What a poor week domestically in the World Cup qualifiers, with all but England coming out unscathed. Dodgiest-penalty-decision-of-the-decade award comes from the first leg of the Northern Ireland vs Switzerland match, a decision which cost a deserving Northern Ireland a place in Russia.
Spare a thought for the Italians who had their Dolmio Day as the Swedish shut the door and parked that Volvo in front of goal. Will we see some unsavoury crowd reactions in the Italian Seria A matches this weekend?
Now the International Break is over, we face a peculiar weekend of post-Internationals and pre-Champions-League football.
Here is what I do in these rare weekends: I make sure I know my Champions League participants. You can find these at www.soccerway.com by clicking on the calendar and noting the Champions League fixtures for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Key teams to note include Besiktas, Sevilla, Liverpool, Manchester City, Feyenoord, Napoli, Monaco, Leipzig, Real Madrid, Dortmund, Tottenham, Benfica, Chelsea, Basel, Manchester United, Anderlecht, Bayern Munich, PSG, Celtic, Atl Madrid, Roma, and Juventus.
If you like your football, get to know SoccerWay, because it shows comprehensive results; results which can be filtered by competition or results which are shown in all competitions.
I use the latter function to check the form of teams before the Champions League games. Join me now: find the Champions League fixtures for Tuesday 21st November 2017. Click on Dortmund. Where you see the red word ‘MATCHES’, click on that to bring up year-long form.
Where you see the word ‘UCL’, this describes a Champions League match. I want you to look at the result prior to a Champions League match for BUN (which stands for the German Bundesliga).
If you have done this correctly, you will see a 0-0 draw, a 6-1 win, a 2-3 loss, a 4-2 loss, and a 1-3 loss.
Do the same for Manchester United (their Champions League match is on Wednesday) and you will see a 2-2 draw vs Stoke, a 0-1 win at Southampton, a 0-0 draw with Liverpool, and a 1-0 win over Tottenham.
Manchester United have recently tended to shut up shop and look for a 1-0 win. What chance of this tomorrow vs Newcastle? Man United have actually lost their last two matches post-Champions-League.
Manchester United have dropped all of their points this season pre- or post-Champions-League.
Here is a quick guide of teams who may be vulnerable this weekend, who may fall foul of the Curse of the Champions League…
Besiktas – Two 1-2 defeats and a 1-2 win recently. Defeats came away from home. Besiktas likely to concede. If Besiktas win or lose, are we likely to see a 2-1 scoreline?
Sevilla – Tend to lose pre-Champions-League only if playing away from home.
Liverpool – Have not conceded at home pre-Champions-League, so could be trusted this weekend against Southampton.
Feyenoord – A win, a loss, a draw, and a draw pre-Champions-League. They are short-priced favourites this weekend. I would lay them if they lead.
Leipzig – They have lost their two away matches pre-Champions-League without scoring. Will the curse strike them this weekend away?
Benfica – They have four wins pre-Champions-League, so are unaffected.
Chelsea – A 2-1 loss and a 0-1 win for Chelsea in their pre-Champions-League away matches. Do we see a tight difficult match against West Brom?
Anderlecht – A 3-2 win, a 1-2 win, a 3-4 win, and a 2-3 win for Anderlecht pre-Champions-League means we might see a goal bonanza for them this weekend away from home before they play Bayern Munich. I would back 1-3 and 2-3 here, given Anderlecht tend to ship a lot and score a lot pre-Champions-League.
Those teams above are the standout for me, as far as pre-Champions-League form (or drop in form) is concerned.
For you football bettors, factor in the return of international players into the mix: we could have fun and games over the weekend. With the teams showing a drop in form, I tend to lay them in-play if they score first, thus giving me low liability and a chance for that Curse of the Champions League to strike.
Remember with teams like Man Utd, all of their dropped points are pre- or post-Champions-League. If they win tomorrow, you feel 1-0 is the likely scoreline, given their recent pre-Champions League efforts. If they win tomorrow, perhaps lay Man Utd next weekend post-Champions-League, as Mourinho shuffles the pack and noted fatigue sets in!
Races at Cheltenham
If you are not of the footballing persuasion, then Cheltenham November meeting begins today and I would recommend the write up at www.sportinglife.com. They have done a great statistical look at the festival and these nuggets have caught my attention…
· A third of Phillip Hobbs winners have come on a Friday, so Bertie Boru and Lamb or Cod each way for me give us a chance here today (15:00 and 12:40 today).
· In the 13:00 race today, the average price of the winner over the previous runnings has been 13/1, so I would speculate on Festive Affair and Au Beau Roman each way (12/1 and 14/1 shots).
· In the 15:00 today, Enda Bolger tends to farm these races, and his contenders are first and second in the betting, so worth an each-way play. Yes they are short odds, but you will get a good proportion of the stake back if they place and do not win.
· Saturday sees Paul Nicholls tending to get half of his winners at this meeting on this day. Paul Nicholls has nine runners tomorrow: I would wait to see the odds in order to determine which I would want to back, but I would back each way the 10/1+ horses for Nicholls.
· The Triumph Hurdle Trial is currently an eight-runner race and is again each-way territory. I tend to back the third and fifth favourites in a race like this.
· The 15:00 is a listed handicap Hurdle race on Saturday, and recent winners have been 14/1 and 20/1, so I would look to speculate here in this 13-runner race with a couple of 16/1 horses each way. I do not know the odds currently, but will select two 16/1 horses each way and hope we continue to get a shock or two in this race. Being a listed race, there are really no also-rans.
I hope you enjoy the football and Cheltenham. Quite a weekend!
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