Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Soothsayer

England's World Cup campaign finally came to an end last Friday when they were beaten by Brazil 2-1 and then had a very low-key homecoming, in contrast to Ireland.

England played well in the first half, deservedly going ahead from a Michael Owen goal, only to be brought back to quits by another great individual effort from Rivaldo a couple of minutes into first-half injury time.

If only England had played the second half as they did the first. But even with Brazil down to 10 men, they could not take advantage. In fact, the Brazilians played like they still had 11 men on the field. The four-time world champion then went on to beat the Turks in the semifinals to reach their third consecutive final.

My ante-post World Cup bets have faired quite well: $10 on Brazil to win the cup at 7.00-6/1 and $10 on Ronaldo to be top scorer at 13.00-12/1.

WORLD CUP FINAL 2002



The World Cup final is to be played Sunday at 3 p.m. Moscow time between Brazil and Germany, the two most successful teams in the World Cup. Brazil has four wins and two runners-up to Germany's three wins and three runners-up.

Germany has not yet met any credible opposition, unlike Brazil, which has beaten England, Belgium and Turkey twice. The best country Germany has been up against was Ireland, and it got a draw. I'm sticking to my original selection of Brazil to win the cup at 1.40-2/5, which is poor value. However, my bet of the week will be $10 on Germany at 2.75-7/4 to win the cup, only because I stand to win $80 on Brazil from the ante-post bet, making this match a no-lose situation for me. My return will be $80 or $27.50 depending on the outcome. I only recommend this bet if you already have had an ante-post bet on Brazil.

UNITED STATES





Now that the NBA and NHL seasons have ended, America's focus turns to baseball for two months until the NFL season opens Sept. 5.

The Yankees are currently leading the way in the American League, with the Seattle Mariners well up there as usual. The Yankees will save a lot for the playoffs, and they fully justify their 3.00-2/1 quote to win the World Series and evens-2.00 to win the pennant. Until Seattle proves itself in the playoffs, think twice about backing it.

In the National League race, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves are leading the way, with the Arizona Diamondbacks, last year's World Series winners, close behind.

The betting is more open for the national pennant, with Arizona and Atlanta joint favorites at 3.75-1/4.

Atlanta is the stronger in depth, whereas Arizona relies on the undoubted pitching strength of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. However, I still fancy Subway Series III, and at 11.00-10/1 the improving Mets look like a value bet.

The much anticipated start of the NFL season is just around the corner, and the San Francisco 49ers visit the New York Giants on opening weekend.

My pick is the improving 49ers, and at 13.00-12/1 it is a better value bet than favorites St. Louis Rams at 4.50-7/2. This year the 49ers have a good chance of improving their regular-season record to obtain better homefield advantage in the playoffs.

The key games in the regular season are against the St. Louis Rams, the first being at home in week five (Oct. 6) and away in the final game of the NFL regular season (Dec. 30).

The kitty is $112 but is bound to increase after this week.

CHARITY BET



We did well at Royal Ascot the week before last. Revenue won at 14/1, but the canny punter in Topper was on it at 16/1, so the charity pot is 1,700 rubles better off.

The rest of the nags didn't show, plus one non-runner, so we have 600 rubles to play with this week. Wimbledon has only just started, and our bets on Tim Henman and Jennifer Capriati are still going.

On Saturday, England plays Sri Lanka in the NatWest one-day game. My bet here is 600 rubles for the English to win at 1.72-8/11.

The charity fund now stands at 16,063 rubles, with last week's bets and four ante-post bets running.

BET OF THE WEEK



$10 single
World Cup
Germany to win 2.75-7/4 (Sunday 3 p.m.)
Possible winnings $27.50

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