Barcelona’s 3 greatest free-kick takers

There’s no doubt the plethora of talent Barcelona has accumulated over the years and with that range of talent we have seen an excellent batch of set-piece takers. Players that have instilled a sense of confidence amongst fans when they set up to the spot. Lionel Messi recently broke yet another record at the Camp Nou. The maestro is now the leading set-piece scorer at Barcelona, toppling many other Catalonian favourites. Here is a list of the greatest free-kick takers ever to grace the Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman

The Dutch master scored 26 free-kicks for Barcelona – this was the record held intact until Lionel Messi scored his 27th against Atletico Bilbao on February 4th. Koeman has always been considered a Camp Nou favourite and is widely regarded as one of the best attacking defenders ever. He was famously known for his technical prowess including a knack for long range passing, powerful and accurate shooting from set pieces and a deadly penalty taker. In his time at Barcelona he managed to score 102 goals, many of which were free-kicks and penalties. At the Camp Nou he won 4 league titles, 1 Copa Del Rey and 1 European Cup. This bullet may have been the most important goal in Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona career.

This impressive list of achievements shows what a positive influence Koeman was at the club, a lot of which was down to his free-kick taking ability which proved very valuable to the team. After Messi, he will go down as the greatest free-kick taker there.

Ronaldinho

The mention of Ronaldinho will come as no surprise to anyone that watched Barcelona circa 2003-2008. Not only at this time was Ronaldinho undoubtedly Barcelona’s most technically gifted player and a worldwide fan favourite for his showboating but he was also very adept at scoring from dead ball situations. Many people may remember Ronaldinho by his unorthodox run-ups from penalty or free kick positions. Whilst the majority of Ronaldinho’s goals came from open play he managed to score a crowd-pleasing 94 goals in his 5 seasons in Spain. English fans will specifically remember the genius free-kick against them by Ronaldinho for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup. Here is a classic example of Ronaldinho bended one in.

Either Koeman or Ronaldinho may have gone down in history as the best free-kick takers ever for Barcelona and they still will, however, like most records held at Camp Nou, they have been broken by the Argentinian hitman Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi

Well he’s done it again. After a brief lapse in his record-breaking momentum Lionel Messi finally became the top scoring free-kick taker in Barcelona history with another spectacular hit against Atletico Bilbao on February 4th.

Messi is not only fantastic at passing, at shooting, at dribbling, at bringing the ball down, at dropping his shoulder, at penalties… yeah, you get the get picture. Not only can he do everything the modern game requires from an attacking footballer but he certainly knows how to score from a free-kick. Surprisingly commentators are quick to credit Cristiano Ronaldo with his free-kick taking abilities however Messi has shown he can be just as sharp when placing the ball in the net from a spot kick. Lionel Messi has an uncanny ability

Research points to consider when betting on football

If you are looking to earn a profit from betting on football it’s always important to do your research on a game beforehand. Doing research is vital and it gives you the advantage you need over the bookmakers to earn a profit. There are many points many people consider as vital to their research and if you are currently looking for different aspects to research have a look at some of the handy points we have outlined below:

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  • Recent form – This would be the obvious one, if you research their recent form and it would suggest it was good, then they would be the obvious choice against their rivals.
  • Home or away form? – When checking their form, always make sure you check their form for home and away matches so you can get a feel for where they play better football. Surprisingly, some clubs play a lot better football away from home so just because they are playing at home doesn’t mean they have an advantage.
  • Team line ups – It’s important to research what possible team line ups may play a part in the game because there could be important players missing for one club which would give the other team an advantage. Checkout the clubs injury list and possible bans from too many yellow cards.
  • What competition are they playing? – It’s always important to find out what type of competition they are playing in for that specific match as many clubs don’t take cup games as serious when compared with the Premier League. Cup games give teams a chance to rest important players and to possibly play some of their youth players so the first team might not be the actual “first team” and thus giving the other team who is taking the cup more seriously a strong advantage.
  • Head to head comparison – You will find that a lot of football teams out there have a history with their opponents, so it’s always a good idea to have a look at their past results with one another. There are plenty of teams out there that always seem to have a bad result against that particular opponent.
  • Look for better odds – Looking for better odds on your chosen selection can be the difference in making profit long term and not making profit at all. Have a shop around for some of the best odds on that particular market and you won’t regret it, there is always a bookmaker out there offering much better odds for your chosen selections.
  • Where are they in the league? – If it’s a league game you’re betting on it’s always worth having a look at the league table and finding out how many games are left and what their current position is. You will find that if a team is much more superior over their opponent and are top of the league, they will always have the toughest tests against lower class teams fighting a relegation battle.
  • Would they be happy with a draw? – If it’s a league or cup game, many teams often go out playing for the draw because it would better them in the next game or would bolster their league position. Sometimes you will find games where both teams would be happy with the draw so it’s always important to have a look at what the benefits would be for each team.

