Transfer Deadline Day

Deadline Day

The Premier League’s best (and worst) ever transfer deadline day business

With the Premier League’s 2014/15 summer transfer window drawing to a close, deadline day is upon us. Traditionally a madcap anything-goes 24 hours of jammed phone-lines, spectacular rumours, spurious gossip and Jim White standing in various car parks across the land, we take a look back at some of the highlights – and the lowlights – of previous deadline day dealings…

The Good

 Wayne Rooney – Everton to Manchester United – £25.6m – 2004

Ten years ago, Rooney was a prodigious 18-year-old with a notoriously fiery temper. A decade on, and he has matured into England’s new captain (albeit still with their fiery temper.) He burst onto the scene with a sublime last-minute winner against Arsenal, five days before his 17th birthday.

Growing restless at Everton, he handed in a transfer request in 2004, which – after …

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Premier League 2014/15 – Weekend Three Preview

Manchester

Read our preview of this weekends fixtures in the Premier League

Burnley v Manchester United

Louis van Gaal might have been forgiven for thinking his near-impeccable managerial record would have afforded him the time to settle in upon taking the vacant Manchester United hot-seat, but after one point from two Premier League games and a humiliating 4-0 League Cup defeat at the hands of MK Dons, you can almost hear the sharpening of pitchforks.

His renowned 3-5-2 system will be under the microscope should he chose to deploy it again on Saturday, when United travel to Burnley. Failure to get a result here could mean that the Dutchman’s grace period will be well and truly be over.

Fortunately, the Clarets are arguably the weakest side in the division and the three points should be assured – as well as some much needed breathing room. Traders are pitching United’s supremacy and Win …

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The Mole – 29th August

Formula One - The Mole

The Mole, Sporting Index’s insider reviews the last fortnight

As the summer winds down and the sun retires itself from British skies until next year, a number of sports are concluding their biggest fixtures of the season.

Tennis

The US Open, which started this Monday, marks the last tennis Grand Slam of the year, and also one of the most open. With likely favourite Rafael Nadal ruled out of the men’s singles through injury and both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray looking below their best, players such as Stan Warwinka, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic should seize the opportunity to break into the world’s top five.

Meanwhile in the women’s, a rocky year for Serena Williams at the Majors could open to door for rising stars Eugenie Bouchard or Simona Halep to assert themselves.

Golf

Gleneagles hosts the Ryder Cup next month and, with a week to go before the …

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How The NFL Was Born

NFL - Super Bowl Trophy

With anticipation steadily building around the NFL’s start next Friday, spread bettors may be interested to know the origins of the league.

The National Football League was founded nearly a century ago, yet took several name changes, controversies and one great merger to become what America knows and loves today.

The Early Years

Having started as the American Professional Football Conference in 1920, the NFL brand was established in 1922 and was largely unopposed in its aim of governing a national professional football league. Of the 14 teams that started that 1920 season, only two survive to this day, although both under different guises, as the Decatur Staleys have grown into the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cardinals now into the Arizona Cardinals. The Green Bay Packers, although founded in 1919, joined in 1921 and are the oldest team to have kept both their name and location.

Once the sixties …

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NFL Team-By-Team Preview: Part Two– The NFC

NFC NFL

The second instalment in our two-part guide to all 32 NFL teams, this time focussing on the NFC (National Football Conference). With the new season kicking-off next Friday, there should be plenty to get your teeth stuck into …

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys

Summary: It would appear the only way is up for Dallas, having earned the shame of fielding the worst defence in last season’s NFL. They retain the services of Tony Romo, the only quarterback you can rely on choking whenever Dallas may look like winning. To make matters worse they have lost Jason Hatcher, one of the few plays player to shine last year in an otherwise dire defence. One of the most decorated franchises in history, ‘America’s team’ are unlikely to give the country much to be proud of again.

