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 Viestin otsikko: Chris ja Bob by Tip-Ex
ViestiLähetetty: 23.05.2003, 18:39 
Status: JäsenLiittynyt: 02.03.2003, 13:00Viestit: 1683Paikkakunta: Turku
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Weekend soccer. By Chris.

Play offs in England.

Wolves - Sheffield United 2.63 - 2.70
I always thought that these clubs would meet in the play off final in Cardiff, but I could never imagine that the book makers were going to make Wolves favourites. Think about the Sheffield United season! They reached the semi finals in both the FA - cup and the Worthington cup, and they have defeated Premiership sides on many occasions this season. They came third in the first division, ahead of Wolves, and S U have several times shown their tremendous fighting spirit. They are not known to give up, but 0-2 down at home to Nottingham, I for one thought that they would go down. They managed to score 4 straight goals, and by winning 4-3 they reached this play off final. Key players: Brown and Tonge. Wolves will be hard to knock out, and they seem to have hit their best form at the right time of the season, not like last year, when they dominated the division for long periods, only to fall apart at the end. I have mentioned before that this year could be the year of the Wolves. We will see about that. When these clubs met at Molineux, Sheffield United won 3-1, and a couple of weeks ago when S U had the home advantage, the game ended in a 3-3 draw! I do not think of any special key players in the Wolves side, more of a hard working collective, but maybe Kennedy, Ince and Miller. As I said, Sheffield are the logical favourites in this tough encounter, and therefore the 2.70 offered on the S U win could be worth a small wager. Overall, a very tricky affair like all these playoffs. Quite rightly so!

Cardiff - QPR 2.50 - 2.75
Judging these prices I back the Cardiff win! It is true that Cardiff ended the second division season rather poorly, and that the form curve looked the other way around for QPR. But after beating Bristol City in the first play off round, Cardiff have shown that their poor displays are over, and they are back in the race again. Basically I would think that most people consider Cardiff the better side of these two clubs, but this last month have perhaps changed these views. Not to forget - this final is being played in Cardiff, at the Millenium Stadium. Earnshaw, the Cardiff forward, scored a hat trick when his club defeated QPR 4-0 at Loftus Road last autumn. QPR had their revenge down in Cardiff, 2-1! QPR will be without one of their key players, the suspended Richard Langley, who has scored quite a few important goals for the club. Cardiff will be my choice, and the price is 2.50!

Bournemouth - Lincoln 2.20 - 3.50
Instinctively I have to support the Lincoln win, due to the price of course. By winning vs. Scunthorpe in both meetings Lincoln have demonstrated enough to have a 50/50 chance of also winning this final. They have no special reason to fear Bournemouth as they won the league away fixture 3 weeks ago, 1-0. Strangely enough a substitute has been the key player for Lincoln, Simon Yeo, who scored 3 deciding, very late goals against Scunthorpe. The favourites Bournemouth will be without the injured defender Tindall. The way I see it, all the pressure is on Bournemouth. They are most likely the better footballers, and Lincoln seem to favour a more direct kind of ‘old Wimbledon’ footballing style . Long balls you know, strong defence, works very well on this level, but fortunately not in the Premiership. Anyway, Lincoln should not feel any pressure, as they have surpassed all expectations already. I like the price (3.50), so my choice will be the Lincoln win!

It’s last round in Italy, and the book makers have given up on Italy. There are not many prices around, and those prices? Listen here!

Bologna - Reggina
Bologna have a home game with Reggina, and the price on the home win is 4.50!! I guess everybody knows that Reggina fight for their survival, and Bologna are only playing for pride, if even that. Still, Reggina are not the best away side in Italy, 1-3-12 this far. It is possible that Bologna will consider their long term future, and go down in this game, as you never know what will happen in the future. The way I see it is as follows: Bologna will reach the same result against Reggina, as Roma will against Atalanta. Then Atalanta and Reggina can play two deciding play off matches.( after reaching the same points) so why not back Bologna and Roma (3.85)! Bologna will have both Olive and Nervo back, but still miss Cruz and most likely also Locatelli. Castellini is suspended. Nakamura could be out for Reggina, but Cozza is back.

Roma - Atalanta
Roma face Atalanta in Rome, and they will be without the injured Brazilians Lima, Emerson, Cafu and Aldair. Cassano is suspended. Totti should play up front alongside Delvecchio. Atalanta also have their personnel problems, as Natali, Berretta and Dabo all are suspended, and Foglio is a doubtful starter. Feel free to back Reggina (1.67) and Atalanta (2.20), but I am happier with Bologna (4.50) and Roma (3.85). The most important result: Reggina and Atalanta to finish on the same points. God, I am tired of these Italians!!

