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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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. …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

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 …

Continue reading ›

Belgium v USA & Argentina v Switzerland Preview

Belgium

Argentina and Belgium to shift up a gear and into the quarter-finals

It is either fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, that Lionel Messi’s finest World Cup form has coincided with an Argentina squad that looks less of cohesive team unit than it has done for years, despite boasting such a strong attacking line on paper.

They had their Group F opponents’ profligacy in front of goal and Messi’s utter brilliance to thank for the fact they ended with three wins from three.

They take on Switzerland in the second round tonight, a side with its own fair share of squad imbalance. For all the class of players such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Gokhan Inler, they are lacking quality throughout – a fact that was painfully exposed when France tore them apart 5-2. Still, the Swiss did well not to capitulate after that defeat, recovering and …

Continue reading ›

Algeria v Germany & France v Nigeria Previews

Algeria

Algeria look to upset odds and set up mouth-watering clash with France

France became the tournament fancy of many after the cut-throat displays of their first two group games, dispatching Honduras 3-0 and then administering a 5-2 thrashing to Switzerland. They then went on to experience a blip of sorts in their final game, drawing 0-0 with Ecuador.

Though they still topped Group E, the French cannot afford to let complacency creep in for their second round tie with Nigeria, especially given their record against African sides at recent World Cups. They were famously beaten by Senegal in 2002 and then again by South Africa in 2010.

Nigeria successfully navigated a Group F they weren’t expected to emerge from, beating off the much-touted Bosnia and Herzegovina to second spot behind Argentina. They came close to upsetting the South Americans, who had to rely on Lionel Messi’s brilliance to finish 3-2 …

Continue reading ›

World Cup Weekend Preview

Colombia

Colombia a knocking bet to dispatch toothless Uruguay

The World Cup reaches the business end tomorrow with the first of the last-16 games.

Uruguay look short up front for their tie with South American rivals Colombia. With Luis Suarez banned for the Jaws ІІІ incident, it’s hard to see where their goal threat will come from against the pace and power of the Colombians.

Colombia made light of suggestions they would struggle without Radamel Falcao, advancing with a 100% record from Group C and smashing in nine goals on the way.

Suarez aside, two-time World Cup winners Uruguay had been average anyway and even if he was available, you’d have to fancy Colombia tomorrow.

They’ve won two of their three games so far by margins of two goals or greater and buying their supremacy at 0.65 looks a great bet.

The magic spray has been one of the stories of Brazil …

Continue reading ›

Diary of a Spread Bettor – 12th – 27th June

"Things that happen every four years: the calendar throws up a leap year, the United States elect a president and every England fan simultaneously forgets a lifetime of bitter disappointments and inexplicably starts to believe that this could be their year. I am, of course, referring to the World Cup."

June’s big sporting events are discussed as Bill Esdaile reveals the latest chapter of his spread betting diary

Thursday 12th June

Football

Things that happen every four years: the calendar throws up a leap year, the United States elect a president and every England fan simultaneously forgets a lifetime of bitter disappointments and inexplicably starts to believe that this could be their year. I am, of course, referring to the World Cup.

I was glad the difference in time-zones allowed me to have the whole lounge to myself by the time of the 9pm kick-off. The prospect of a whole month of football in Brazil got me so excited that I cracked open a jar of mild salsa to fully immerse myself in the samba settings. I am a man of refined culture and taste.

Despite this, I had my doubts that either Croatia or the hosts would be up …

Continue reading ›