Monday, 30 April 2012

Four British Paralympians to Watch

The London Paralympics in 2012 should be a great event for British paralympians. Not only does Britain have some of the finest Paralympic athletes in the world, but they will also have the advantage of being on home soil, able to enjoy the huge morale-boosting factor of having the crowd supporting them during the Games.

In particular, five British paralympians are tipped to make their mark this year, both in the Olympics, and in the Betfair 2012 Olympics odds.

Darren Kenny is a cyclist who made his Paralympics debut in Athens, in 2004. Not only did he win two golds and a silver, but he also broke two world records in the process. His amazing debut at Athens was followed up at Beijing, in 2008, when he won a stunning total of four golds and one silver.

Susie Rodgers is a 27 year old swimmer, who has only just made her international debut. Last July, at the European Championships, she was one of the British team’s star performers, winning five golds.

Simon Munn has already represented Great Britain at basketball in five Paralympics. One of the mainstays of the GB wheelchair basketball team, Munn is hoping to compete in his sixth games in London. 

He has already won silver and bronze in previous games, and is going for gold in 2012. This will be his last Paralympics before retiring, so it would be great for him to go out on a high.

Tom Aggar is a rower, who is unbeaten at World Championship level. The former Saracens rugby player has four gold medals to his name, so far. He is hoping to retain his Olympic title in the single sculls on Eton Dorney rowing lake, this summer.

Dr Ludwig Guttmann first organised competitions for disabled people to coincide with the London Olympic Games in 1948, and is seen as the founder of the Paralympics.

The Olympic-style games had become a major event by 1960, but the official title of Paralympics was not adopted until 1984. Since the 1988 Seoul Games, the Paralympics have been held in the same venues as the Olympics, and cities are required to bid for the Olympics and Paralympics as a joint package.

Begin your Olympics preparations with London 2012 free bets.

Zabaleta can see United falter

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has admitted he can see rivals Manchester United making the same mistakes as his side, as the Premier League title race continues to hot up.
The Citizens themselves held a healthy lead at the top of the table for a number of months, but a couple of slip ups, combined with a decent run of form from a resilient United side who have been there and done it, saw the Red Devils leapfrog their ‘noisy neighbors’.
However, having held an eight point lead at one stage, United have been pegged back to just a three point margin ahead of the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on Monday with the premier league betting struggling to separate the two great rivals.
It’s not hard to see the similarities in United recent dip in form to the one suffered by the rivals just across the city, with neither team seemingly happy to have the pressure of being the soccer betting  favourites.
The likeness has not passed Zabaleta by and the Argentine international, who has been an important figure in the City squad this season, believes the tables might just have turned once again.
He told the club’s official website: "We've never stopped believing in ourselves, but to be honest, after the Arsenal  defeat I thought our chance had probably gone.
"We've been five points clear before so we know how it feels, but United losing against Wigan and dropping points at home to Everton shows that in football you have to believe, because you just never know.
"If we have another chance for the title, it's because we deserve it. We've kept going and we will continue to do that and see what happens.”

The Open returns to Lytham

This July sees something of a landmark in Open history, as the only Major based outside the United States is staged on English soil for the second consecutive year.

Royal Lytham & St Annes is the chosen venue, following on from Royal St George’s in Kent, 12 months ago.

The Lancashire course was established as long ago as 1860, but first hosted The Open in 1926, the year that American Bobby Jones gainedthe first of his three successes in the time-honoured event.

Most of the layout has remained true to its original shape since the early days, with just the odd extra bunker added in the early 1920’s, for a total of more than 200.

The course was lengthened as well at that time to provide a stiffer test, and that it certainly does, aided and abetted by a stiff breeze that rolls in off the sea, hence its reputation as one of the hardest links courses.

It was not until 1952 that the Open returned to Lytham, and this time it was another Bobby – Locke – that triumphed in what was to be the third of his four Open successes in all.

The Open record is held by one Harry Vardon, who was nigh on invincible at the turn of the 20th century, and who was good enough to gain a sixth Open in 1914, eighteen years after his first.

As for Lytham, tough as it might be, it was no match for an Australian, Peter Thomson, in 1958. He tamed ‘The Beast’, just as he had Royal Birkdale and St Andrews earlier. He also won at Birkdale in 1965.

Two years earlier, New Zealander, Bob Charles, had his name engraved on the roll of honour, and, since then, some of the most famous names in golf have triumphed at Lytham.

Since 1969 the Royal course has welcomed the television cameras six times, and we have shared the joy with the likes of Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, and the late, great Seve Ballesteros, who liked it so much he did it twice.

