Connect with us

Football

Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Barcelona vs Real Madrid | Saturday 26 October | Camp Nou | 18:00

elclasicointro 1When people hear that the El Clasico is coming up, it’s enough to make the hair on any football fan’s skin stand on end – especially this year. Not only are there two brand new managers for both teams, but also two new number 11s – Gareth Bale and Neymar. The pair cost an estimated €148m between them. For the past few seasons, the spotlight has been between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but now we have the newcomers looking to make their own impact on the game – a mouth-watering spectacle to add to a Hollywood blockbuster of a fixture.

Gravity

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

gravityintro 2I remember when scoring 300 meant something special in a one day international cricket match. Perhaps I am just a weary cynic, but wasn’t there something remotely vulgar about the ease in which India chased down 360 runs? The contest between bat and ball has been so skewed in favour of the batsman by the advent of T20 cricket, that one almost feels there is some underlying agenda against the bowling fraternity. Digressions aside, this notion came to me while I was watching Fiorentina clinch a spectacular come-from-behind victory against Italian champions Juventus.

UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid vs Juventus Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Real Madrid vs Juventus | Wednesday 23 October | Santiago Bernabeu | 20:45

champsleaguerealvsjuventusintro 1Two veritable juggernauts of European football go head-to-head in a fixture that will have massive implications for the entire fabric of the group. Neither side has been at their metronomic best in their domestic leagues, but Real Madrid’s utter dominance of the group thus far will mean a victory here may render the return leg in Turin somewhat redundant. Madrid are flying, having scored ten goals in two games, while Juventus’ surreal European malaise means that Galatasaray can harbor real hopes of advancing in the second qualification spot, despite having been routinely dismantled 6-1 at home by the mighty Galacticos. Antonio Conti knows then that he may need something from this precarious journey, while Madrid know that a victory will offer them a huge buffer with relatively basic fixtures following the return leg in Turin.

UEFA Champions League: Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund | Tuesday 22 October | Emirates Stadium | 20:45

champsleaguearsenalvsdortmundintro 1Both Arsenal and Dortmund know how vital these back-to-back fixtures will be in determining the overall complexion of Group F. Arsenal are flying high atop the Premier League, seemingly striking the perfect balance between their particular brand of overwrought complexity and a more clinical professionalism. Dortmund have kept the pace in Germany; they lie just a point behind the megalithic entity that is Bayern Munich. Last year’s runners-up know that defeat here may leave them in a slightly precarious position in the group, especially considering that Napoli should be too strong for an unfortunate Montpellier side. The last time these sides met was in the 2011 group phase, where Arsenal proved far too good for a team still very much in the development phase. This year should be a completely different story.

ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 7 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek7intro 1To say “it’s been a while”, is an understatement. Whilst we’ve been entertained of late with the Telkom Knockout, CAF Champions League and some international friendlies, the PSL has got away from us. For many teams, this early in the campaign sees new players still looking to gel, changes in management and playing style still not quite settled and the eagerness to make strides in the league all too evident. With two full rounds of fixtures this week, we’re getting back into the swing of things in a big way.

English Premier League Week 8 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek8intro 1With England safely qualified for next year’s World Cup, it would probably be wise to expect a celebratory return to Premier League action this weekend. This weekend’s fixtures offer up a distinct lack of marquee clashes; Southampton’s trip to Old Trafford stands out as the most inherently exciting prospect for the weekend. The likes of Chelsea and Arsenal seem to have fairly routine home assignments, a fact that will no doubt heap considerable pressure on a Liverpool side visiting a preternaturally temperamental Newcastle. The stereotypically French quality of constantly undulating passion finds its sporting embodiment in a Newcastle side that cannot be accused of being boring. Another factor that must be considered this weekend is next week’s Champion League encounters; City have developed quite the reputation for underperforming on the eve of their European ventures. Pellegrini must be careful to not put all his eggs in one basket however, as West Ham will be flowing with confidence following their nigh on incomprehensible victory at White Hart Lane.

Newcastle vs Liverpool Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Newcastle vs Liverpool | Saturday 19 October | St James’ Park | 13:45

newvslivintro 1The Premier League returns this weekend and with a bang, Newcastle host joint table toppers Liverpool at St James’ Park in a fixture that always serves up goals. The Magpies lie in eleventh, just outside the top half of the table, and will be looking to put an indifferent season thus far behind them. However, with Liverpool’s dynamic strike duo, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, both in sublime form, Newcastle will need to combine defence and attack effectively if they hope to come away from St James’ Park with any points.

CAF Champions League: Esperance vs Orlando Pirates Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Esperance vs Orlando Pirates | Saturday 19 October | Tunis | 20:00

cafchampionsleagueesperancevspiratesintro 1Orlando Pirates will play their crucial CAF Champions League semi-final 2nd leg in Tunisia on Saturday. The Buccaneers go into the match in a confident mood after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Orlando Stadium three weeks ago. This was a long way from the perfect result for the Buccaneers to take to Tunis. Home wins are usually key in continental competition, and Pirates have now won just once in Orlando since the group stages of this year’s Champions League kicked off. However, any win, or a score draw, will see them through to the final and the Buccaneers will feel they are capable of that.

The New Breed

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

thenewbreedintro 1England’s eventual World Cup qualification was a triumphant conclusion to an edgy campaign, and their strong attacking display against Poland certainly must have heartened some of Roy Hodgson’s more outspoken critics. In the wake of their progression, I think it is an important time to reflect on the next generation of English footballers. There is no doubt that the Barclays Premier League has been an unqualified success since its inception in the early nineties. One disturbing counter-trend is the manner in which the English footballing identity has been submerged under the weight of the growing influence of external national forces. Arsene Wenger’s revolutionary Arsenal side of the early nineties was a testament to the changing mores that have come to threaten the progression of the average British-born footballer. But amidst the fall of the old empire there does appear to be a silver lining, as a whole host of British talent stands in defiance against systematic constraints seemingly hell-bent on keeping their potential unfulfilled.