There are loads of research points to consider when it comes to betting on football and depending on how much you are staking on a game would obviously mean a lot more research. Professional sports gamblers research everything from recent form and line ups to even more detailed research from what the condition of the playing pitch is to what the weather is going to be like on that day. The fact is, much more thorough research will provide you with a much better advantage over the bookmakers and thus helping you earn a profit.

Getting the Value – a Dummies Guide

Most pro-punters’ betting strategy is simple — they bet when they think that a selection is a bigger price than it should be.

Conversely most gamblers make the mistake of trying to back winners, without taking the odds of reward into account. “A 6/4 winner is better than a 20/1 loser,” they say, which, in fairness, is true. But if you can back enough selections at 20/1 which really should be 8/1 then, in the long run, you will make a profit. That’s the key. It’s all about the odds.

Value bet

The Odds Explained

Take a bag of 10 coloured balls, four blue, three red, two green, one yellow. If you draw one ball at random, there are four chances in 10 that it will be blue, and there are six chances in 10 that it won’t be blue. Therefore, the true odds of drawing a blue ball are 6/4.

There are three chances in 10 that the ball will be red (true odds of 7/3), two chances in 10 that the ball will be green (true odds of 8/2 or 4/1), and one chance in 10 that the ball will be yellow (true odds of 9/1).

If you were offered odds of 6/1 about the ball being green, that is a bet that you should have. It doesn’t mean that the drawn ball is more likely to be green than it is to be blue or red, it just means that odds of 6/1 are too big. On average, a green ball will come out once in every five draws and, if you can consistently bet on that outcome at 6/1, in the long run you will make a significant profit.

The Edge

The edge in betting lies in going “Against the Crowd”, an idea that Alan Potts encapsulated in his 1995 book of that title.

Contrary to popular perception, the odds are determined these days by punters, not by bookmakers. Just have a look at the mid-price point on any betting exchange market on a Friday night and compare it with bookmakers’ Saturday morning prices.
Consequently, when you bet these days, even if you do not bet on the exchanges, you are actually betting against other punters, not against the bookmaker. If you can take a view that is contrary to that of the majority, and if your opinion is well informed and accurate, then, in the long run, you should make a profit.

Form

Crucial to this strategy is the accuracy of the assessment of a horse, greyhound, or football team’s chances of winning. Consequently, you should bet on form, not on information.

But most punters love to get the inside track, they love to hear about a horse who is catching pigeons at home, or a football team that may field a lot of reserves in a first team match and should therefore be opposed.

Professionals, for the most part, prefer to bet on what they have seen rather than what they have heard —how many other people have received the same inside information? How many punters? How many bookmakers? How will the odds be affected?

Therefore most big players’ bets are on the higher class races, better competitions, or premier league games where the form is there for all to see and potential for improvement can be estimated.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

Even if you simply enjoy a sociable bet and have no grand illusion about becoming a high-rolling professional, there are pitfalls for you and your money everywhere.

Few years ago, a Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) race saw three dogs return the same price, co-favourites at 2/1.

For anyone that scribbled “fav” on their betting slip whilst dashing to the counter, it meant they could not win on the race. It was impossible, as their stake was divided between the three co-favourites and, at 2/1, it simply returned them their money.

Meanwhile, if one of the other three dogs in the race had of won they would have lost their money.

Therein the tip of the month is never put “fav” on your betting slip.

The Online Casino Brings New Pleasures – Check It Out!

Casino, casino, casino — it seems like every time we turn around, someone is talking about the casino life. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but you have to think about all of the options that you will have at your disposal if you’re really ready to play.

Why wouldn’t you want to think about all of the fun that waits for you? Some people are leery of casino online gambling, worried that someone is going to take their sensitive financial information. That’s just not the case at all. The online gambling industry is heavily regulated by several countries, and there is a high priority placed on internet security. You don’t want to end up being unable to get what you want to get just because hackers and thieves are prowling around, right? Right! You want to still be able to play safely, and that’s why the casinos place so much focus on security. Your information is encrypted and kept away from public access. Even only a handful of casino members will ever see it. Now with the rise of good third party processers, not even the casino will see your financial information in most cases.

