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Portugal V Mexico, Confederations cup

Semi final time and you would have been a brave man to bet against the 4 that got through doing just that. Clearly the best 4 sides in the comp and what will now have a very interesting final no matter the results in the semi’s.

Mexico are a very solid side. they don’t have the names of the other 3 but their domestic league is always under valued for the quality it contains. They will match ball retention and have some very good players.

However at 2.4 we think Portugal are great value. Ronaldo gives them the ability to finish off what they create and in big knock out games that is what you need. It’s the last comp when he will be at his absolute best and so we think he will want this one.

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England U21 V Germany U 21

English football has had a good summer at the more junior levels. Winning the U 20 world cup was massive as it creates history which motivates players to try to do it again. It also sends players into senior tournaments in the future with a clear idea of how to win.

Tactically the Under 21’s play the same way as the under 20’s did and it is working.

They face a step up in class tonight though as Germany are a very solid side. It’s unlikely England will get too many chances so to win they have to be clinical.

We think at 3.1 with Bet365 they could well be just that though.

England have the face and physical strength to compete with Germany, if we score the chances we make we should win.

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix review

Daniel Ricciardo wins a bonkers race in Baku, which featured enough chaos and controversy for an entire F1 season.
Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo went from 17th to first in a crazy race
Ricciardo went from 17th to first in a crazy race© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 10th, finished 1st. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, did not finish.

Sometimes, words aren’t necessary or appropriate in sport, which is why Ricciardo’s initial reaction to his fifth career win – to burst into laughter – was as spot-on as his driving. The Australian made a rare mistake and crashed in qualifying to start from 10th on the grid, and all looked lost when he had to pit on lap five with his brake temperatures reaching critical levels after picking up some of the debris that littered the circuit after a manic first lap. But Ricciardo stuck with it, and made one of the moves of the season when he sliced past Williams duo Stroll and Massa into the first corner on the re-start after the lap 22 red flag to put himself into podium contention.
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes took pole position at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Hamilton looked set for a victory, until …© Daimler AG

Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 5th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 2nd, finished 2nd.

Remember when the Hamilton v Vettel title battle looked set to be a fierce fight where respect remained on both sides? Forget that now, as the gloves well and truly came off in Baku. Did Hamilton brake-test Vettel at the lap 20 race re-start after the safety car, causing Vettel to run into him? Should Vettel have pulled alongside Hamilton and deliberately banged wheels against the Mercedes driver in retaliation? Two wrongs don’t make a right, but the stewards decided that Vettel’s actions were worse and worthy of a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, taking him out of the equation for the win. That victory would surely have been Hamilton’s had the Briton not been called into the pits for safety reasons as the headrest of his car was coming loose, and after Hamilton could only recover to fifth – behind Vettel – the three-time world champion let Vettel have it, calling the German’s driving “a disgrace” before adding “if he wants to prove he is a man we should do it out of the car, we should do it face to face.”

For Bottas, to finish where he started was little short of a miracle after the first lap, where he clattered into Raikkonen’s Ferrari at Turn 2, limped back to the pits with a puncture and was a lap down and dead-last, and then stole second from Stroll at the finish line on the last of the 51 laps. Ordinarily, the Finn’s recovery drive would have been raved about as one for the ages, but his superb efforts were little more than a footnote on a day of chaos and controversy.

When Vettel was penalised and Hamilton forced to pit, Ricciardo inherited the lead, and if we know one thing about the Honey Badger, he’s not a man to let a chance to win a race go begging. Bizarrely, all five of Ricciardo’s F1 victories have come from outside the top three on the grid. While Red Bull celebrated, it was hard not to be sympathetic to Verstappen’s plight, especially after the Dutchman out-qualified noted Saturday specialist Ricciardo for the fourth race running. Engine problems had him out after just 12 laps as he was fighting with Perez for what was third place, which, given what unfolded behind him later on, could well have been a battle for the top step of the podium. Verstappen has now had four non-finishes – all through no fault of his own – in the past six races.
Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari drives at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Raikkonen was out of luck in Azerbaijan© Ferrari Media

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 4th, finished 4th. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 3rd, did not finish.