World Cup Qualifier: England vs Montenegro Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

England vs Montenegro | Friday 11 October | Wembley | 21:00

engvsmonintro 1England have made tough work out of this qualification group. Roy Hodgson can wax lyrical all he wants about the vagaries of cold away trips to Montenegro and Ukraine; it’s hardly as if they had a Spain or a Belgium lurking menacingly in their group. Having said that, they still have their destiny in their own hands; home victories against Montenegro and Poland will guarantee participation in football’s greatest showpiece. They should be wary about their opposition however; they have drawn their last three matches against a steadily improving Montenegro side harboring their own dreams of Rio.

World Cup Qualifier: Ecuador vs Uruguay Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Ecuador vs Uruguay | Friday 11 October | Quito | 23:00

ecuvsuruintro 1This encounter has slowly turned into one of the most crucial rivalries in South American football. The first superpower of world football, Uruguay, take on a team that used to make up the proverbial numbers. Automatic qualification for the World Cup has often hinged on the result of this encounter and this year’s clash should prove no different. Uruguay are level on points with Ecuador but have an inferior goal difference. Thus they currently occupy the dreaded fifth spot, a spot which eschews the comforts of automatic qualification for a grueling two leg qualifier. The importance of this match cannot be overstated.

CAF World Cup Qualifier: Ethiopia vs Nigeria Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Ethiopia vs Nigeria | Sunday 13 October | Addis Ababa | 15:00

nigvsethintro 1Another encounter which looks to be an exciting match in the CAF World Cup Qualifiers sees Nigeria travel to face minnows Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s progression in the last four years has been phenomenal. Qualifying for the African Nations Cup, World Cup Africa Zone top ten and CHAN tournament to be held next year in South Africa has been no fluke. Both sides will be meeting for the first time since January 29 when the Super Eagles beat Ethiopia 2-0 in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final Group C game.

CAF World Cup Qualifier: Ivory Coast vs Senegal Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Ivory Coast v Senegal | Saturday 12 October | Abidjan | 19:00

icvssenegalintro 1Ten countries in Africa will be involved in preparations that will lead towards the picking of five tickets allocated to Africa for the Brazil 2014 World Cup. The final round of CAF World Cup Qualifying will take place with this week’s matches to be followed by the second legs in mid-November. The ten group winners were drawn against each other last month in Cairo with two of Africa’s best picked for the first fixture. Number one ranked CAF side Ivory Coast will come up against one of the most talented African teams, Senegal. The other four ties will see Ethiopia play Nigeria, Tunisia meet Cameroon, Burkina Faso against Algeria and Ghana take on Egypt.

It Takes Two

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

ittakestwointro 1Since the explosion of the Europhilic tika-taka tradition in English football, few could have envisaged the rebirth of something so antiquated as the strike partnership. In a day and age where the centre-forward has been transformed into a reclusive gunslinger, the Suarez-Sturridge duo has the capacity to redefine populist footballing mores and perhaps even reignite a woefully stagnate attacking art.

English Premier League Week 7 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek7intro 1With an international break approaching, teams will be desperate to further their positions in a domestic table already starting to take a semblance of shape. As it stands, North London and Merseyside hold sway over the Premier League domain, but an interesting set of fixtures could offer some movement at both ends of the table. City’s shock defeat to Villa was exacerbated by a humiliating loss at the hands of Munich in Europe. City host the undefeated Toffees in what is turning out to be a game of unexpected importance. The other half of Manchester may be faring better in Europe, but are really up against it at home. United’s disastrous loss to West Brom last week must have sent a paralyzing dose of panic throughout the usually taciturn Moyes. Arsenal travel to giant killers West Brom with hopes of restoring some order to proceedings, while Liverpool fans are no doubt licking their lips in anticipation of Crystal Palace’s visit to Anfield.

Juventus vs AC Milan Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Juventus vs AC Milan | Sunday 05 October | Juventus Stadium | 20:45

juvevsacmilanintro 1This weekend the Italian Serie A serves up one of its biggest clashes. It’s the Old Lady versus the Rossoneri. Tradition versus tradition. Pirlo versus his old club. Juventus have continued their ever impressive league form this season and sit joint second while AC Milan have struggled and lie in eighth place. This match will go a long way in defining the season for the Bianconeri, who can’t afford to drop points even at this early stage in the season, with Roma and Napoli off to fine starts.

CAF Champions League: Orlando Pirates vs Esperance Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Orlando Pirates vs Esperance | Saturday 05 October | Orlando Stadium | 19:00

cafchampionsleaguepiratesvsesperanceintro 1Orlando Pirates continue their quest to add another star to their badge this weekend when they host Esperance in the CAF Champions League semi-final. There will be two legs with the away tie to be played in two weeks time in Tunisia. The other semi-final sees Egyptian giants Al Ahly play Cameroon’s Coton Sport. Pirates claimed the Champions League semi-final place after playing out to a 0-0 draw against visiting defending champions Al Ahly. With another Egyptian side Zamalek thumping Congo-Brazzaville’s AC Leopards (4-1), it meant that Ahly finished first place in Group A with 11 points. Pirates came second with eight while Zamalek moved up to third place and Leopards anchored the table on equal points.

UEFA Champions League: Manchester City vs Bayern Munich Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich | Wednesday 02 October | Etihad Stadium | 20:45

mancityvsbayernintroTwo of the biggest clubs in European football meet in what has the makings of a classic. Bayern are an established European dynasty who have thus far been ruthlessly efficient this season, while City are a team still struggling to forge their own coherent European identity. Their shock loss at Villa highlighted their inconsistency following last week’s devastating performance against United. This match could go a long way to determining the overall makeup of the entire group, and could be just the tonic necessary to assuage some of the discontent in the City camp.

English Premier League Week 6 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek6introPaolo Di Canio’s dismissal filled me with a sense of overwhelming relief and renewed faith in the powers that govern English football teams. Sunderland host a stuttering Liverpool side this weekend and will be hoping that their decision to sack the Italian will bring about some immediate validation. The glaring marquee fixture of the weekend has to be the London derby at White Hart Lane. For the first time in ages Chelsea visit Spurs as the categorical underdogs, desperately seeking a momentum boost in a season defined more by Mourinho’s commentary than actual performance. City travel to Villa hoping to continue their recent run of form while United will earmark the visit of struggling West Brom as a golden opportunity to regain some lost pride. This will be a testing week for all clubs following a strenuous week of Capital One Cup duty, which will no doubt leave some clubs feeling somewhat overcooked.

