Juventus underdog against Real Madrid in Champions League Final

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While being champions of Europe in back-to-back years would be unprecedented in modern times, Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo will face the toughest backline they have seen all season against Juventus.

Real Madrid is listed a -120 betting favorite against +100 Juventus with a 2.0 total in their Champions League final matchup for Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. On the three-way moneyline for Saturday’s match in Cardiff, Wales, Real Madrid is offering +155 to Juventus’ +183 with the draw going off at +101, indicating that most sharps see this being a tight match. Six of the last 16 Champions League finals have required extra time.

Juventus, under Massimiliano Allegri, has been a well-oiled machine throughout the competition with only three goals allowed in 12 matches. The Italian squad, which just won a sixth consecutive league title in Serie A, will likely try to contain Ronaldo with a back four that includes the excellent centre-back combo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chellini.

Juventus should get a boost at midfield now that Sami Khedira is healthy and can pair with Miralem Pjanic as a passer.

Forward Gonzalo Higuain (+900), who is due to deliver in a final and will be facing his former club, has the highest odds of any Juve player to score two or more goals on the Champions League final betting props. Dybala (+1200) offers a better price, though.

Real Madrid comes in with more a pedigree, having won the Champions League in two of the past three years. With Gareth Bale (ankle) admitting he’s not ready to start, Real manager Zinedine Zidane might have to turn to attacking midfielder Isco to complement Ronaldo up front. Real Madrid’s likelihood of controlling the pace likely hinges on its midfield, where Luka Modric has been excellent during their run.

Ronaldo (+550), not surprisingly, has top odds to score at least two goals. Alvaro Morata (+900) is high on the board, although how much of a factor he’ll be with an off-season transfer upcoming is anyone’s guess.

Real Madrid is listed at +300 to score a goal in each half, with Juventus listed at +350. It’s in Real Madrid’s interest to push for an early tally, lest Juventus be able to settle into a defensive shell.

On the first goal scorer board, Ronaldo (+350) and Higuain (+400) are the usual suspects. Real midfielder Toni Kroos (+2000) has also had a hot boot of late, with two goals in his last three La Liga starts.

There is a -115 yes/no prop on whether both teams will score in the game. Only two of the last 12 finals have ended with a shutout.

World Cup Odds: Portugal offers value against rival Spain

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With each team dealing with distractions, it might be worth taking a chance on Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo against rival Spain in the big matchup on the first full day of World Cup action.

Spain is listed as a +105 betting favorite on Friday’s World Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with Portugal coming back at +305, while the draw is priced at +225 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 2.0 total.

Favored Spain had a shake-up on Tuesday when manager Fernando Hierro was airlifted in after the shock firing of Julen Lopetegui. Spain’s defensive strength is also touch-and-go with right-back Dani Carjaval (hamstring).

That said, form in international play over the last year points to Spain, which is 7-0-3 (wins/losses/draws) in its last 10 international games whereas Portugal is 1-2-2 in its last five.

Being in Group B with the aforementioned European squads means Morocco (+120) and Iran (+280, draw +195) will each need to play to win in their matchup in St. Petersburg. The over on the 2.0 total is enticing at even money.

Uruguay (-185) faces Egypt (+600, draw +275) in Yekaterinburg. Egypt has failed to win any of its last six outings and might not have a fully healthy Mohamed Salah (shoulder), suggesting a likelihood of Uruguay grinding out a result in a game that finishes under the 2.5 total.

Argentina (-300) will ride the Lionel Messi effect against Iceland (+900, draw +400) in a Saturday World Cup betting matchup in Moscow. Iceland, with an attack built around Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley, won’t roll over easily and the over on the 2.5 total should hit.

France (-425) is among the contenders on the overall odds to win the World Cup, while Australia (+1000, draw +550) will be looking to exasperate Les Bleus with defensive tactics in their matchup at Kazan. It might not come easily, but France has a strong chance to cover the minus-1.5 goals line.

Denmark (+135) is favored, but Peru (+220, +220 draw) takes a 15-match unbeaten streak into the matchup in Saransk, compared to the Danes’ four-game streak. Denmark’s last four matches have all finished below this match’s 2.5 total and a well-played 1-1 draw seems eminently possible.

Croatia (-135), paced by Barcelona midfielder Luka Modric, will be looking for a statement win against Nigeria (+400, +265 draw) at Kaliningrad. Nigeria is winless in its last four outings. Eight of Croatia’s last 10 matches and six of Nigeria’s last 10 have finished with fewer than 2.5 goals.

Defending champion Germany (-205) begins its quest for a repeat against Mexico (+575, +345 draw) at Moscow on Sunday. Since reunification, Germany is 6-0 in opening games with a 23-2 goal differential, so the form would suggest manager Joachim Low’s side can win convincingly.

There isn’t much value on playing Brazil (-245) for a likely win against Switzerland (+750, +370 draw) at Rostov-on-Don, but the favorites come in having recorded a clean sheet in seven of their last eight matches. Switzerland has also had clean sheets in five of six outings, suggesting it’s unlikely both teams will score.

The matchup between Serbia (-110) and Costa Rica (+360, +225 draw) in Samara stacks up as projection vs. past performance. Serbia and Aleksandar Mitrovic of Newcastle United fame are overdue to convert age-group success to the senior level, while 2014 quarterfinalist Costa Rica has lost key defender Ronald Matarrita (hamstring) to injury.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.

Lionel Messi, Neymar Betting Favorites for World Cup Golden Boot

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Capturing the World Cup’s Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the tournament is not linked to being on the winning team, or even being a household name.

Three weeks before the tournament kicks off in Russia, Argentina’s Lionel Messi is a +850 favorite on the World Cup Golden Boot odds with Brazil’s Neymar a narrow second favorite at +900 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The award includes all games in the tournament, group and knockout, so it is not surprising that 18 of the 20 recipients of the award have played for a team that finished either first, second or third. Eleven of the 18 played on the third-place team, whose final game typically will have more scoring and less cautious play than the final.

Ronaldo (Brazil, 2002) is the only Golden Boot winner in the last nine World Cups who also played for the winning team.

That history might work against Messi, whose Argentina team is not being given much of a  chance to make a deep run. Neymar is also working his way back from a knee injury, raising concern about how much Brazil will turn him loose, particularly in the group games. Brazil teammate Roberto Firmino (+6600) of Liverpool fame could be worth a darkhorse pick on the Golden Boot betting lines.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (+1200) was second in goals scored at Euro 2016 and his country is likely to make it into the knockout round, although it has to contend with being in the same group as Spain.

The aforementioned “first, second or third” theory likely strikes wagering on England’s Harry Kane (+1600). Germany’s Timo Werner (+1600), whose team is the favorite on the odd to win the World Cup, has a much stronger likelihood of playing a full seven games. Germany typically also plays with only one striker, meaning service from the midfield won’t be split between two forwards.

France and Belgium are each being touted as strong possibilities to be semi-finalists, if not more. Antoine Griezmann (+1400) is the top Les Bleus player on the board, but young Kylian Mbappe (+3300) could have more breakout potential.

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku (+2000) has the lowest odds of any Belgium player, but Dries Mertens (+3300) of Napoli in Italy’s Serie A is worth considering as a longshot due to his speed and skill as a winger.

Colombia’s James Rodriguez (+5000) is the reigning Golden Boot winner. No player has ever won twice.

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.