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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Soothsayer

A shock 2-0 home defeat for Aston Villa at the hands of Leicester and a boring 0-0 draw between Rangers and Dundee made sure my bet lost early Saturday. Just to rub salt in the wounds, Chicago won but did not make the handicap of -7. However, as predicted last week, the big upset did happen as Dallas beat Washington 20-14 in the NFL, setting up the longest winning run against another team stretching back to October 1997.

The 2002 World Cup draw threw together some interesting groups. Undeniably the toughest group is England's: its first game is Sweden followed by Argentina -- hopefully without anybody else's "hand of god" -- and the last match is against Nigeria, one of the most promising African nations.

The three best-value countries to win the World cup for betting purposes, because of the groups they have been placed in and the way the knockout rounds have been drawn, are firstly Spain (9.00-8/1), who should make it to the next stage without too much difficulty, Russia (51.00-50/1) and Turkey (101.00-100/1).

Despite a convincing Champions league performance Wednesday, Manchester United is looking poorer every week in the English Premier League, but it now has a string of matches against the weaker league teams. Now is the time to back United for the title (4.50-7/2).

The highlights this weekend take place on the European continent Sunday. In Serie A, AC Milan is at home to Juventus, AC has not lost at the San Siro this season, and Juve has only lost once away. But with six draws between the two, I'm going for the draw at (3.00-2/1).

Barcelona is in a similar sorry position to Manchester United in the Spanish Premier League, and it badly needs a win at home against Celta Vigo to keep up with the leaders. I predict the Catalan giant will win at the Nou Camp (1.67-4/6).

The biggest game in the United States this week has got to be the NFC West matchup between the 49ers and the Rams. At home the Rams are worthy favorites but the 49ers could push them close, and the (+7.5) handicap is very tempting.

The kitty now stands at $77 and Christmas is approaching. If my children are going to have presents this year, I had better get a winner!

EUROPEAN





Liverpool to win at home to Middlesbrough (1.40 ? 2/5). Liverpool's Premier League form at the moment is stunning, and the Merseysiders look very good to make it 11 games without defeat at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool has Michael Owen scoring at will: it must be in my bet this week.

Leicester to win home to Southampton (2.10 ? 11/10). Leicester is out of the relegation zone for the first time this season under the guidance of Dave Basset, and should to secure another three points this week. This is also my value bet of the week: Get this price now as I'm sure it will not last!

UNITED STATES





Dallas (+4) to win at home to the New York Giants. Even though the Cowboys only won their first game in six last week against their rival Redskins, they will be unable to resist taking their next biggest rivals the Giants for a ride this week, especially as they have now lost their last two games by big margins.

Washington (?1) to win at Arizona. Why desert the Redskins after losing out on a hard-fought battle against Dallas last week, particularly as they won their last two trips on the road in Philadelphia and Denver? It was only Washington's first defeat in seven. Although Arizona has won its last three games, it has lost the last three played against opposition in its own division. Overall, Washington's recent form is more impressive, so I can see them skinning Arizona this week.

$10 Fourfold

Liverpool to win 1.40 ? 2/5

(Sat. k.o. 6 p.m.)

Leicester to win 2.10 ? 11/10

(Sat. k.o. 6 p.m.)

Dallas to win +4 1.90 ? 9/10

(Sun. k.o. 9 p.m.)

Washington to win ?1 1.90 ? 9/10

(Sun. k.o. 9 p.m.)

Possible Winnings -- $106

Frank Caruana is the Manager of Sportland. Contact him at Soothsayer@imedia.ru.