MTN8 Final: Orlando Pirates vs Platinum Stars Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Orlando Pirates vs Platinum Stars | Saturday 28 September | Moses Mabhida Stadium | 20:15

mtn8finalintroThe first piece of major silverware is up for grabs this weekend as Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars clash in the MTN8 final at the majestic Moses Mabhida Stadium. Dikwena’s disciplined game plan against Bidvest Wits at Milpark Stadium on Tuesday night booked them a place in Saturday’s final. They beat Wits 2-1 in the second leg, for a 6-3 aggregate victory. Pirates were the first to advance to the final after beating arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 on aggregate in Soweto earlier in the day. The two Soweto giants played to a 1-1 draw, but the Buccaneers went through after winning the first leg 1-0 last month.

Tottenham vs Chelsea Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Tottenham vs Chelsea | Saturday 28 September | White Hart Lane | 13:45

tottenhamvschelseaintroIt’s another big derby day in England this weekend as London rivals Tottenham Hotspur host Chelsea. The big three teams of London occupy the top four spots and this match will play a crucial role in the respective teams’ title races. Both sides will be looking for bigger performances from their summer signings, who are taking time to integrate themselves in the fabric of their teams. There is also the added subtext of Villas-Boas’ stint at Chelsea; there is clearly no love lost between the Tottenham manager and his former club.

ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 6 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek6introWith the next round of ABSA Premier League games ahead, it’s a good time to digest the opening run of the 16 teams fighting it out for the title. The league is as tight as one would expect this early on in terms of points, with the top nine sides all within three points of each other. There are still three unbeaten sides however, but as usual there isn’t too much separating some of the bigger clubs thus far. Current form and fitness is going to play a big role in terms of the schedule, with this set of fixtures being most teams’ third game in the last week. It’s with this apparent uncertainty that we look ahead.

English Premier League Week 5 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek5intro

The Manchester derby looms ominously this weekend as yet another titanic early season fixture. United have started to find some more consistency in recent weeks, while Manuel Pellegrini faces the City conundrum that is finding a balance between domestic and European commitments. Chelsea’s embarrassing home defeat to Basel in Europe shows the clear demarcation between expectation and reality as far as the London giants are concerned. Liverpool dropped their first points of the season on Monday at Swansea and will not have it easy with an expansive Southampton team visiting Anfield this weekend. Norwich and Villa looks like a fixture that is already burdened with the characteristic heft of survival frenzy while Newcastle continue to defy my expectations and will be looking for their third win on the bounce at home to Hull.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Manchester City vs Manchester United | Sunday 22 September | Etihad Stadium | 17:00

mancityvsmanutdintroOne of the biggest local derbies will take place in Manchester on Sunday. The Manchester derby has become one of the most high profile rivalries since Manchester City’s big money takeover in 2008. The Manchester teams are the last two clubs to win the Premier League, with Manchester City winning the title in the 2011/12 season and United being the current champions. Both have stuttered this season under new management and will want to win this important fixture, also to win over the fans in this early stage of the title race. World Cup final referee Howard Webb will take charge of this match. It will be the first time he has officiated at a Manchester derby since the 2010 Carling Cup semi-final second leg, when Wayne Rooney scored a last-minute winner to seal an aggregate victory for United. In the past, City fans have accused Webb of favouring United.

CAF Champions League: Orlando Pirates vs Al Ahly

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Orlando Pirates vs Al Ahly | Sunday 22 September | Orlando Stadium | 14:30

cafpiratesvsalahlyintroThe CAF Champions League reaches its final group game this weekend with Group A’s top two places still wide open for the top three teams. PSL champions Orlando Pirates go into Saturday’s crunch fixture against African giants Al Ahly knowing that a victory will see them into the semi-finals as Group A winners. Orlando Pirates have their work cut out after losing in Congo to Leopards last weekend and Al-Ahly beating Zamalek. Ahly now lead the group with ten points, while Bucs are level with AC Leopards on seven. Zamalek sit bottom on four points and are out of semi-final reckoning.

ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 5 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek5introThe unpredictability of the this league we love is once again apparent. We saw a weekend of easy-to-pick wins, and some frustrating results reminding punters of the risk and reward that this league brings. Those fixtures were the start of a busy week, with the majority of teams squeezing in three games in a maximum of eight days. Momentum is going to be a big factor, with short term form taking precedent to long term legacy.

ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 4 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek4introIf international friendlies and a smattering of qualifiers isn’t your cup of tea, it will have been a long two weeks. Thankfully, that all comes to an end this week and the PSL has been so polite as to give us a Friday night game first up, just for those who couldn’t possibly wait. On the local front, we witnessed a bittersweet Bafana Bafana victory, which saw them fall short of qualification into the knockout rounds for a spot in Brazil 2014. The hangover of disappointment was evident in a faltered performance on Tuesday, albeit with a weakened side and stacks of starters sitting out. The funny thing is that all the goals came from PSL players that night, something to take note of. The confidence that came with the win over Botswana is about the only thing we can take from this break. With the league the only focus now for lovers of South African football, bar the Bhakaniya fans, it’s appropriate we get straight down to it.

How Do We Play?

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

howdoweplayintroEngland’s performance in Kiev last night will live in memory in the same way as your last trip to the dentist; perfectly functional yet utterly forgettable. Roy Hodgson will no doubt lament the dogged discipline displayed by his side whose sole occupation seemed to be that of Spartan obstinacy. And while that’s all well and good for now, there is going to come a time where he must reassess the attitude of a squad whose whole doesn’t nearly represent the sum of its parts.

English Premier League Week 4 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek4introThe disruption of the international break could have been both a help and hindrance in stemming the early momentum of the league. Liverpool would have wanted to play twice a week in their form while Manchester United’s international players have had encouraging performances that could bolster their lacklustre domestic run. Roberto Martinez and Jose Mourinho face off when Chelsea travel to Goodison. This could be a telling barometer in the reigns of both managers with Martinez yet to truly stake his claim in the hearts of the blue half of Liverpool. Sunderland host Arsenal in what is sure to be another long day for Mr Di Canio, especially with a certain Ozil in tow. Newcastle travel to last season’s fellow strugglers Aston Villa in a game that will go some way to determining where both teams are fundamentally. And then the league leaders travel to Brendan Rodgers former club Swansea for Monday Night Football, and Rodgers will remember the way his side was soundly beaten there last season.

