Barcelona and Messi tipped for European glory

Neymar and Lionel Messi will be aiming to fire Barcelona to Champions League glory in Berlin
Neymar and Lionel Messi will be aiming to fire Barcelona to Champions League glory in Berlin

Juventus were hugely impressive as they deservedly got the better of Real Madrid over two legs in the Champions League semi-final.

But bookies don’t seem to have been swayed by the performance of the Italian champions in the last four and as a result they’re as high as 12/5 at Ladbrokes to go on and lift the trophy in Berlin on Saturday.

In part of course, this is because the Bianconeri come up against a tremendous Barcelona outfit that eased to a 5-3 aggregate success over Bayern Munich in the last round and as the Catalans giants always looked like they could score at will in that contest, they come in as William Hill’s 4/11 favourites to be crowned European champions for the fifth time; the first time since 2011.

Luis Enrique’s charges are also strongly fancied to prevail across the 90 minutes, bet365 rating them at 8/13 while Juve are BetVictor’s 5/1 underdogs to register a success in normal time and it’s 3/1 (Stan James) for the mouth watering clash to require extra-time.

Bet365 post 9/2 against a score draw, betway cater for those punters feeling a bit more ambitious by quoting a 1-1 scoreline at 7/1 and as the bookmakers have arguably underestimated Massimiliano Allegri’s men a touch, there’s likely to be money for them at 10/3 in Skybet’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market.

Barcelona’s attacking prowess, however, makes them impossible to oppose and although their opponents have the capacity to frustrate Luis Enrique’s troops, as well as give them plenty to think about at the other end, the Spanish champions get the nod.

Nevertheless, it should be a close encounter so Stan James’s 5/2 for Barca to nick it by a one-goal margin is one of the best bets at the Olympiastadion, where BetVictor offer 8/1 about a 2-1 victory for the Catalans side and it’s 7/2 courtesy of for them to emerge triumphant following a level first period.

It will surprise nobody to learn that Lionel Messi is Paddy Power’s 7/2 jolly to break the deadlock.

The Argentine maestro, who is the competition’s joint top scorer with 10, was instrumental as his team saw off Bayern in the semis and he has to be fancied to make an impact in this one.

Stan James make Messi a tasty 21/20 to notch at any time, he’s 9/2 (William Hill) to strike at least twice and BetVictor go 5/2 about the Barca man claiming the man of the match award – odds that have tumbled since his tremendous performance in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final.

Ireland and England collide in Dublin on Sunday in an international friendly ahead of the pair’s respective Euro 2016 qualifiers next weekend and it’s Roy Hodgson’s troops that get the nod from bookies, installing them as 11/10 favourites to prevail at the Aviva Stadium.

Stan James rate the hosts at 11/4 while bet365’s 23/10 about it finishing all square is sure to have its backers but the Three Lions have been in decent form and can perhaps afford to select a stronger team than their opponents in light of the duo’s qualifying situations so a narrow away success is arguably the most likely outcome.

Paddy Power post 13/5 against the visitors shading it by a one-goal margin, they’re 13/2 via William Hill to register a 1-0 success and Charlie Austin is 11/2 (BetVictor) to mark his England debut with the opening goal.

Amidst all of the controversy surrounding FIFA and the World Cup in 2022, it’s easy to forget that Qatar actually has a football team but it does and that side heads to Edinburgh this week to take on Scotland.

Betway go 2/5 about Gordon Strachan’s troops emerging victorious at Easter Road, where BetVictor rate the Qataris at 13/2 and it’s a generous 9/4 (Skybet) for the Scots to win ‘to nil’.

Warrington face Catalans Dragons in tomorrow’s (Friday) big televised Super League encounter and home advantage suggests it’s the Wolves that will claim the spoils.

Bookies agree, betway’s 2/7 the best on offer about a home win and the hosts are worth an interest at 10/11 in BetVictor’s handicaps, where they start a dozen points adrift of the French outfit.

Bet of the week: Lionel Messi to be man of the match in the Champions League final – 5/2 (BetVictor).

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