We’ve given Hamilton his say on the incident with Vettel, so what of the Ferrari driver’s view? “It was quite obvious, I didn’t run into the back of him on purpose,” Vettel said. “I damaged my wing, I think he had a little bit of damage as well. Nothing that would have impacted on the race. It’s just not the way to do it. He’s done it a couple of times.” Vettel’s insistence that he had no idea why he’d been penalised for driving into the side of Hamilton was either ignorance or gamesmanship in the extreme, but to come out of Azerbaijan with a greater advantage in the title race over Hamilton (from 12 points to 14) was a victory of sorts after having to serve such a costly penalty in the pits. Raikkonen spent most of the race being hit by rivals (Bottas) or running over debris scattered by other cars hitting one another, and destroyed the floor of his car when he insisted on driving it rather too quickly back to the pits after a puncture on lap 20. Ferrari managed to fix the problem to get the Finn back out on circuit after the lengthy red flag stoppage, but he tooled around towards the back before calling it quits three laps from home.
Force India
Esteban Ocon drives for Force India at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Did Ocon cost his team a double podium?© Sahara Force India

Sergio Perez: qualified 6th, did not finish. Esteban Ocon: qualified 7th, finished 6th.

Force India said it would allow its drivers to fight after its contentious race in Canada, and that decision came back to bite them after Ocon and Perez clashed at the lap 20 re-start after the safety car, Perez losing his front wing and Ocon suffering a puncture as the pink cars tripped over one another, Ocon clouting the kerb at the second corner and running straight into his team-mate. Perez’s run of 37 race finishes in a row came to an inglorious end, while Ocon briefly looked set to finish third before the out-of-position trio of Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton swept by in the final 10 laps. Given what happened to the cars ahead of them later on, could Force India have thrown away a chance of victory?
Williams
Lance Stroll drives for Williams at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Stroll belied his youth with a stirring drive© Williams/LAT Photographic

Felipe Massa: qualified 9th, did not finish. Lance Stroll: qualified 8th, finished 3rd.

Being in the right place at the right time counted for plenty in Baku, but Stroll’s result, while better than expected, was an appropriate reward for a clean weekend of pace and consistency. The Canadian teen barely put a foot wrong in practice, out-qualified veteran team-mate Massa for the first time on Saturday, and was entirely convincing on Sunday as he kept his head where plenty didn’t, becoming the first Canadian since Jacques Villeneuve 16 years ago to finish inside the top three. He looked more bothered about tasting the inevitable Ricciardo podium shoey after the race than being pipped at the post by Bottas. Massa was desperately unlucky not to be in the mix for big points and perhaps a podium himself, the Brazilian showing plenty of fight before a rear suspension issue ended his day on lap 25.
McLaren
Fernando Alonso drives for McLaren at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Alonso finally scored McLaren’s first 2017 points© McLaren-Honda

Fernando Alonso: qualified 16th, finished 9th. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 19th, finished 12th.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said Azerbaijan was the “most painful weekend I’ve ever had” after both McLarens were bleeding upwards of 20kph on the straight and had 75 places of engine component grid penalties (Alonso 40, Vandoorne 35) between them heading into the race. Given that build-up, it was astonishing that both cars made it to the finish, and Alonso scored the team’s first points of the year in ninth. But the Spaniard couldn’t help but wonder if, with an engine that could at least match their rivals for straight-line grunt, whether McLaren could have won. “Hamilton lost his headrest, Vettel was penalised, both the Force Indias were out, Kimi retired …,” he said afterwards.
Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz drives for Toro Rosso at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Sainz fought hard after his lap one spin© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 12th, finished 8th.

