From the Trading Floor - Week 50

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”

 

Manchester United v Bayern Munich – UEFA Champions League – Group A – 20:00 – December 12

As part of a radio speech in 1939, Winston Churchill is attributed to describing Russia’s interests in the Second World War as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. I would use that same quotation to describe the plight of Manchester United’s 2023/24 season to date, as they are simply a club I cannot seem to work out.

For so many years Old Trafford was a fortress for United. During the tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson, any team that emerged from the Theatre of Dreams with a victory were to be commended for doing the improbable. In recent times, the Red Devils have lost six of their last eleven home fixtures in the space of less than three months. Their most recent home outing was one of the worst results in years, with a chance to go momentarily level with Man City in fourth place in the Premier League table, United would succumb to a 3-0 defeat against Bournemouth. It was yet another humbling for one of the biggest clubs in the world of football, but that still doesn’t give me enough of a reason to back against them doing something completely out of the ordinary.

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Group A encounter against Bayern Munich should realistically be the night they bow out of European competition. Bayern have strolled through the group phase, they had already qualified as group winners before they kicked off in their goalless draw with FC Copenhagen, they’ve lost just one of the last nine Champions League meetings between the two, but the English side seem to consistently find a way to completely dumbfound me.

In February of this year I gave them little chance of getting past Barcelona in the Europa League knockout stages, but they dumped the Spanish giants out of the competition. Just under a month later they went to Anfield on an eleven game unbeaten run, they lost 7-0. I’ve written them off so many times, and they’ve won, then at other times I’ve expected them to win, and they’ve lost.

The fact that only four teams have scored more than them during the group stages so far, and all of them have already qualified for the Champions League knockout phase, whilst Man United currently sit bottom of their own group, whilst Antwerp are the only club who have conceded more, pretty much sums them up perfectly.

For United to even qualify from this group they need a minor miracle, a victory over Bayern, and a draw between Galatasaray and Copenhagen in the other fixture. I’ve made 5 selections in games involving United so far this season, and I’ve so far got every one of them wrong,

I’ve already proven myself utterly hopeless in predicting how they’ll bode on the pitch, pretty much in line with their own fluctuations in performances, so I will try and do their qualification hopes a favour by taking the visitors to leave with the victory, it’s the least I can do to try and spare ten Hag’s blushes.

Traders’ Tip: Bayern Munich To Win @ 13/10. A £10 bet at these odds could return £23.

 

Newcastle United v AC Milan – UEFA Champions League – Group F – 20:00 – December 13

Much like Manchester United, and unlike the already qualified Arsenal and Manchester City, Newcastle United’s hopes of progressing from Group F lies pretty much out of their own hands.

In order for the Toon to finish second they need to claim a victory over AC Milan, and then hope that PSG don’t beat Dortmund in the group’s other fixture. It’s a lot more likely than the scenario from the previous night, but still an uphill challenge nonetheless.

However, unlike their Mancunian namesakes, Newcastle United can certainly count themselves unfortunate to be in this situation.

Two weeks ago they were less than five injury time minutes away from a famous victory in Paris before PSG were awarded a much talked about penalty in the 95th minute. Kylian Mbappe would convert the resulting spot kick, and Newcastle would drop from second to third in the group as a result.

Regardless of this, to even give themselves an outside chance of progressing has been a fantastic achievement for the North-Eastern club.

All three of the other clubs in their group reached the knockout stages of this competition last season, AC Milan themselves were beaten semi-finalists, but Newcastle have proven they can more than hold their own against Europe’s elite. No more so than with their impressive 4-1 demolition of PSG during matchday two.

To be on the cusp of elimination despite their more than capable performances seems slightly harsh, but they at least have a decent record at St James’ Park to rely on to help keep their European aspirations alive.

Newcastle have won nine of their eleven home games across all competitions this season, including Premier League wins over Arsenal, Chelsea & Man United, a 4-1 victory over high flying Aston Villa, a League Cup success over treble winners Man City, and that aforementioned success against PSG. Their recent 4-1 defeat away to Spurs may be a concern, but it’s clear that their strength certainly lies in front of their own supporters.

