Archive for April, 2010
Even for a UEFA Champions League semifinal, this game surpassed the expectations. Barcelona went all out. The team was dominant, it’s passing ability was as smooth as ever, yet Inter’s defense just proved impenetrable.
Inter Milan’s mastermind Jose Mourinho made a last minute substitution in the starting XI. He started defender Christian Chivu instead of striker Goran Pandev. This decision alone fired up the controversy. Mourinho could only have made this change if he Pandev had got injured in the preliminaries. It’s hard to say if the striker was injured or not, but bringing in an extra defender surly worked out for Inter Milan’s best interest in the long-run.
28 minutes into the game, Inter lost Thiago Motta for a hand-off on Sergio Busquets. After theb Belgian referee Frank de Bleeckere showed him the red card, he man-handled Busquets before leaving the pitch. This action only aggravates the already tense atmosphere.
The Nou Camp was packed with over 95.000 fans who kept chanting all game long. In the field, Inter’s stoic defense made their best effort to keep Barcelona’s key players under control. Sure enough, all Barcelona’s offensive lineup had a chance to score. Xavi Alonso had two separate chances from short distances, but he was hard-pressed by close-by defenders. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had another good shot but the ball was blocked by Walter Samuel.
The best efforts came from Lionel Messi. The fast and agile Argentinean kept trying to attack from different distances. One of his shots was just barely tipped wide by goalkeepers Julio Cesar. Not much action came from Inter Milan. The team stayed in the back trying to defend their 3-1 lead in the first leg.
In the second half, and with little over 6 minutes left in regulation time, Gerard Pique, picked up a perfect pass from Xavi. He made an impeccable swivel and shot to his right, making the only goal of the match. For the first time in the match, Barcelona and its fans had the feeling that they might just be able to pull it off.
And they were pretty darn close. Bojan Krkic came close when he scored from inside Inter’s penalty area. But the referee had given a hand-ball against Yaya Toure in the play buildup. And that was it. The game ended shortly after.
Now Mourinho and the Inter Milan are going to have to face Louis Van Gaal and the Bayern Munich, next month in the Final game at Real Madrid’s legendary stadium Santiago Bernabeu. Sportsbook industry leader BetIAS.com will offer live lines, and final game props bets for this great match.
If you are a long-time fan of the L.A. Lakers you are probably used to the performance fluctuations you see among these men. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that it took the Lakers two head-to-head defeats to finally figure out the Oklahoma City Thunder and play like a team that might have a chance to defend the National Championship. The series was tied 2-2 and the pressure was on the home team. It was just as if Phil Jackson, the Lakers head coach, finally figured out how to slow down Russell Westbrook. Jackson relied on Kobe Bryant’s experience to go one-on-one with the Thunders point guard.
The rest of the team followed the lead. Ron Artest finally got his shooting together and proved he can still shot from the paint and even dunk on people. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds while Andrew Bynum added 21 points for a 111-87 victory over the Thunder.
The Lakers outscored the Thunder 58-26 from inside the paint. The team had been so dominant that Phill Jackson decided to seat down Bryant, Gasol, and Artest in preparation for game #6 on Friday.
The Lakers were ahead by 21 point at halftime and they even managed to extent the difference to 32 points in the late-third quarter. Bryant seriously slowed down Westbrook. He only scored 15 points. Even more, Oklahoma’s shooting efficiency really dropped. The team’s most efficient shooters, Kevin Durrant and Westbrook, shot 9 of 27 combined. It was as if the Oklahoma City Thunder could never recover from the initial 13 missed shots that open a margin that only grew bigger and bigger.
Now the Thunder faces its toughest game of the season. They are now going to have to bring on their A-game to the Ford Center and give it all in the court if they want to survive this series. They have the home team advantage, but that will mean nothing if they can’t get their team back to their best shape. Their last’s games numbers were terrible, regardless of how you take a look at them.
Nevertheless, sportsbook handicappers have some faith on the Thunder. As of press BetIAS.com has made the Oklahoma City Thunder a -1½ spread favorite in their NBA Playoff’s betting lines. The Lakers got their touch back; there is no doubt about that. But like Kobe said last night: “ I know we won tonight. That’s it.We just move on to the next one. And whatever that might bring.” Things get difficult for bettors in the next game. At first, before game 5, it seemed that the Thunder might have been the strong team. But after last night’s performance one can just wonder why the Lakers have not finished this already once and for all. Still, the Lakers are among the favorites in the Odds to win NBA Championship.
