Weekend Preview: The Belgian GP, the Return of La Liga & US Open Tennis

While we wait for consistency in the football Premier League before choosing bets on a weekly basis, we’re back to Formula One with the Belgian GP taking place on Sunday. A day later, my favourite football league begins in Spain, while Monday sees the start of the 2014 US Open tennis tournament. Let’s begin!

Fast track suits the Mercedes’

In my first article, I wrote how the Mercedes works cars were the quickest on the grid by some distance, with their customer cars – most notably Williams – second in terms of outright pace and straight line speed. The Red Bull’s, however, lacked outright pace in comparison, but were more nimble and a closer match on slower tracks with slow-medium corners.

Given all of this, we can expect Hamilton or Rosberg to win the Belgian GP, particularly as it’s one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, while pushing Vettel and Ricciardo behind the Williams tandem of Bottas and Massa in the best of the rest category also makes sense.

Expect changeable weather and a safety car

At one stage in its history, the Belgian F1 GP experienced rain for 20 years in a row! Therefore, with both sun and rain forecast at the track this weekend, the 2014 cars having less down-force than in the past and the reality that you’ll often see some parts of the track dry and others wet under such circumstances, expect crashes and, of course, the resulting safety car.

Belgian Grand Prix betting

Once again, Hamilton is the betting favourite at 4/5 and is fairly labelled as the fastest driver in the fastest car. On paper, he should qualify on pole position and win the race.

However, Hamilton has endured problems with his car during qualifying in the last two Grand Prix, meaning that he’s started at the back of the grid. The Briton managed to finish in third place twice under such circumstances and, while three bad qualifying sessions in a row does seem unlikely, it’s enough to put me off betting on him.

Of course, that means Lewis’s Mercedes teammate, Rosberg, should win the 2014 Belgian GP and he’s priced at 2/1 to do so. Quite truthfully, though, I have a feeling that Hamilton will win. Feelings and betting have to be carefully managed, so I instead opt for a bet of which I have no doubts in choosing.

Bottas to win the betting without Mercedes market in Belgian GP

Bottas is only in his second season of F1 racing yet has finished on the podium in three of his last four races. Indeed, it might well have been four in four had the early safety car not drastically altered the race outlook in Hungary.

This time out, unlike last, the fast Williams car is better suited to the track – and while a safety car does look extremely likely In Belgium too, if the Finn gets caught out on an unfortunately timed pit stop again, the fast straights and corners give him a far better chance of catching up than he had at the Hungararing.

Notably, Bottas has also proved to be far more reliable than his crash-prone teammate, Massa. So, all in all, my recommendation is to place your money on Bottas in the betting without Mercedes category. He’s currently available at 5/2. Finally, If you’re happy to bet at short prices, yes to a safety car should yield profit at 1/2.

Spanish Supercup confirmed that Atletico Madrid cannot be ignored in 2014/15 La Liga title race

Atletico Madrid were crowned La Liga champions in 2013/14 – rightly so in my book – and apart from anyone associated with Real Madrid or Barcelona, the footballing world rejoiced. However, after losing two of their three key players – goalkeeper Courtois and striker Costa – Diego Simeone’s side looked unlikely to successfully defend their title in 2014/15.

But then last Tuesday’s first leg Spanish Supercup 1-1 first-leg draw away to Real Madrid illustrated that Atletico have bought well in the transfer market and can still hold their more illustrious rivals to draws or better with their collective style of play.

My genuine opinion is that Real Madrid, after prioritising winning the UEFA Champions League over the league last season, will win the 2014/15 La Liga title, but then they’re 10/11 pricewise and after a nine month wait you wouldn’t even double your money. Barcelona are priced around 11/10, but they conceded far too many goals off set-pieces last season and have failed to adequately replace key defender Puyol, so the Catalan giants are not worth the risk.

All in all, if we also consider that Barcelona couldn’t beat Atletico Madrid in six attempts across various competitions in 2013/14 and work on the principle that price is king, Atletico Madrid are my betting pick to win the 2014/15 La Liga title at a generous 16/1 price.

The money’s going on Federer to win the 2014 US Open

The money’s going on Federer to win the 2014 US Open

The US Open tennis tournament begins in New York next Monday, and with defending champion Nadal ruled out through injury attention turns to former winners Djokovic, Murray and Federer. With world number one Djokovic constantly suffering early exits in recent tournaments and Murray in better but still poor form, bettors have instead opted for Roger Federer.

Perhaps the greatest tennis player ever, 5-time US Open winner Federer, by contrast, is in very good form and has just won the Cincinnati masters title, defeating Murray in the quarter-finals.

Indeed, Federer, though past his lofty prime, has enjoyed a good 2014 season so far, winning three tournaments and making the final of five others. The Swiss also made the final of the Toronto masters tournament, which was held just before Cincinnati. So, along with his Wimbledon runner-up trophy a couple of months back, he really is the man in-form on the faster surfaces.

Sadly, as I won’t have been the only person to put all of this together and form a betting pick at a value price, while factoring in that article subjects are of that given weekend’s biggest sporting events, the 7/1 I got on Roger just before he played Raonic in the semi-finals at Cincinnati is now 7/2.

It’s an unfortunate price change in terms of recommending a value bet to you, the reader, but after Nadal pulled out and Federer further confirmed his winning form, inevitable. However, if Federer can reach the final of the 2014 US Open, you’ve still got a decent each-way bet at 7/2 with half of those odds on the place.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a worthy long shot to win the 2014 US Open

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a worthy long shot to win the 2014 US Open

Ranked 10th in the world, Frenchman Tsonga recently broke a lengthy losing streak against Djokovic on his way to defeating Federer in the final of the Toronto masters tourney, in straight sets.

Tsonga, though so far unable to win a tennis major in his ATP career, has proved that he’s capable of beating the best players in the world on his day, with recent wins over Djokovic, Murray and Federer – in the same tournament – testament to that.

So, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is your 25/1 each-way longshot bet for the 2014 US Open. Credit also to an ex-colleague and feared tennis bettor, Wesley Kelly, who recommended the bet to me on Twitter. He even got 33/1. Fingers crossed.

Well, that’s all for this week, folks, but please contact me via @JCLaLiga on Twitter if you have any questions or feedback, only ever wager what you can afford to lose and have a great weekend!


Photo credits: Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)), Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))





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