Udinese - Lazio
Udinese, with Europe in clear sight, should absolutely defeat Lazio, but the price is a disaster. (1.60)! The Lazio season is over, as they reached their goal last week - the Champions League, and Udinese are so strong at their own place, 10-5-1, but still 1.60? Lazio will rest at least 4 of the players on duty last week. Castroman, Stankovic, Inzaghi and Oddo will not travel to Udine. Manfredini should be back for the home side. A home win (1.60).

Juventus - Chievo
Juventus did not use any of their regulars last week, and on Saturday at home to Chievo, they will field their alternative side once again. Di Vaio, Camoranesi, Zalayeta, and some very useful defenders as well - Iuliano, Pessotto - so the Juve line up is not that bad. Chievo miss the suspended Bjelanovic, and Bierhoff should make a final start. Legrottaglie is back. I know that Udinese are really hungry for Europe, but I have my doubts concerning Chievo and Parma. I remember how they looked upon the UEFA games this season, so why all the fuzz now. Conclusion: I back the Juventus home win, because the price is right (3.25).

Empoli - Parma
As I said, Parma never treat the UEFA - cup matches very seriously, and they do not have many spectators on these occasions. I mention this due to the massive price on the Empoli home win against Parma (7.00)! The bookies buy the Parma theory, namely that they are anxious to reach Europe, and therefore have all the motivation for this away win. Parma lost to a Polish side in this years' UEFA - cup, and I think that Chievo lost to another East European side. Empoli to win, and the price is 7.00!

Como - Torino
Torino will use three players from their Primavera side away to Como. I am referring to Omolade, Vanin and Mantovani, all youngsters, but probable starters vs. Como. Cauet and Juarez are missing for Como. I fancy Como to win their last Serie A match, and the price on the home win is 2.20!

Last round in France, and the bookies have given up on France. Two low priced, but very probable home winners are Ajaccio at home to Strasbourg (1.57), and Rennes against Montpellier (1.57). Both Ajaccio and Rennes could need the three points to stay up, and both their oppnents are safe in the French first division. Ajaccio will be without their suspended captain, Alicarte, but Strasbourg have bigger problems. Habib Beye is out, as well as le Pen, Ismael and plenty of others. Their striker Pena will be back from his suspension. Ajaccio, highly motivated, should win this match, and the price is a poor 1.57! Rennes will have their previously suspended strikers Piquionne and Maoulida back as well as Delaye, but the latter is not sure to start. Robert is back for Montpellier, but Carrotti is a doubt. Rennes took an important point away to PSG in mid week, and I expect them to pick up this win against Montpellier, and thereby stay up. The price, a meager 1.57!

Le Harve - Nice
Le Havre have lost 8 consecutive matches, and they are heading for the second division. Two days ago they had another home game, against Lens, and despite the precarious Le Havre position, and motivation and all that, Le Havre went down 1-3. They still have some microscopic chance of staying up, but they do not only need this win, they also need some unlikely results in the other fixtures. All these Le Havre losses must be a heavy burden on the players' minds, and I predict another home loss on Saturday, this time vs. Nice. The price is the best, (3.65) on the Nice away win! Both sides will use the same sides as in midweek. Nice were 1-0 up vs. Bordeaux, but had to settle for the draw, after a last gasp Bordeaux equaliser. Nice to win, and the price is 3.65!

Auxerre - PSG
PSG to win away to Auxerre, and the crazy price is 7.00! PSG will be without Dehu and Luiz, but Ronaldinho should start this time. He was only a substitute in the strange midweek match against Rennes. Auxerre have some wayward chances of reaching the UEFA - cup, and the bookies are convinced that Auxerre will be the more motivated side. I always fancy a capable side like PSG, when you get a price like this (7.00)!

Celta Vigo - Deportivo La Coruna
Finally some big games in Spain. How about the big derby between Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna? I support the away win, and the price is 2.50. Celta lost to Villarreal, 0-5, in the previous round - two red cards did not help them - but the fact is that they have been poor these last weeks. They have played 3 sides from the bottom half, and only managed, two 0-0 draws, and one 2-2 draw. Their red carded players last week, Luccin and Mido will be suspended on Saturday. All is evidently not well in the Celta camp, as there has been talk about some real fighting between Luccin and Catanha this week. Mauro Silva will be back for La Coruna, but Tristan is still not available. Coruna have most away wins in the Spanish league, (9) and I back them to win this away match as well. The price is 2.50. It will have to do!