Everton vs Chelsea Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  
                                       
Everton vs Chelsea | Saturday 14 September | Goodison Park | 18:30

evevschelintroThe English Premier League returns this weekend after the international break and the biggest clash of the round sees Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea travel to Goodison Park to face Everton, in an effort to keep the pressure on log leaders Liverpool. Everton haven’t had as good a start as their opponents have had in the league and will be out to prove that last year’s relative success under Moyes can be replicated under new coach Martinez.

World Cup Qualifier: Ukraine vs England Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Ukraine vs England | Tuesday 10 September | Kiev | 20:45

wcqualengvsukrintroThe last time England played in Kiev was during the 2012 European championships, where they tasted defeat at the hands of a Pirlo-inspired Italian side. The tournament also contained a controversial 1-0 victory over Ukraine which effectively eliminated the host nation from the competition. That contentious ‘goal line clearance’ by John Terry was widely criticised, and ultimately proved a decisive moment in the tight defeat. Things could not be more precariously balanced than they are in Group H at the moment. Ukraine know that they will probably need a win in this home fixture to take the initiative in a group featuring both England and Montenegro.

World Cup Qualifier: South Africa vs Botswana Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

South Africa v Botswana – Saturday 07 September | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban | 15:30 

wcqualsavsbotsintroThe eagerly anticipated Group A clash between South Africa and Botswana is finally upon us and Durban will be abuzz with excitement as well as tension this weekend. Of course, the group was thrown wide open after FIFA stripped table toppers Ethiopia of three points following the side fielding an ineligible player in their victory over Botswana. The resultant three points gained by the Zebras means that three of the four teams are still in with a chance of securing a passage into the final round of qualifying.  Ethiopia head the log with 10 points, followed by Bafana Bafana with eight and Botswana with seven, obviously meaning that there has to be a result in the Durban clash if either team wish to have any chance of progressing.

World Cup Qualifier: Ghana vs Zambia Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Ghana vs Zambia | Friday 06 September | Kumasi | 18:00

wcqualghavszamintro

Ghana play host to Zambia for their final Group D 2014 World Cup qualifier. The winner will advance to the third and final round of the qualifiers in the African zone. The Black Stars lead Group D on 12 points, only one point ahead of their Zambian counterparts ahead of this crucial fixture. Ghana have won four of their five qualifying matches and have an impressive record of scoring 16 goals and conceding just two. Zambia happen to be a bogey side for the Ghanaians, so this is bound to be a tense affair.

World Cup Qualifier: Republic of Ireland vs Sweden Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Republic of Ireland vs Sweden | Friday 06 September | Dublin | 20:45
wcqualirevssweintroIn a group dominated by a resurgent German side, there is a real clamour for the second place position that will likely result in a playoff. Three teams are separated by the thin margin that is goal difference and this is going to be a crunch encounter. Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland side lay fourth in the group, but with Austria facing a daunting away trip to Germany there is every opportunity that this could prove a decisive fixture in the entire group dynamic. The Republic will be buoyed by the fact that they drew the reverse fixture in Sweden, in a match in which they had numerous chances to win the game. Sweden will however be looking towards the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic to press his quality on the game.  

Dismantling Deadline Day

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

deadlinedayintroDespite how cynical one feels about the vagaries of the transfer market, you could not help but become embroiled in what turned out to be an outrageous 24 hours of general footballing mayhem on Monday. I mean… it had everything. The notorious penny-pinching antics of Arsene Wenger were utterly obliterated by a staggering £42.5 million swoop for German talisman Mesut Ozil. Peter Odemwingie finally found a place to call home following his embarrassing attempts to manufacture a move away from West Brom in January. There was even a touch of the absurd, with Spanish papers reportedly sighting skulduggery on the part of imposters attempting to lure Bilbao’s Ander Herrera to Old Trafford. The wonderfully offbeat and utterly shameless nature of it all was hard to fully digest at first, but I will attempt to offer a glimpse into some of the more interesting pieces of business.

ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 3 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek3introThe midweek fixtures this week turned up some pretty textbook results, with no real upsets or shocks to speak of. Chances are, if you picked the favourites, you came away with cash, and hopefully some nice multiples were paid out. Probably the biggest stumbling block was Chiefs’ draw at home to a stand-out performance by Moroka Swallows, denying the home side a well-backed win. It’s time to get back to regular weekend action before another lengthy two week break at the beginning of September. Teams will be desperate to enter this international break with three-pointers, with those selected for Bafana Bafana duty looking to prove their selections correct. With that in mind, lets take a look at what’s coming up this weekend.

English Premier League Week 3 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek3intro

My predictions last week reeked of early season vulnerability. The tumult of an open transfer window coupled with early season growing pains always makes these first weeks a minefield. Sunday sees two of the most volatile annual encounters packed into one tantalizing afternoon. A seemingly buoyant Liverpool take on a Manchester United side in a deep period of transition. Brendan Rodgers must sense this is an incredible opportunity to turn a promising start to the campaign into a blistering one. Daniel Sturridge will look to continue his promising form while Wayne Rooney continues to ponder the existential quandary that is being a ridiculously well paid Manchester United player. Arsenal and Spurs will attempt to illuminate their Champions League credentials in a match overshadowed by the inevitable transfer of Gareth Bale. Both matches have added significance considering Chelsea are away on European duty. Teams will be looking to instil a platform this weekend with World Cup qualifiers disrupting the league next week, so expect some exciting action.

UEFA Super Cup Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Bayern Munich vs Chelsea | Friday 30 August | Prague | 20:15

uefasupercupintroIt must be serendipity that has brought these two teams together for this annual showpiece of European football. Chelsea and Munich are of course the last two winners of the European Cup, and it was Bayern Munich who Chelsea famously defeated two years ago to win Europe’s major showpiece. The match also rekindles the feud between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho; a rivalry born when Inter defeated Barcelona on the way to their historic treble under Mourinho. Chelsea have looked tentative in their opening league matches, clearly still adapting to the Special One’s return. Bayern Munich are also in a strange transition period following their treble winning success of last year. This trophy often plays host to drab encounters that lack intensity. This should be different as both teams aim to lay down a marker of intent in their periods of transition.

