Betting on Sports is fun
Betting on stuff is fun. It makes the outcome more interesting if you have something at stake, be it Kim and Kanye's baby name or the Confederations Cup Final between two prolific teams like Brazil and Spain. Personally I'd rather bet on the game than a celebrity baby name. Best place to bet is with Prime Wagers. Right now get $100 free Betting Cash just for signing up. Click the Join Now button.
The 21-year-old Brazilian with the pseudo Mohawk recently completed a move to Barcelona, where next season he will play alongside Lionel Messi and several of the Spanish players he will face Sunday. Neymar scored in each of the team's three group matches as Brazil went 3-0 and he played a part in both Selecao goals in the 2-1 semifinal win over Uruguay. More pressure will be on him to perform not just on Sunday, but next year as Brazil tries to win its sixth World Cup title.
The final will be played at one of the most famous soccer venues in the world, which also will host the World Cup final on July 13 next year. Once one of the largest stadiums in the world, Maracana hosted the final match of the 1950 World Cup, which FIFA says drew 173,850 and other sources list at up to 199,854. Uruguay rallied with a pair of goals in the last 30 minutes to beat Brazil 2-1 and win its second world title, leaving the Selecao still searching for a first. The stadium, which was built ahead of that World Cup and is owned by the state government, is officially named Mario Filho Stadium, after a famous Brazilian journalist. It has been remodeled and now has a capacity of about 78,000.
Almost any time you watch Spain, you're watching soccer at its best. After years of underachieving, La Furia Roja won
the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, the first team to win those three major
titles in succession. Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta dominate midfield play, and Spain almost always has a huge advantage in possession with the ''tiki-taka'' style taken from Barcelona. With Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso recovering from back surgery, coach Vicente del Bosque has switched to a formation similar to Barcelona's 4-3-3.
Brazil playing at home
Brazil invented ''O Joga Bonito (The Beautiful Game).'' Ever since Brazil was awarded the right to host the 2014
World Cup six years ago, there has been a huge amount of pressure on the team. And the Confederations Cup final will serve as a big test to see if the young team is ready to unseat Spain.
Preparing for the World Cup
The Confederations Cup is designed to test six of the 12 stadiums to be used for next year's tournament along with
airports and transportation systems. Sunday's final can be used as an introduction to the big event, the 32-nation spectacle next year.
120 minutes of regular time and extra time had passed and the Confederations Cup semifinal match between Spain and Italy remained deadlocked at 0-0. The two teams went to penalties. For fans of the two countries, anxiety was building up like a hurricane. This is the time to start saying your prayers.
Candreva made a penalty for Italy, then Xavi made for Spain, and both teams kept making the penalties, and kept making the penalties…on and on. Eventually, Italy’s Bonucci, a central defender who has probably taken four spot kicks in his entire life, missed one over the bar. Spain’s Jesus Navas stepped up and finished, sending his country to the Confederations Cup Final, where they will face up against host Brazil on Sunday.
Lionel Messi is eagerly anticipating teaming up with Neymar next season and hopes the former Santos star can replicate his Brazil form at Barcelona.
The 21-year-old has been in fine form at the Confederations Cup, netting three goals
and setting up two more to lead Brazil to the final of the competition, and Messi hopes there's more to come from his new teammate at the club level.
The Argentinian Star recently visited Senegal on a Humanitarian mission to promote an anti-malaria campaign that is close to his heart.
"Neymar really is a great player and I have no doubt that he will contribute a lot," the Argentine was quoted as saying by Sport. "I hope that he can keep up his current form at Brazil with Barcelona in the new season."
The prolific attacker then went on to discuss the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid coach and thinks the Santiago Bernabeu side will be back challenging for the Liga title again in 2013-14.
"Barcelona's goal will again be to fight for all trophies. We will have to compete against a great team, though. It will not be easy because Madrid have some great players," Messi said. "They already had a good coach before and have now found another great one."
Messi also had his say on Pep Guardiola's move to Bayern and believes that the former Barca boss will make the Champions League winners even stronger.
"Bayern were already a great team before Pep's arrival," Messi stated. "They won it all last season and have some fine players. The arrival of Guardiola will only make them stronger."
Guardiola started preseason with Bayern earlier this week.
Jordi Alba Celebrates Spain's Semi-Final Shootout VIctory
The beauty of this Spain team is that it keeps evolving. After technical skill and the ability to retain possession finally overcame the neurosis of past failure at Euro 2008, there came the years of control in 2010 and 2012, as
World Cup and another European Championship were collected playing safety-first keep-ball. For all the criticism of its supposed negativity in Poland and Ukraine there were signs of another Spain emerging, one that had begun to come to terms with the problem posed by an opponent that sits deep against it.
