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

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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 Week Betting Preview: Man City Slim Favorite Facing Tottenham

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The recency factor might point to Tottenham Hotspur and Harry Kane instead of Manchester City, which is lagging after having run out front all season.

Manchester City is a super-slim +150 favorite with Tottenham Hotspur coming back at +160 and the draw offers +255 on the three-way moneyline for this English Premier League betting matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

However, Tottenham has yet to lose an EPL match since January 1, while Manchester City has lost three games in a row and has seen its ambition of an EPL/Champions League double go up in smoke.

Four of the last five matchups between the Citizens and Spurs have had at least three goals with both teams scoring. The over on the 3.0 total still offers +105. There should be scoring. Tottenham is also even-money on the draw no bet prop, offering a fallback to Spurs backers in the event of a tie.

The twist for the matchup between relegation-threatened Southampton (+345) and Chelsea (-120, +255 draw) is that the sides will soon meet again in an upcoming F.A. Cup semifinal. Southampton will have to play desperate attacking football, which makes both the over (2.5 total) and Chelsea on the goals line (-1.5) worth considering.

Burnley (+155) will not have captain Ben Mee in the center of its back four for a big match against Leicester City (+195, +210 draw). Each team is healthy up front, though, which means the over on the 2.0 total should hit. Both teams have scored in five of Burnley’s last seven home games and in 10 of Leicester’s last 12 away games.

Huddersfield Town (+160) and Watford (+180, +215 draw) are on five- and four-match winless streaks and have both been porous defensively. Neither team is more than a hunch play but taking the -140 over on the 2.0 total seems self-explanatory since eight of their last nine matchups have had three or more goals.

Swansea City (+150) catches Everton (+195, +210 draw), who is struggling to create scoring chances and has won just two of 16 away games in the league. Swansea City needs the full three points and also has Jordan Ayew back as a potential finisher.

Newcastle (+220) has won only one of its last 22 matchups against Arsenal (+115, +255 draw), whom it hosts in a Sunday betting matchup. Newcastle has an excellent chance to end the drought, since Arsenal seems to be saving itself for Europa League. Newcastle’s draw no bet price is a still-generous +135.

And West Ham United (-105) faces last-place Stoke City (+295, +240 draw) in a Monday betting matchup with a chance to solidify its place in the 2018-19 EPL. West Ham forward Marko Arnatovic is facing his former team, making him worth looking at in goal scorer props.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Manchester City Betting Favorite vs. Manchester United in Highlight EPL Clash

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The outlook, in the greater scheme, has changed for Manchester City and they just may try to take out some frustrations on their cross-town archrival.

With a chance to clinch the English Premier League crown this weekend, Manchester City is a -115 betting favorite while visiting Manchester United comes back at +310 with the draw priced at +260 and a 2.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

 It is just a matter of when Manchester City will wrap up the title, so bettors will have to stay alert about whether manager Pep Guardiola goes with a first-choice lineup or rests players such as Sergio Aguero. Man City, which is expected to have midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva ready to go, might be eager for a big show to wash away the stain of a 3-0 defeat against Liverpool in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

Manchester United has a good record in this matchup, with a 3-1-2 (wins-draws-losses) mark in the last six matchups. But they don’t play the pressing style that can give Manchester City trouble.

A late-season derby often means more to the lower-placed team, which means Everton (+310) offers value against Liverpool (-120, draw +260) on the Premier League betting lines in this edition of the Merseyside derby. Liverpool might scratch Mohamed Salah (groin) and could make further lineup decisions to preserve other core players for Tuesday’s quarterfinal second leg at Manchester City. With that in mind, Everton is worth taking for the upset.

Neither Brighton & Hove Albion (-120) nor Huddersfield Town (+365, draw +240) is in good form, as Brighton has failed to score in three games, whilst Huddersfield has been shut out in its last four. The home team has not lost in the last 10 editions of this matchup, and given the teams’ perilous position in the standings (13th and 16th) it’s worth taking the under at +105 on the 2.0 total.

Last-place West Bromwich Albion (+140) has brought in Darren Moore as interim manager after sacking Alan Pardew and the shake-up might lead to some fact-facing ahead of its match with Swansea City (+215, draw +210). Swansea City, which will essentially be clear of the relegation zone with three more points, is poised to pounce for an away win with midfielder Sam Clucas back in the lineup.

Arsenal (-195) takes on Southampton (+500, draw +325) in a Sunday betting matchup, but forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play. However, Arsenal has won its last two league games and also has an attainable minus-1.0 goals line (priced at -110). With Southampton averaging fewer than one goal per goal, Arsenal has a strong chance at a shutout as well.

And Chelsea (-385) takes on West Ham United (+1000, draw +475) in a Sunday betting matchup. Chelsea has the motivation of playing a London derby, but with Champions League qualification out of reach, this could be a trap game. West Ham, with Joao Mario providing a boost up front, could be worth taking on the win/draw double chance.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.