Established: 1960

Stadium: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Playoff Appearances: 30

League Championships: 5

NFL 2013-14 Season:

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2nd ODI: England v India

ODI - Eng v Ind

The miserable downpour that put paid to Monday’s ODI match in Bristol ominously signalled the end of British summertime like a foghorn billowing out more fog.

With September right around the corner, cricket fans and spread bettors will be praying that the last remnants of the dry weather can hold out until next Friday, allowing at least some of the four remaining scheduled One Day Internationals between England and India to go ahead.

Tomorrow’s ODI takes place in Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium, and although rain is forecast to fall around four o’clock, that should give the two teams enough time to bowl enough overs that a Duckworth–Lewis result could be brought into effect should play get rained off.

India will be heading into this ODI fixture eager to try and salvage some pride after they were resoundingly beaten 3-1 by the Three Lions in the five match Test series. The last two Tests were …

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Premier League 2014/15 – Weekend Two Preview

Premier League

Read our preview of this weekends fixtures in the Premier League

Sunderland v Manchester United

The 2014/15 Premier League season is now well and truly underway and last weekend proved that it still has more than a few surprises up its sleeve. For instance, it was the first time since 1972 that Manchester United lost their opening game at Old Trafford.

Louis van Gaal’s parade was well and truly rained on as United succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Swansea in his first league game in charge. The mood around the club seems to have perceptibly turned from one of quiet optimism to almost immediate panic. Defender Marcos Rojo has been quickly drafted in from Sporting Lisbon to boost experience at the back and talisman striker Robin van Persie should be fit in time for Sunday’s clash with Sunderland.

It would be quite something if United were …

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US Open Tennis Preview

US Open

Favourites ripe for upset at the US Open

Mens Singles

Injury has ruled Rafael Nadal out of another Grand Slam, something fans are sadly becoming all too familiar with. Flushing Meadows will miss him but no doubt the disappointment is more crushing for Rafa himself, having won the US Open two of the last three times he’s entered the tournament.

Of the other established elite, both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are struggling for form. Since his Wimbledon triumph, the world number one has struggled to find any sort of consistency on the hard surface.  His tame efforts in both the Rogers Cup and the Western and Southern Open do not inspire confidence to pile in at short prices. I’d recommend selling Djokovic at 32 on the 60 Index, as he would need to make the final before you would be out of pocket. (Winner: 60, runner-up: 40, semi-final: 20, …

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NFL Team-By-Team Preview: Part One – The AFC

AFC NFL

With the return of the NFL regular season just over a fortnight away, we’ve put together a team-by-team preview on each of the 32 franchises to get existing American football spread bettors and newcomers to the sport alike excited ahead of the 2014/15 season.

This edition will focus on the 16 teams that make up the American Football Conference (AFC), while part two will turn its eye to those which comprise the National Football Conference (NFC). Without further ado…

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Summary: Renowned for their ability to throw the best tailgate parties in the NFL, the Bills’ recent performances on the field are less to write home about. It has now been 14 seasons since they reached a playoff and the franchise is currently up for sale, placing significant pressure on head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley to finally end the drought or risk losing …

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Ebor Meeting Preview

Ebor

Ebor Prize is Pallasator’s for the taking

Like all the top class festivals, York’s Ebor meeting offers up both racing and punting of the highest order. Over four days, fans can witness Coolmore superstar Australia confirm his class in the Juddmonte International and tackle the richest flat handicap in Europe – The Betfred Ebor. With little between its runners, such a contest is ripe for spread betting.

With over £160,000 going to the winner, the Ebor has understandably attracted a high class field of progressive stayers, one of whom has recently received significant support. The Sir Mark Prescott trained Pallasator has become an even firmer favourite since winning a competitive but small field handicap in July, especially as two of those he beat that day have since won well.

