Champions League Final Preview – Manchester United Vs Barcelona

On the 27 May, Manchester United will battle with Barcelona in the final of this season UEFA Champions League at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Both teams have the credential and fire power to become this season European Champion. Manchester United can become the first team in 19 years to retain the trophy they won last year. Ac Milan was the last team to win back-to-back European Champion Club’s Cup (the name for the previous version of UEFA Champions League) in 1989 and 1990.

Both teams will be missing key players in the final through suspension and injury. Barcelona will be without Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves. Abidal was red carded in the second-leg semifinal against Chelsea, while Alves received his third yellow cards of the tournament in London. Darren Fletcher of Manchester United will miss the final after collecting a red card for a foul on Cesc Fabregas in the second-leg semifinal against Arsenal. Barcelona Rafael Marques is definitely rule out of the final due to injury on his left knee. However, Andreas Iniesta and Theiry Henry look set to miss out as well. Iniesta picked up a thigh injury in his side’s 3-3 draw at home to Villarreal. Henry is fighting to be fit after picking up a ligament injury in the game against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona’s manager, faces some difficult selection choice in defence due to injury and suspension. Alex Ferguson has fewer headaches among the two managers as he has almost a full squad at his disposal. Daren Fletcher being the only set back but he has enough quality in his squad to replace Fletcher.

This game will also feature a battle between two of the best footballer in the world at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Messi has been the key factor for the rise of Barcelona this season. Ronaldo maintained his momentum from last season to help Manchester United in winning several trophies this season. But for this season, the ultimate prize which both really wants is the UEFA Champions League.

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Cherish The Present Moment

Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of a perfectly wonderful moment thinking about what you’re going to do next? We all do it and it’s something that most of us have to make a conscious effort to correct. What’s so bad about letting your mind wander off to the next big thing or the memories you hold on to from years ago? You miss out on all of the things happening around you right now. The next thing you know, you’re living that moment you were thinking about so longingly yesterday, but your mind has moved on to tomorrow or is stuck in a moment from two weeks ago. Challenge yourself to start living in the present, starting now.

Stop Living in the Future

During our younger years we tend to spend a lot of time wishing for the future. We see all of the privileges that come with growing up and we wish our time away. We wish for the day we get our driver’s license, we can’t wait to move away to college, and then finally, to graduate into the «real world.» All of a sudden, our college days are over and we wish we could go back to those days. The wisdom to appreciate these years is not commonly found in teenagers and young adults, but it’s important to slow down and cherish these moments now before they are gone.

Stop Living in the Past

After you lose a loved one to death, it’s common to find yourself living in the past. You think about how great your life was when the person you lost was still a part of it. There’s a difference between keeping the memories of your departed loved one alive and missing out on your life now because you’re stuck in the past. Even though your loved one is gone, there are people in your life now who care about you very much and who want to see you happy. Don’t miss out on that love and happiness that is all around you now because you can’t stop thinking about the way your life used to be.

We all have one life to live. Live your life in the present and try to cherish each moment as it happens. We’re only human, so you’re bound to find yourself longing for a different time every now and then. It’s okay to hold onto your memories and to get excited about the future, but don’t let those past and future moments keep you from cherishing the moment that is happening right in front of you.

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Asian Handicap Betting Matrix

Named for its origins in the east, the Asian handicap can be summed up in the simplest of terms as the practice of point spread betting in soccer matches. Although this betting model has been used in hockey for years, it is relatively new to soccer. It has gained considerable popularity largely due to the fact that it has an increased probability for winning, in contrast to traditional wagering practices such as 1X2. Bookmakers always offer higher odds on Asian handicap, routinely paying out at rates between 97-99%, as compared to traditional betting where the payout ranges normally between 89-94%.     

Where the Asian handicap matrix differs from traditional fixed odds betting is that it eliminates a tie from the equation, using a handicap to force a winner, thereby reducing the maximum number of possible outcomes from three to two. This format offers two betting scenarios that each offer a 50% chance of winning, making it similar to the odds you would expect from a baseball or basketball game, games in which a tie is an impossibility. 

The system in its application is simple enough. The bookies designate a handicap or «line» for the weakest team in the match in order to bring the odds for each team as close as possible to dead even. The parameters of designating Asian handicap lines begin at 0 and go as high as 3. The handicap is determined by the disparity in the odds each team has of winning the match. The principle of the system in this context can best be expressed with the following example.  

You want to bet the Asian handicap on a match between Manchester United and Fulham. The handicap is 1.5 to Fulham and you take the points. For betting purposes this means that Fulham is essentially starting the game with a 1 1/2 goal lead over Manchester United. If the final score of the match is Manchester United 3-2 Fulham then you would win, as the final score with the handicap would be Manchester United 3-3.5 Fulham.  

