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.

Manchester City continue to be dominant on EPL championship odds

Leave a comment

Undefeated Manchester City have crept even farther into minus money as a -800 favorite on the English Premier League championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Second-place Manchester United (+1200), eight points off of the pace after 12 games, might be the only team with a realistic chance of catching City, and that would start with a win in their showdown on December 12.

Matchday 13 starts with a Friday game, as West Ham United (+170), under new manager David Moyes, might still be in shambles going into a home fixture against Leicester City (+165, +230 draw). With West Ham haven given up a league-most 25 goals, the over on the 2.5 total seems likely to hit.

Liverpool (+110) could be vulnerable at home to Chelsea (+240, +250 draw). Nine of the Reds’ 10 outfield players have already started two games (one league, one Champions League) in the past week. Manager Jurgen Klopp might not have his first-choice lineup. Chelsea have won five of its six away games in the league and playmaker Cesc Fabregas should find some gaps in Liverpool’s struggling defense. Both teams have scored in 10 of the 11 Liverpool-Chelsea games and, based on recent form, that trend should continue.

Another tight three-way moneyline involves second-from-bottom Swansea City (+170) at home to Bournemouth (+165, +215 draw). Swansea have struggled at home while Bournemouth come in having won its last two away games by multi-goal margins. Callum Wilson could also be a good bet to score for the visiting Cherries.

Newcastle United (+115) have lost three in a row on the trot, as well as their last three games against Watford (+235 +235 draw). With Newcastle likely facing pressure to attack and end their drought, Watford could continue their trend of scoring two goals in every away game so far. The over on the 2.5 total seems like a sound play.

The value on pesky Burnley (+475) at home against Arsenal (-180, +330 draw) in a Sunday betting matchup might be too good not to take. Burnley have been airtight defensively and Arsenal appear nicked-up with Olivier Giroud (thigh) and other key players working against the clock to reach match fitness.

Huddersfield Town (+1400) could be out of their depth against Manchester City (-525, +650 draw) in a Sunday matchup. If Manchester City have stalwarts such as Leroy Sane and Vincent Kompany starting after they were rested in Champions League play earlier this week, they should rate a good chance of covering the minus-2.0 goal line. That pays 1.5.

Tottenham seeks away win against Arsenal as North London Derby underdog

Leave a comment

As the EPL comes out of the international break, it’s all about whether anything will happen to blunt Manchester City’s momentum.

The value with Manchester City on the EPL championship odds has completely evaporated, as they are a -700 favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Man City, after 11  of 38 rounds in the league campaign, is eight points clear of both Tottenham Hotspur (+1400) and Manchester United (+1600), who share second place, while Chelsea (+1800) is nine points adrift of the leaders.

Matchweek 12 begins with the North London derby, as Arsenal (+135) might be a shaky three-way moneyline play against aforementioned Tottenham Hotspur (+185, +255 draw). The Spurs’ Harry Kane has six goals in as many games against Arsenal, and Tottenham has posted a result in five of six games against the Gunners, so taking the draw might be the wisest play. Kane is a must-play in goal scorer props.

Leicester City (+750) has likely been too leaky defensively (16 goals in 11 matches) to take them for an upset against a Manchester City (-325, +450 draw) side that will have Sergio Aguero and winger Leroy Sané in uniform. The over on the 3.5 total pays a healthy -110, and Manchester City is always worth considering on the goals line at minus-1.5.

Last-place Crystal Palace (+135) cannot score at home (four goals in five fixtures) and Everton (+220, +215 draw) cannot score on the road (two in five), but neither keeps it tidy around its goal. Two of Palace’s last three matches have had fewer than 2.5 goals, which is what the total is for a match that seems likely to end 1-0 or 1-1.

West Bromwich Albion (+500), which has the second-highest moneyline of any home team this week, will likely pack the goal tight against surging Chelsea (-175, +285 draw). Chelsea, which is on a three-win streak, is capable of bidding its time and ekeing out a win in a game that stays under the 3.5 total.

Watford (+105) is offering good value as it tries to pull out of a three-game losing streak, and West Ham United (+260, +240 draw) will likely need time to get used to new manager David Moyes. Watford, with young Brazilian winger Richarlison featuring in the attack, should be able to pull out of its nosedive.

Brighton & Hove Albion (+135) is far healthier than Stoke City (+225, +210 draw) ahead of a Monday matchup. Brighton will have something resembling a first-choice lineup to tee up striker Glenn Murray (three-game goal streak). With Stoke laid low by the news goalkeeper Jack Butland (finger) is out for more than a month, Brighton could cover the 2.0 total by itself.