The son of Motivator has run well over the Ebor distance before, while his trainer knows what it takes to win …

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Diary of a Spread Bettor – 9th – 20th August

Spread Bettor

Spread Bettor, Bill Esdaile reveals the latest diary chapter tackling the big sporting events with Sporting Index

Saturday 9th August – Shergar Cup

Whatever racing’s purists say about the Shergar Cup, it makes for a great family day out and it was brilliant to see some of the finest overseas jockeys contribute to what is a very unique day in the racing calendar.

Like many I was swept up in the excitement of seeing South African racing’s star jockey, S’manga Khumalo, whose nickname is “Bling”, ride on these shores for the first time. But sadly his bling looked a bit rusty by the end of the day as he clearly struggled.

The true star was Canada’s Emma-Jayne Wilson who was simply brilliant on and off the track. She struck two blows for the ladies with fantastic rides on both Retirement Plan and Don’t Call Me, but she just lost out to Olivier Peslier in the Silver Saddle.

It was a blow to me as well when …

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Premier League 2014/15 – Opening Weekend Preview

Opening Weekend

Read our preview of the opening fixtures of the 2014/15 Premier League season

Manchester United v Swansea City

Saturday’s early kick off between Manchester United and Swansea is the curtain raiser for this season’s Premier League. There has been a great deal of anticipation surrounding Louis van Gaal’s appointment as United manager, and this will be the Dutchman’s first real test.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last six Premier League clashes against their opponents, five of those being victories. The Swans, on the other hand, have endured a torrid time in their opening day fixtures, losing four of their last five, including g a 3-1 United in this very fixture last year.

Swansea gaffer Gary Monk is still learning the ropes as a manager and I can’t see anyone other than United coming away with the three points here. A purchase of their supremacy at 1.6 should see decent …

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Premier League 2014/15 Relegation Battle

Relegation

While nobody wants to be involved in a relegation battle, you can’t argue that it doesn’t deliver on drama, especially for bettors who follow the Relegation Index.

The bottom placed team makes up 60, and those that finish between 19th and 15th 40-30-20-10-5 respectively. Last season, Crystal Palace were selling as high as 50 at one point, only to make up zero with their miraculous turnaround.

So which teams will keep their heads above water and which will sink come the new season?

Burnley

The Clarets have been given the most damning spread of 32-35, the traders giving them very little chance of avoiding an instant return to the Championship. Though they have a standout star in striker Danny Ings, they have lost out on a number of transfer targets to Championship clubs with more spending power.

As such, the squad remains largely without players of proven Premier League …

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The Mole – 14th August

Golf - The Mole

The Mole, Sporting Index’s insider reviews the last fortnight

Golf’s a funny old game. More than pretty much any other big sport it needs a star. Tiger Woods used to be that man, winning at will, only occasionally letting some of the others pick up a trophy. Then it all went Pete Tong for Woods and golf went from being extremely predictable to downright impossible.

From 1999, not a year had gone by without Woods winning at least one golf Major, and he won 14 from 1997 to 2008. Since those personal bombshells dropped at the end of 2009 the American has failed to win another.

Since his last Major win there have been six different US Open champions, six different Open winners, five different Masters victors and five different USPGA holders. Rory McIlroy winning the latter on Sunday in the darkness of Valhalla, gave him successive Majors and putting …

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Premier League 2014/15 Preview

Premier League

Man City can claim successive Premier League crowns 

Manchester City won a thrilling Premier League last season and it I find it somewhat surprising Manuel Pellegrini’s side aren’t favourites on Sporting Index’s spreads markets, particularly the Premier League 100 Index for the next campaign which kicks off on Saturday.

City took a while to get into their rhythm last term, but when they did hit full stride they were almost unbeatable. A disappointing away record in the first half of the season, coupled with a difficult period when they exited the Champions League and the FA Cup, detracted from what could have been a sensational year.