Valencia - Real Madrid
Same price (2.50) on the Real Madrid win away to Valencia. Real will be able to field the same side that defeated Malaga, 5-1, last week, plus the returning Ronaldo, so Morientes will have to step aside. Valencia had this famous away win against La Coruna last week, but I have learnt this season that consistency is not the Valencia forte. They have not been able to maintain a constant top level, and that is why they are 12 points behind Real. Valencia will be without the suspended Albelda and there are fitness doubts concerning Angulo and Rufete. Real, will all their formidable players available, to win, and the price is 2.50.

Recreativo de Huelva - Barcelona
Recreativo de Huelva are still in the relegation zone, but they have kept on playing well at home, they are unbeaten in their last 9 home games. Their last home match was vs. Real Madrid (0-0). On Sunday they face Barcelona, and I support the Huelva home win (3.00). Barca will have Puyol and de Boer back in defence, but Gabri is suspended. Probable absentees are Motta and Sorin, and the "old injured" Xavi, Rochemback and Overmars. Barcelona away from home are more than human, only 3 wins in 17 games. Huelva to win, and the price is attractive enough. (3.00).

Borussia Mönchengladbach - Werder Bremen
Borussia Mönchengladbach have been in excellent form at their own place all season long (9-5-2), and you have to admit that the price (2.80) on the B M home win against Werder Bremen is worth backing.

Bundesliga. By Rob.

Dortmund - Cottbus
BVB : Lehmann (imp - gk), Evanilson & Heinrich (reg), Herrlich (squad), Metzelder (imp)
Energie : Beeck, Schröter (imp), Vagner (reg), Schröder, Thielemann, Gebhardt, Jungnickel (squad), Rink (no longer selected), Piplica (reserve gk), Vagner (reg)
Cottbus have only ever scored once in 3 games versus Dortmund. They are long since relegated and have only 3 recognised outfield players on the bench. Dortmund need a win for an automatic CL place. Home win

Stuttgart - Wolfsburg
VfB : Meira (reg - susp),
Wolfs : Greiner, Quattrocchi (squad), Franz (reg - susp), Akonnor (reg)
Due to Dortmund's easy last day fixture, Stuttgart have only a slim chance of making an auto CL slot and, more realistically, are looking over their shoulder and trying to defend 3rd spot which would guarantee them a place in the CL qualifying stage. Wolfsburg are poor travellers but even a point would be enough for Stuttgart.

Schalke - Bayern
S04 : van Hoogdalem, Poulsen (reg), Djordjevic (squad)
Bayern : Salihamidzic (long term), Zickler (squad), Santa Cruz (reg)
When the fixture list came out everyone must have been licking their lips at the thought of this game ( a repeat of the last day in 1990 when it ended 3-3 ? ). However what a damp squib it has turned out to be. Schalke have been in dreadful form for weeks and Bayern became champions what seems like ages ago and will have an eye on next week's cup final. With Schalke possibly wanting to lose to sneak out of Intertoto this game has become a lottery.

Gladbach - Bremen
MG : Korell, van Hout (imp), Hausweiler (reg)
Werder : Friedrich (long term), Klasnic (squad), Skripnik (reg)
MG need a draw to avoid the drop but will almost certainly be ok even with a narrow defeat. Bremen, it would seem, need to win to retain their UEFA Cup place, as nearest rivals Hertha play home to motivation less Kaiserslautern. Mikael Forsell plays his last game for MG before ending his loan spell and returning to Chelsea. His 6 goals have been a major factor in MG's (probable) salvation. I can see him scoring here in a passionate last day encounter which could swing either way.

Bielefeld - Hannover
Arminia : Dabrowski, Kauf. Borges (reg), Sternkopf, Lense (squad)
H96 : van Hintum (squad - susp), Konstantinidis (reg - susp), Stefulj (squad)
Bielefeld simply have to win and that should be likely against Hannover who are safe and as local neighbours might not put up too much opposition. It is even possible that Hannover's coach Rangnick might give one last nostalgic run out to veterans Sievers and Linke ( note : in all games, especially the "dead" ones, team news should be taken with a pinch of salt. You can expect some unusual line ups with teams with nothing to play for). The main stumbling block to a Bielefeld win could be that they might not believe they have a chance to stay up due to a conspiracy between Nürnberg and Leverkusen ( see below ) as spoken about to the press this week by Arminia keeper Hain

Hamburg - Rostock
HSV : Benjamin, Antar (squad), Ujfalusi (imp - susp)
Hansa : Hansen (squad)
Hamburg need a win for a certain UEFA place with an outside chance of overhauling Stuttgart for 3rd place. Rostock are on holiday. 'Nuff said.