Arsenal vs Tottenham Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Arsenal vs Tottenham | Sunday 01 September | Emirates Stadium | 17:00 

arsvstotintroOne of the biggest derbies in English football will take place this weekend as London rivals Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium. Despite it being the early part of the 2013/2014 Barclays Premiership season, both clubs will be out to make an early statement. Their rivalry has certainly intensified in recent years, as the Gunners have been in freefall for quite some time and have gone seven seasons without a trophy, whilst Spurs have acquitted themselves well as top four hopefuls and made the quarter-finals of the 2010/11 Champions League. In fact, both clubs were only separated by a single point at the end of last season, in favour of Wenger’s men who claimed the fourth and all important Champions League spot with a final day victory over Newcastle.

Liverpool vs Manchester United Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Liverpool vs Manchester United | Sunday 01 September | Anfield | 14:30

liverpoolvsmanuintroThe 2013/2014 Barclays English Premiership season is now in full swing and promises to be one of the most intriguing yet, as all three of last season’s top performing clubs have changed management. The third round of fixtures takes place this weekend and heading the bill on Super Sunday is the Anfield clash between two of England’s most successful teams, Liverpool and Manchester United. The fixtures don’t come any bigger than this for these two clubs and unlike Monday night’s dull stalemate at Old Trafford, this one promises to be a spectacle.

The Engine That Couldn’t

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

enginethatcouldntintroFew careers can sing as sad a song as the one of England’s Scott Parker. The industrious midfielder embodies the archetypal English midfielder; determined, courageous, inexhaustible; he would have been a warrior in a different age. But alas, this is not an age that rewards warriors. Those who lament the death of an identifiable English brand of football will no doubt feel the same. The way that Paulinho was handed the number eight shirt before Parker was even out of the door encapsulates the difficulty facing traditional English players in a modern age of tika taka and transfer sagas.

PSL Week 2 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

pslweek2introBy the time the second PSL gameweek kicks off on Tuesday evening, it would have been 25 days since the beginning of the season. The lack of synergy between the league, cup competition, CAF Champions League and internationals means teams not involved in more than one of the above have been battling to keep themselves busy in the month of August. There are obvious positives and negatives to this, with lower league teams still being fresh after only one competitive game, whilst teams like Pirates already have six competitive matches under their belts. This has affected the league to the extent where Ajax Cape Town’s clash with Pirates has been postponed for a second time. Bearing this in mind, as well as some standout performances from the first round of the PSL, means we’re in for some interesting matchups in the midweek.

English Premier League Week 2 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek2introThe Premier League is well and truly underway, with most of the front runners delivering impressive enough starts thus far. Arsenal are the obvious exception, looking desperately undercooked at home against a spirited Villa side. Villa have certainly given a noble account of themselves in their first two fixtures at the Emirates and the Bridge, and this weekend they host a fledgling Liverpool side lacking a clinical edge. But all eyes inevitably turn to a potentially incendiary match at Old Trafford on Monday night, where Jose Mourinho’s active pursuit of Wayne Rooney adds an especially delicate flavour to what is always a titanic fixture. Important weekends loom for Newcastle and Sunderland, as Tyneside looks to avoid another difficult year in the top flight. Defeats for all three newly promoted sides last week showed that engendered goodwill and aptitude can take you only so far; some extra quality is needed if teams wish to navigate the perils of top flight football in England.

MTN8 Semi-Final: Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates

Manchester United vs Chelsea Preview

Money Matters

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

moneymattersintro

Some things in the world of football never change. The disproportionate ecstasy one feels when seeing an official plummet to the ground. The simple joy of an ill-advised post-match managerial rant when emotions override discretion. But not all footballing clichés carry such nostalgic charm. There’s the modern footballer’s propensity to defy gravity in an attempt to con a ref.  And of course there’s the almost pathological obsession with the transfer window, temporarily reducing the game into an E! Entertainment special. But it is perhaps the activity, or inactivity, of Arsenal Football Club that is fast becoming one of the more frustrating trends in the pantheon of footballing clichés.

CAF Champions League: Orlando Pirates vs Zamalek

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!   

Orlando Pirates vs Zamalek | Saturday 17 August | Orlando Stadium | 20:15

cafpiratesvszamalekintro

Orlando Pirates’ quest for CAF Champions League success resumes this weekend as they host Egyptian giants Zamalek at Orlando Stadium. The group phase reaches the halfway mark at the weekend with co-leaders Pirates and AC Leopards of Congo on four points and the Egyptian pair of Al Ahly and Zamalek, who ironically started out as favourites, on one point. Leopards host Al Ahly on Saturday afternoon in Dolisie, just hours before the match in Orlando.

Swansea City vs Manchester United Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Swansea City vs Manchester United | Saturday 17 August | Liberty Stadium | 18:30

swanseavsmanutdintroThe most anticipated football league in the world will start its 2013/14 season this weekend. The first week of English Premier League fixtures don’t serve up any big matches but all eyes will be on champions Manchester United as they travel to play a capable Swansea City without their successful manager of 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson.

English Premier League Week 1 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplweek1intro

The Premier League returns in a state of uncertainty regarding the futures of three of its premier attractions. Gareth Bale has been courted by Real Madrid less than a year after signing a new contract. The Luis Suarez debacle highlights the growing influence of player power and the manner in which it can undermine the integrity of the game. Perhaps the greatest mystery lies in the Wayne Rooney – Chelsea seduction, a situation all the more mysterious for Rooney’s complete lack of disclosure. The resolutions of these affairs could have a great impact on the overall fabric of the league; just imagine an Arsenal side with the finishing prowess of Luis Suarez. Then there is the plethora of managerial changes throughout the spine of the league. Moyes, Pellegrini and Mourinho assume their challenges at the top of the league, while Roberto Martinez faces a daunting task in resurrecting Everton’s Champions League ambitions. Stoke manager Mark Hughes faces a tough opening day encounter at Liverpool while the Premier League new boys all face stiff London opposition.