They still managed to smash in 102 goals – the highest total in the Premier League – and conceded the second lowest number of goals. That’s all despite being without big names players like Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo and Vincent Kompany for large …

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Diary of a Spread Bettor – 27th July – 8th August

"You can imagine my pain when he got chinned right on the line. The second place still gave me a nice profit but it would have been huge had the finish line come a few inches earlier. "

Bill Esdaile reviews his latest chapter of his spread betting diary tackling the big sporting events with Sporting Index.

Sunday 27th July – Hungarian Grand Prix

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’ve spent the last few days trying to teach our new puppy old ones ─ and it is proving equally frustrating. Every time we seem to be making progress with catch, I throw the tennis ball in a slightly different direction and it’s absolutely bamboozled.

I can sympathise, though, because sometimes I feel like I share this relationship with spread betting. In recent weeks, I’d been making decent gains from following the Formula One. I’d been following the fortunes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the two dominant Mercedes Drivers, on the Race Index, and having steady successes. In the ten previous races this season, there had only been a single instance …

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Community Shield Preview

Community Shield

Goals on the menu as Arsenal and Man City compete for Community Shield

Premier League champions Manchester City will make their third appearance in the last four years in the traditional curtain-raiser to the Premier League season, the Community Shield, when they take on FA Cup winners Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

Arsenal, who last competed in this showpiece in 2005, endured a miserable end to the league last season having made such an excellent start. But they held on to fourth spot and finally ended their nine-year trophy drought.

Arsene Wenger has reinforced his squad, with the addition of the excellent Alexis Sanchez the big name signing. The manager will be hoping the Chilean’s skills and goals can help the club push on and challenge for the title this term, and Sunday’s match should give us an idea about their strength.

City thumped the Gunners 6-3 at home last campaign …

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Celtic in battle for Champions League football

Celtic

Celtic out to avenge last week’s horror show 

Will Celtic Turn Things Around Versus Legia Warsaw

After the disastrous 4-1 defeat to Legia Warsaw in the Champions League qualifiers last week, Celtic need a minor miracle in the reverse tie tonight to avoid being dumped out of Europe’s biggest club tournament.

That debacle last Wednesday saw the Hoops’ Efe Ambrose sent off before half-time and two goals in the last ten minutes from the Polish side have surely put the tie beyond Ronny Deila’s men. It could have been far worse, though, were it not for the heroics of Fraser Forster, who saved a Ivica Vrdoljak spot-kick. The Legia striker managed to put another penalty wide.

Celtic’s Track Record And What They Need To Win

The away goal gives the Scottish champions hope, but in reality they’ll need to win 3-0 to progress. Sporting Index have their supremacy pitched at …

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USPGA Championship Preview

USPGA

Magnificent McIlroy can land second USPGA in Kentucky

Following hot on the heels of The Open, golf’s final Major of the season, the USPGA Championship, tees off on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club, Kentucky.

It will be the third time the course has hosted the USPGA Championship, but the winner last time it was here, Tiger Woods, looks certain to miss out with a reoccurrence of his back injury, although a final decision won’t be made until ten minutes before he is due to tee off.

Designed by record-Major winner Jack Nicklaus, Valhalla is a challenging round for any golfer. The greens are large and undulating. Typically they run fast so green accuracy and nerveless putting is imperative. The rough is exactly that – deep, tough and unforgiving.

Jason Dufner in 2013 was only one of two USPGA winners in the last 12 years who hadn’t tasted victory in a tour event …

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4th Test: England v India

4th Test

4th Test Preview

If a week is a long time in cricket, then England captain Alastair Cook must feel like he’s aged well beyond his 29 years over these last three. The scapegoat of England’s miserable first two Tests, he finally turned a corner in the third at The Ageas Bowl, making 95 and 70 not out.

Those 165 runs were more than four times greater than his total of 37 in the first two Tests, and will do wonders not just for his own confidence, but the teams’ as a whole as they head into the 4th Test at Old Trafford. From an England perspective, it makes a nice change to be able to advise a small buy of Cook’s runs at 80, as opposed to a sell.