A vast majority of the matches that are handicapped using the Asian matrix are given lines in intervals of 1/4 and 1/2 points, both of which  eliminate the possibility of a push as no team will ever win on the scoreboard by a fraction of a goal. With the fractional handicap, there is always a winner. Of course that means there is always a losing bet as well.   

We have seen an example of the 1/2 point bet, now let’s look at the 1/4 point bet. The 1/4 bet performs a bit differently from the ½ bet in that it splits the difference between the nearest half point intervals and distributes half of your bet to each one. To see this in practical terms we can go back to our Manchester United vs. Fulham example. 

In this example you have Fulham with 1 1/4 points and you are betting $500. With the fractional handicap of 1 1/4, you’re splitting your bet in this manner: $250 at 1 point and $250 at 1.5 points. Our final score was Manchester United 3-2 Fulham, which means that the bet tied ($250 at 1 with a final score of 3-3) and won ($250 at 1.5 with a final score of 3-3.5). In this example you would get back $750 from your original $500 bet. On the flip side of that equation, you can also tie and lose.  

From our example if we place the same $500 bet with a line of 1 3/4 and give Manchester United another goal we would have an example of a tie and lose bet. The final score on the scoreboard is Manchester United 4-2 Fulham, making the line score Manchester United 4-3.75 Fulham. You would tie ($250 at 2 with a final score of 4-4) and lose ($250 at 1.5 with a final score of 4-3.5). In this example, you would lose half of your $500 bet and be refunded the other half. 

Some Asian handicap bets will use whole numbers, which can result in a tie. However, the tie is administered as a push, meaning your full bet is refunded and there is no winner or loser.

Overall the Asian handicap is extremely attractive for the increased odds it offers and has a variety of betting options that will payout even money or better. 

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FC Barcelona Facts – History of Spanish Giants

FC Barcelona, ​​one of the world's richest and most successful clubs, has a rich history and a culture that is synonymous with the Catalonian part of Spain. Founded in 1899 by a group of English, Swiss and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has grown in stature with every passing day since its inception and managed to achieve the highest stature in club football by winning all the trophies that is possible by the side to win. Here are a few more interesting FC Barcelona facts for the readers' digest.

Since its inception, the club has won many trophies in both domestic and big competitions. Barcelona has been a club with arguably the best forward line in modern football. Back in 1910 when the club was relatively new and was full of players unknown and no fan following, they used to play matches with local clubs. It was back in the same year when they participated in the first ever UEFA competition. This was followed by a collaboration with the Football Association of Spain. Barton along with a host of other clubs propounded the theory of inventing and creating a new league for the top tier of Spanish football where teams would participate and the ultimate winner would be the best club of Spain.

Barcelona along with Atletic Bilbao and arch rivals Real Madrid remain the only 3 teams till date to have never been relegated from the top tier of Spanish football. Barcelona always has a political history as the club considered to be the heart of Catalonia, which had been an area of ​​disturbance in Spain as the region openly resisted the policies set by the Capital of Spain, Madrid. Catalonia has always been a part of Spain and it was during the late 2000 when the Spanish government allowed Catalonia to break away from Spain and create their own state. Barcelona, ​​till date, has won a sextet and ten Champions League trophies which is in itself a big feat.

Barcelona saw real progress back in 1978 when Nunez was appointed as the president of the club. His main objective was to make Barcelona a world-class team and a brand throughout the world. He remained at the club for 22 years and had set stringent wage policies to make sure that no Ayer becomes bigger than the club itself. He let go of star players likes of Romario, Ronaldo and Maradona just because he would not meet the unrealistic demands set by them back then. The team became invincible under the leadership of Johan Cruyff as he built a dream team consisting of a core of Spanish and English players like Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman.

The Barcelona team became a dream team and Cruyff's tactics was highly appreciated as he would bring the ideology of introducing total foot for the first team in the game. After the resignation of Nunez as president, the La Porter saw the club decline further. They won back their lost glory in 2008 when the club came back to the mainframe with the signing of Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho who decimated Real Madrid single-handedly. What followed after being the exponential meteoric rise of Lionel Messi through the amateur ranks at the club and it went on to win the Champions League along with La Liga and the Copa del Ray.

The club is ranked among the richest club in the world with a net property of nearly 2 billion pounds. Barcelona is a club to be feared and continues to hold the legendary status.

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UEFA Champions League Group Stage

Summer is over. That only means one thing: the Champions League is back. This year’s joint favourites, Barcelona and Chelsea, have fast become bitter rivals in this competition. That rivalry is certain to intensify since they were drawn into the same group at this early stage of the tournament. The format is as follows: 32 teams contest the group stage, divided into eight groups of four. The group winners and runners-up advance to the knockout stages, the eight third-placed teams move into the UEFA Cup third round, and the eight fourth-placed teams are eliminated. Here is an overview of all the groups with predictions on who we expect to win each group.