It is an issue any possession-based side will have. If you dominate the ball
to the extent that an opponent despairs of ever winning it back, that opponent
will eventually simply stick men behind the ball, allowing you possession but
trying to deny you space in the final third to create any goal scoring
opportunities. Spain's response for a long time when faced with such an opponent
has been simply to keep passing. The process is attritional but Spain
essentially knows that as long as it has the ball it isn't going to concede and
that, eventually, an opponent is likely to be worn down. A mistake -- and a goal
-- will come.
At the Euros, Vicente del Bosque, the Spain coach, spoke again and again
about "control." But he also spoke about "profundidad" -- depth of
field. If an opponent packs men behind the ball, what is lost is depth of field:
Spanish attacks essentially start higher up the pitch and that means that
"verticalidad" -- verticality, playing the ball towards goal -- is far
harder. The risk is that the team with the ball ends up playing too
horizontally, going back and forth across the pitch without making any progress,
without generating the burst of speed necessary to puncture a well-drilled
That is why Jordi Alba is such an important addition. Although ostensibly a
left-back, he is a converted winger and has many of the technical attributes
you'd expect of an attacking player. But vitally, he has great pace and stamina,
working up and down that left flank, and seems to have the gift of timing his
runs to arrive in space. He did it against Italy in the final of the Euros last
year and he added another two in the 3-0 win over Nigeria on Sunday.
Both those games were a little unusual in that Italy and Nigeria actually
tried to engage Spain high up the pitch and did leave space behind them. For
Spain that is a rare experience and against Nigeria it was one with which it
wasn't entirely comfortable, yielding numerous chances, particularly in the
first half, that better finishing might have punished. It may be that Spain, as
Barcelona did against Bayern Munich last season, is not very good at defending
-- or at least not at defending in the sense of thwarting an opponent coming at
it. It seems to happen often with gifted possession sides that they get so used
to defending with the ball, reducing the risk by denying the opponent the ball,
that they effectively forget the mechanics of what to do when they don't have it
and an opponent does attack them -- and of course Alba and Gerard Pique are
both Barca players.
But what Alba offers is a player who can arrive at pace onto a sideways pass,
and so turn horizontal movement into vertical movement. There are, essentially,
two ways to beat a massed defense: go round it or go through it: Alba has the
pace to create overlaps -- and conveniently does so on the left, where Spain,
with Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta sharing the midfield and forward duties,
are naturally narrow -- and he can also go through by dint of coming from deep
Just as importantly, Alba can actually defend. Dani Alves performs a similar
role on the right for Barcelona (and it may be that against better opponents
Barca decides next season it must temper the attacking urges of one or the
other) but his defensive inadequacies have regularly been exposed at
international level -- most notably against Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America
when his haplessness made the winger Marcelo Estigarribia look so potent he
earned a move from the French second division side Le Mans (who had loaned him
out to Newell's Old Boys in Argentina) to Juventus.
Alves hasn't yet been exposed in the Confederations Cup, although with he and
Marcelo (who may be even worse defensively) both pushing up, Brazil looks
horribly vulnerable to counterattacks that hit it wide. Del Bosque,
instinctively cautious, counters that threat by balancing Alba with Alvaro
Arbeloa on the right. Arbeloa seems almost archaic now, a fullback who actually
defends, but he is key to how Spain play, often shuffling across to function
almost as a third center-back (a role Sergio Busquets can also fill, dropping
back from deep midfield) when Alba advances.
Much has been made of the success of Spain at youth level, which seems to
suggest its success will endure. Perhaps the most alarming aspect for the rest
of the world, though, is that the team those players will break in to has been
together so long, has evolved so smoothly, that it has the rhythm and internal
balance of a club side.
This gripping Stanley Cup final has gone five games -- with Game 6 set for Monday night in Boston -- and there remains great uncertainty about what lies ahead.
Saturday's 3-1 Blackhawks win -- essentially a one-goal game with an empty netter -- was like almost all of the other games in this series, with the 'Hawks and Bruins each dominating for long stretches.
A good part of what's not known has to do with each team's top two-way center, Patrice Bergeron of Boston and Jonathan Toews of Chicago. Each is a leader on and off the ice, a major presence in everything his team does, a huge part of his club's identity. To have one of them unable to play would be a big blow to his team; to have both missing might, as Bruins coach Claude Julien suggested after Game 5, cancel out that impact. Or it might not, depending on who fills their respective spots and how well they play.
Indeed, in three of the past four Cup finals where a team failed to clinch in Game 6, they also failed in Game 7. And
the last team to rally from a 3-2 series hole? The Boston Bruins in 2011 against the Canucks.
So on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC) in Boston, the Bruins try to duplicate that 2011 situation -- win at home in Game
6, then win on the road in Game 7 (back at the Madhouse Wednesday).