A Hard Bargain

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

hardbargainbale

The question of Gareth Bale’s destiny remains decidedly unclear in the aftermath of yet another week of tawdry conjecture. Only a week or two ago it appeared that this move was a foregone conclusion, requiring only superficial posturing on both sides to achieve the requisite ridiculous price. But Andre Villas-Boas has defied popular thought with his stance on the player, a position apparently met by Gareth Bale with some degree of indignation. Daniel Levy is renowned for his hardball negotiation style and will likely demand a smashing of the world record transfer fee, a price that Florentino Perez seems to find somewhat excessive. To try and defy Real Madrid is tantamount to heresy in a financial context that can best be described as survival of the richest. But I wonder if Gareth Bale recognises the quality of the project that Villas-Boas has implemented, a project that I would argue has far more substance than that of Madrid.

MTN8 2013: Orlando Pirates vs SuperSport United Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!   

Orlando Pirates vs SuperSport United | Sunday 11 August | Mbombela Stadium | 15:00

mtn8piratessupersportintro

The MTN8 starts this weekend with Orlando Pirates taking on last year’s finalists SuperSport United. The MTN8 features the top eight teams from the previous season’s league standings competing on a knockout basis. The quarter-final pairs are chosen according to last season’s standings, so the champions play the eighth-placed team, the runners-up play the seventh-placed team, and so on. Pirates finished third and SuperSport sixth.

Community Shield 2013: Manchester United vs Wigan Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!   

Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic | Sunday 11 August | Wembley Stadium | 15:00

communityshieldintro

English Premier League champions Manchester United take on FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield on Sunday. Last season’s curtain-raiser, won by Manchester City over Chelsea, was moved to Villa Park due to the London Olympics. But this summer’s clash between United and last season’s relegated Wigan is back at its traditional home, Wembley Stadium. The fixture will see David Moyes take charge of his first competitive match as United boss, while Roberto Martinez’s successor Owen Coyle will be looking to build on his side’s win last weekend by picking up another trophy for the Latics. United have been allocated 35 000 tickets while Wigan have only been given 15 000. So the champions travel in great numbers while Wigan’s allocation is based on the attendances across their two visits to Wembley in The FA Cup last season.

Pounds and Pence

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

poundsandpenceintro

The concept of financial fair play was initiated in an attempt to curtail the extravagant economic excess that has come to characterise European football in recent years. What this transfer window has indisputably proved is that this was nothing more than a vacuous symbolic gesture; chicken feed for a generation of supporters blissfully unaware of the damage that financial ‘deregulation’ seems to be having on a game constantly valorised for its democratising potential. Rumours of Gareth Bale’s imminent departure from Spurs to Madrid not only laughs in the face of financial fair play, but sends shivers through the entire fabric of European football.

PSL: Bloemfontein Celtic vs Mamelodi Sundowns Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!   

Bloemfontein Celtic v Mamelodi Sundowns | Sunday 04 August | Free State Stadium | 15:00

pslintroThe ABSA Premiership starts this weekend. Kaizer Chiefs kick the league off on Friday evening when they travel to Mpumalanga to face Black Aces, but the pick of the opening round of matches will be played on Sunday at the vibrant Free State Stadium. Clinton Larsen’s Bloemfontein Celtic will host Mamelodi Sundowns, who are looking for a better finish this season after their joint-worst ever finish in the PSL last season. Ex-Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane took over the reins during last season and has built a promising team capable of challenging for the league title.

Trophee des Champions: PSG vs Bordeaux Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

Paris Saint-Germain v Bordeaux | Saturday 03 August | Libreville, Gabon | 20:45

ligue1introLeague champions Paris Saint-Germain and Coupe de France champions Bordeaux have a long and passionate rivalry. This year the two meet in the traditional Ligue 1 curtain-raiser, the 18th Trophee des Champions, which pits the league winners against the cup winners. With six and four participations respectively, Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux are regulars in the Trophee des Champions. While PSG’s last triumph in the competition dates back to 1998, Bordeaux won the trophy in 2009, the first to be played overseas, in Canada. This year they play in Gabon, who along with Equatorial Guinea hosted a successful 2012 African Cup of Nations.

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2013 Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

USA vs Panama | Sunday 28 July | Chicago, USA | 22:00

concacaffinalintroTournament favourites USA, who have not won the Gold Cup since 2007, will face Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. The minnows stunned Mexico in their semi-final, booking their place in their first CONCACAF Gold Cup final since 2005 and setting up a rematch of that fixture. The Gold Cup takes place every two years and is held in the USA, the Americans having won four of the tournaments since 1991. Mexico have won the most, with six, and Canada have won it once. If Panama succeed, they’ll be the fourth side to add their name to trophy.

Carling Black Label Cup 2013 Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates | Saturday 27 May | Soccer City | 15:30

carlingblacklabelcupintroThe first major piece of silverware for the new season in South African football will be up for grabs this weekend as the Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates lock horns in the Carling Black Label Cup. This cup gives the fans the opportunity to “Be The Coach” where they get to choose the players to start in the team by voting. Pirates have won the two previous editions, both via penalty shootouts after 90 minutes. Tickets were sold out three weeks ahead of the much anticipated showpiece taking place at Soccer City.

German Super Cup 2013 Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich | Saturday 27 July | Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund | 20:30

germansupercupintroBorussia Dortmund will play host to Bayern Munich with the 2013/14 season’s first piece of silverware up for grabs: the German Super Cup. Fans of both clubs, and a multitude of neutrals, can hardly wait for the mouthwatering rematch of the two sides who contested the UEFA Champions League final only two months ago – as they did this very tournament last year. Indeed, a brief look at the statistics reveals that Bayern and Dortmund have played a defining part in the history of the Super Cup.

This is England

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

eplintro

Watching Tiger Woods struggle to regain his supremacy at last weekend’s Open Championship got me thinking. We saw glimpses of the old magic on the hallowed greens of Muirfield, but for the most part it was an example of the further humanisation of a once indestructible figure. In sport, as in everything else, things change. Just ask any Liverpool fan of the 70s and 80s. The transition from Sir Alex to David Moyes could be a cornerstone moment in the fabric of English football history. That may sound somewhat grandiose, but this is exactly how these shifts in sporting dynasties occur. While that new relationship takes its time to find traction, the pretenders to the throne have their own adjustments and plans to implement. The full impact of a transfer market headed towards mutually assured craziness is obviously a crucial wildcard, but I cannot resist indulging in some pre-season prophecy.