AC Milan have similarly had a fairly difficult time on the road in recent weeks, winning just one of their last six matches away from the San Siro, and having not won in their previous four on the road.

Like Newcastle they also need to win to stand any chance of qualification, but any other result would see them eliminated from Europe altogether.

Unlike Tuesday’s encounter, I can actually take a stance on Newcastle with some degree of certainty. Their home record pretty much speaks for itself and it’s hard not to back a team that hasn’t lost at home to a team other than Arsenal, Liverpool or Dortmund since February of last year.

If they can draw on the inspiration they had during that commanding victory over PSG then I can see them upholding their own part of the bargain here. In that case, hopefully the result in Germany will also go their way and fans will get to see at least one more night of Champions League football on Tyneside before the 2023/24 season draws to a close.

Traders’ Tip: Newcastle To Win @ 9/10. A £10 bet at these odds could return £19.

 

Jake Paul v Andre August – Cruiserweight Bout – Approx. 04:00 – December 16

If there’s one thing that modern society loves it’s a showdown involving one of their favourite online personalities, and this weekend sees the “Problem Child”, and major influencer, Jake Paul step in to the ring to face fellow American Andre August in an eight round encounter in Orlando, under the banner of Paul’s own MVP promotion.

Jake Paul vs Andre August fight preview

Jake Paul is no stranger to facing big named opponents in the past. His current professional boxing record sits at seven wins and one defeat from eight bouts, with his sole loss coming to Tommy Fury by split decision in February. His past victories include successes over former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and fellow UFC and MMA fighters Nate Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren.

35-year-old Andre August is relatively unknown in relation to Paul’s past opponents, he does boast a record of 10 wins from 12 professional boxing fights, with five knockout victories, but this record comes on relatively minor cards and against relatively obscure opposition. It’s not the kind of record that would cause much of a concern against a more established professional boxer, but it’s certainly a record that matters as far as this contest goes.

Given the renown of his previous opponents, there’s probably a number of people who might question Paul’s selection of opponent, but to me it makes sense. Jake wants to fight someone with a legitimate boxing record, and August, despite his obscurity, is the first who properly fits the bill.

With so little to consider in regards to Andre August, but also knowing that he IS a professional boxer, the question is, has Jake Paul bitten off more than he can chew by fighting outside of his traditional comfort zone?

His brother Logan might currently be more than at home in a wrestling ring, he’s the current WWE United States Champion and he performs like a seasoned veteran of the industry, but there’s a vast difference between performing in a sort of media circus and facing someone who is a legitimate threat in their own right.

Andre could very well be that kind of competitor here. Granted he’s an unknown quantity, but any professional with a fairly solid record has to be given a chance of beating someone who has specialised in mainly fighting opposition that aren’t established in the discipline.

The truth is, August could be an absolutely terrible in-ring boxer compared to the likes of GGG and Tyson Fury. There must be a reason why his previous bouts are so difficult to judge and why he’s been seemingly plucked from obscurity, yet none of that will become apparent until the opening bell early on Saturday. But I suppose that just adds to the spectacle and the drama.

However, I’m willing to take a chance that August’s past record is something meaningful, and that his specialist experience within the sport will be enough to put the dampeners on Jake’s growing boxing career.

Traders’ Tip: Andre August To Win @ 4/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £50.

 

Jesse Rodriguez v Sunny Edwards – WBO & IBF World Flyweight Titles – Approx. 04:00 – December 17

If the spectacle of watching one of the biggest stars in social media doesn’t tickle your fancy then perhaps DAZN’s live offering in the early of Sunday morning might be more apt, with top-quality Flyweight action between Jesse Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards headlining a stacked card in Arizona.

Both of these fighters come in to this title unification contest with unblemished professional careers. 27-year-old IBF champion Sunny Edwards has won all 20 of his fights to date, and is ranked as the current best fighter in the flyweight division by The Ring, whilst 23-year-old WBO Champion Jesse Rodriguez has notched up 18 wins to date, and is ranked at fourth in the same division.