Group A: Barcelona (-118), Chelsea (+125), Werder Bremen (15/1), Levski Sofia (250/1)

Maybe the Chelsea-Barcelona rivalry won’t be quite as intense at this early stage. Both teams will advance from this group and there is a good chance they will meet again at a later stage of this competition. Chelsea look noticeably shakier this year. Their previously impenetrable defence looks slightly more lax. That will bode ill for the Blues. But unlike the past few years, with two Premiership titles under their belt, this season Jose Mourinho’s explicit goal is to win the Champions League. Still, we have to side with Barcelona here. They are goal scoring machines and should demolish Bremen and Levski, and they are more than capable of scoring against Chelsea. At close to even money, they are worth backing to win this group.

Group B: Bayern Munich (+125), Inter Milan (+163), Sporting Lisbon (6/1), Spartak Moscow (40/1)

Inter is a big price here and are worth backing. They have added strength, quality and depth to their squad and after the Calciopoli scandal were belated awarded last year’s Scudetto in Serie A. Sporting Lisbon are no pushovers, but Inter can and should get past them. There is one slight worry though. Bayern Munich is the sort of team that can run up the score against weak opponents like Spartak Moscow. If Bayern and Inter are level on points, Bayern could well win this group on goal difference.

Group C: Liverpool (-161), PSV Eindhoven (+450), Bordeaux (5/1), Galatasaray (10/1)

Although they are odds-on, it’s hard to look past Liverpool in this group. They are a well-organized side and lifted the CL trophy two years ago. Manger Rafa Benitez is experienced at European competition and should navigate his team through this group with ease. PSV are a shadow of the team they were last season. There is a good chance they won’t finish in the top two of the Dutch league, let alone replicate their above average Champions League form of recent years. Bordeaux and Galatasaray are second-rate clubs in this competition.

Group D: Valencia (-125), Roma (+150), Shakhtar Donetsk (20/1), Olympiakos (29/1)

It’s hard to understand why Roma are underdogs in this group. They are favoured to win this year’s diluted Italian league. Their squad is a lot stronger this season both on paper and judging by their Serie A results so far. But the Romans face tough Spanish competition in this group. Valencia have a disciplined and experienced Champions League side. They are deadly on the counterattack and stifle the offence of their opponents. This looks like a coin flip between Roma and Valencia, so we’ll take the Italians at odds-against. Keep and eye on Olympiakos. They won’t win this group, but, like many Greek teams, they can be dangerous in their home games.

Group E: Lyon (-125), Real Madrid (+163), Steaua Bucharest (10/1), Dynamo Kiev (50/1)

The collapse of Juventus has benefited no team more than Real Madrid. The Spanish giants picked up a handful more Galacticos and one of the world’s top managers, Fabio Capello. They are serious contenders for both the La Liga and Champions League titles this year. But they will have to get past their nemesis in this tournament: Lyon. The French side are perennially underestimated by the bookmakers despite excelling in European competition. We’ll happily back them again to win this group and possibly the whole thing.

Group F: Manchester United (-275), Benfica (+650), Celtic (13/1), FC Copenhagen (50/1)

Man Utd couldn’t have asked for a more favourable draw. But luck is what they’ll need to get any further than this stage. At this short price, it’s not worth betting on the Red Devils to win the group. Copenhagen are a dangerous team, having knocked Ajax out of this competition. They are a huge price to win the group and are worth a small punt. Benfica are solid as ever in Portugal and experienced in the Champions League. They should claim second spot.

Group G: Arsenal (-161), Hamburg (9/1), Porto (9/1), CSKA Moscow (10/1)

Arsenal were the surprise team of the Champions League last year, going all the way to the final and defying expectations with each match. This year, they seem to be overestimated. The Gunners have not yet settled into their new Emirates Stadium. The squad look noticeably uncomfortable and will take more time to jell. In light of the above, it’s worth looking at the others. CSKA are a huge price at 10/1 and the 2005 UEFA Cup champions must be backed to win this group. Russia is an intimidating place for visiting teams and the Muscovites are more than capable of claiming results from their travels.

Group H: AC Milan (-333), Lille (6/1), AEK Athens (25/1), Anderlecht (33/1)

Milan should cruise through this group with relative ease. They are capable of dismantling virtually any team in the world and opponents like Lille, AEK and Anderlecht are hardly dangerous challengers. Lille are solid in France and might hold Milan to a draw in their home leg. As usual, Greek side AEK will be tough at home too, but they are hopeless on their travels. Anderlecht don’t deserve to be in this competition. Even at this short price, take Milan.

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