category: England
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It seems a lifetime ago that Liverpool were edging closer and closer to beating all odds and winning the Premier League. The Reds were pipped at the post by Manchester City’s 86 points over their 84, despite showing amazing promise throughout the season.

This time round, Liverpool fans were left feeling optimistic for the 2014/15 season: that is, until Luis Suarez showed his true colours. During a crucial match against France, the Uruguay forward earned himself a nine match ban by biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The result was catastrophic. The conditions of Suarez’s ban meant that he would not be able to play until 27th October for Liverpool during the Capital One Cup. Liverpool soon saw their odds of winning the Premier League slashed, and that was before Barcelona even got involved.

Today, Suarez has now accepted a £75 million offer to transfer to Barcelona, despite the match ban controversy. The conditions of his transfer mean that he will not be inaugurated officially like any other player – under the terms, he will not be allowed to set foot on a pitch to confirm his signing.

But losing Suarez might not be the only chink in Liverpool’s armour. Hot contenders Chelsea have made some very expensive purchases in preparation for the upcoming season, including the signing of Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa, setting manager Jose Mourinho back a cool £32 million.

Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, has taken a £30 million fee to transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea. After Barcelona’s less than impressive last season, the move could be beneficial for both Chelsea and Fabregas’ pride.

With the former Arsenal midfielder in mind, 2014/15 could also be the year for the Gunners, who could show themselves to be a further threat to Liverpool. Manager Arsene Wenger, who is notorious for not spending money until the last minute, has recently signed Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez. The 25-year-old will surely prosper under the guidance of Wenger, who has a reputation for bringing out the best in young talent.

If Liverpool want to make sure they don’t repeat last season, they would do well to focus on the transfers they’re making now. Rumour has it that Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony, Lille’s Salmon Kamou and Atlético Madrid’s Arda Turan could all be making the switch to the Reds, while S. L. Benfica’s Lazar Markovic has just signed for the team.

The transfer window remains open, and with so much going on, the title could be in anybody’s hands this season.

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category: World Cup 2014
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FANTASYAfter the success of its Fantasy Pre-World Cup game, FanXT has launched its Fantasy World Cup (http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com) game to offer World Cup fans a once-in-4-years chance to build a virtual World Cup team based on real-life World Cup players such as Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Wayne Rooney (England). These fantasy football managers earn points based on the performances of these players that play in FIFA World Cup 2014 matches. As the world would watch in awe the action and drama behind the FIFA World Cup, football fans could take on the challenge to earn the coveted title of Legendary Fantasy World Cup Manager, something many failed to do in the previous Fantasy World Cup 2010. The game offers 12 statistics for users to score fantasy points such as Goals, Shots On Goals, Assists to score valuable points, ability to assign a captain, analyse players’ performance based on detailed graph analysis, choose their team formation (4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 5-3-2) as well as create private or mini leagues for users to compete among their friends. The socially savvy can also invite friends to join via Facebook and earn extra $0.5 million virtual budget for each friend who joined. Fantasy managers start with the rank of Rookie Manager but as they advance in the game, they could eventually earn the Legendary Manager title, something many failed to do in the previous Fantasy World Cup 2010. A World Cup Predictor game is included in the website, which challenges users to predict the outcome (including the score) of all 64 matches and predict who will lift the World Cup trophy this year. For those early bird users that joined the pre-World Cup fantasy soccer game prior to this one, each of the fantasy manager shall have their fantasy points earned to be converted to extra virtual budget in this final World Cup game. It pays to be early. Fantasy sports are enjoyed by over 83 million people globally and according to Alexa statistics, fantasy sites are 3 times more engaging than popular sites like Yahoo, CNN, ESPN and even the official FIFA World Cup site itself. This highly engaging fantasy football game for World Cup is available in Spanish (http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com/es), Chinese (http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com/cn), Indonesian (http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com/id) and Portuguese (http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com/pt) languages and playable on these platforms below. Website: http://fantasyworldcup.fanxt.com Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/fantasyworldcup iPhone: http://itunes.apple.com/app/fantasy-world-soccer/id859769859?mt=8 Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jmsb.fantasyworldcup   About FanXT [www.fanxt.com] [483, Green Lanes, London, N13 4BS UNITED KINGDOM] FanXT aims to be fantasy sport and digital media provider for sport leagues across the world, by managing the internet and mobile rights of the leagues via the provisioning of official websites, fantasy sport game, mobile apps, Facebook apps and even Smart TV apps. We are supported by the U.S State Department via the GIST Initiative programme. We are the Official Fantasy Football Provider for Finland’s Veikkausliiga, Hong Kong First Division Football League, India’s I-League, Philippines’ United Football League, and Singapore S.League   For any information and enquiries, please e-mail us at info@fanxt.com or visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FanXT

