From The Trading Floor (23)

From The Trading Floor

Join Jay and DAZN Bet’s trading team as they bring you the pick of this week’s sports bets in “From The Trading Floor”

 

Fiorentina v West Ham United – UEFA Europa Conference League – 20:00 – June 7

This week sees a double header of Anglo-Italian action in the finals of UEFA competitions, beginning with the Europa Conference League final in Prague between Fiorentina and West Ham on Wednesday evening.

For both clubs involved, this game will not only provide an opportunity to end a long wait for a second European trophy (aside from the now-defunct Intertoto & Mitropa Cups), but it will also grant one of the teams a final chance to qualify for next season’s Europa League too after neither side managed to secure European football via their domestic competitions.

Fiorentina finished eighth in this season’s Serie A, and were beaten finalists in this season’s Coppa Italia, surrendering an early lead to lose against Inter Milan. The Italian side also needed an extra-time victory in Switzerland to overcome Basel in the semi-finals, after losing the first leg 2-1 in Florence, with Czech midfielder Antonin Barak scoring with virtually the last kick of the match when the tie looked destined to be decided via a penalty shootout.

The Hammers finished 14th in the Premier League, spending most of 2023 in a relegation battle, suffering a second-round defeat to Blackburn in the EFL Cup, and a fifth-round loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup. However, their European exploits have been a welcome change to their poor domestic form.

West Ham have won 13 of their 14 Europa Conference League games this season, topping their group with maximum points, with a 1-1 draw against Gent in Belgium being the only blemish on an almost flawless record. The relative ease with which they’ve progressed to the final should give them plenty of belief that they can pick up their first major trophy since winning the FA Cup success back in 1980.

Much like the majority of the other bookmakers, I find it almost impossible to split the two teams. West Ham’s record in Europe over the last couple of seasons makes them look more than capable of claiming the trophy, whilst Fiorentina’s attacking foursome of Cabral, Jovic, Barak & Gonzalez have combined for a total of 23 goals in this season’s competition.

I could genuinely see this one going either way, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see yet another penalty shoot-out to follow on from last week’s Europa League Final drama. However, I feel like taking both teams to get on the scoresheet probably represents one of the better-valued selections, considering how prolific both sides have been in front of the goal en route to the final.

Traders’ Tip: Both Teams To Score @ 9/10. A £10 bet at these odds could return £19.

 

Uruguay v Israel – FIFA U-20 World Cup – Semi-Final – 18:30 – June 8

The FIFA U-20 World Cup reaches the semi-final stages on Thursday night, and it has been a tournament which hasn’t disappointed in terms of surprises so far.

Hosts, and relatively strong pre-tournament favourites Argentina were dumped out by Nigeria in the second round, after breezing through their group. UEFA U-19 winners England also lost in the second round, whilst the usually strong Brazilian team were stunned in the quarter-finals by Israel. Israel’s reward for that success is a semi-final showdown with Uruguay.

Israel’s rise in youth football has been relatively surprising, considering their history at this level. This is their first appearance in the competition, and their run to the final of the 2022 UEFA U-19 competition was the first time they had qualified for a tournament at this level since losing all three group games in 2014.

Israel needed an injury-time goal against Japan in their final group game to secure their spot in the knockout stages, they progressed to the quarter-finals after a 97th-minute winner against Uzbekistan, before claiming a 3-2 victory in extra time against Brazil in the aforementioned quarter-final tie.

Uruguay entered the tournament in their home continent as one of the expected front runners, following a run to the final of the recent South American U-20 Football Championship, but they did suffer a group stage loss to England on either side of victories over Iraq and Tunisia. Their second round 1-0 victory over Gambia was followed by a 2-0 quarter-final victory over USA, and they’ll be hoping that they can raise their game once more in order to book their spot in Sunday’s final.

Israel have seemingly ridden their luck up to this point, they needed to come from behind twice against Brazil and looked like they were heading for an early exit before their late turnaround against Japan. Whilst Uruguay have looked relatively strong for the majority of the competition, having kept four clean sheets from five games, and I am expecting another solid rearguard display from the Uruguayans on Thursday. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be the most exciting of encounters, and I’m going for the South American team to win without conceding as a result.

Traders’ Tip: Uruguay To Win To Nil @ 9/5. A £10 bet at these odds could return £28.

 

Leigh Leopards v Hull FC – Super League – 20:00 – June 9

Friday evening offers some intriguing showdowns in the Super League, with four of the top six teams in action across the three 8 pm matches.

St Helens v Wigan might be the pick of the bunch in terms of the historical rivalry of the two sides involved, 11 placed Castleford will also be hosting fifth-placed Salford, but the fixture between the Leigh Leopards and Hull FC at Leigh Sports Village is where I’m going to be focusing my attention heading into the weekend.

Leigh have been the surprise package so far this season. Having gained promotion from the Championship at the end of last season, the expectation for the previously known Centurions was for a swift return to the second tier, yet the Greater Manchester club currently find themselves lying fourth at the midway point of the season. Their success can be attributed to the solid recruitment job before the start of the season, bringing in vastly experienced Super League players such as Tom Briscoe, Zak Hardaker & Jack Hughes. However, the permanent signing of winger Josh Charnley has been arguably their shrewdest piece of business, as the 31-year-old former Wigan & Warrington man currently leads the way as this season’s top try scorer with fifteen, including eight in his last nine appearances.