The chances of Sainz scoring points looked remote when he was facing the wrong way and last after turn one, the Spaniard having to take evasive action to miss his team-mate as Kvyat cut back onto the circuit after running wide at the start. With chaos coming by the lap, Sainz stayed cool, and four points was the result. Kvyat’s race didn’t last long, the Russian’s car completely shutting down with an electrical failure on lap 10 and causing the first safety car, which set the stage for the insane race that followed.
Haas
Romain Grosjean of Haas seen at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Grosjean sounded dejected all weekend© Haas F1 Team

Romain Grosjean: qualified 17th, finished 13th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 13th, finished 7th.

Magnussen was outstanding in Baku, the Dane running in the podium places as the various penalties and accidents played out, and he was still third with 13 laps left before the Bottas-Vettel-Hamilton train swept past. Still, six points in one fell swoop – when you’ve only scored five in the previous seven Grands Prix – made his afternoon, in his own words, “great”. Grosjean had very little to say at all after the race after spending most of the weekend moaning to his team over the radio about a lack of confidence with his brakes, and then to the media that said moaning was being reported on and broadcast by the world TV feed.
Renault
Jolyon Palmer drives for Renault at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Palmer is under mounting pressure to perform© Renault Sport

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 20th, did not finish. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 14th, did not finish.

One remarkable stat from a remarkable race: nine of the 10 teams had a car finish in the points in Baku, with Renault the one to miss out. Palmer was the first retiree with engine problems on lap eight after his car had barbequed itself because of a fuel leak on Saturday, while Hulkenberg hit the wall at Turn 7 on lap 25 in an uncharacteristic error to join his team-mate on the sidelines.
Sauber
Pascal Wehrlein drives for Sauber at the 2017 Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix.
Wehrlein scored a precious point for Sauber© Sauber F1 Team

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The Open 2017

Another U.S. Open is in the books and there will be plenty of time to let Brooks Koepka’s dominant showing at Erin Hills simmer. Really analyze what this first major victory means for the 27-year-old bomber who made it to the PGA Tour via the Challenge and European Tours.

Let’s forgo all that for now and turn our attention ahead to the 2017 British Open. It will be tough to top that epic Henrik Stenson-Phil Mickelson battle last year at Royal Troon, but this annual trip across the pond rarely fails to deliver the the drama.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2017 British Open coming up July 20-23.

The course: Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England.

This classic course has hosted the Open nine times, most recently in 2008 when Padraig Harrington won his second straight Open championship. His daring approach on 17 which led to eagle and ultimately a four-shot victory is still fresh in our minds as the world’s best prepare to take on Royal Birkdale yet again. Featuring small fairways and sand dunes around the greens, accuracy is a must at this par-70, 7,156-yard venue. Camilo Vilegas’ 5-under 65 was the lowest score from any player in 2008.

The favorites: As of Thursday, Paddy Power lists Dustin Johnson as the heavy favorite at 7/1 odds. That’s no surprise given how dominant he’s been, and we fully expect him to stay the favorite despite a missed cut last week at Erin Hills. Here’s what the top of the board looks like:

Dustin Johnson –10/1

Jordan Spieth – 12/1

Rory McIlroy – 12/1

Sergio Garcia – 18/1

Rickie Fowler – 16/1

Jason Day – 16/1

Henrik Stenson – 18/1

Hideki Matsuyama – 18/1

Justin Rose – 20/1

Jon Rahm – 22/1

Adam Scott – 25/1

Phil Mickelson – 25/1

Trending: Koepka’s win at Erin Hills makes it seven straight first-time major winners, dating back to Jason Day’s 2015 PGA Championship win at Whistling Straights. That’s a lot of new blood in the majors club and points to the amount of depth and overall parity on Tour these days. Might we see this trend continue in England? Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler were firmly in the hunt Sunday at the U.S. Open and are maybe the best two players in the game without a major title. Fowler has been close at the British Open before, finishing T-5 in 2011 and T-2 in 2014. Matsuyama finished T-6 in 2013 but missed the cut a year ago. Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker are a few others looking to break through and add a defining victory to their resumes.