The last Open here, in 200, saw David Duval of the United States come out on top; will a European oblige this time? Rory McIlroy is the highest-ranked European in the British Open betting.

French Open Prize Money Increases

We have seen the prize money for tennis’ major tournaments increase, over the last few years, and now the French Tennis Federation is marching in line with the rest of the ATP tournaments, by announcing a 7% increase in prize money for next month’s French Open. 

That brings the total purse up to $24.6 million, with the winners running away with $1.64 million, an increase of nearly 5% over last year, but far less of a bump than some of the early losers will get.

While the first round losers would get just $19,700 in previous years, the added pot money distributed to the early casualties means that they will now receive up to $23,670, a 20% pay raise. 

Now, this might be hard to take for those of you who have taken a pay cut, or lost your job in the wake of the current economic meltdown, but we have to accept that this is sport, and the players should count themselves very lucky indeed.

But, unfortunately, it seems that Andy Murray, rather than showing sympathy towards the rest of us, has the attitude of ‘it’s about time’, as he showered praise on the FFT by saying: "It's great that the French Open have stepped up.''

It really is incredible money, but no more than the modern day tennis player expects. In truth, the better players at the French Open will not even realise the slight increase, but it is good that the FFT have made sure that first round losers feel the benefit, to balance out the pay structure for the good of the game.

Take a chance at a big payout of your own with Tennis Free Bets, or brush up on your gambling knowledge ahead of a packed summer of sport, with Betfair French Open Tennis Tips.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Terry Let Teammates Down

Chelsea skipper, John Terry, admits he let his teammates down, after he saw red for lashing out at Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez in the Champions League semi-final second leg at the Nou Camp.

Terry was dismissed for violent conduct following an off-the-ball incident with Sanchez. Chelsea stayed strong to record an incredible 3-2 aggregate victory, but Terry will now miss the final in Munich. Make your football predictions for the final before the start of the match.

"I feel I've let them [teammates] down. I've apologised and I apologise to the fans", said Terry.

The experienced defender was sent off in the 37th minute, minutes after Sergio Busquets had levelled the tie. Andres Iniesta put Barcelona in control of the contest, two minutes before the break, and it looked to be a case of damage limitation for the Blues.

However, Ramires gave Chelsea a much-needed fillip on the stroke of half-time, with a sublime chip, one that proved crucial in the final reckoning.

Nerves crept into the Barcelona performance, epitomised by Lionel Messi’s shock penalty miss at the start of the second half.

Chelsea held off the Barcelona charge and sealed a stunning triumph in injury time, when Fernando Torres ran clear to book the Blues’ place in the May showpiece.

Terry – along with suspended trio Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, and Raul Meireles – will not line-up against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich on May 19, but Chelsea caretaker boss, Roberto di Matteo, refused to condemn his captain for his rush of blood.

"He's the captain of our club. Everybody can make a mistake in life. We're just so happy that this group has managed to go to the final", said the Italian.

Chelsea will discover who their final will be opponents when Real Madrid and Bayern Munich face off at the Bernabeu, on Wednesday night. The Germans hold a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg.

The Blues are perhaps this season's surprise package; many had expected the London side to fail, in the early stages of the tournament, especially those making Champions League knock-out bets.

Robben Hails Mental Strength

Bayern Munich winger, Arjen Robben, has hailed his teammates’ mental strength, following the German side’s dramatic Champions League semi-final victory against Real Madrid.

Bayern needed penalties to secure their place in this year’s final, where they will face Chelsea, with Real seemingly crumbling under the pressure of the shootout, much to the chagrin of fans who had picked Madrid to win on Betfair.

With this year’s final held at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, the Germans were determined to make sure it was they, and not the Spaniards, walking out onto their home pitch on May 19.

That determination, according to Robben, is what made the difference between Bayern and Real, when the penalty shoot-out became the only way to separate the two sides following a 3-3 aggregate draw over the two legs.

“I am very proud of my team, because when you start a game like this, and after 14 minutes you are 2-0 down, then you have to be mentally strong to cope with it and recover from it.”

“I think, overall, [...] we played some really good football. We were really hungry. Everybody was really aggressive. “In the end, I think we can say it is deserved”, said the former Real star.

Robben will come up against another of his former sides, when he lines up opposite Chelsea, next month. The Dutch winger left the club for Madrid, in 2007. He will have extra motivation to get one over his former employers.

Jupp Heynckes’ men will now go into the final at the Allianz Arena full of confidence that they can win their first Champions League title since 2001. Chelsea will be without four frontline players when they take on Bayern. John Terry, Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, and Raul Meireles, are ruled out of the final through suspension.

