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Two of Europe’s Most Successful Clubs Get Ready to Battle for Champions League Glory

Posted on | May 15, 2018 | No Comments

European football’s night of nights is upon us once again as we get ready to watch Liverpool and Real Madrid battle it out in the Champions League final. It promises to be a spectacular event with both teams having an extremely successful history in the competition. The match will be played in Kiev, Ukraine, at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in front of a fully packed house of 70,000 fans.

Real have won the tournament a record 12 times and are the reigning champs after defeating Italian side Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff last year. It was the first time a club had won consecutive titles and their third Champions League title in four years.

Liverpool also have a rich history in the league, having won five titles with the last being back in 2005 against AC Milan. The Reds came back from a 3-0 deficit at half-time to stun the Italian giants and push the game to penalties. Some superb goalkeeping from Jerzy Dudek and a cool head from Liverpool’s penalty takers ensured that the coveted trophy returned back to Anfield once again.

This year’s final is expected to be a high scoring affair with Liverpool being the competition’s highest-scoring side with 40, and Madrid in second on 30. The Spanish giants will go into the match as favourites at 6/5 though, with the Reds currently 21/10 according to this link at William Hill’s betting website.

The tournament’s all-time leading goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the bookmakers’ choice to draw first blood at 3/1, and will be a major attacking threat for Real having scored 15 goals already in the competition. The Portuguese superstar is not only magnificent during normal play, but has one of the most lethal boots in world football when it comes to free kicks. The key for the English side will be to shut Ronaldo out of the game as much as possible, forcing Madrid to use their other attacking options instead.

Liverpool however, have a much more even spread when it comes to their key forwards, with the fantastic trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane tearing apart team’s defences on their way to the final. Salah and Firmino lead the way for the English side with an impressive ten goals apiece, with Mane right behind them scoring nine.

Although Liverpool are the underdogs heading into the match, the ability to score goals from a range of different positions is sure to cause a few headaches for the Madrid defence. Their midfield has also played a large part in the journey to Kiev, with James Milner leading the competition for assists with nine.

Stopping Ronaldo is the key if the Reds have any chance of lifting the trophy and it looks like they may have had some help from Liverpool’s football gods. Cristiano picked up an ankle injury in the recent 2-2 Classico draw against fierce rivals Barcelona, and some football experts think it may be more serious than the club is letting on. Madrid will feel that they have to start him but it could prove costly if he aggravates the injury and needs to be substituted. It would surely open the game wide open and Liverpool’s offensive style could see the momentum shift the English side’s way.

Will the Spanish side continue its dominance in Europe or are the glory days about to return to Anfield? In a few short weeks, we will have the answer to the question on every football fan’s lips. It’s going to be a sensational night of football as spectators from all over the world tune in to see who will be crowned the champions of Europe.

The Future of Sports Betting – What to Look Out For

Posted on | May 3, 2018 | No Comments

Although online casinos and online bingo sites have become increasingly popular over the last decade, particularly since there’s been an increase in operators making a move towards mobile-friendly software platforms, the biggest success story in the online gambling industry has almost always been sports betting.

Lately, however, revenues for online sports betting have taken a worrying dip, according to gaming industry market researchers, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. Plus, with an ever-widening number of sources now providing punters with access to sports betting statistics, and a dynamic shift towards placing bets on smartphones and tablets, it begs the question, “what is the future of sports betting”?

Better use of data

New and emerging technologies are both enticing to operators and consumers alike. The brains behind some of the UK’s top rated online sports betting sites have begun investing heavily in data analysis. With such a vast amount of information available about the modern consumer’s shopping habits, web browsing habits, and social interactions, businesses have the opportunity to better target their marketing efforts and offer their customers a more personalised experience.

Tailored marketing campaigns are likely to be well-received by sports betting customers as, according to a recent survey performed by Talend, 67% of UK gamblers say that they would be more likely to stay loyal to online bookies that offer a more personalised service. A further 72% say they feel that UK online bookmakers are not currently doing enough to offer this type of individualised service.

For online sports betting operators, tapping into such data could give them an increased advantage, and the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) software could give them a better insight into customer trends, patterns, and behaviours.

Data intelligence also has the power to analyse sports betting statistics such as football scoring patterns, resulting in the operators being able to offer their customers better and more accurate odds.