CAF Champions League: Orlando Pirates vs AC Leopards Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Orlando Pirates v AC Leopards | Saturday 20 July | Orlando Stadium | 20:15

cafpiratesvsleopardsintroOrlando Pirates kick off their CAF Champions League group stage against AC Leopards of Congo. Pirates were drawn in what looks to be the tougher of the two four-team groups. Joining them in Group A are Egyptian powerhouses Al Ahly and Zamalek. So nothing less than a win will be expected when they host the Congolese League champions at Orlando Stadium.

German Telekom Cup Semi-Finals Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

telekomcupintroThe Telekom Cup is a German football competition that has been held since 2009. The competition features four teams of the Bundesliga playing two semi-finals and a final. The 2013 edition will take place in Monchengladbach. The rules are as follows. Matches are 60 minutes instead of 90 (two 30-minute halves) and managers can make as many changes as they like. If the teams are level after 60 minutes, the match immediately goes to penalties. The two winners meet in the final, the two first-day losers meet in the third-place play-off. The first semi-final sees the hosts Borussia Monchengladbach take on Borussia Dortmund in a derby match, whilst Hamburg face the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the other semi-final.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Agent

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

agentintroIn sport, as in life, there are moments of such blatant absurdity that they can never fail to capture the fundamental silliness of it all. The uncontested scrum always brings a curious smile to my beleaguered face; the DRS system and its inclination to protect the umpires that it seems destined to replace. Or the way Wimbledon champion Andy Murray can’t quite galvanize a nation due to his surly self-seriousness. Perhaps it’s in the world of football and the hullabaloo of the transfer window that some of humanity’s worst sporting behaviour is fully realised. Increasing player power, reflected in the omnipotence of agents, has resulted in a distorted balance of influence where club uncertainty has never been higher.

FIFA U20 World Cup Final Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

France vs Uruguay | Saturday 13 July | Istanbul, Turkey | 20:00

u20frauruintroThe U20 World Cup final is set for Saturday with France and Uruguay to do battle for the right to be honoured world champions. France have met everyone’s big expectations in the Under-20 World Cup, navigating their way through a tough group to hit second gear as the knockouts progressed. Uruguay also finished second in their group and have taken down the likes of Spain and Nigeria in their quest for glory.

COSAFA CUP: South Africa vs Namibia Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

South Africa v Namibia | Saturday 13 July | Nkoloma Stadium | 15:30

savsnamintroThe 2013 COSAFA Cup kicked off in Zambia last weekend with the smaller nations battling it out in the group stages to book a place in the quarter-finals. Six nations were seeded straight to the last eight; Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Angola. South Africa were seeded to play the winner of Group A which consisted of Namibia, Mauritius and Seychelles. Namibia came out tops after their two matches and will look to overcome neighbours South Africa in the quarter-finals. The tournament, sponsored by South African Breweries and officially named the 2013 COSAFA Castle Cup, will be the 14th edition.

The Poisoned Chalice

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

poisonedchaliceintro

The first official week in charge of Manchester United should have taught David Moyes a fair share about the idiosyncrasies of managing a top flight European club. Firstly, he will probably have gained a sense of rejuvenated humility following the initial failed acquisition of Leighton Baines from his former club Everton. Remember the castigation he felt over City’s pursuit of Joleon Lescott? Nothing adds a dose of perspective like a seat in the lofty throne-room of Manchester United. There will also be a sense of surreal deja-vu surrounding the immediate future of a certain Wayne “England’s Great Hope” Rooney, an issue that will go some way in determining the relative clout of Manchester’s new Scottish patriarch. The overriding question remains; how does one follow in the footsteps of, perhaps, European club football’s greatest ever manager? The initial answer seems to indicate a careful interplay between personal managerial strategies and a reliance on Fergie’s brains trust.

CONCACAF Gold Cup: Mexico vs Panama Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Mexico vs Panama | Monday 08 July | Rose Bowl, Pasadena | 02:00

The CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Gold Cup is the main association competition determining the regional champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Like other continental competitions i.e. Africa Cup of Nations, the Gold Cup is held every two years. Peculiarly, the tournament is always staged in the USA. Together with USA, Mexico are tournament favourites. The opening day of the Gold Cup sees Mexico take on a capable Panama team.

Groundhog Day

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

groundhogdayintroYou know the guy at the bar regaling anyone who will listen about the old days?  He is habitually aggressive, has a slightly dazed ‘back in Nam’ expression, and is probably wearing a Liverpool shirt. Well this goes out to that guy, and his numerous compatriots littered around like so many of those historic memories forged at the fortress that was Anfield. Liverpool are the football club whom probably best encapsulate the seismic change in traditional footballing values that has occurred over the past two decades, and the acquisition of Brendan Rodgers, given his predisposition to the continental style of Spain, would have given the Kop some cause for optimism.  But a disappointing season last year coupled with bizarre transfer activity heralds the potential dawn of a fresh, revamped stagnation, one draped in the colours of the continent rather than their usual brand of good old fashioned English single-mindedness.

Argentinean Primera Division Final Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Velez Sarsfield v Newell’s Old Boys | Saturday 29 June | Mendoza (Neutral Ground) | 23:00

argfinalintroThe Argentinean Primera season is divided into two parts, the Torneo Inicial (Initial first round of 19 games) and Torneo Final (second round). It was previously known as the Torneo Apertura and Clausura. The winners of the two tournaments play a final match to decide the champion.

Viking vs Rosenborg Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
                   
Viking v Rosenborg | Sunday 30 June | Viking Stadium, Stavanger | 19:00

vikingvsrosenborgintroThe Norwegian league, known as the Tippeligaen or Eliteserien, is almost halfway through its season. This weekend serves up a clash between two title contenders, with second-placed Norwegian giants Rosenborg travelling to fourth-placed Viking. Rosenborg lie four points above the hosts and just two points behind the league leaders.