If you want to jump into the action quickly, you would do well to look into casino review guides. These aren’t the cheesy one liners that you’re used to seeing. There are veterans of the gambling industry that will tell you exactly where to play, who is paying the best bonuses, and who has the most support.

Support is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it’s really important. You don’t want to just jump into a casino, thinking that nothing is going to go wrong. Just as you think that nothing is going to go wrong, you might just be surprised at everything that can. You want to be able to get fast support if there’s a problem. That’s one of the top marks of a great casino.

Another thing that you want to look for is definitely being able to look for great social interaction. Casinos aren’t just about winning through luck and strategy. It’s a place where like minded people with a wide variety of interests are going to come down and have a good time. If you’re not thinking carefully about the type of experience that you want to have, you just might be pushed out of the running for something really amazing.

Casino gambling can pass away the time and give you a chance at really getting some serious money over time. Don’t think that just because you take some stumbles early in your gambling career that you can’t make up for them later. There’s always a chance to win, and after all — someone has to win, right? Why not make sure that it’s you?

Now is the time to at least look through some review sand see where you want to play. There are a lot of casinos that have tons of games for the players like roulette, so the time to start looking around is now — good luck!

2015 Footballs Biggest Wagers – Advice From Jon Price Handicapper

There are many, big football events during the course of any year and 2015 is no different. With big football events, comes the opportunity to bet and it seems, the bigger the match or tournament, the more excitement there is around the betting markets. However, it’s important not to get carried away when betting on a big football event and waste your money. Take the advice of leading sports handicapper, Jon Price and step back and analyze the match first.

There have already been a number of important football matches in 2015, such as the Champions League final, which was played in June. Arguably the biggest club football match in the world, the Champions League final is a massive occasion, especially when the teams contesting it are Barcelona and Juventus. With so many advertising campaigns out there, it’s very easy to get carried away, bet a big wager and lose your money in the heat of the moment.

barcelona-Champions-League-Winners-2015

Jon Price makes a good point, when he talks about the markets surrounding a big football match and why they should be avoided. Many of these markets are no more than gimmicks, yet have almost become as big as the game itself. Also, betting big money on teams that are considered massive underdogs for the match, is not advised. Take the 2015 Champions League final again, although Juventus are considered a big European team, with a great history, they were still clear underdogs for the Champions League final, against Barcelona. Placing a big wager on Juventus to win, is just too risky and would have led to a big loss. Continue reading “2015 Footballs Biggest Wagers – Advice From Jon Price Handicapper”

The Modern Day Strategy to Wagering on NCAA Football

Back in the mid-1990s, the easiest way to wager on NCAA football was placing parlay bets on the top 3 teams in the nation. I believe back then, Nebraska, Florida, and Notre Dame were typically in the top 5. Even though very few gamblers utilized this strategy, those who did were very successful. In 2015 and beyond, I would never consider this approach.

The main reason is because the powerhouse teams in the nineties were stacked with talent. They provided potential prospects the opportunity to play for an elite team, which more visible, and enhanced a college player’s chances of going pro. The recruiting was more “in-house” or within the state, so kids were being groomed from the Pee-Wee Leagues.

betting NCAA football

Over time, smaller Division I colleges were able to steal a player here and there, and these teams were getting better. If we saw small schools have a major upset it was a huge ordeal. Today, it’s still exciting when the smaller teams win, but because of their status in the NCAA. The truth is teams like Boise State and TCU are becoming more consistent. Plus, they are able to compete with the bigger schools.

Wagering in the 21st Century

Instead of sticking with the constant power teams, the best strategy today is to find the best defenses. The old adage “Defense Wins Championships” is more like “Defense Helps You Win Money” in the betting world. One of the most successful game plans I have taken over the last 5 years is playing parlays with the top 3 defense against the 3 worst offenses (for that particular week in the season). However, it’s important to understand that I do not wager like this until at least week 5 of the season. By this time you have a good indication how real the stats are at the time.

For instance, the top 3 defenses in 2014 belonged to Clemson, Penn State, and Stanford (total defense). All three teams held their opponents to under 300 yards per game on average. Most importantly, teams like Clemson hit their stride in the middle of the season. I believe they had a six-game winning streak, and during that time their opponents averaged only 9 points per game. If you paired them with the best defenses against the worst offense during that winning streak, you won money. Continue reading “The Modern Day Strategy to Wagering on NCAA Football”

Could You Become a Professional Punter?

