart from his teammates on Friday, is less than 100% healthy.

It might be tempting to think that Portugal might act out the underdog story. However, the cost of their emphasis on falling back defensively is that it reduces the number of touches for Ronaldo and Nani, their second striker

In a Euro 2016 matchup featuring La Liga rivals Ronaldo and Griezmann, it might be best to back the superstar whose team keeps him engaged in the game.

EPL Roundup: Manchester City’s title odds continue to improve

Leave a comment

Manchester City’s futures line has continued to decrease in value, even though it is only two points clear of its cross-town rival with 30 games yet to play.

Unbeaten through eight rounds of play in the 38-game season, Manchester City is now the -250 favorite to be the English Premier League outright champion, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The price on Manchester United (+350) has risen, while Tottenham Hotspur (+1200) has dropped well back.

Matchweek 9 gets underway with West Ham United (-125) hosting Brighton & Hove Albion (+375, draw +235) in a Friday betting matchup. The teams drew 1-1 in their last matchup and could very well do so again, based on both teams’ struggles with finishing plays. Brighton’s best shot to score, as it always is, is Pascal Gross.

Huddersfield Town (+850) seems unlikely to break a four-game goal drought against Manchester United (-285, draw +395), but it will dig in around its goal and make Man U earn its three points. The under on the 2.5 total is -115, and this might be the play since Manchester United might take the do-just-enough-to-win approach.

Manchester City (-1200) hosts pesky Burnley (+2400, draw +1000). The big betting question revolves around the 4.0 total and City being minus-2.5 on the goal line. Burnley might not be capable of stopping City cold, or scoring many goals, but manager Sean Dyche has coaxed them to earn points against top competition several times already this season.

The tightest moneyline involves Swansea City (+180) at home against Leicester City (+160, draw +220). The Foxes decided the show was over for manager Craig Shakespeare and remain an iffy play until his firing blows over. The total is 3.0 and the oddsmakers have the juice on the over (-135) instead of the under (-110). Swansea striker Tammy Abraham should get his share of scoring opportunities.

Off to its worst start in almost a decade, Everton (+275) is an underdog at home against Arsenal (even, draw +250) in a Sunday betting matchup. Taking the Toffees here would be based on the belief that Everton manager Ronald Koeman will pull out all the stops in order to keep his job. Arsenal, after fielding a no-name bunch in its Europa League match on Thursday, could finally have Alexandre Lacazette running with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

While Tottenham Hotspur (+115) is home to Liverpool (+230, draw +250) on Sunday, it went winless in three tries against the Reds last season. Liverpool is the farthest thing from a sit-back-and-wait team, which ups the possibility of Harry Kane scoring for the Spurs and the 3.0 total going over. The price on Liverpool is nearly irresistible, but Tottenham might be due.

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

Leave a comment

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.