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category: World Cup 2014
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As excitement builds ahead of this summer’s hotly anticipated football tournament, attention has turned to the ball that will take centre stage at kick off. Tested for over two years by some of the biggest stars in the footballing world, pundits are calling it the most tested ball yet. But one legend has still to give it his seal of approval…

Following recent research* commissioned by Captain Morgan, which revealed that a third of England fans are concerned that the ball may hamper England’s chances in the tournament this year, the Captain who is famous for his mischief making, has turned his spy glass to the ball and decided to really put it through its paces.

The Captain has commissioned a cannon capable of firing an object at speeds of up to 74 miles per hour, to determine once and for all whether the ball has what it takes to deliver a legendary tournament this summer.

Captain Morgan, said: “This year’s ball has plenty of style but does it have any substance? I gathered together my crew of buccaneers and headed to the beach to discover for myself whether it deserves true legendary status as the world’s most tested football.

“We tested its speed, swerve and performance vs an old ball, as well as its controllability and of course its accuracy and I’m very pleased to announce it passed all with flying colours and has received my official seal of approval.

“I know the England team haven’t had chance to practice with the ball ahead of the tournament in Brazil but fans can rest assured that the ball is definitely up to scratch and has the makings of a true legend.”

You can watch the Captain put the ball through its paces at www.facebook.com/captainmorgan or here

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category: World Cup 2014
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The 2014 FIFA World Cup will get underway this June in Brazil and not only will it be the biggest soccer event of the year it’ll be the biggest betting event of the year.  The numbers are staggering—it’s hard to get an accurate figure on how much money will be bet on the World Cup consider that UK bookmakers are expecting to take as much £3 billion in action.  That’s just the United Kingdom meaning that the overall money bet on the World Cup is downright mind boggling.

For the intelligent bettor it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of World Cup betting action will be from casual and recreational players.  This type of player has a tendency to bet with their heart, backing their country’s team or else jump on a bandwagon and bet one of the top favorites.  Bookmakers are aware of this—in addition to moving the prices based on betting action they’ll frequently ‘shade’ lines involving teams they know will receive a lot of wagering action.  The sharp player, meanwhile, looks for ‘value’ on teams that might not be as popular with the general public.

So which teams are ‘overvalued’?  First of all, a disclaimer:  just because a team is ‘overvalued’ doesn’t mean they can’t win.  It’s also not a slight on the team itself but rather their market valuation.  ‘Value’ is a very nebulous concept but its essential to be mindful of it if you’re going to make money betting over the longterm.  The most obvious ‘overvalued’ team is the host country of Brazil.  Brazil is a very good team to be sure but they have defensive issues, questions about their midfield depth and a recent history of very erratic play.  These questions are sufficient in our view that they’re a ‘false favorite’ and are overvalued at +300.

Spain is the defending World Cup Champion but the marketplace appears to be making a big deal about their loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup.  This is a mistake in our view—despite the fact that Brazil won that matchup 3-0 its unwise to conclude that Spain is ‘down’ from their 2010 team.  Some have expressed concern that they may be ‘over the hill’ but it’s hard to pass up a proven commodity like Spain who are also the #1 ranked national team in the world at the moment.  They look like a nice value at +685.  Germany is also attractive at +640—some concern in both cases about European teams having historically struggled in World Cup play in South America.  Then again, the conventional wisdom that European teams can’t win in South America could be giving us value.

Italy is also worth at least a speculative play at +2850.  The rap on Italy is that they’ve been insanely erratic in World Cup play—they won the tournament in 2006 and then didn’t win a game in 2010—but they’ve got a deep, talented and experienced team.  Most of their roster is from AC Milan and Juventus in Italy’s Serie A league meaning there will be good cohesion.  At such a high price they’re worth a shot.

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Football has long remained a global sport which has the unique power of uniting millions of people from across the world in their passion for the beautiful game. Matches are televised on a worldwide scale through multi-million pound broadcasting deals which allow live football to be beamed across every continent. Football’s appeal is predominately based upon the level of drama, tension and excitement that created on the pitch which keeps fans on the edge of their seat.

