Champions League Final Betting: Barcelona vs. Juventus

2015-champions-league-final-bettingThe 2015 UEFA Champions League Final is now set, with FC Barcelona (La Liga) set to play Juventus (Serie A) for the title. Barcelona was able to hold off Bayern Munich by one goal (3-0, 3-2) in their two-legged playoff, while Juventus also got by Real Madrid by a one-goal margin (2-1, 1-1). Now the big question remains, who’s got the upper hand in the final match, which takes place on June 6th at 2:45 ET? Assuming you’re into Champions League Final betting, check out out the following as we discuss how each side can come away with the victory.

Why Barcelona can win

One doesn’t have to make much of a case for why Barcelona is supposed to win this match. They easily feature the best attack in the world, with the dream team of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi causing nightmares for opposing goalkeepers. Not only are these three capable of amazing, highlight-reel plays at any moment, but they’re also extremely intelligent on the field – of course, aside from Suarez’s bite of Giorgio Chiellini, who will be on the Juventus side by the way. This trio has put 78 balls in the net in La Liga play, and combined for another 25 goals in UEFA play.

This club isn’t only about offense, though. They also feature a strong defense that’s capable of supporting the attack. Sure, they gave up three goals against Bayern Munich in two-legged play; but they also held Spanish La Liga opponents to just 19 scores all season – very impressive when you consider that Atletico Madrid was second with 28 goals allowed.

The defense is aided by the fact that this side has maintained possession about 60 percent of the time in Champions League play. Combine this with the fact that the defense doesn’t give up many goals, and Juventus won’t have many opportunities to find the back of the net.

2015-champions-league-final-betting-1Why Juventus can win

Italy’s most successful club from a historical standpoint has finally reached the pinnacle of European football again. Dealing with the fallout of the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus was in Serie B just nine years ago. Now, a decade later, they’ve clawed their way back to the top and will be decided underdogs against what looks like an unstoppable Barcelona attack. But that’s just the thing: Juventus knows that they’re underdogs and they will be playing uphill. This humility will serve them well against the club that’s supposed to win this contest.

Of course, sentiments and surprise only go so far in a Champions League Final, so where’s the substance behind Juventus? Well, big-match experience is definitely on this side, with Carlos Tevez, Patrice Evra, Andrea Pirlo, Morata and Buffon all having played in a Champions League Final before (although not together). Furthermore, they blend some young talent with these veterans, since Alvaro Morata and Paul Pogba are two of the top youngsters in Europe. So this nice mix of new and old will give Juventus balance as they face the giants.

Final Score Prediction: Barcelona 2 – Juventus 1

Would Real Madrid really trade Ronaldo?

Cristiano RonaldoAlong with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo always enters into conversations involving who the world’s best footballer is. But does that make him indispensable in the eyes of Real Madrid? Maybe not, as a recent report suggests.

Despite currently leading the La Liga standings with 57 points, Real Madrid is starting to get a little disgruntled with their star player. First off, team management and fans were annoyed when Ronaldo threw himself a big 30th birthday party following an embarrassing 4-0 loss to rival Atletico Madrid. This prompted fans to show up to the team’s next practice with chants of “more balls, less parties.”

Real Madrid also isn’t happy about the lack of production that Ronaldo has given after coming off a two-game suspension for a red card.

Now, Sport-English.com claims that Florentino Perez, Real Madrid’s president, could be looking to cash in on Ronaldo while he’s still at an elite level. This seems quite strange when you consider the Portuguese star’s overall talent along with the fact that, as recently as December, Perez called Ronaldo the “world’s best player.”

However, it should also be pointed out that Perez had had no trouble selling off other team stars like Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Xabi Alonso – all of whom seemed like they were totally safe due to their contributions.

But while these three players were great for Real Madrid, Ronaldo still remains on a different level. Even this year, after struggling in the 2014 World Cup due to a bad knee injury, the 30-year-old has defied logic with some of his incredible plays. So on some level, it still seems like this report can be cast off as mere gossip.

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Then again, if Perez wants to recoup a good portion of the $123 million transfer fee that he paid for Ronaldo in 2009, now is the time. This is especially the case when one considers that Manchester United, the team that originally sold Ronaldo for this then-record amount, might be willing to buy him back.

A deal of this magnitude could also work because Real Madrid would love to have United goalkeeper David De Gea back in Spain. It’s no secret that they’d like to find a successor to goalie Iker Casillas, and De Gea could be exactly that.

But if any potential deal is on the horizon, one definitely won’t hear about it from Ronaldo himself. The striker has been pretty quiet about the whole matter heading into this week. We also can’t expect any info out of Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, who’s only had good things to say about his star.

“Among the squad, he’s a leader, he talks to all the members of the squad, especially the younger players, he’s an important part of the squad as are Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Casillas and Marcelo,” Ancelotti said. “If he keeps faithful with the passion he has, his career can continue for some time due to his optimum physical condition.”

Unfortunately for Ancelotti, he doesn’t have the final say on roster moves, as Perez has shown plenty of times in the past. Getting rid of Ozil (to make way for Gareth Bale) and dumping Di Maria (for James Rodriguez) are perfect examples of this.

