Man City get test v. Tottenham on Matchweek 18 betting slate

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Thanks to Manchester City, the futures market in the English Premier League hinges on wagering on who will attain the top-four finish that secures an automatic berth into the 2018-19 Champions League.

Buoyed by a derby-day win at Manchester United last week, City are in deep minus money on the EPL championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Manchester United, 11 points adrift with 21 games left, is the nominal second favorite.

There is, however, some value in top four props. Aforementioned Manchester United (-900) and Chelsea (-400) offer plenty of chalk. Liverpool (-140) and Tottenham Hotspur (even) still have a modicum of value. Arsenal (+160) have been an enigma. But Burnley (+6600) are staying up with the big boys due to strong away play and tight defense

Leicester City (+4000) also loom as a value play, but the cachet the Foxes created with their 2015-16 league title means they are more likely to draw action than the other darkhorse.

Manchester City (-200 on the Matchweek 18 betting lines), with their record 15-win streak in the league are home against Tottenham Hotspur (+475, draw +330) which will be missing defenders Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez. It is hard to see how Spurs will have a path to a result with such a sub-optimal back line.

Brighton & Hove Albion (+155) have scored but once in their last five starts, and few teams defend better than Burnley (+215, draw +185). Even at -130 the under on the 2.0 total is still good value.

Leicester City (-115) offer great value at home against relegation-zone Crystal Palace (+330, draw +245). Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez has had the hot boot of late (three goals in four games). The under on the 2.5 total is tempting, to say the least, since Crystal Palace have yet to score an away goal in league play.

West Bromwich Albion (+500) take a 304-minute goal drought into action against Manchester United (-185, draw +290) in a Sunday betting matchup. Man United are just 3-3-2 over its last eight games against West Brom, and a low-scoring defensive struggle could unfold here.

Bournemouth (+500) are on a five-match winless skid as it hosts somewhat inconsistent Liverpool (-215, draw +360) on Sunday. The form says Liverpool can right itself away from the critical eyes of its supporters at Anfield, especially with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho all projected to start.

And Everton (-150), which have taken 10 of 12 possible points from its last four games, host struggling Swansea City (+425, draw +260) in a Monday matchup. Against such a lower-placed side, Everton and Wayne Rooney likely will be on the attack, and the over on the 2.5 total offers a meaty +110 payout.

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.