Rodriguez is arguably the more exciting prospect here. The young American has won 11 fights by knockout, the bulk of his career has been fought in the Southern states, he’s a former champion at three pounds above the flyweight limit, He knows the surroundings, he’s previously fought on huge cards, and he’s powerful, everything you would expect from a dominant champion and expected favourite.

Edwards however has also shown steely determination in his mission to sit atop the division as the undisputed champion. His last seven bouts have all been over twelve rounds, and he’s gone the distance and won by unanimous decision in all of them. He’s had one person in his sights since the start of last year, that being WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez. A victory for the Englishman is a must if he wants to finally get his hands on Martinez, a loss is unfathomable. He’s never been stateside, but he’s twice defended his IBF belt in the UAE, so fighting on International soil shouldn’t be too much of a change in that regard.

Separating two unbeaten champions certainly isn’t an easy task, but one thing is for certain. By the end of the contest, at least one of these competitors won’t have their 100% record intact.

I know that Rodriguez is widely seen as the favourite, but for me this would be split straight down the middle if the two were at their peak. However, I have slight reservations about whether or not the broken jaw the American suffered during his victory over Cristian Rodriguez back in April is going to affect him mentally here.

Edwards might be more of a composed fighter in comparison to an all-out slogger, but there’s surely going to be some reservations in the back of his young counterpart’s mind. Any type of uncertainly from Rodriguez is going to be critical in this contest, and we’ve seen that Edwards is more than capable of outboxing opponents on a regular basis. That lingering injury might just be the only difference between the two here, so I’m taking the guy from our side of the Atlantic to pick up a points victory in Jesse’s own backyard.

Traders’ Tip: Sunny Edwards to win by Decision @ 2/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £30.

 

Exeter Chiefs v Munster – European Rugby Champions Cup – Pool C – 13:00 – December 17

Following on from last week’s opening round of continental competition we go again this weekend with round two of the pool stages of the 2023/24 European Rugby Champions Cup.

After successfully siding with Leinster during their victory over La Rochelle, this time around I’ll be putting my focus on Sunday’s Pool C English v Irish encounter between Exter and Munster.

The hosts were beaten semi-finalists in last season’s competition, losing out 47-28 to eventual winners La Rochelle, but they’ve started this season’s campaign in perfect fashion courtesy of a last gasp Jacques Vermeulen try in a 19-18 victory away to Toulon.

That victory was relatively unexpected against an outfit that had previously won all five of their home fixtures in this season’s French Top 14, but it was a testament to the battling spirit of the Chiefs who have been one of the most consistent clubs in this competition over the past four years, being the only English outfit to make it to the knock-out stages on each of those occasions.

Munster have also been a constant feature in the latter stages of this competition, progressing beyond the pool stages six times in the last seven years, and the current United Rugby champions will be hoping to finally end a 15 year drought in terms of continental honours. Their opening fixture saw them draw 17-17 at home to Bayonne, with a late try in that encounter costing the strongly fancied Irish side a victory.

If there’s one thing that Exeter excel at it’s turning Sandy Park in to a fortress, and they’ll need to once again batten down the hatches when they welcome one of rugby’s fiercest opponents on Sunday. The Chiefs have not lost any of the sixteen games they’ve played at home during 2023, despite being run close on a couple of occasions including their most recent 25-24 home victory over Gloucester last month.

The home supporters have pretty much become accustomed to seeing their club play teams off the park, with this season already seeing wide margin victories over fellow Premiership clubs Sale, Saracens and Bristol, and they also boast the strongest defensive record in the English top flight.

Munster are by no means a weak outfit, they’ve also conceded less points than everyone else in their own domestic competition, but their record on the road has seen them go winless in three matches so far this season.

Getting the better of Exeter is by no means an easy task for the visitors here, we’ve seen time and time again that they simply know how to win on home soil and I’ve got no real reason to side with any other result here. I’m certainly not expecting it to be a game filled with tries, past meetings have typically been tense, but I’m hoping that the Chiefs have enough to get the better of Munster in a fairly low scoring encounter.

Traders’ Tip: Exeter To Win @ 13/20. A £10 bet at these odds could return £16.50.

 

A £10 5-Fold on the above selections could return £1,081.58.

 

*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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