Not many would have backed Chelsea to come through their semi-final against Barcelona, however, and Bayern will need to be at their best if they are to triumph. The Blues are outsiders for the win with Betfair Champions League betting.

Coyle out to Hurt Villa's Bid

Bolton Wanderers boss, Owen Coyle, has his sights set on beating Aston Villa, and dragging them deep into the relegation mire. The former team are outsiders for the win in the bookmaker odds

The Trotters are four points adrift of safety, ahead of Tuesday night’s clash at Villa Park, six points behind Villa with a game in hand. Bolton also have a game in hand on all their relegation rivals.

Coyle believes the six-pointer could shape Bolton’s season, and wants his players to grasp the opportunity.

"It's massive. If we get a positive result then the whole picture changes very quickly", said Coyle.
"We're not relying on anyone. We're relying on ourselves, and if you want anything done then you're better doing it yourself, and that's what we have to do."

The initial fixture was postponed, in March, in the aftermath of Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane. Coyle admitted it has been a testing season.

"It's been the most challenging season I've known. We're in the best league in the world, and huge uncontrollables [sic] go against you. Of course it makes it more difficult", he added.

"This year has been a freak season, starting in pre-season with the cruciates, and the leg breaks, and everything else, but we've dealt with it all. We've got five games to decide our own fate."

Bolton are without a win since beating Blackburn Rovers on March 24, and will need to hit form soon to prevent a return to the second tier for the first time since 2001.

Following the crucial clash in the Midlands, Bolton travel to Sunderland and London, where they will face Tottenham Hotspur. They complete their campaign at the Reebok Stadium, with a game against West Bromwich Albion, before ending their season at Stoke City. 

Coyle will be hoping his side can dig deep one last time to secure their Premier League status. Bolton are currently third favourites for the drop in Premier League betting.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Coloccini Aiming High

Fabricio Coloccini admits Newcastle United’s attentions have switched from the Europa League to the Champions League, following six consecutive victories.

The Magpies assumed pole position in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League, and took control of their own destiny, with a 3-0 win at home to Stoke City, on Saturday.

Four wins in the final few weeks would see Newcastle complete an incredible campaign, with a return to Europe’s premier competition, though Chelsea could scupper those dreams should they lift the Champions League title.

Coloccini believes Newcastle’s resurgence over the past couple of years is down to a team effort, and the defender wants a strong finish to the season.Voice your opinions on Newcastle's future fixtures, with Premier League betting predictions.

"Our objective was the Europa League, but now we have a dream, so why not fight for this?" he said.
"We have arrived here in this position as a team. Papiss (Cisse), Demba (Ba), Yohan (Cabaye) - whoever scores, it's good for the team. That's the most important thing: the team."

Newcastle will have to do it the hard way, if they are to secure a top-four finish. They face trips to Wigan Athletic, Chelsea, and Everton, either side of a home clash against title-chasing, Manchester City.

Coloccini insisted that Newcastle are taking things one game at a time, and they they are enjoying every minute of their recent run. The Magpies' success in the league has no doubt resulted in a number of big payouts for fans placing football bets on the team's matches.

"We can't think too far ahead. Instead, we just try to play the game and keep going like this, and then, when we finish the season, we can see how we did", he added.

"We're very happy because we're doing well. We're playing well now, so now is the time to enjoy this."

The fixture list has not been kind to the Magpies, but in this kind of form, there is no reason why Newcastle cannot book a Champions League place.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mancini Must Surely Believe Now?

Having witnessed another twist in the race for the Premier League title, Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, is still banging the same drum.

The Italian is convinced, or, at least, is saying, that their rivals, Manchester United, will retain their domestic crown this term, to wrap up their 20th league title in their history.

With just four games of the campaign remaining, the Citizens find themselves only three points behind the Red Devils, after Mancini’s men recorded a 2-0 win over Wolves, on Sunday.

The victory at Molineux came just a few hours after United slipped up at Old Trafford, with a dramatic 4-4 with Everton, who have enjoyed a strong end to the season under manager, David Moyes, a man touted as a possible successor to Sir Alex Ferguson.

Last weekend proved that anything can happen in the race for the title, and there is bound be at least one more upset in the pipeline, before the conclusion of the 2011/2012 tale. This year’s campaign has been especially dramatic for supporters enjoying a Bet on the Premier League.

City still have to host the defending champions at the Etihad Stadium, next Monday, in what will surely be a treat for fans of Live Football. However, Mancini claims that the title race is already done and dusted.

The former Inter Milan boss said, earlier in the month: "Only one team can win this title. I've never bet in my life, but if you were to ask, I would say 'put your money on United', 100 per cent. I don't have a message for Sir Alex. If I did it would only be 'congratulations for your season, and for this title.'"