Soccer – League One – Sunderland vs Portsmouth
The first of our big betting events this weekend comes from League One, with a repeat of last season’s play-off semi-final clash between Sunderland and Portsmouth.
These two sides are familiar foes, and they met several times last year. Not only did they cross swords in League One, they also met in the final of the EFL Trophy at Wembley, and then bumped into one another in the play-off semi-final.
There was very little between the pair when they met in the play-offs, with just a single Sunderland goal enough to send the Black Cats back to Wembley. Domestically, they drew 1-1 in the North East, with Pompey coming out on top when they met at Fratton Park.
Sunderland fans are a little frustrated at the moment. They’ve watched their side begin the season as strong title favourites once again, yet they remain winless after two matches. Their penchant for a 1-1 draw is hampering them, with around 30% of their games since the start of last season ending with this scoreline. Naturally, the bookmakers have reacted, and this correct score option is significantly shorter than twelve months ago.
Many fans are bemoaning the laboured style of football under Jack Ross. They have a number of talented individuals, but tend to rely upon one or two moments of brilliance from their star men. The Scot has so far been unable to get Will Grigg firing, whilst Charlie Wyke has been a disappointment since arriving at the Stadium of Light. Both goals this season have come from Lynden Gooch, with the American midfielder not a regular on the scoresheet.
Portsmouth began with a defeat (at Shrewsbury), but Pompey played well in that game, and there will be many sides who slip up in Shropshire this campaign. They reacted by beating Birmingham in the EFL Cup, before dispatching of a lively Tranmere outfit at the weekend. Kenny Jackett also has a very talented squad at his disposal, and he’s extremely well-stocked when it comes to strikers. He must find a way of rotating them.
This is a fascinating tie at this point in the season, and I’m very intrigued by Sunderland being a short-priced favourite. They cannot be relied upon at these odds, and that’s what makes it a fascinating market.
It could potentially be an overreaction to Pompey losing their opening game of the season, but they have been able to bounce back instantly, and they will be very strong once again.
With the Sunderland fans at a low ebb, there could be some moans and groans around the stadium if the Black Cats don’t get off to the ideal start. If a few misplaced passes occur, and Ross’ men don’t find the net in the first half, the negativity of the crowd could affect the players, and hand the initiative to Portsmouth.
This is a fascinating League One clash, and luckily it’s televised. I can’t wait to watch it, and see if Sunderland can end their run of 1-1 draws.
This game is live on Sky Sports on Saturday lunchtime. It will get underway at 12:30pm.
MMA – Heavyweight Title – Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
We’re off to Anaheim in California for our second big betting event as a potentially explosive card concludes with this heavyweight bout between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic.
It’s just over a year since these two met, and we haven’t seen Stipe Miocic since! He’s looking for revenge after being KO’d in July 2018, and he will be determined to re-gain that heavyweight title. Prior to that defeat, he had managed three consecutive title defences, but that run was ended by one swift punch. Prior to that blow, he had been landing some good punches, and he appeared to be the most likely winner until being caught out.
Miocic has played down the fact that he is out to regain his title. He told reporters that he simply “wants to prove that he is the better fighter”, and admits that his defeat makes him “simply hungrier” for success.
He holds a 12-3 record, and has been one of the most promising fighters in this division for quite some time. His momentum may have been halted, but he still holds the ability to beat Cormier, and regain his crown.
He’s brushed off speculation that the re-match could potentially have the same outcome, suggesting that “it’s going to be different”, and although he admits that “it wasn’t a good night”, he knows what he has to do to avoid falling victim to Cormier’s short punch.
It’s going to be a fascinating re-match, and a fight that has MMA fans on the edge of their seats. Although UK viewers will have to stay up late to enjoy this bout, it will surely be worth it. It certainly should be explosive.
UK fans can enjoy this fight on BT Sport 2 on Saturday night
Soccer – Bundesliga – Werder Bremen vs Fortuna Dusseldorf
The Bundesliga gets back underway this weekend, and we’re expecting another fascinating battle at the top of the table. However, I’m sure we’ll focus on Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich throughout the course of the campaign, so we’re turning our attention elsewhere. There’s been plenty of talk about Werder Bremen over the last few months with many punters quietly confident about their chances. Their opener against Fortuna Dusseldorf is the third of our big betting events.
Dortmund defender Omer Toprak is the latest player to arrive in northern Germany, and he will join up with a hugely talented squad. Florian Kohfeldt’s side finished last season fairly strongly, and they lost just twice in 2019 (one of them came against Fortuna Dusseldorf). They’ve made their squad stronger, and will surely be able to build upon their eighth placed finish.
Fortuna Dusseldorf finished just five points below today’s opponents, but only won two of their last six games at the end of the campaign. They don’t know the extent of winger Nana Ampomah’s injury, which he picked up in the Cup, and his absence could have huge implications for the remainder of the season. If he isn’t available for this clash, that takes away some creativity from the side, and that could play in Bremen’s hands.
Bremen still have Davy Klaasen in the centre of the park, alongside the hugely talented Max Eggstein. Johannes Eggstein will also add plenty of goals this season, whilst Josh Sargent has been receiving favourable reports in training, and the young American could be a surprise inclusion this season. Niclas Fullkrug will be expected to take the majority of the goalscoring berth, but Sargent could be a surprise package, and they have a decent balance all over the field.
I can’t wait to see how Werder Bremen get on this season, and we’ll be looking for them to get off to a positive start here.
BT Sport 2 will be showing highlights of every single Bundesliga match this season.
Aussie Rules – AFL – Brisbane Lions vs Geelong Cats
The high-flying Cats travel to face the Lions this weekend in another fascinating AFL tussle between the pair of them. Their clash is our fourth big betting event this weekend.
These two sides have already confirmed their place in the end-of-season play-offs, and it is a matter of jostling for position at the top of the ladder on Saturday. This could help decide which side enters the finals as the leaders, and it could act as a potential warm-up for the Grand Final.
The Lions haven’t featured in the play-offs for quite some time, but they will be looking to take plenty of momentum into the finals. They’ve won each of their last five matches, and battered the Suns last weekend 144-53. They’ve been scoring for fun, and they could catch the Cats out with their offensive power.
The Cats did beat the Kangaroos recently, but this will be significantly tougher. They did slip up against the Dockers a couple of weeks ago, and showed that they can be suceptible at times. However, they’ve got a great head-to-head record in this clash, and have been victorious in each of the last five meetings with this opposition.
This game is the main event this weekend, and there will be a decent sized crowd in attendance.
BT Sport will be showing highlights of all of the AFL games in the UK over the course of the weekend.