Oklahoma will go out to their court and play with all their might and gut. There is no tomorrow for the Thunder. They can either call it quits and finish their postseason run or they can go out there and play some serious basketball, and push for a game #7 at the Staples Center.
As of press-time, the alleged reports that involve Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Sidney Govou sleeping with an underage French-Moroccan call girl have yet to bring in some dramatic changes in the sports betting world. The French National Team is still among the top 5 favorite in the Odds to win the 2010 World Cup. At ML+1600 the French team is tailing Spain, Brazil, England, and Argentina.
Contrary to the English National Team, very well-known for their spectacular shenanigans, this is the first time that such a scandal has affected the French soccer team. The investigation began after the French Police made an intervention at the Café Zaman in the Champs Ellysee. The well-known gentlemen’s nightclub was under investigation as being part of a criminal organization that dealt with underage prostitution. Zahia Dehar, the call-girl that allegedly had sexual relations with the famous soccer players, was among the 18 other girls quizzed by the French Police Authorities.
In her declaration, Miss Dehar said that she had kept sexual encounters in exchange for money with the soccer players. She even went on to detail the Ribery had paid for her air ticket and hotel stay in Germany on different occasion. Ribery plays for the Bayern Munich. Miss Dehar told the investigators that the players paid up to £2000 for sex, and that she had held this sort of relationships for some months now. Zahia Dehar just turned 18. Some spicy photographs of the young blond escort and Mr. Ribery at her birthday party were enough evidence to call the French National team player for an interrogation.
Ribery, a £40 million asset, who is intended by the Chelsea, told the Authorities that he had seen the girl over a number of months in 2009. If charged, and found guilty Ribery could get up to three year in jail. The same goes for the other three players. The Three players have to appear before Judge Andre Dando.
The Players’ attorneys are all setting up on a common defense. The players are stating that they did not know that Zahia Dehar was underage at that time. According to police files, Zahia Dehar began working as a prostitute in March 2008. She was making up to £20.000 a month sleeping with a wide-range of solicitors, especially multi-millionaire soccer players. Some might miss out playing in South Africa 2010 World Cup.
The Phoenix Suns had taken a 2-1 lead after the tree first games of their NBA Playoffs series against the Portland Trail Blazers. It seemed that Phoenix was going to have it easy. Brandon Roy had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and there was little hope for the talented player to make it before the first round.
But it was quite unclear if the Trail-Blazers sans-Roy would be able to make it pass the first 5 games. And it was then that things got a little brighter for the Blazers. Roy came back just after a week of surgery and scored 10 points. Even though he did not start, and he is not expected to start for this first round series, it’s certainly is a relief for the Blazers to have Roy back in playing shape (He was 10 points under his scoring average, but taking into consideration that 8 days before he underwent surgery, he had a spectacular game.
LaMarcus Aldrige came in strong as well. He recorded 31 points and 11 rebounds for Portland as they evened the series 2-2. Alridge receives a great deal of advantages when Roy is in the court. He has been double teamed in each game, but now the Phoenix Suns defense has to cover Roy, in that was enough to push Alridge to those career-high playoffs numbers.
Roy came in with little over 4 minutes left in the first quarter. The home crowd was cheering him up all the way. He made a beautiful lay-up to guide the Blazers to a 20-19 advantage. He wasn’t the explosive and fast player he usually is. But the timing on his 3 pointer couldn’t have been better. It gave the Trail Blazers an 85-79 lead with 5 minutes left in the game. `
This has been an interesting series. The Suns lost their first game at home 105-100. They had a good comeback and cruised to a 119-90 win in game #2. They kept up their momentum to complete 108-89 win in Portland to take the series lead. Blame it on Roy? Well, perhaps we could. He appears to be a key-player, and right now, all Head Coach Nate McMillan could really wish for is to get his player back in top-shape.
As of press time, the Trail Blazers are a +7point underdog for game 5 in the series. Phoenix at ML -345 might seem a little high for NBA Betting Odds. Yet bookmakers in the industry quite understand, as much as Phoenix does, how much is at stake here in this game. If Portland pulls off the upset, they will be one home-game away from closing the season. And that’s certainly not a good omen for the Suns.
They have to win tonight, and then go play the best basketball they can at Portland. At 7 point favorite, Phoenix might not be the safest choice ever. But if Steve Nash can keep moving the ball around, they might just not only win, but cover.