Although domestic league competition provides each country with their own unique identity and passionate supporters, major European competitions and international tournaments provide the greatest attraction for football fans. The UEFA Champions League and World Cup are archetypal examples of tournaments which attract the highest viewing figures in world sport thanks to the high calibre of football on show from the very best players. Such prestigious tournaments were made possible through the efforts of governing bodies to create events that would shape the future of football, in addition to the growing income generated through sponsorship deals.

 

Business in the sport

Football’s ever-increasing rise to prominence has culminated in the growing rate of sponsorship deals through companies who realise the vast business potential within the sport. A recently agreed deal between Coral and Chelsea illustrates a trend within football which is quickly developing into a multi-billion pound industry where business is equally as important as the game itself. Money has become an integral factor in numerous facets of the game, with football clubs searching for new methods of income to remain stable and finance improvements on and off the pitch to become more established. Sponsorship deals reflect an interdependent relationship between external companies and football clubs; companies need football clubs to promote their brand on a global scale through merchandise, football shirts and advertising boards, while football clubs need companies to generate sufficient income for economic solidity and potential growth. Football clubs also benefit from the wealth of customers who are brand loyal to a particular company, as special promotions and marketing strategies can help to create a global fanbase for a club to thrive upon.

 

Manchester United

Despite their current on-the-field struggles, Manchester United remain one of the wealthiest clubs in world football thanks to multi-million income generated through global investments and sponsorship deals. Not only are Manchester United amongst an elite group of clubs who have their training and playing kit designed and manufactured by Nike, but the club’s brand continuously draws multi-million pound deals with companies who wish to be associated with a prestigious football team. Following on from their deal to become the global shirt sponsor and principle partner of Manchester United in 2010, multinational corporation AON agreed an eight year deal worth £160 million to put their name on the club’s training ground. The deal came into action in July 2013 as the infamous Carrington became the AON Training Complex, with every player and coaching staff wearing training kit that includes the AON logo. Part of the deal also includes AON sponsoring annual summer tours and friendly matches to increase brand awareness as a commercial business, and promote the company’s global portfolio to prospective clients. The lucrative nature of the deal illustrates the considerable volume of money coming into football, and how sponsorship is vital to generating finances to be put towards operating costs and transfers.

 

Chelsea

Although a large percentage of Chelsea’s considerable wealth is based upon the multi-billion investment from Russian owner Roman Abramovich, income is also generated through carefully chosen entries into numerous marketing sectors to create sponsors and business partners. The deal agreed between Chelsea and corporate bookmaker Coral in January 2014 signals a niche opening in the market for football clubs to utilise the gambling industry to grow their brand and receive a percentage of all profits. Coral have become Chelsea’s European online betting partner in a two-and-a-half year deal which sees Chelsea fans across the world providing a professional betting service through Coral’s online and mobile betting platforms. While Coral will not feature in any form of club merchandise, Chelsea fans will continuously benefit from the partnership through exclusive offers, which has already included a free 2013/2014 home shirt for those who place a £25 bet after registering an account with Coral throughout the whole of March.

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categories: France, World Cup 2014
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The Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby recently revealed he is close to making a return from the knee injury he got in March 2013 and maybe even play in the World Cup 2014.

Since the injury he hasn’t been able to play but have a strong determination to get back in his former strength and shape. People are already placing bets on the World Cup and taking the opportunity to play with GoWild Casino promo code.

Diaby says he is very close to his rehabilitation and keeping things in perspective. He is very impatient but has his goal clear to him, to be back strong and in perfect ease in his body.

“I work hard without asking questions. I work hard because I know in the end I will play again. I am still a high level footballer in my mind, otherwise I would have given up. But I never think to give it up.”

His dedication and conviction to get well and be able to play again is impressive and he definitely has the right mindset to get back on the field, he aims to be back in March 2014.

“My priorities? Feeling fine and play again before the end of the season. I don’t think I will be scared to play. I trust my body. Nowadays I feel strong, but I know coming back to London I will also have some changes. I am watching closely my diet and recovering periods.” Diaby tells.

Diaby has a place in the French national team, and is hoping to be ready to play in the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

The 27-year old was born in the 10th arrondissement of Paris and been playing for Red Star Paris, Auxerre and now Arsenal. Unfortunately he been struggling with numerous injuries the past years, but he has not giving up on become fully recovered and pursue his career.

 

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category: Site Info
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Footballers, eh! They seem to have it all: palatial homes, supermodel girlfriends and more wonga than you can shake a stick at. However, that sort of success doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes years of commitment and a rigorous training schedule to get them to the top of their game.

