Edin Dzeko

Top goalscorer in the 2014 World Cup – Four long shot futures that pay

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Haters of betting on futures in soccer, and in particular, top goalscorer, complain that the chances of winning are so far fetched that it’s not worth it.

Valid point. It’s really, really difficult to peg the player who will score the most.

But that doesn’t change the fact that playing futures is a fairly cheap, high-stakes, wildly exciting way to begin a major soccer tournament.

Foreseeing the favorites to take home the Golden Boot in this World Cup isn’t difficult: Lionel Messi (7-1), Neymar (10-1), Cristiano Ronaldo (14-1) and Sergio Aguero (14-1). Each one of these players is a solid bet because, simply enough, they’re world class players who play on world class teams. So if you’re partial to one then snap him up.

Unfortunately, the favorites rarely win the Golden Boot because being a great player on a great team simply doesn’t cover it. The player has to be healthy. He has to be surrounded by other players who can get him the ball. A favorable draw doesn’t hurt either.

Truth is there are a million factors that determine who nets the most goals in a World Cup. So many, in fact, that it tends to be the long shots that win.

Which is where you come in. Why not throw $10 down on a player to have the tournament of his life? If you hit it right the return could be oh so sweet. Below are four players with long shot odds that I like to have big performances in this World Cup. I encourage you to take a chance on one of them and enjoy the ride.

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Odds:22-1

Lukaku is coming off a highly encouraging season on loan at Everton (from Chelsea) where he bagged 15 goals and 8 assists in 38 appearances. His form put the striker on the radar of every major club in Europe and from all indications, Lukaku appears intent on proving Blues manager Jose Mourinho wrong for turning his back on him. For Belgium, Lukaku will serve as their primary striker and goalscorer after Christian Benteke succumbed to an achilles injury. Factor in a potentially easy group with Russia, Algeria and South Korea, as well as consistent service from wingers Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, and Lukaku could have 6+ goals before his side are even out of the group stage.

A $10 bet returns $220.

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Odds: 66-1

Quick, tricky and devastating in front of goal, Alexis Sanchez plays some of his best soccer with the national team. With his club Barcelona he’s not too bad, either, grabbing 19 goals and 12 assists in 34 appearances last year. The right winger will be the focal point of Chile’s slick-passing attack and like Lukaku, Sanchez is eager to prove to potential club suitors that he’s a goal scorer of the highest quality. His bust out could come early in the tournament as Chile take on Australia this Friday.

A $10 bet returns $660.

Edin Dzeko (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Odds: 66-1

The player I’m telling anyone who will listen to put money on to win the Golden Boot is Edin Dzeko. The Manchester City striker was magic for the Citizens this past spring, scoring five goals in three matches to help his side to the Premier League title. A master poacher, Dzeko catches fire and is impossible to stop. For Boznia & Herzegovina look for him to do nearly all of his side’s scoring, which could be a lot considering Iran and Nigeria are in their group.

A $10 bet returns $660.

Daniel Sturridge (England)
Odds: 80-1

Hard to say why Sturridge is 80-1 odds to win the Golden Boot. This past season at Liverpool the striker was sublime, scoring 22 times in 29 matches, second only to fellow teammate Luis Suarez. Sturridge is slated to start for Roy Hodgson’s side with Wayne Rooney set to play the role of Suarez. With Uruguay and Italy it’s a tough group but don’t be surprised if Sturridge knicks a goal in each of those matches before capping his group performance with a hat-trick against Costa Rica.

A $10 bet returns $800.

 

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.