A supreme England Test debut for wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler saw him make 85 runs off just 83 deliveries in the first …

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Southampton – Boom or bust?

Southampton

Southampton’s boom or bust transfer gambles fascinating for Premier League Points market

When new Southampton boss Ronald Koeman tweeted a picture of some empty playing fields in their Marchwood complex, complete with the caption “Ready for #Training!”, he probably didn’t expect the response. It was cruelly seized upon by users of social media as the perfect visual metaphor for the Saints’ summer exodus.

A fine eighth place finish last season seemed like a healthy platform to build upon, but the club appear to be trying to do five steps back for all those they had previously gone forward. Former gaffer Mauricio Pochettino was snapped up by Tottenham almost immediately, closely followed out the door by talismanic striker Rickie Lambert – and then the floodgates opened.

Their impressive core of homegrown talent – Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Calum Chambers – were swiftly cashed in, defender Dejan Lovren seemingly included in …

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Quadruple Special

Quadruple

Quadruple Special – Man City a great value buy 

There were a few weeks after Christmas when Manchester City looked unbeatable. They were hitting goals at a rate rarely seen on these shores before, and the whispers about the possibility of City pulling off the holy grail of club football achievements – the quadruple – were growing louder.

In the end, a disappointing defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League and another shock reverse to Wigan in the FA Cup ended those dreams quickly. A Premier League/League Cup double provided some comfort for the Etihad faithful, though.

Ahead of the new season, Sporting Index traders have priced up the likelihood of the last season’s top four winning the quadruple this campaign.

The market make-up is as follows: –25pts per trophy won, plus a whopping 100pt bonus if a club wins all four (Premier league, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League).…

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The Mole – 31st July

The Mole - Rory McIlroy

The Mole, Sporting Index’s insider reviews the last fortnight

Golf

Having led from the first round, Rory McIlroy claimed his first Open at Hoylake and third major overall, beating Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler by a two-stroke margin. He becomes only the second man ever, after Tiger

Woods, to win both the Silver (awarded to the highest placed rookie) and Gold medal (winner) at The Open Championship, and his form bodes well for the European teams’ chances ahead of September’s Ryder Cup. 

Football 

Fans are starting to get over the post-World Cup hangover with the Premier League teams embarking on pre-season tours ahead of the division’s return in under three weeks. These provide the opportunity for a first look at the various exciting signings that clubs have been busily acquiring these last few weeks. There has been a great deal of movement, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, …

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Goodwood set for glorious week’s racing

Glorious Goodwood

Glorious Goodwood is one of the highlights of the British summer with the Sussex course, generally accepted as being one of the most beautiful in the country, hosting five days of great action.

Today’s highlights are the Molecombe Stakes (2.30pm) for two-year-old speedballs and the Group 2 Lennox Stakes (3.05pm) over seven-furlongs.

In truth, the former looks a bit short on quality but there’s a good betting angle. Favourite Beacon is a high quote on the race index at 35, as the juvenile chases a four-timer. And because he represents the Richard Hannon stable, which enjoyed so much success at this meeting, before Hannon Snr gave up his licence to his son at the end of last year.

Cotai Glory has only won one of four starts but ran a cracker beyond a very smart horse called Limato at Newbury last time out. Limato is unbeaten in three and looks …

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England v India 3rd Test

Cook

Cook praying for a miracle as England’s win drought continues

It’s fair to say Alastair Cook is feeling the pressure like no other English athlete anywhere right now. With everyone and their mother calling for the captain to step down after a woeful run of form, the big news ahead of England’s third Test with India ─ that gets underway on Sunday morning ─ is that Cook remains at the helm of what looks like a sinking ship.

Matt Prior has left the squad, blaming fitness problems, but there’s a sense he just wanted out and the wicketkeeper joins the list of casualties from last winter’s Ashes disaster, following Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and the coach Andy Flower. The inexperienced but talented Jos Buttler will make his Test debut as a replacement for Prior.