But once a player makes it big, what do they do with all that dosh? Well, blowing a huge wad on a motor is one way to go! And these days, no self-respecting footie star would be seen in anything costing less than £100k. Autoweb’s fun infographic shows their top 10 footballers’ cars. Enjoy!

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category: World Cup 2014
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Denmark’s visit to Wembley on Wednesday night is the first of four matches that Roy Hodgson’s England side will face before their opening World Cup group game against Italy on June 14th.

The England manager insists that places are still up for grabs before he names his 30-man provisional squad on May the 13th which means there is a great chance for first-time international and Southampton defender Luke Shaw to win a place, plus another chance for the in-form Raheem Sterling of Liverpool and Cardiff’s Steven Caulker to win a place on the plane to Brazil.

This will be the last friendly before Hodgson names his 30-man squad, the subsequent friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras all take place after he has to submit his initial squad.

Speaking to reporters, Hodgson was quick to offer hope to anyone not selected for the game against Denmark.

“It would be very foolish of me in March to give a definitive 30-man squad [for the World Cup],” Hodgson told reporters. “This is the squad I have chosen for now.

“Andy Carroll has hardly played [after returning from injury]. Adam Johnson is a player we know and because of the competition we have decided not to include him in this squad.”

Kyle Walker in unlikely to feature in Wednesday night’s game, while Caulker, Andros Townsend, John Ruddy and Adam Lallana all missed training on Monday morning, a decision on those four won’t be taken until Wednesday.

For the Danes’ Toulouse striker Martin Braithwaite picked up a knock in his side’s 2-0 win over Nice and it has been confirmed he will miss out. Another player who could be absent is Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen, it is suggested he won’t play unless he is 100% fit.

England will start as favourites to win Wednesday night’s game; this is not a World Cup preparation match for Morten Olsen’s side as they missed out on the play-offs despite finishing as Group B runners-up. Denmark will be hoping to perhaps pick up some momentum before the qualification process for the 2016 European Championships gets underway.

The last time the two sides met, England beat the Danes 2-1 away from home, coming back from a goal down in Copenhagen. Daniel Agger gave the home side the lead after eight minutes but Darren Bent and Ashley Young struck back to give England the friendly victory.

Probable Line-Ups

ENGLAND: Foster – Johnson, Cahill, Smalling, Baines – Lampard, Wilshere, Henderson – Sterling, Welbeck, Sturridge

DENMARK: Schmeichel  - Jacobsen, Kjaer, Bjelland, Agger  - Kvist, Sloth, Eriksen – Kusk, Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli

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category: France
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AC Amiens coach Azouz Hamdane will be sick of the sight of Lille come Sunday afternoon. At the end of November they travelled north to take on local side Villeneuve d’Ascq Metropole in the last round of the cup, the game went to extra-time and then was suspended due to fog.

Eventually it was restarted and the away side edged a 2-1 victory.

It was a cold and horrible night, not one for the neutral, with the crowd not able to see VAM’s late equaliser until it hit the back of the net. ACA had been found off the pace that evening and the trend continued the next weekend when they again had to make the trip to Lille, this time to take on LOSC’s CFA side at the same Stade Annexe, next door to the old Stade Lille Metropole.

This time it would end in defeat as Hamdane’s side would lose out to a Nicolas Perez 50th minute penalty. To put things into perspective, Lille II sit top of CFA Group A with 39 points and only one defeat. Amiens are 8th out of 16 teams on 30 points, five wins and six defeats. The odds are firmly stacked against the fourth tier side, and there is no way they should be able to overcome Ligue 1’s third place team, but this is the Coupe de France, so anything can happen. We spoke to Samantha Craig from Freebetking.co.uk who stated “Sky Bet are going 2/13 about the away side and if you are having a bet it looks like a decent wager to boost any accumulators as Lille are almost nailed on to win, if the handicap betting is available Lille -2 looks a sure bet”.

Amiens’ goal threat will come from forward Mohamed Tagaye and midfielder Mickael Despois de Folleville, as both have four goals each this season, over 70% of the total amount of goals Amiens have managed in total. Another player to watch is exciting midfielder creator Rayane Aabid.

Aabid was born in Lille’s Pont-de-Bois area, minutes away from the Stade Lille Metropole ground that LOSC called home for seven years. The area has a heavy North-African influence, and Aabid’s family hail from Morocco; ata young age, as well as playing for Villeneuve d’Ascq’s U15 side, he helped his father in the popular Wazemmes market on the weekend.

