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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Soothsayer

The May holidays are finally over and we can now get back to the serious business of sport.

My tips over the holidays fared quite well but still somehow managed to lose.

On the plus side we had wins in the English Premier League for Manchester United against Ipswich and Arsenal against Bolton, while Feyenoord beat Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Cup final and my side Manchester United drew with Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of the European Cup semifinal.

The failures were Real Madrid only drawing against Barcelona in the second leg of their European Cup semifinal, Liverpool losing to Spurs in the Premier League and Arsenal beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final. That final result made the bet a loser.

This week, there has again been a lot of talk about Celtic and Rangers joining the English league.

Opinions on the move vary from those who say it will happen when hell freezes over or when Scotland wins the World Cup (I think the hell option is more likely) to they'll be joining next season.

Chairmen of such high-flying clubs like Rotherham, Gillingham and Walsall may be looking forward to the money the Scottish teams would bring after their huge loss of revenue due to the collapse of ITV Digital. Whatever happens, one thing for sure is that if the Glasgow teams do move to the Nationwide league they will definitely get more of a game then when they play at the likes of Pittodrie or Firhill!

WORLD CUP BETTING PREVIEW



There are a huge amount of ways to have a flutter on the World Cup. You can bet on who will reach the final, how many goals will be scored in the whole tournament, the total number of red or yellow cards, the number of penalties, or even how many goals will be scored by players wearing No. 7 on their shirt.

Apart from investing your hard-earned cash -- or rather, losing my hard-earned cash -- in unusual selections like those above, the best way to bet is to study the draw closely.

For example, Russia at 67.00–66/1 and Ecuador at 101.00–100/1 to win the cup are both good value because of the groups they are in and the draw. If either manages to get to the quarterfinals, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, then you can hedge.

Watch out if you're betting on who makes the final as because of the draw there cannot be a France vs. Argentina final. If you think Argentina will definitely make the final then a good bet would be to pair it with Italy at 7.00–6/1 or Spain at 8.00–7/1. For an outside bet try the United States at 401.00–400/1.

My choice would be for Russia to win the tournament at 67.00–66/1 and also a bet on there being more than 18 red cards at 2.00–evens. The number of red cards has increased in almost every tournament since the World Cup began in 1930. There were 22 red cards four years ago in France.

For my fantasy outsider bet go for an England vs. Ireland final at 201.00–200/1 with, of course, a 3-1 win for the English team.

UNITED STATES



We are down to the final four in both the NBA and NHL. I would like to say it all looks open but I believe teams from the West in both sports will be champions.

In the NBA the West is dominant and the Conference final between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers is effectively the Championship game. The Lakers are the real deal but the Kings are the new force in the NBA, building on the promise they showed last year.

In most areas the teams are evenly matched but the Lakers have the edge for me. They usually leave their best to the playoffs, and there seems to be no way to stop Shaq.

Kobe Bryant also always seems to have the ability to raise his game in the fourth quarter. Providing Bryant and Shaq remain fully fit I predict LA to go all the way, so pick the Lakers at 1.60–-3/5 to win the Championship.

In the NHL, long-term favorites the Detroit Red Wings take on San Jose in the West. Detroit looks dominant and will not be daunted by Colorado, which is not the team it was last year.

In the East, my Canadian Guru has been crying into his beer ever since the injury to Matt Sundin. Despite Sundin's absence the Toronto Maple Leafs have somehow managed to claw their way to the Conference final.

However, they now face the Carolina Hurricanes and the BBC front line of Bates Battaglia, Rod Brind'Amour and Erik Cole. Sorry, Leafs! Wait until next year. The Wings and the West to win the final at 1.40–2/5.

The kitty stands at $142.

CHARITY BET



Unfortunately, all the charity bets placed on the Snooker World Championship before the holidays lost. Luckily, our cricket bet on Surrey to make a clean sweep this season has started well, but it is early days yet.

The charity bet and my bet of the week will be on Prince Naseem Hamed to regain his IBO featherweight title, 250 rubles for a stoppage in round 4 at 6.00–5/1 and 250 rubles in round 5 at 8.00–7/1.

Ten members of the Sportland team completed a fun charity run/walk on May 4th. We didn't break any bones or records, except maybe for the slowest time for the 10 kilometers ever recorded, but we did all finish.

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored us. We managed to raise around $10,000 for the Downside Up charity and are now in the process of collecting all the pledges.

If you have made pledges with us and we have not contacted you yet then please e-mail me at sportland@metelitsa.ru or phone on 291 7464 or 777 0185 and we will arrange a time and place for collection.

The charity fund for Downside Up is at 13,913 rubles, with four ante-post bets running.

BET OF THE WEEK



2 x $5 singles

IBO featherweight title fight

Prince Naseem Hamed to win
in round 4 6.00–5/1
in round 5 8.00–7/1


Possible winnings -- $40

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