Our weekly review of the latest betting news, including the odds for Liverpool to win the Europa League Final and on Andy Murray winning the French Open.
1. Liverpool 3/4 to gain Champions League entry
Following their 3-1 aggregate win over Villarreal, Liverpool are on the brink of securing a Champions League place. Standing in their way in Basel on May 18th are Sevilla, the back-to-back winners of the Europa League. It will be the Spanish side’s 5th Europa League final in 11 years and having won the previous four they might think they should be considered favourites, yet it is Liverpool who are odds-on at 3/4 with Bet365 to lift the trophy, with the La Liga side at 11/10. But Sevilla lost both games against Manchester City in the Champions League group stage and have now lost 6 of their last 8 league games, leaving them 7th in the table – 12 points below Villarreal in 4th and so also needing to win for a Champions League spot.
2. United cut to 5/4 to nick top 4 place
Man United now have an excellent chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League after neighbours City once again dropped points in their 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Sunday. City now lead their rivals by just 2 points, having played a game more. United visit West Ham on Tuesday night, having won there in the FA Cup less than a month ago, and that will give them extra confidence that they can gatecrash the top four after being in 5th or 6th place since Dec 19th. City, who visit Swansea for their final game, remain the favourites for a top four finish, but United are now at 5/4 with Bet365, the shortest odds they have been since late January.
3. Victory over Nadal sees Murray’s odds shorten
Andy Murray’s odds for this month’s French Open are slowly falling, with his supporters greatly encouraged by Saturday’s straight-sets win over Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open, despite then going down to Novak Djokovic in a close final. Nadal may not be the all-conquering star he once was on his favourite surface, but beating the Spaniard is still a useful measure of how Murray’s game has improved on clay. Murray’s Roland Garros odds were 12/1 a little over a month ago but have now been cut to as short as 7s with Ladbrokes, although Sky Bet still quote 9/1. Djokovic remains the odds-on favourite, even though he has yet to taste victory in Paris and was beaten in last year’s final by Stan Wawrinka in four sets.
4. South Africans reward favourite backers
Rory McIlroy was just 9/2 to win last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, odds that looked prohibitive – even for one of the world’s top three players. But is it always a good idea to avoid the shortest priced players and look for each-way value elsewhere? Well, not necessarily, as if you had backed every player offered in single figures on the European and PGA Tours this season you would be showing a small profit. There have been 33 players quoted below 10/1, producing five winners – two each for the South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace and one for Jordan Spieth. A £10 single bet on all 33 men would have returned £350 from £330 stakes.
5. 50/1 Wang claim maiden European Tour victory
During their coverage of the first round of this week’s European Tour event in Morocco, the Trophee Hassan II, the Sky Sports commentators observed that little known South Korean Wang Jeunghun was a star in the making. Sure enough, the 20-year-old went on to collect his maiden European Tour win, having opened in the betting at odds of 50/1. Wang had finished second in India in March, but there wasn’t too much other evidence from his previous results in Europe of his burgeoning talent. It all shows the value of paying attention to the expert commentators, who travel the world with the tour and know the players inside out.