Jurgen Klinsmann explains Team USA’s Ugly 4-1 Loss to Ireland

usa-soccer-loses-irelandComing off of their surprise Round of 16 performance in the 2014 World Cup, the USA Men’s National team isn’t exactly following it up with great results. And they hit rock-bottom yesterday after a 4-1 loss to Ireland’s reserve team (A-team benched after 5-0 loss to Scotland).

Now this wasn’t the United States’ A-team either. However, the squad they sent to Dublin shouldn’t have lost by three goals to a country with 4.6 million people either. USA did a poor job of clearing balls and maintaining possession. And their trend of terrible second-half performances continued as they were outscored 3-0 after halftime.

This now makes four straight matches where the Americans have failed to show up in the second half. Following a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic to open international play, the Americans allowed late goals against Honduras and Ecuador (both ending in 1-1 ties), led Columbia 1-0 until giving up two late goals, then allowed the three aforementioned scores to Ireland.

Obviously this isn’t the same team that beat Ghana, tied Portugal, and played both Germany and Belgium tough during the World Cup. And head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has a good idea why his team is playing so poorly right now. Klinsmann said the following after the Ireland match:

Bobby Wood“They have to learn emotionally how to digest a World Cup, and a lot of our players really had big problems digesting those extreme emotions. They dropped 20, 30 even 40 percent in performances in their club environment. Many of the Europeans lost their starting spot. Many other players in MLS or wherever went down 30, 40 percent in their performances and this is because they didn’t know how to deal with all these emotions and all that recognition and all the compliments in the world that came after the World Cup. In a certain way it’s human. I mean, it’s understandable. But the former World Cup champion player made clear this shows “we are not there yet. We have quite a way to go.”

Klinsmann also believes that his guys may still be out to vacation after the 2014 World Cup. After citing how stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi take vacations then pick up where they left off, the German-born coach said his players are still adjusting to a new season. “Our players, they went on vacation, they had a good time, they come back and they lost their spots in their clubs,” he said.

Aside from how players still have issues getting back into the feel of soccer, Team USA may have a toughness problem during their World Cup hangover. “We need to get an edge, more nastier. I’m telling you that again. We’ve got to get nastier,” Klinsmann emphasized. “It’s not a negative word. We have to become more physical. We have to hold our ground more, dominant, and send signals out all over the field.”

Sadly, some of the biggest names from the Americans’ Round of 16 run have been playing the worst. Chris Wondolowski and even Fabian Johnson are two names that come to mind right away, as they’ve failed to show the same glimpses of greatness that they occasionally had during the World Cup.

In the end, it sounds like Team USA isn’t used to dealing with the rigors of a tough World Cup run, then hitting the field hard again just weeks later. And without any rest in sight, with club seasons in full swing, the Americans may not get their swagger back until next year.

2014 World Cup Betting: Brazil’s Chances without Neymar

neymar-brazil-injuryYesterday, Brazil advanced to the 2014 World Cup semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Columbia. It was an ugly match marred by 54 total fouls, however, the host country was still able to win and keep their title hopes alive.

But if Brazil is to win on their home soil, they’ll have to do it without their best player, Neymar. The 22-year-old striker saw his Cup end early when Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga jumped for a header and delivered a knee to his back. Hours after being carried off on a stretcher in tears, Neymar would learn that he had a fractured vertebrae. And while he’ll be healed in four weeks’ time, this is more than enough to keep the young star out of the remaining World Cup.

Brazil is no doubt a talented team, but they certainly can’t be looking forward to life without Neymar. After all, he scored four goals in five World Cup Finals matches this summer, tying Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller for second thus far. So now the question remains what the Brazilians will do heading into a tough semifinals match against Germany.

Can Anybody fill Neymar’s Cleats?

neymar-brazil-injury-1Could anybody for Brazil match the speed, dribbling skills and shooting of Neymar? Certainly not, which means that this team can’t simply do a lineup shift or bring somebody off the bench to fill such a huge hole. However, they’re going to have to do something different because they aren’t the same squad without Neymar.

They will be given a boost, however, when Luiz Gustavo returns to the lineup. The defensive midfielder had to sit out against Columbia after receiving a second yellow card. As for who’ll provide some offense in Neymar’s absence, Willian Borges da Silva could get the call. He’s got speed, athleticism and dribbling ability, which might pay dividends against the Germans.

Oscar could be playing up top without the team’s superstar available, with Fred and Hulk playing alongside him. This isn’t Brazil’s optimal attacking lineup, but it’s still good enough to compete with Germany and make up for losing one of the world’s best players. This team also gains strength from the fact that they’re playing at home.

Brazil vs Germany Betting Prediction

While we say that the Brazilians still have a chance, they’ll also be dealing with two major handicaps. Besides Neymar’s injury, captain Thiago Silva made a very uncaptain-like move by picking up his second yellow card against Columbia. it was a needless foul and one that will keep the midfielder off the pitch on Tuesday, July 8th.

Meanwhile, Germany will be entering the match with no major injuries or suspensions. Plus, they cruised to a relatively easy 1-0 victory over France in the quarterfinals. Keeping both missing players and fatigue in mind, we like Germany to win 2-1.