1860 - Bochum
1860 : full strength
VfL : Meichelbeck (squad), Wosz, Fahrenhorst (reg), Vriesde (squad - susp)
It is highly possible that 1860 might wish to "tank" this game to avoid 8th spot and a dreaded Intertoto place. The players say they want to play Intertoto but, of course, they would say that wouldn't they ? It would be their 3rd successive Intertoto campaign and, hence, shortened Summer holidays. Two years ago, due to repairs to the Olympic Stadium, they had a number of trips to play various hapless opposition in a half empty Augsburg stadium. Then last season they showed their contempt for the competition by blowing a 2nd round tie to the Belorussians BATE Borisov. Of course Bochum have little to play for except helping striker Christiansen to the topscorer title ( needs one to tie with Bayern's Elber). Whatever happens expect bags of goals.

Nürnberg - Leverkusen
Club : Larsen (imp), Kos, Nikl (reg), Wiblishauser, Petkovic, Stehle, Belic (squad), Passlack (squad - susp), Sanneh (long term)
Bayer : Schneider (reg - susp), Nowotny (long term), Sebescen (squad)
Contrary to my original assertions that Bayer had a strange choice of replacements for fired coach Hörster, in recently fired Nürnberg trainer Augenthaler, it would now appear that he was a very shrewd pick indeed. Rumours are flying around that a deal was struck between Nürnberg and Leverkusen, possibly as early as 2 weeks before Augenthaler was actually fired. It goes like this : Nürnberg fire unsuccessful coach "Auge" and shortly afterwards Leverkusen sign him up for the last two matches of the season. One of those is, surprise, surprise, Nürnberg away. In return for going easy on Leverkusen in the last round, the "Club" avoid the financially crippling 600 000 Euro compensation package to Augenthaler which could have endangered their prospects of obtaining a licence to play in next season's BL2. Even if the game isn't "fixed", Leverkusen have massive motivation to win whereas Nürnberg's new trainer Wolf has a massive injury list to overcome. It seems likely they will have to apply to the League for permission to include more than the permitted 4 "amateurs" in the squad.

Hertha - Kaiserslautern
Hertha : Alves (reg)
KL : Tchato (imp - susp), Hengen, Malz (squad)
Hertha must win to have any chance of playing in Europe next year ( they will hope for Bremen to slip up at MG - not at all impossible). KL are safe and may rest players with next week's important DFB Cup final coming up.

It is hard to ignore the claims of both relegation threatened teams Bielefeld and Leverkusen. Dortmund and Hamburg appear bankers, probably Hertha as well. A fun bet could be Bochum (around an 11/4 shot) to win at 1860. However, the bet in that game should also be over 2 1/2 goals. In all the "dead" ties one can expect goals. Last year in this round every single team scored, with 44 goals scored in 9 games at an average of almost 5 goals per game (including two 4-3 home wins)

In BL2 I expect Freiburg to clinch the title with a win at Duisburg. However, they might not have to win as Köln look set for a 4th straight defeat, this time in the deep South at Burghausen. Since gaining promotion Köln have been playing like zombies and have 3 key players suspended here in captain Lottner, Voigt and Helbig. With their mini squad also hit by injuries it is conceivable they may have to travel without any recognised substitutes. At Aachen a piece of BL magic comes to an end with St Pauli's (possibly) last ever BL match. In an act of genuine magnanimity, Aachen have said they will play Pauli's theme tune - AC/DC's "Hells Bells" - which always greets the side onto the pitch for their home games at the Millerntor. Despite already being relegated, Pauli will still take around 5 000 away fans and I expect one last win at a rather generous looking 100/30. If you need convincing that they will be taking the game seriously then please take note that Corey Gibbs was refused permission to travel to USA's national team for the friendly versus Wales. Pauli coach Gerber quite rightly points out that 15th spot is still a possibility and if, as has happened in recent years, a team has lost its licence for the following season then Pauli could yet be granted a stay of execution despite occupying a relegation spot.
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