This Stanley Cup series already made up for the shortened regular season, at least for purists, by matching two of the NHL's Original Six.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have since taken the excitement to the next level, playing five great games, including Saturday night's 3-1 Chicago victory that gets the 'Hawks to within one more victory of their second Cup championship in the last four seasons.
As of Monday morning, most sportsbooks with Stanley Cup odds had the Bruins as small -125 moneyline favorites. And the OVER/UNDER sat at 4.5 goals, which might be good value if history repeats itself because the past three Game 6s in the Finals have seen seven goals.
The big questions heading into Game 6 are how each team might cope possibly without one of their main cogs. Boston's Patrice Bergeron, who's scored nine goals in this Spring's playoffs, missed most of the last two periods of Saturday night's game with an undisclosed injury.
And Chicago's Jonathan Toews, who's got two goals and 10 assists this postseason, missed the third period after taking a hard hit to the head.
Both are listed as questionable, although Toews went to Twitter to say that he will play today.
If Boston wins Monday night this Stanley Cup series will go to a Game 7 Wednesday night in Chicago.
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Governor Deval Patrick
and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
made a friendly wager over the Stanley Cup final opener. The game took place June 13 between the governor's respective home teams, the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Under the terms of the wager, the governor of the losing team’s state will volunteer at the food bank of the winning governor’s choice. If the Bruins win, Governor Quinn will volunteer at the Greater Boston Food Bank. If the Blackhawks win, Governor Patrick will volunteer at the Greater
Chicago Food Depository.
Governor Patrick was happy that he could use something lighthearted and fun
to make a difference in a serious issue. “I look forward to seeing the Bruins
circle the ice with the Stanley Cup above their heads,” he said. “And I’m
delighted to join with Governor Quinn to use the excitement of the playoffs to
draw attention to the important issue of food insecurity.”
The Illinois Governor was unphased by the challenge. “Governor Patrick is
skating on thin ice by betting against the mighty Chicago Blackhawks,” said
Governor Quinn. “But the Greater Chicago Food Depository can always use
extra help, so after he works a shift there, I’m happy to take Governor
Patrick to the United Center to see the Stanley Cup return home.”
It has been a long and exciting Stanley Cup series between the Blackhawks and
Bruins. Can you remember Game 1 and who came out on top?
Here's a hint. The game went into triple OT before one of the teams scored a
sudden death goal to win the game. Read all about Game 1
to find out which
Governor will be volunteering their time at the other's Food Bank.
Not to be outdone by their Governors, Chicago and Boston Mayors have also
placed a wager of their own. Mayor Menino
has joined the action, countering a
friendly and windy wager from Mayor Rahm Emanuel
On the Chicago Mayor's Office Facebook page Tuesday, Emaunel put forth an
abundance of offerings should the Bruins prevail in their "quest to be the runner up
for the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup."
"Boston is a nice little town, sure, but we thought you might enjoy seeing
what it's like in the big city," he prodded.
Some of the "treats" up for grabs: Corned beef sandwiches from Mann'y
Cafeteria & Delicatessen; tickets to the Tony-Award winning Steppenwolf
Theatre Company; a custom "Menino 13" Blackhawks Jersey; some Green Line
beer courtesy of Goose Island Beer Co.; and some leftover Sriracha hot sauce
from the Los Angeles mayor after they beat the Kings. And many more.
Mayor Menino, not to be outdone, fired back, though Emanuel gets cool points
for posting his challenge to Facebook versus Menino's typed PDF. (Seriously?)
Anyway, here's what Boston is offering should the Hawks skate away with the Cup:
The “Best of Boston's Local Foods,” foods that are grown or produced
right here in the Hub, including some of our abundant seafood;
Access to the City of Boston’s website for one day, to post a promotional video
touting Chicago and its great attractions – no profanities, please;
I’ll see your Steppenwolf with two tickets to the Tony Award-winning Huntington
Theatre Company, and raise you two tickets to Theo Epstein’s “Hot Stove, Cool Music”
concert in Boston;
And of course, I’ll match you a tree, to be planted in the schoolyard
of your choosing, highlighting our common commitment to education, parks and
I love how Menino requested Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, please refrain
from posting a bunch of F-bombs on the City of Boston website. As if Emanuel
would carpet-bomb the site with profanities before signing off, "F--k You
Boston! Love, Rahm".
This has so far been a super fun and exciting series. Made the more
entertaining by the cities respective mayors' willingness to put
their Tony Award-winning theater programs where their mouths are.
After the back-and-forth nonsense in Game 4, the Blackhawks and Bruins settled back into familiar roles on Saturday. Boston went back to its heavy forecheck, hoping to wear Chicago down. Spoiler alert: didn't happen. The Blackhawks' offense sliced and diced its way to a huge 3-1 win in Game 5 and now are a win away from another Stanley Cup.