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Wimbledon 2017

It’s hard to remember a tournament in South West London more open than this one.

The big 4 have dominated the mens game for a decade now and its hard to pick their long term successor from the pack.

The ever green Federer leads the betting at 3.75 on what is without doubt his best surface. However he has been out injured and is not as sharp around court anyway as he used to be, class player but we think too short to take a punt on in such a long tournament. One of the reasons the big 4 have won so many titles at the slams is that they are able to win the early rounds in three quick sets. Just winning the games is now as tough for them as the pack.

Next in the betting we have world number 1 Murray. he is the defending champion and at home. That does offset some of his recent poor form. He got to the semi final stage in Paris and so is back up a level from the early season dross he served up. Still at just 4.5 with Coral its hard to make a case.

Nedal comes next at 6.0 with Hills. If we were going to back one of the big 4 then this would be our man. He has been resting for a couple of years and that seems to have fixed some previous issues. He will be confident given his rivals struggles and could well take this one as well.

Djokovic is in at 4 at 7.0 with Betfred. In our view the best of the 4 at his best. Just a supreme tennis player in all departments. However the Serbian is so far from that at the moment that we would want 15 to get involved, so at just 7.0 no chance for us, a big lay.

We actually like Raonic at 15.0. He got to the final last year and apart from Murray being at his best he would have walked off with the trophy. he has the power to win the early rounds in 3 sets without burning himself out.

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England V South Africa, Thursday the 6th of July

England have had a pretty good summer of white ball cricket so far. They lost the biggest match they played against Pakistan but have won everything else.

The test team is lead by Root for the first time and so all eyes will be on Lords to see how he does in his first run out. England have huge problems with their batting and bowling for this one.

Anderson and Broad are fading powers at the highest level and with Woakes injury the pace attack is looking the weakest it has in years.

At the top of the innnings then Hameed cannot be picked as his form has been awful. Thats means Root Cook and Bairstow will continue to have to do most of the lifting.

All in all we like South Africa if you can get them at 4/1 + for the first test.

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Tour de France 2017

This opening stage will give time trial specialists with no overall aspirations the chance to pull on the yellow jersey, and will also set a benchmark for which GC contenders appear to have the best legs.

Defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) is an accomplished time triallist, so the opening TT will be a chance for him to put some early time into the likes of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Chris Froome is an accomplished time triallist, good news for stage one of the 2017 Tour de France

However, anyone wishing to wear yellow into Paris three weeks later will be reluctant to take the overall lead this early on.

Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) was the stand-out performer in 2016 with his fourth place overall and victory in the young rider classification. Expected to line-up next to his twin brother Simon in 2017, the duo should be able to push bigger name GC riders for a podium place.

Alberto Contador put off his expected retirement to have one last crack at victory in the Tour de France, and after being forced out of the 2016 edition due to crashes and illness, he’ll be hungrier than ever for one last win to put him on the top step at a Grand Tour.

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The route looks less mountainous than 2016, which could further suit Froome, but his victory is never assured until he’s put significant daylight between himself and his rivals.

A tactical howler from Team Sky at the 2016 Vuelta a España saw the British rider lose more time to Quintana on one stage than he lost by in total by the end of the race.

The organisers have been open about the fact that the 2017 Tour de France route has been designed to encourage attacking racing, which was lacking in 2016 – with the exception of Romain Bardet’s (ag2r La Mondiale) brilliant ride in the final week to take second overall.

Romain Bardet riding to victory on stage 19 of the 2016 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

In news that will please spectators more than commentators, each and every one of the Tour de France’s 21 stages will be shown live from start to finish in 2017.

For the first time since it launched in 2014, La Course by Le Tour de France will be held away from the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The women’s peloton will ride part of the men’s stage 18, which is also where L’Étape du Tour sportive will take place.

