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.

 

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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