Confederations Cup looks set to be a two-horse race

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Bookies believe the Confederations Cup is something of a two-horse race between hosts Brazil and Spain, who are both way out in front in the betting.

The Selecao are current favourites at 13/8 via William Hill and as they’ll be keen to put on a show in front of their own supporters, using the tournament as a warm-up for next year’s World Cup, it’s easy to see why.

Similarly, it’s not difficult to make a case for BetVictor’s 15/8 chances Spain, whose credentials don’t need any scrutinising given that they head to Brazil as world and European champions.

Italy (7/1, Stan James) can’t be discounted of course having reached the final of Euro 2012, Uruguay and Mexico are 10/1 (Paddy Power) and 12/1 (bet365) respectively, but it’s hard to overlook the two market leaders.

Ultimately however it’s Felipe Scolari’s charges, aided by home advantage, that get the nod. In their own backyard they might play with a higher intensity than their opponents and as they are hosting next year’s World Cup and subsequently don’t have to qualify, they will be keen to take advantage of some rare competitive action in preparation for the 2014 finals.

Naturally, as Brazil and Spain are so far out front in the markets, they’re just 11/4 at BetVictor to contest the final, which is 5/1 via Skybet to feature Scolari’s side and the Italians.

Home favourite Neymar meanwhile, perhaps not surprisingly, is well fancied in the top scorer. Barcelona’s recent capture is an 8/1 shot at BetVictor to top the scoring charts, ahead of Liverpool’s want-away front man Luis Suarez, a 9/1 chance courtesy of Ladbrokes.

Also at 9/1, this time with bet365, is Spain’s David Villa and the same firm chalk in-demand Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani up at a slightly heftier 10/1.

The Lions continued their preparation for the Test series against Australia with a 64-0 victory over the Combined Country XV in Newcastle and the tourists’ results to date mean they have hardened as favourites at 8/13 via Stan James to eventually beat the Wallabies (7/4, Skybet) over the three matches.

William Hill quote a 3-0 whitewash in favour of the Lions at 5/2, with a 2-1 success considered marginally more likely at an enticing 2/1 (BetVictor) while for pessimists the Aussies are 3/1 courtesy of bet365 to finish on the right side of a 2-1 scoreline across the trio of Tests.

The Lions helped themselves to 64 points in the last warm-up game but they will find scoring a touch harder when it comes to the big ones. Indeed, bookies are taking bets on whether Warren Gatland’s men will manage 65 points in total in all three games against the Wallabies, Ladbrokes marking 5/6 against them racking up more and bet365 pricing the Lions at evens to fail to reach that mark.

The first encounter is in Brisbane a week on Saturday and it’s 4/6 courtesy of Stan James to be won by Gatland’s troops, who are 10/11 at BetVictor to cover the hosts’ four-point advantage in the handicaps.

Meanwhile, in the next tour match on Saturday, bookies expect another comfortable Lions success, Paddy Power making them 10/11 to beat NSW Waratahs by more than 24 in Sydney.

England have been cut to 4/9 by Stan James to win the Ashes after Australian opener David Warner’s altercation with Joe Root.

Warner was dropped for his side’s ICC Champions Trophy clash with New Zealand on Wednesday as allegations emerged that he had physically attacked the England batsman in a Birmingham bar.

The ECB later confirmed that an incident had taken place and as a result Stan James trimmed Alistair Cook’s men to retain the urn while Australia were pushed out to 7/2 by bet365.

BetVictor meanwhile, have opened a market on who will score the most runs in the Ashes between Warner and Joe Root, should the former avoid being sent home and they go 10/11 the pair.

Bet of the week: Brazil and Spain to reach Confederations Cup final – 11/4 (BetVictor)

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