Taking a more proactive approach to problem gambling

It’s not just Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) that have been blamed for the rise in problem gambling in the last few years. Due to the isolating nature of online betting, it’s easier for players’ wagering to get out of control without being detected.

However, AI software stands a better chance of identifying gambling additions through data analysis and forecasting, and could also help to flag up players who are at risk of developing an addition before it becomes a major problem.

By taking a more proactive role in preventing online gambling addiction, sports betting operators could gain a more positive public image while also helping their customers to have a more enjoyable experience by gambling responsibly.

Improved mobile platforms

Since the shift towards mobile gambling, which allows consumers to place bets on the move, online sports betting sites have taken measures to provide mobile sports betting software platforms. As the user experience on a desktop can differ considerably to that offered by a mobile device, operators will need to work harder to make their apps and web-based sites more attractive to customers.

With 80% of people aged 18 and over now owning smartphones, the potential for online gambling operators to increase their revenues in the mobile market is huge. Therefore, we expect to see significant growth in this sector as sports betting brands introduce innovative new features and additional marketing incentives to stay ahead of the competition.

Virtual reality wagers

Big names in the online gaming industry, including NetEnt and Microgaming, are already turning their attention to virtual reality so that they can offer consumers a fully immersive playing experience. While it’s easier for online operators to increase the appeal of their brands via VR casino games and slots, there’s no reason why sports betting brands can’t also hitch a ride on the virtual reality train.

In fact, companies like Bet On VR are already working on virtual sports betting app development, which they predict to be the “new sports betting phenomenon” in coming months and years. As live sporting events only occur at specific times of the day and are subject to being postponed, gamblers may become increasingly inclined to take advantage of virtual sports games which can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. By simply putting on a VR headset, sports fans can enjoy the feeling of being in a live stadium, cheering on their favourite teams while simultaneously placing wagers.

Gamification

While we’ve seen a number of emerging online casinos use gamification as a way to stand out from the crowd and attract customers (e.g. Casumo, Ikibu, and Fantasino are just a few examples), it’s not a trend that’s as easily applied to online sports betting. However, Hero Gaming’s Betser has successfully integrated gamification elements into its website to create “the first sports betting adventure”. Players can compete against their fellow players in sports leagues, and earn “balls” by placing bets with odds of 8.0 or more and “brains” by placing bets with odds of 1.25 to 7.99. Both balls and brains can be exchanged for free bets and free spins.

Champions League semi-finals preview 2018

Posted on | April 24, 2018 | No Comments

The Champions League reaches the semi-finals stage this week, with two mouth-watering ties scheduled to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Liverpool and Roma go head-to-head in the first leg of their tie on Tuesday, while Bayern Munich and Real Madrid meet the following day. The return legs are set to take place on May 1 & 2.

Read on as we preview both semi-final ties.

Liverpool vs Roma

Liverpool haven’t won the Champions League since 2005, but their quarter-final victory over highly-fancied Manchester City raised hopes that they could end that barren run.

However, Roma’s second leg performance against Barcelona in the previous round showed that it would be foolish to underestimate them.

The Serie A side were beaten 4-1 by Barcelona in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, but they battled back in the return game to win 3-0 and progress to the last four on away goals.

The Reds are priced at 2/5 with bet365 to qualify for the final, with Roma available at 7/4.

Liverpool comfortably progressed through the group stages without losing a game, and they have seen off both Porto and Man City in the knockout rounds.

Roma finished top of their group above Chelsea and Atletico Madrid in the first stage and their subsequent victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Barca will give them confidence that they can defeat Liverpool.

Mohamed Salah continued his superb form for Liverpool with his 41st goal of the season at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday and he is priced at 11/5 to score two or more goals on Tuesday.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid

Bayern Munich face holders Real Madrid in the last four of the Champions League aiming to reach the final for the first time since 2013.

Bayern booked their place in the semi-finals with a 2-1 aggregate success against Sevilla, while Real needed Cristiano Ronaldo’s last minute penalty to see off Juventus 4-3 overall.

The German club are priced at Evens to progress to the final, with Madrid on offer at 3/4.

Grand National history – Most Successful Jockey’s

Posted on | April 11, 2018 | No Comments

With the Grand National just around the corner it is good to look back through the history and how the race has got to where it is.