Leigh will also enter this one having won their last seven matches, including a rampant Challenge Cup victory over bottom side Wakefield, but opponents Hull FC definitely have the potential to provide a bit of a surprise result, considering the two team’s respective positions.

Hull FC have won five of their last six to pull themselves within reach of play-off places, and book their place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, with their 30-18 victory over Warrington on Sunday knocking the Warriors off the top of the Super League table. It’s been a marked change for a side that were thumped by the same team at the start of April, and one that also picked up a narrow victory against third-placed Wigan at the start of May.

When the two teams met at the end of March, Hull FC were in the middle of a seven-game losing streak, and went on to lose 24-16 on that occasion. This time around I feel they have a much better chance of getting the victory, especially given their statement win over Warrington last weekend, and I have to side with a tempting price on them ending Leigh’s impressive winning streak as a result.

Traders’ Tip: Hull FC to win @ 13/8. A £10 bet at these odds could return £26.25.

 

Manchester City v Inter Milan – UEFA Champions League – June 10

The pinnacle of the 2022/23 domestic football season is almost upon us, the UEFA Champions League Final. This Saturday evening, in Istanbul, we will see either strong favourites Manchester City claim their maiden title or surprise package Inter Milan pick up the trophy for the fourth time.

It’s been a season packed with memorable moments across the whole of Europe. From Napoli’s runaway success in Serie A, Arsenal’s Premier League collapse during April, Bayern Munich’s last-minute heroics to snatch an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title ahead of Dortmund, Barcelona’s failure in the Champions League group stage, Ronaldo’s Manchester United exit, a strike by BBC pundits, a winter World Cup, Luton’s rise to the Premier League, and arguably one of the dullest Europa League Finals in history. Saturday’s Champions League Final is guaranteed to provide at least one final historical moment to close out a captivating previous ten months of action.

Although Inter do have the potential to pick up their first Italian Champions League success since 2010, there’s no doubt that all of the talking post-tournament will be centred around Manchester City and their manager Pep Guardiola.

Should City win, it would be a first English treble since the famous Manchester United success during the 1998/99 season. Comparisons between the two feats will no doubt be debated for many years to come, and it would be arguably the biggest moment in the club’s history since Sergio Aguero’s goal against Queens Park Rangers back in 2012.

If Inter somehow manages to spring a surprise, then the focus is likely to be on whether or not City will ever win the “big one”, given that this feels like a much better opportunity than their defeat to Chelsea two years ago.

I’m taking nothing away from Inter Milan, but I’ve said many times over the past few months that this Manchester City team looks almost unstoppable, they may have lost to Brentford, and drawn with Brighton, in their last two Premier League games, but they had already secured the title by that point. Their 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup should have really been a lot more comfortable, especially given their dominance before the Red Devils equalised from the penalty spot. Whilst they have simply blown away some of Europe’s fiercest clubs on their way to the Champions League Final.

Erling Haaland’s five goals against RB Leipzig during their 7-0 rout in the Round of 16, was the start of a run that saw the Norwegian striker score thirteen of his club’s twenty-seven goals over the course of just seven matches, two of which also came in their 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their quarter-final encounter. Whilst a potentially tricky-looking semi-final second leg at the Etihad against Real Madrid, following a 1-1 draw in Spain a week earlier, became a routine walk in the park, as City dumped the holders out with a resounding 4-0 victory.

Inter Milan’s route through the knockout stages may not have looked as prolific, with victories over Porto, Benfica and city rivals AC Milan, but they did manage to navigate their way out of a group containing both Bayern Munich and Barcelona, albeit after suffering two defeats against the German club.

Saturday’s final looks like it could potentially be one of the biggest mismatches in recent Champions League final history. Haaland’s 52 goals this season is just four goals shy of the combined total of Inter’s front three of Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko & Romelu Lukaku. City have conceded just five goals in the Champions League this season, compared to the 12 conceded by Inter, and the English club have also lost just six competitive matches all season, compared to the 14 lost by the Italians.

Even the managers don’t match up, Inter’s Simone Inzaghi has just three domestic cups to his name, compared to the plethora of domestic and continental honours boasted by City’s Pep Guardiola.

As much as I try to look for a reason to give Inter a fighting chance, I simply cannot look past a truly fearsome Man City line-up that has torn through almost everything, with the exception of Brentford, over the course of the last ten months.

I would love to see a memorable match to rival the exploits of the Nou Camp in 1999, or the last final played at this stadium back in 2005, but I am struggling to work out how Inter will simply be able to cope with the expected onslaught on their goal from the start. I do believe that Dzeko, Martinez and Lukaku pose enough of a threat to get the Italians on the scoresheet, but City should have more than enough quality to run out comfortable winners, and claim the last piece of silverware in, what will long be remembered as, a famous treble.

 Traders’ Tip: Both Teams To Score & Man City To Win @ 11/5. A £10 bet at these odds could return £32.

 

A £10 4-Fold on the above selections could return £446.88.

 

*Odds correct at the time of publishing. Available to UK residents (excluding Northern Ireland) aged 18+ only. T&Cs apply. www.begambleaware.org

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