Domestic football in Europe takes a break for the international matches, so our tipster is looking at the big news stories and looks at the betting on the Puskas Award, David Moyes' big move and Barcelona's woes.
David Moyes has looked abroad to re-ignite his career after the Manchester United turmoil – he has a better record than Louis van Gaal by the way, despite not spending a fraction of the money! He’s out of the British media’s gaze and is very enthusiastic. His only error so far is likening himself to Mourhino in answering the question ‘who are you most like? Guardiola or Mourhino? It’s a great question, but one he should have dodged.
Real Sociedad has been in the doldrums of late, but did rise up the table last season only to fall down it so far this time. They have a policy of signing not exclusively Basque players but they do prioritise Basque-produced footballers. So they have lost some of the respect given to the all-Basque rule. What they want according to Spanish football Graham Hunter is to be cool.
Moyes obviously needs to take whatever lessons he learned at Old Trafford, but revert back to his Everton days where his teams were athletic, pressed and exuded team spirit. There are players ready made for the Scotsman. David Zurutuza, Xabi Prieto, Carlos Martinez, Alberto de la Bella, Iñigo Martinez, Jon Gaztañaga, Carlos Vela, Imanol Agirretxe and Icelandic prospect Alfred Finnbogason.
Interestingly Steve McLaren spoke about being “in a spin” for the first six months in his first foreign job, so it would be ridiculous to think Moyes will fit in and his players will fit in with him straight away.
There are two bets I like for the soccer picks amongst all the specials. First for David Moyes Sociedad team to go unbeaten in 2014, that is six La Liga games. Moyes will be about defence first and whilst they won’t win all six, I can see him getting a few draws and at 11/2 I think that’s big enough to warrant a wager.
The second bet is for Moyes to sign Marouane Fellaini by September 1st 2015 at 25/1. It’s no secret how much he valued the Belgian in his time at Everton and signed him at Manchester United. Things haven’t worked out for him at Old Trafford and at that price I’m all over that.
The FIFA Puskas award is given to the footballer who scores the best goal as judged by us, the public. But don't be fooled if you think it just goes for what you think is the best goal. History has proved a strong vote is better than a superb goal.
It’s not always the obvious winner, in 2010 Hamit Altintop scooped the prize at 8/1 (I remember because I backed it) in 2012 Miroslav Stoch won it for a goal in the Turkish top division. Obviously the world’s superstars feature as well with Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovich have all been honoured.
This year may be different again because we had a World Cup and of course a global audience to see some of the best players score some phenomenal goals. James Rodriguez beauty against Uruguay for Colombia is the favourite in the betting, but it’s too short in my opinion. Tim Cahill is third favourite in the betting. Robin van Persie's diving arching header for Holland in Brazil divides the two. The list contains a beauty from Ibrahimovich, a lovely goal from Diego Costa playing for Atletico Madrid and many unknowns including the goal from Steph Roche in Ireland.
I mentioned a strong vote goes a long way to winning this competition, so it's well worth looking into the nation the player is from and what the internet usage is like. For instance the outsider in the betting is Hisato Sato playing in the J League. Japan also has a 90% Internet usage rate so it stands to reason if they got behind the Japanese player they would vote more than someone from a country with a lesser percentage. The downside to the Japanese player’s goal it that it was for a club side. If it had been for Japan it would be a different story. You can see why the Rodriguez is favourite, scoring for his country against a massive competitor in the World Cup so not only will you get huge votes from Colombian fans also from a worldwide audience as well.
I'm still going to take it on though and my selection is Tim Cahill. His brilliant goal for Australia and Holland was widely regarded as one of the top three goals of the World Cup. It comes from a man who plays for a nation who are devoted to sport and very, very proud. Australia has over 80% internet usage. Australia will never win the World Cup and don’t win many games at World Cups but if they could win this for one of their favourite ever players Tim Cahill, it would be a massive victory for the nation is priced at 8/1 to win the award that's my tip here.
Barcelona’s bare trophy cabinet
The Barcelona coaching staff certainly have some thinking to do during the international break. Ever since Luis Suarez came into the team things are going a little awry for the Catalan giants. They lost El Classico, then lost to Celta Vigo, but have since won in La Liga and are in a good position to qualify from their Champions League group, but perhaps not as top dogs.
I've gone on record saying that Luis Suarez should never have started in the Real Madrid match, they should've integrated him into the side and showed faith in the team that had already won all but one of its games without conceding a single goal.
Unfortunately for the Barcelona coaching team most the players will be away on international duty, so no training ground work, but they can start thinking about formations, where to play Suarez, when Jan Vertonghen will finally be ready to join the defensive line and how they're going to better Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.
I don't think they will. Real Madrid look to have the title sewn up already such is the class of the team and the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, I don't see Barca winning the Champions League, so it's just the Copa Del Ray they can aim for. Effectively you can get 7/4 soccer odds for them not to win the Cup, because that's the price for them to win nothing for the second season in a row - something that has happened to the club for over a decade.