That is the now 500 to 600 million viewers who are expected from around the world to tune into the event. One horse that took the race to a new level is three time winner Red Rum.

Between the years of 1973 and 1977, Red Rum was the dominant National horse with three first place finishes and two runner up spots in the intervening years. His comeback victory in the 1977 National is one of the most memorable in the sports history and was even voted as one of the greatest sporting moments of all time back in a UK poll in 2002.

A true great National horse but what about the most successful Jockey’s in the history of the race? Check out the infographic below to find out, and they may just surprise you.

Looking ahead to the 2018 edition of the race and one horse who is continuing to come in for money is the Irish trained Tiger Roll. You can bet on the Grand National and the horse is currently in at odds of 12/1 with Paddy Power. Another horse who has been subject to a lot of money recently is another Irish horse in Anibale Fly.

He is coming into the race following an eye catching staying on third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup so must have a leading chance for the race.

A look back at the 2012 Grand National

Posted on | April 9, 2018 | No Comments

With the most popular horse race in the world fast approaching, anticipation is continuing to build. Many people are looking for the Grand National odds for Saturday with the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall now heading the betting as the 10/1 clear favourite. The race looks as competitive as ever with many key contenders such as last year’s fourth Blaklion, Gold Cup third Anibale Fly and the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase winner Tiger Roll. All three horses look tailor-made for the race and bring in top class form.

The race has showcased some stunning performances over the years with many of them living long in the memory for racing fans. Whether it be the early days of the dominating era of five-time winning jockey George Stevens, in the mid-19th century, or the stunning performance from the mighty Golden Miller in 1934 who became the first and only horse to win the National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year. A Grand National article could not be written without mentioning the greatest of the all in Red Rum who is the only three time winner of the race and amazingly also finished second in two other attempts. Blaklion’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has been echoing the horse’s similarities to Red Rum so this could be a focus for many looking for top tips for Grand National.

However, looking to more recent times, one race that provided one of the most stunning finisheswas the 2012 Grand National. Going into the contest the race looked to be as competitive as ever with joint 8/1 favourites in Seabass and Shakalakaboomboom and the 2011 winner in Ballabriggs at 12/1. The eventual winner was Neptune Collonges who entered the race as the 33/1 outsider for trainer Paul Nicholls. He carried a huge weight of 11 stone 6lb to victory and became just the fifth horse to win off 11 stone or more in the last 23 years.

This was another key indicator of how the change to the way the weights are awarded for the contesthas had such a positive effect on the race. This has meant that the superior horses are contesting the race and have more chance of winning when they are not having to give vast amounts of weight away to the rest of the field. Neptune Collonges certainly fits the bill as a classy horse as he finished his career with 16 victoriesfrom his 36 starts under rules. This included a third place finish in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup behind legends Denman and Kauto Star and then a fourth place finish in the 2009 running of that same race behind the same two previously mentioned stars.

Neptune entered the race following several improving efforts throughout the season and a second in the Grand National trial at Haydock. The 2012 National finished in a time of 9 minutes and 5.1 seconds showing the race was run at a good gallop. Both Neptune Collonges and the eventual second Sunnyhillboy sat in mid division with the Henderson-trained joint favourite Shakalakaboomboom making much of the running. Neptune was continuing to be pushed along even with several fences still to jump as eight horses went clear of the rest of the field,however Neptune continued to find for rider Daryl Jacob. Sunnyhillboy took up the race approaching the last and jumped it just in front of the gallant Seabass with Neptune continuing to battle and coming in third. As they came around the elbow Sunnyhillboy put two lengths between himself and Neptune Collonges which looked to be a race winning moveas Seabass began to paddle.

With 150 yards to go the deficit was still two lengths as Sunnyhillboy looked set to land the Grand National for the famous team of trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus. Neptune was still battling and, with the finishing post fast approaching, the grey began to get alongside, producing a head bobbing finish to the race. This provided one of the most stunning and memorable finishes to the race and connections had a long wait as the close photo finish was decided. The result was called and Neptune Collonges became the first winner of the race for trainer Paul Nicholls with his 52nd runner. The scenes of celebration following the result from connections were memorable and owner John Hales was remembered for his emotional tribute to the horse both prior to the race and following it as he was retired on the spot after this victory.

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