England threw away a good opportunity to win the second Test at Lord’s with …

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Taghrooda can prove the queen of Ascot

Taghrooda

Taghrooda bids to become first 3-year-old filly to win King George since 1976. How will she fare?

Tomorrow’s King George VІ and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day at Ascot is one of the best Saturday meetings in the calendar and the showpiece race is one of the finest in the world.

The £1 million contest was given a significant boost earlier this month when connections of the unbeaten Oaks winner Taghrooda committed her to the race instead of what would have been an easier winning opportunity to complete the English-Irish Oaks double at The Curragh last Sunday.

The King George VІ and Queen Elizabeth Stakes has always been one of the premier all-age races with the Classic generation taking on their elders to prove who the best is.

Taghrooda has been joined by stablemates Eagle Top and Derby third Romsdal, with John Gosden’s trio making up the three-year-old challenge.

As a …

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Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

Grand Prix

Hamilton hoping to clinch fifth Hungarian Grand Prix win

After taking the chequered flag at his home German Grand Prix last weekend, Nico Rosberg extended his lead in Formula One’s drivers’ Championship over his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to 14 points. An accident in qualifying and a gearbox change had meant that Hamilton was forced to start from the back of the grid, though he valiantly fought through the pack to claim third place, ensuring the ground lost to Rosberg was minimum.

This weekend, the action moves to Budapest’s Hungaroring for the last race before we enter the summer break. Hamilton is the joint must successful driver (with Michael Schumacher) at this circuit, with four wins in seven attempts. The Brit claims the track is well suited to his “aggressive” driving style, and he will be relishing the opportunity to close the gap at the top with a win here. …

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Diary of a Spread Bettor, 13th – 24th July

German GP - July

July’s major sporting events are discussed as our man Bill Esdaile reveals the latest chapter of his spread betting diary.

Sunday 13th July

I’ve heard a lot of talk that, given Germany were the almost inevitable eventual winners, the 2014 World Cup was predictable in hindsight.

Nonsense! If you’d have known that Costa Rica would get within a whisker of a semi-final; that Spain would be eliminated after just two matches; that Brazil would get humiliated 7-1 in front of their own fans; that Tim Cahill would score one of the greatest volleys in the tournament’s history or that Luis Suarez would bite someone (actually, you could possibly have predicted that one…), you’d be sat atop the Forbes rich list by now.

I didn’t put my money where my mouth was and buy the Germans on the outright index, but i should have!

Though they were some of the most …

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German Grand Prix Preview

German Grand Prix

Rosberg to grab homecoming win at the German Grand Prix

Situated in the Rhine valley, the Hockenheim track is famous for its long, fast straights and tight corners, though the 2002 redesign reined in both of these extremes.

Already 158 points clear of their nearest rivals Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, this season has been a dominant one for Mercedes. Based near to this circuit, the team haven’t won a race on home soil since 1954, but that looks certain to change this weekend.

Their drivers, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, are the only two still in contention for the drivers’ championship, but fortunately their rivalry has been more than compelling enough to keep us tuning in.

Hamilton took the win at Silverstone in the last outing, closing the gap in the standings to just four points. Rosberg will be keen to turn the tables by claiming all 25 …

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2nd Test Cricket : England v India

Test - Cook

Another draw on the cards in 2nd Test Cricket while Cook looks overdone with the bat

The opening Test between England and India at Trent Bridge ended in a draw, largely due to a flat, dead pitch which gave the bowlers too little to work with. Despite this, Alastair Cook was able to take his maiden Test Match wicket in comical fashion, celebrating it in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek manner. The two century partnerships put on for the final wicket were another first, this time in Test match history.

The second Test moves to Lord’s and the MCC have promised to go to great lengths to ensure the pitch offers more bounce and carry, but the weather forecast looks fairly dire. With rain expected over the weekend, another draw looks on the cards, so selling England’s win index at 12.5 is advised, as a draw makes up 10 points.