Chicago cut through the usually rock-solid Boston defense early. Tuukka Rask was forced to make two great stops early on, and this one on Patrick Sharp was especially handsome.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been especially brilliant since reuniting on the Hawks' top line in Game 4. Boston simply had no answer for them. The Bruins' real problem all game long was their tightness (or lack thereof) on defense. Given tons of space to work with, the Blackhawks were able to swarm the net constantly. Kane cleaned up again in the second. If you read our preview of Game 5, we spoke about how Kane / Toews were starting something and it definitely worked in their favor in Game 5.
Swarming the net didn't come without a price. The Bruins finished their checks hard at the end of every scoring chance, and Toews got a taste of it when Johnny Boychuk filled him in. But was it a legal hit? The argument could be made that he targeted the head, and Toews' did miss the entire third period with an undisclosed injury. We just learned from NHL that Boychuk will not be suspended for his hit on Toews. Good news for the Bruins, who could really use it.
Meanwhile, Andrew Shaw continued to pay for being a pest. Also, Zdeno Chara had a rather poor game defensively, but he made things interesting with a goal in the third period.
It wasn't enough. Patrice Bergeron missed the entire second half of the game, and the Bruins couldn't get anything going in the offensive end. Chicago potted an empty-netter late to seal the 3-1 win.
Chicago is now one win away from the Stanley Cup, and the Hawks' opponent is facing a myriad of problems. Chara is not playing like a Norris Trophy winner. Bergeron was in the hospital. Boychuk could be suspended.
Boston tried to win Game 5 with force, but lost it to skill. Scissors beat rock. And pipe beat hockey stick.
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Following up the wildest Stanley Cup Final game in quite a while is a hell of a task, but the coaches of the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins are probably okay with not trying to top it in Game 5.After two days off, the Bruins and Blackhawks reconvene in Chicago for what is now a best-of-three for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup. The two teams are coming off a Game 4 in which 11 goals were scored, 80 shots were put on goal and nearly 70 minutes were played. These two teams probably could have used the rest, and the hope is that you'll see a couple of recharged teams, at least defensively and in net.
A lot of people are suggesting that Corey Crawford needs to be better, and that he got exposed during Game 4, in
which he was particularly weak on his glove side. That is true, but let's not forget: Tuukka Rask also played in that game, and gave up six goals of his own. Sure, he faced 14 more shots (47 to 33) than Crawford did, and some are bound to be out of his control, but regardless, the best goaltender in the postseason gave up six in a Stanley Cup Final game. That is borderline shocking.
The winner of this series is going to be the team that doesn't bother trying to get into a track meet like we did on
Wednesday. Five goals were scored in the second period, and everyone just kept playing catch-up.That's not how you win a playoff series, especially not the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins and Blackhawks need to return to a disciplined
defensive game. The loser of the series will likely have not completely done that.
Winning Game 5 is not exactly a guarantee of ultimate victory. It gives you a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup, for sure, but the numbers aren't as overwhelming as you'd think. The winner of Game 5 in a 2-2 series wins the Stanley Cup 68 percent of the time. While that is a two to one shot, you'd think it'd be even higher, wouldn't you? A 32 percent chance of taking two in a row isn't exactly the worst odds you could give one of these two clubs.
Which goaltender rebounds?
Like I said, both goaltenders need to rebound, but perhaps there was a little too much negative attention paid Corey Crawford's performance. Tuukka Rask will almost definitely never play a worse game on a big stage like that, and most likely neither will Crawford. But Crawford can't afford another bad game, because a legitimate
replacement in Ray Emery sits on the bench. At what point does he become an option? The two goalies in this series have fully emerged in the spotlight as far as the narrative goes, and will they now likely be the ones who decide the series.
Are Toews and Kane starting something?
Lost in the 11-goal shuffle on Wednesday night was that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both managed to score
goals. For Kane, it was his first of the series and first since his hat trick in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. For Toews, it was just his second goal in 21 games of postseason action. Toews has been excellent defensively, so his play gets a bit of a reprieve. Both players, however, must be hoping that this is a sign of things to come.
Can the Bruins defense return to stifling hockey?
Let's face it: if the Blackhawks have solved the Bruins defensive scheme, this series is over. Wednesday night proved,
once and for all, that the Hawks are the better team to run and gun, and the Bruins just can't keep up. The Bruins have their defensive system for a reason: for most of the postseason it worked, stopping some of the best offensive players on the planet. On Wednesday night, the Bruins gave up as many goals as they did in their four second round wins over the New York Rangers, total. That can't happen again if Boston wants a second Stanley Cup in three years.
Will the debut of Forward Carl Soderberg help the Bruins?
Forward Carl Soderberg appears poised to make his playoff debut for the Boston Bruins. The Boston Globe reports Soderberg subbed in for Kaspars Daugavins on the Bruins' fourth line (alongside Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton) for the majority of Friday’s practice.