Confederations Cup 2013 Semi-Final: Spain vs Italy Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

Spain vs Italy | Thursday 27 June | Estadio Castelao | 21:00

confederationscupspainvsitalyintroThis game is tinged with the acrid pangs of revenge, with Spain looking to atone for their shock semi-final exit in South Africa in the 2009 edition of the competition, while Italy are looking for the necessary amelioration of the destruction that they received in the final of the Euros last year. The last seven years or so have marked a dramatic shift in the balance of power in European football, with the 2006 World Champions Italy eclipsed by the Herculean exploits of a Spaniard team designed for world domination. I suppose the current balance of power represents a victory for the purists, a valorisation that football need not abandon aesthetics at the expense of pragmatism. Spain play a highly disciplined, rigorous system that happens to embrace both beauty and brawn. Suffice to say, Italy will have their work cut out if they aim to add more silverware to their illustrious trophy cabinet.

Confederations Cup 2013 Semi-Final: Brazil vs Uruguay Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

Brazil vs Uruguay | Wednesday 26 June | Estadio Mineirao | 21:00

confederationscupbrazilvsuruguayintroAn all South American clash sees the host nation Brazil encounter a seismically unpredictable Uruguayan side ebbing between bouts of the sublime and the ridiculous. Brazil have enjoyed a painless path into the last four, buoyed by the mesmeric displays of a certain boyish number 10. Neymar has chosen this tournament as the time to announce himself to the entire international community, a community who has periodically doubted the potential of the precocious striker. He seems to be thriving under Scolari, giving him free range to express his abilities in an increasingly solid unit. Uruguay are hard to gauge at this point, after losing depressingly against Spain they ground out a tight victory over the tenacious Super Eagles. Then there was the debacle that was Tahiti, hardly the ideal preparation to face Brazil in terms of match-day intensity. Saying that, they may find the passions of this South American heavyweight clash more amenable to their abilities than the technical difficulties that Spain had to offer.

Confederations Cup 2013: Japan vs Mexico Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

Japan vs Mexico | Saturday 22 June | Estadio Mineirao | 21:00

Japan’s sensational defeat at the hands of Italy underlined their status as a growing force in international football. Alberto Zaccheroni’s men will no doubt feel a tad gun-shy after being on the receiving end of the ultimate Italian Job, but will take great heart in the brand of football that is on display. Mexico, on the other hand, have looked listless and uninspired in comparison. De La Torre’s men had failed to score in three consecutive qualifiers at home, and they have looked similarly dejected in this quasi-showpiece tournament. So with the semi-finals already beyond both teams, this represents the last opportunity to collect an international win in a competitive FIFA tournament, which could prove invaluable for the prospective World Cup campaigns of Japan and Mexico.

Confederations Cup 2013: Italy vs Brazil Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

Italy vs Brazil | Saturday 22 June | Arena Fonte Nova | 21:00

confeditalyvsbrazilintro

With a collective nine World Cups dispersed between them, Italy and Brazil represent the very pinnacle of international footballing legacy. With the semi-finalists of Group A already determined, the attention turns to avoiding Spain in the next concise knockout phase of the tournament. Brazil are riding a growing wave of national footballing fervour that stands in paradoxical relation to the prevailing mood surrounding alleged corruption by Brazilian officials. Italy are bouncing off what I can only describe as the most exciting international football match I have ever seen against Japan, a win that even Michael Corleone could not defend as being anything other than miraculous.

Ethiopia vs South Africa Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  
    
Ethiopia v South Africa | Saturday 15 June | Addis Ababa | 15:00

ethiopiavssaintroSouth Africa face a stern test in their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as they travel to Ethiopia to face the group leaders. Bafana Bafana have done half the job with a slick 3-0 victory on the road in their World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic last Saturday, but Ethiopia at altitude in Addis Ababa is a much tougher prospect. The win at the neutral Cameroon stadium was South Africa’s first away victory in a World Cup qualifier since 2008. Now Bafana need another in hostile Addis Ababa, which is 2,400m above sea level, against an Ethiopian side that have won both their home matches against the other teams in the group so far. Ethiopia beat Botswana 2-1 in Gaborone on Saturday and top Group A with ten points. If South Africa, on eight points, win on Sunday, they will have their destiny in their own hands when they face Botswana at home in their final match in September.

Confederations Cup 2013: Brazil vs Japan Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Brazil vs Japan | Saturday 15 June | Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasilia | 21:00

confedbrazilvsjapanintroThe opening match of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup sees hosts Brazil play Asian Cup winners Japan on Saturday. The intriguing aspect of this match sees the host nation of the World Cup match-up against the first nation to officially qualify for the tournament next year, having earned the point they needed in a 1-1 draw against Australia last week. This is an important match for Brazil in more ways than one, not only is it a tournament that will test the infrastructure of the competition organisers but is also the first real chance for coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his squad to play in a “meaningful” match, beyond the slew of exhibition games.

Confederations Cup 2013 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

confederationscupintroSince its conception, the Confederations Cup has drawn considerable wrath from footballing pundits the world over as an unnecessary incursion into the off-seasons of some of the world’s top players. Additionally, due to the fragmented nature of qualification for the tournament, there were often large discrepancies in quality that rendered matches virtually pointless. However, since the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, there seems to have been a shift in sentiment towards the validity of the tournament. Perhaps it has emanated from the fact that the latest two instalments of the competition have taken place in developing countries on the eve of World Cups, thus the tournaments have had the broader significance of showcasing the efficiency of the host country to bolster interest. In any event, this year’s instalment of the competition has an exciting blend of embedded talent and unpredictability that should make for an intoxicating blend of footballing action.

Let the Games Begin

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

letthegamesbeginintroThe return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea has precipitated added off-season speculation about the future of a club whose natural state is one of chaos. Perhaps this is the reason why the ‘Special One’ feels so comfortable returning to his former haunt; he himself being no stranger to the doctrine of disorder that Chelsea so readily expound. With a rather enigmatic statement emerging from his camp surrounding the spine of the squad, it seems that Mourinho has no intention of allowing the spectrum of chaos from abating anytime soon.


JANUARY



DECEMBER

Official Partners