Betting on all of the games every week might sound like fun, but it’s only fun because you don’t have to stake your livelihood on the outcomes. But for a very small part of the punter pool there is an elite class of bettor that does exactly that. When they win, they win big and they get to enjoy a very nice lifestyle. Yet when they lose, it feels like the worst feeling in the world. They’re not able to take care of their families, and they have to seek other forms of employment to make ends meet. This attracts a very specific personality: the person with everything on the line who doesn’t want to lose anything.

Are you someone that wants to make sure that they win before anything else? Read on to see if you could become a professional punter.

The thing about professional punters of all stripes is that they really read into the “guts” of the game. They study as much data as possible to make their decision. They’re very protective about the information they have, because they don’t want it used against them by rivals. It’s a cutthroat world where a little information could lead to a lot of money. You have to not only have nerves of steel, but you have to trust that your way of doing things is really the best way to do them.

Professional Punter

The ultimate goal for some of these professionals is to get wealthy investors to buy into their offerings. The small time punter won’t be able to get massive gains overnight, but they will be able to rise up the ranks if they’re willing to work for it. In fact, many of the people that rise to the top of the professional gambling field have worked for bookmakers or investment firms. They understand risk and they embrace it instead of being afraid to make moves.

The professionals use algorithms, sophisticated logical and mathematical ways to predict winners.

This is a fascinating world, but it carries some lessons for the average punter looking to make some more money. How can you get more sophisticated about your own bets? If you aren’t crunching statistics, would you be willing to do so? How much money can you put into your operating? The more you bet, the more you can grow your money over time.

Losing the sentiment is very important. The professional punter doesn’t have time to worry about whether they’re loyal to the team they grew up watching. They care about the bottom line, and that’s it. So if you have similar dreams of making it big, you need to make sure that you’re following suit to some degree.

The Emotional Factors That Effect Sports Betting

Oh, to live in a world of machines. If we lived in a world of machines playing against other machines, then sports betting would really be a piece of cake. Yet we are betting on sporting events played by humans. This means that you really can’t just assume all conditions will be perfect. Since humans have so many different factors they carry around, it’s only natural that this would affect their actual playing abilities. Every team is going to have moments where they’re not going to be at their best.

The handicapper isn’t fazed by the fact that the game is played by humans. The handicapper, with a little bit of skill and knowledge, can spin this to their favor. It’s all about making sure that you look for signs that point to a team that can have above average performance, or signs that point to a team that will deliver a lackluster performance. Either way, there’s profit to be made.

Getting deep into handicapping can definitely raise the chances of making money from all of your wagers. This means that you can’t give in to emotion. Betting with your gut or betting on what other people think is popular is a sure way to end up losing your bankroll for the season. If you’ve given yourself a set limit every season, then it goes without saying that you really do need to make it work as much as possible.

What you have to start with when it comes to figuring out a team is their emotional state. If you’re going to handicap a game, you need to figure out what type of situation the team is in. There are essentially four situations that are agreed upon for teams across the board, regardless of sport: redemption, revenge, letdown, and look-ahead.

Sports Betting

The Redemption Situation

The redemption situation is when a team has really done poorly in the previous game. They come to the field fresh, looking to prove themselves worthy in the next game. This can be incredibly profitable, but you have to make sure that you work out whether or not it’s worth pursuing.

The Revenge Situation

This one is our favorite, as the revenge games are the ones where a team has lost against another *equal* team lost the last time the two teams met. In order for this to be profitable, the team has to looking for revenge for the loss, as well as have the power to beat the other team. If you’re looking at a weaker team that can’t fight back, then it’s really not a revenge situation worth betting on.

You want to tread carefully on this one, because revenge games attract a lot of media attention and thus speculation. This can eat into your profitability in terms of odds.

The Letdown Situation

The letdown situation is when a team is coming off a big game. If they are coming from a tough loss against a better opponent, then they aren’t in great spirits. They feel bummed. On the other hand, if they tackled a bigger opponent and won, then they’re elated and they might perform a little better than what you expected.

The Look-Ahead Situation

A look-ahead situation occurs when a team has a big contest the game after its upcoming game. So if you have two top teams going head to head after playing a weaker team, then you know that you might want to get into the action.

Looking at these factors will help you pick better teams and take advantage of situations that you might not have thought about previously. Good luck!