Though he …

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The Mole – 16th July

Mole News

News and gossip from the Sporting Index insider

The curtain has finally fallen on the 2014 World Cup, and what a show it was. Almost predictably, after one month, 64 games, 171 goals, one final, two teams, 22 players and 120 minutes, the Germans won it.

Football

Less predictably, Brazil got mauled 7-1 in front of their own fans, Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball despite not even being the best player in his team, let alone the tournament, and Costa Rica were a shootout away from reaching the semi-finals.

Tennis

In the tennis, having won one Grand Slam final from his last six, Novak Djokovic put an end to his Major woes as he saw off Roger Federer in a thrilling Wimbledon men’s final, while it took Petra Kvitova just 55 minutes to crush Eugenie Bouchard in the women’s.

Cycling

In the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali regained the …

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Golf Open Preview

The Open

Golf Open Preview – GMac the main play for golf’s finest prize, The Open 

THIS year’s Golf Open Championship will be the 143rd renewal of the oldest golf Major and arguably the most prestigious one.

The latest edition will be hosted at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake and it will be the 12th time the famous Wirral links course welcomes golf’s elite, for the first time since 2006.

There have been a few tweaks to the course since Tiger Woods landed his third Open here. A number of bunkers have been removed, although there are still 82 to negotiate, five holes have had swales added to them, and the course will now play 54 yards longer.

Par fives are a big factor to consider. There are four par fives that the braver golfers can target to post decent scores, so keep big hitters on side.

The Scottish …

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5 best World Cup Finals

Final

Ahead of the 2014 Final, Sporting Index looks back at some of the best, most controversial and memorable World Cup Finals that have helped shaped the narrative around the greatest tournament on the planet – Here’s our 5 best World Cup finals.

1954 Final – West Germany 3-2 Hungary

It’s hard to imagine now, considering they are currently ranked 47th in the world and haven’t qualified for a major tournament since 1986, but Hungary were once the best football team on the planet.

In the lead-up to the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland they were unbeaten in 32 games, were reigning Olympic champions and holders of the now defunct Central European International Cup.

They boasted the best striker in the world in Ferenc Puskas and had thrashed England 6-3 at Wembley and 7-1 in Budapest in the run up to the tournament.

Hungary were warm favourites for the World Cup …

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Germany v Argentina World Cup Final

Germany

Germany to edge past Argentina in evenly matched World Cup Final

The festival of football that is the World Cup comes to a close this weekend, with the headline act of the final still to come on Sunday. After a record-breaking summer, it’s fitting that Sunday’s game between Germany v Argentina World Cup Final is another in itself. The teams have previously met at the finals of 1986 and 1990, and the final has never been contested by the same two teams more than twice.

Germany will be riding high going into the match, having comprehensively dismantled hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semis. As impressive a scoreline as that was, it can’t be understated just how poor the Brazilians were, as was the case with the German’s 4-0 rout over Portugal in the group stages, and these results are somewhat misleading.

Weaknesses in Joachim Low’s side were exposed against Ghana and …

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Diary of a Spread Bettor – 28th June – 11th July

Spread bettor

Spread Bettor Bill Esdaile reviews his latest diary chapter tackling the big sporting events with Sporting Index.

Saturday, 28th June

World Cup

The group stages of the World Cup knocked me for six more often than Garfield Sobers wielding an oversized bat. It was nigh on impossible to catch your breath, one stunning game rolling into another just when it seemed things had to slow down.

Unfortunately, while the action in Brazil kept football fans all in rapturous excitement, England’s dreary exit without a single win kept us Three Lions fans in continued misery. Like the yin and yang, these things so often come in opposing pairs.

Brazil’s Neymar had been setting the tournament alight and, with four goals under his belt already and, with my judgement skewed by all the positivity of the group games, I bought his goal minutes against Chile for £10. Despite the steep price …

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Argentina v Netherlands World Cup Semi Final Preview

Argentina

Dutch to down drab Argentina to book fourth final 

After four dullish quarter-finals, the World Cup roared back into life in no uncertain terms last night as Germany humiliated Brazil in their own back yard 7-1 in a result that will live long in the memory of all football fans.