The women’s race will not reach the same summit as the men’s race or the amateur sportive, which has led to criticism from some fans.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) won his third Tour de France title in Paris, riding through the final stage and onto the podium on the Champs Élysées.

Froome finished the race four minutes and five second ahead of second-placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), and 4-21 ahead of third-placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Chris Froome, Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana on the Tour de France podium (Sunada)

British rider Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) topped off a breakthrough Grand Tour performance with the white jersey of best young rider and fourth place overall.

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) topped the points classification, with team-mate Rafal Majka in the polka-dot jersey of the King of the Mountains.

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) took his second consecutive victory on the Champ Élysées to take his sole stage win in the Tour. He sprinted ahead of Sagan, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in third.

The 2016 Grand Départ saw the riders leave from the picturesque Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy on July 2, with a stage finishing in Utah Beach to commemorate the D-Day landings. The stage was won by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), and would prove to be the first of four stage victories. Cavendish would also wear the coveted maillot jaune of race leader for the first time in his career.

The race headed south from Normandy, eventually arriving in the Pyrenees and onto Andorra for the race’s first high mountain stages. On stage eight, Froome launched a daring downhill attack, distancing all of his rivals to take the race lead. The yellow jersey would then stay with him through the remainder of the race, as it headed east through the Alps.

1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky in 86-21-40
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 4-05
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 4-21
4. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange at 4-42
5. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC at 5-17
6. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar at 6-16
7. Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha at 6-58
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida at 6-58
9. Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx-Quick Step at 7-04
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff at 7-11

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Can the Lions bounce back?

Any thoughts that this Lions team could smash New Zealand aside were well and truely removed by the battering they took in the 1st test. Both sides are fantastic rugby teams,right up there in the all time great sides, however its New Zealand who have that extra level of magic.

It’s hard to see a way for the Lions to turn this around now. Starts are so important and the Lions blew it. That extra ounce of pressure on every play means for us New Zealand look like great value at 1.33 with Hills.

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2017 NBA Finals

OAKLAND, Calif. — This 2017 Golden State Warriors championship was as much a tribute to LeBron James as it was a triumph over him. The fact that the Warriors needed to add Kevin Durant to the core of a team that won 73 regular-season games and pushed James to the brink of elimination in the 2016 NBA Finals was just as relevant as the compulsion Durant felt to join this team in order to get a ring.

It’s not as simple as “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” When Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 lead of their own to the Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference finals, Durant had still won two more games against Stephen Curry than he did against James the first time they squared off in the 2012 NBA Finals. Curry, he could beat. Probably should’ve beat. But they needed to align to defeat James and Kyrie Irving.

“LeBron was the driving force,” a Durant confidant said of his league-changing decision to join the Warriors.
2017 NBA Finals: Full coverage

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So Durant made the necessary choice. He left the only franchise he had played for since his rookie season in 2007-08. He endured the ridicule, the questions about his fortitude. He did it all for these moments, several of them really, building all season and throughout the 129-120 victory in Game 5. There was a slight fist pump to the crowd as Curry shot free throws. There were the half-skips, half-gallops after making big shots in the fourth quarter. There was the bend over near midcourt with less than a minute left in the game as he tried to inhale the magnitude of it all, while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala exhorted him to keep playing and finish it off. (No one is more qualified to speak on the importance of finishing it off than the members of the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors).

Finally, after the confetti fell and the stage was hastily erected on the court and the Warriors and their family members celebrated, did you notice that Durant held the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy up with two hands, for much longer than the quick, one-handed pump of the Bill Russell award for the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player?

The big one was the more meaningful one. The slender Russell award felt like a foregone conclusion two games in, and it was voted unanimously by an 11-member media panel after Durant averaged 35 points, eight rebounds and five assists during the series. Durant outscored James in three of the five games. Durant had a bigger impact, even though James averaged a triple-double in the series. Durant was the story of Game 3, even though James and Irving combined for 77 points, because Durant scored the seven biggest points in crunch time.