Money Management 101: Part One

So many gamblers fail, because they fail to manage their money wisely. The adage says, “a fool and his money are quickly parted”. This adage really hits the nail on the head for those seeking to gamble for fun, profit or both. Money management is one of those buzz words in gambling (especially sports betting) that is thrown around, but never fully explained. In fact, I would venture to say that many people don´t understand what all it entails and more probably don´t know how to manage their money well.

Money management is one of those practices that can be shallow or extremely deep and complex. The very casual gambler most likely wants a simplified approach. However, the consistent gambler needs a more detailed and well thought out approach to money management if he or she is going to have a shot at being successful over the long run. In the end, small mistakes or loose plays can gobble up any profit that was made and turn a winning gambler into a break-even or possibly losing gambler.

Money Management

Today we are going to start a mini-series on the topic of money management. I don´t know how long the series will go – perhaps just one more installment. I am going to try and keep each piece bite sized – about 300-400 words. This purpose of this first piece is to simply get you acquainted with money management and illustrate how important it is. In the next installment, we will begin to go over money management in more detail, including formulas you can use to manage your money wiser.

Many people think that money management is solely about increasing or decreasing your bet size, but it is much more than that. It all starts with your bankroll. Your bankroll determines what you can and can´t do in the casino, poker room, sports book and so forth. For those not familiar with the term, your bankroll is the amount of money you are willing to lose gambling. It is the source of all money management practices and the very first thing you must decide on.

The casual gambler (especially when sports gambling) will want to at least set up a bankroll for the day he or she is about to play. A better strategy is to come up with an amount for the entire month or year and go from there. A sports bettor should set up a bankroll for an entire season. For example, if you were going to bet on football games at a sportsbook often, you should create a bankroll for the whole season. Once that bankroll is gone, you are done until the next season. Some sports bettors ”perhaps many” bet on different types of sports and like to have one main bankroll. All bets go through that bankroll and when it is gone, betting is done for the calendar year.

As you can see, there is more to money management than simply making a proper bet. A lot of thought and time begins with the bankroll. In our next installment, we will begin going deeper with the bankroll and I will give you some simple formulas to use. All of the information I am giving you is based on my own experience as a winning gambler – a rare breed. In order to join these ranks, you must master your money first and foremost. Without this solid foundation, there´s little hope of turning a profit.

Arsenal’s English Core

The year was 2006. Arsenal had just beaten Real Madrid against all the odds in the Champions League round of sixteen. West Ham manager at the time, Alan Pardew hit out at the Arsenal team which accomplished the feat, noting the lack of Englishmen in the squad:

“I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain. I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team. It’s important that top clubs don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the English Premier League and English players should be involved.”

Arsene Wenger responded by saying he judged players based on their talent, not on their passport. In a sense, you may feel Wenger would have liked to have more English talent at his disposal at the time, however, having moved to the Emirates Stadium, with a limited budget, it was hard to get English talent for value.

Fast forward eight years, and the tables have turned in dramatic fashion. Pardew, now managing Newcastle, has less first team English players than Wenger. In fact, Pardew has all but copied Wenger’s initial transfer strategy by buying cheap French players and selling them for a profit. Newcastle are virtually a French team now and would have had more French players had they not sold Romain Amalfitano, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy earlier in the year.

Wenger meanwhile, has not only signed a host of British talent simply because of the homegrown rule but because one of more reason – they are simply more loyal.

“We look first at quality. If the quality is local, it is of course even better because it gives you more guarantee of stability because the players who are English who play for Arsenal are more likely to stay for a longer term than foreign players.”

Having lost valuable key players in Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie to name a few over the years, Wenger has had to constantly rebuild his sides in search of trophies.

The notion that British players would be more loyal is true – they will grow with the club, gain an affinity and love for the club and are less likely to leave to say, a foreign league for big bucks unless you’re Gareth Bale. Even if there was a situation where a British player wanted to leave to another top English club, given the homegrown rule and inflation of local talent, Arsenal would receive bigger profits than they would with a foreign player as well.

Wenger now has the likes of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at his disposal, with Carl Jenkinson out on loan. These players are forming the so called British core that Wenger had been craving and with most of them having played together for a while, the future is definitely bright for Arsenal.

Having won the FA Cup and Community Shield this year, those trophies have lifted a huge monkey off the players’ back and they can now challenge for more cups – and the British core will certainly play a huge role when it comes to future honours.