Tonight’s second last four tie pits two-time victors Argentina – who will no doubt be spurned on at the chance to complete a second embarrassment over Brazil by scooping glory on bitter rivals’ turf – and three-time finalists Netherlands.

Previous World Cup clashes between the pair have thrown up a thrilling final in 1978, a superlative Dennis Bergkamp winner in 1998, and a turgid goalless draw in the group stages of 2006. Here’s hoping that their semi-final encounter tonight has more in common with the former two than the latter.

The sheer quality of the Dutch during the opening …

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Brazil v Germany World Cup Semi Final Preview

Brazil

Buy Brazil, bye Germany 

Brazil are one hurdle away from repeating their feat of 1950; setting up a World Cup final in front of a packed Maracana stadium. It is in some way fitting then, that their semi-final opponents tonight are Germany –a replay of the 2002 World Cup final.

The Selecao have drawn criticism for their approach over the last few weeks, but it was to be expected given the manager they have in charge. Luis Felipe Scolari guided Brazil to the trophy in 2002, playing in the same pragmatic style, and they have obviously brought him back to deliver that sixth title over anything else.

Missing Neymar through injury and captain Thiago Silva because of suspension, Brazil’s backs are up against the walls but this could mean the players regroup and deliver the performance the world has been waiting for. The market moves have been for Germany in …

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World Cup Quarter Final Preview

World Cup - James Rodriguez

France to go forward, Brazil to be left behind in World Cup last eight  

This World Cup second round threw up some interesting quirks. More games were decided after extra time than within the 90, and all eight winners from the group stages unprecedentedly progressed through to the quarter-finals. If we’ve learnt anything from this tournament, it’s that we should expect plenty more surprises.

Germany were given a real fright against Algeria, requiring extra-time to slip past the Africans, and they look far less assured than they have done in recent tournaments heading into tonight’s fixture with France.

The French looked far more imposing than they have done for years, and have arguably have the best squad balance in the tournament, but they also laboured to beat their second round opponents, Nigeria. I think the Germans will be the more shaken of the two sides tonight, and I would …

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The World Cup Mole

World Cup - Clint Dempsey

World Cup news and gossip from the Sporting Index insider

The doubts over whether this year’s World Cup in Brazil, a country with arguably the greatest international folklore in the sport, could live up to expectations have been so emphatically dispelled that even the most hardened anti-football cynic can’t help but have found themselves drawn in at some point.

The drama of the group stages saw Italy, England and, most surprisingly, reigning champs Spain crash out, while the likes of Colombia and Costa Rica took their chance on the big stage with huge aplomb.

From Robin van Persie’s diving header, to David Villa’s backheel, to James Rodriguez’s thunderous volley, we’ve already seen enough wonder-goals to keep Danny Baker and all other clip show merchants in work for another decade at least. At any rate, the haul of 154 goals we’ve been treated to so far has only twice been bettered at …

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Murray v Dimitrov QF Preview

Andy Murray

Murray faces tough examination of Wimbledon defence against Dimitrov

Andy Murray’s bid to defend his Wimbledon crown, and indeed land a first tournament since vanquishing Novak Djokovic in the final here last year, has got off to a good start with the Briton yet to drop a set in reaching the quarter-finals.

In fact, only once has he even been taken to a tie-break, such has the 27-year-old’s dominance been. However, with all due respect to the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut and Blaz Rola, Murray wouldn’t expect anything less than easy victories.

And he’ll need to maintain his impeccable form today if the number three seed is to see off Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who has only once been taken beyond three sets this tournament. The recent Queen’s Club winner is a former junior world number one and landed junior Wimbledon back in 2008.

It’s taken the 23-year-old a while …

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