LOSC showed an interest in young Aabid, and after a spell at Armentieres in the Division d’Honneur, he now has a chance to show LOSC what they missed out on. What a fairy-tale story it would be if the 21-year-old could stun the Ligue 1 side, although he would probably have to hide his face for a while when he returned back to his home in Lille. All worth the the price of fame though.

This Sunday it is Amiens turn to play host to the northern club; the game will be played at the Stade de la Licorne, home of the town’s bigger side, Amiens SC. This was the venue last year for their first-ever appearance in this stage of the cup, when they were beaten by Evian on penalties after conceding an injury-time equaliser. Expect a hostile crowd of 12,000 locals to descend and give minnows AC a rousing partisan home support. The short journey will see LOSC bring a fair number of away fans which should make for an excellent atmosphere. The last time Lille came to Amiens was at the end of last season, the game finished 4-1 to the away side…and that was the second string. It is looking very much like Mission Impossible for les Bleus et Blanc, but isn’t that what the Coupe de France is all about?

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category: France
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French side Lille travel to Bordeaux on Sunday afternoon, currently in second place in Ligue 1 and on a run of form that can only be described as magnificent. Their 92nd minute winner at home against Marseille made it 11 consecutive clean sheets for Les Dogues and their 14th of the season overall. A fantastic return after only 16 games. The secret behind this has of course been their defence. New coach René Girard has come into the side and taken an unlikely group of defenders, and turned them into the best defence in Europe. Not bad for a coach who had to convince the supporters at the start of the season that he was the right man for the job. Only one point behind Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the league, now the supporters are starting to believe something special is happening this would be 10 times bigger than their 2011 title campaign if they could pull it off.

René Girard led Montpellier unexpectedly to the 2011/12 Le Championnat, beating off the mega-riches of PSG to win La Paillade’s first ever Ligue 1 crown. Now he is using the same approach to construct a tough, well organised, well-disciplined Lille side. At Montpellier he was praised for his attacking players – Olivier Giroud, Younes Belhanda – but it was the defence that was the catalyst. The back four rarely changed the experience of Vitorino Hilton, the youth of Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa, and the energy and drive of full-backs Henri Bedimo and Garry Bocaly.

Now he is following the same pattern at his new club. Danish defender Simon Kjaer joined from Wolfsburg and he provides the energy and spark in the centre, paired with the excellent and vastly experienced Marko Basa, these two have clicked almost instantaneously. Franck Beria is the only member of the title winning defence left, he has returned to his natural right-back role, still eager to get forward, but provides that extra defensive cover. The left-back slot was meant to be a problem position. Promising youngster Lucas Digne moved to PSG for €15 million in the summer, Lille’s only true left-back, Pape Souare, had spent the previous season on loan at Reims, and although he did ok, he wasn’t regarded as anything special. How times have changed. Souare has been one of the revelations of the season so far. He has speed, strength and a determination to get forward, like so many of today’s modern-day full-backs, but he is also excellent in defence.

Never one to shy away from a tackle, Souare is full-bloodied, committed and an overall excellent defender. He has a wonderful aerial presence in and around the box, that has led to the Senegalese international scoring three goals so far this season, two of them match winners, against Montpellier and Toulouse. Souare has stepped up and made claim to the left-back role and made it his own, claim your football betting coupon, and perhaps you can be as successful as Pape Souare has this season. There was even a recent story linking his with a move to Manchester United. It is a little too soon for that kind of talk, but people are starting to sit up and take notice.

The real star of the defence though, has been Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Signed 2 years ago by then coach Rudi Garcia, it was determined that Enyeama wasn’t as good as the #1 Mickael Landreau, so he was loaned out to Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Landreau left midway from the season, Former Brest goalkeeper Steeve Elana was made the number 1 and Enyeama stayed in Israel. With Girard in charge that all changed, there was open competition for the #1 jersey and Enyeama started the season between the sticks. Little did anyone know what was about to happen. After conceding a goal to Nice on the stroke of half-time on the 15th of September, Enyeama would spend the next 1035 minutes unbeaten. This included trips to Lyon, Montpellier and Nantes, and the visits of Monaco, Toulouse and Marseille. The all –time French football record is 1176 minutes without conceding, held by Gaëtan Huard of Bordeaux back in 1992-93. Enyeama will have to see off Bordeaux on Sunday, and then keep a clean sheet for over 50 minutes vs. Bastia to break the record.

If Enyeama can break the record, and Lille goes on to win both games, it sets up a very exciting trip to Paris just before the Winter break. A win in the capital would potentially see Lille crowned autumn champions, then you would have to consider them favourites to go on a life the real thing. Unthinkable when René Girard took over this summer.

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