Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinals Handicapping: Favorites...or Germany

At this point in the world's greatest sporting event, there are no bargains to be had.  We look into the Luchametric crystal ball and see only favorites...except Germany...except the odds at this point are lame. If you can get odds at +350 or above on Deutschland, go for it.  Otherwise, even though we absolutely can see the organized, workaholic young Germans following Ozil all the way to the final and the world championship, the early odds don't make it a tantalizing punt.  In fact, the books have everything in their favor going into the tournament's final seven matches.

Can the Dutch beat Brazil in a one-off? Of course. Portugal showed that if you fall back and defend your half, Dunga and Co. run out of ideas and have to resort to the defenders making mistakes and/or their skill and athleticism coming through over 90 minutes.  Regardless, the rewards aren't worth the risk. Plus, Brazil at slightly better than one-to-one odds is always a good bet.

Neither Uruguay nor Ghana will be in the final.  But they could easily tie over 90 minutes.  If punt you must, then punt the draw on this one, or the under.  Ghana is young but athletic and fairly well organized; and Uruguay is organized and has some talent--but it's either Uruguay or the draw on this one.  Given how cautiously Uruguay has been willing to play, we like the draw.

Argentina is our favorite to win it all at this point, but the Germans are fully capable of a disciplined and systematic 2-0 win.  Their defense, combined with a deadly counter attack, are formidable.  Their absolute destruction of England showed that not only are they in the running this year, but that the German Youth are in line for the both the European championship in  2012 and the WC in 2014. Damn.  But La Albiceleste are in fine form and could give the German's fits.  Both teams will respect each other, and if you think either squad has fate on its side, go for it.  Team Nordecke Luchador feels this is Maradona's year to secure his place in football history in a way The Chosen One could only dream (Mourinho couldn't play for shite.)

Finally, the very early odds on Spain are irrelevant.  The Red Fury will dismantle Paraguay.  Spain versus Argentina will be epic.  The winner will face La Samba.  Wow.  An all-Latin final; possibly an all-South American final.  Imponente! Que barato! Hagalo mis hermanos! Hagalo!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

El Clandestino, El Vision and El Escheleto Combine on the Attack to Help Make it 2-0 Columbus over DC United

Three New Characters made their way onto the Luchametric scene on this epic day that also saw the Crew predictably trounce DC United.

Clandestino represents the North Side. El Escheleto bares his bones. And El Vision is elusive and  effusive as always.

The Red White and Blue fell short this day, but the Black and Gold were never in doubt.

Hagalo Columbus! Do It!

Friday, June 25, 2010

MLS Power Rankings Updated: World Cup and MLS Handicapping

Certainly, all eyes are on tomorrow's match between the Yanks and Ghana, with the clash between England and Germany a close second.  But the MLS picks up again starting tonight, so we've updated the entire blog (while watching the highly disappointing match between Brazil and Portugal).

The MLS Power Rankings have LA and RSL at the top with the Crew, Colorado, Dallas and Toronto rounding out the top of our table.  The drop-off below Toronto is enough to suggest that the top six right now are the cream of the league.  It will be very interesting to see how the long lay off for the league affects play.  Teams will surely be rusty, and so matches could be sloppy and the results unpredictable.  To the right are some recommendations for punters.

This weekend's World Cup Matches will surely be outstanding football.  Our predictions are limited.  We certainly like Uruguay over South Korea, but the odds could be better.

Emotions are too high for the US match for El Chupa to be even remotely objective.  The odds and probabilities seem spot on, and with extra time and penalty kicks now in play, teams that are relatively equal could play cautiously late in the second half.  This perhaps makes fulltime draws more likely, including the US match.  But again, our hopes are too high and our hearts are full--so we demur.

The English psyche is fraught with memories of losing to Germany in PKs in big tournaments.  We think both teams are beatable, and given England's performance in group play give a slight nod to Germany, especially with Mesut Ozil up front, whom we quite like.  However, we can see both teams playing cautiously, especially in the second half.  If punt you must on this one, punt the draw.

Finally, perhaps the most anticipated match from a pure love of the beautiful game standpoint, we have Argentina v Mexico.  Argentina is heavily favored, and we give them the nod as our pick of the weekend's matches.  But we think the odds on Mexico are highly skewed, and if you're looking to slap down 10 bucks for the hell of it, you can't do any better this weekend than dropping the price of a few pints on Mexico, who have been playing well since the pre-WC friendlies.  We don't think a Mexican hat dance over Messi and Maradona Inc is probable, but it's certainly possible.  Arriba Mexico! Our brothers in the CONCACAF!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Luchametric World Cup Handicapping: Brazil to Samba Over Portugal

Our predictions for today's matches are to your right.  Our predictions for tomorrow's matches are above.  We like Brazil for both its potential as a great match to watch and for its value.

First of all, in case you missed it, Portugal and Brazil have a rather long history, Brazil gaining its independence from Portugal in 1822 (but not from the Portuguese royal family) and then eventually becoming a republic in 1889.  Slavery was only abolished in Brazil in 1888, and there are still racial tensions in Brazilian society today, given its inherently mestizo social fabric (Portuguese/European; African; South American Indian).  As for Portugal, let's just say it has a certain attitude toward it's former colony, typical of former imperial states that have seen better days. Plus, um, Portugal has its own inherent racial attitudes typical of former imperial states that have seen better days.

Needless to say, these team will both want to beat each other....very, very badly.  It is essentially a World Cup Derby, which is one reason the books have given such good odds for Brazil.  Even without Kaka, the opportunity to bet on Brazil in a World Cup match with better-than-even odds is hard to pass up, and we think this match offers great value to punters, with the books undervaluing Brazil's superiority over Ronaldo and Co by as much as 7%.

Yes, a draw would send both teams through, but we just can't imagine either team playing for the draw from the start--too much history, too much pride, too much talent on the field.  And Portugal could be knocked out by a loss combined with a big Ivory Coast win. You think Brazil has any incentive to do just that?

In short, take Brazil and enjoy some outstanding football.  Do it.

As for Chile vs Spain, we think it's best to avoid this other post-colonial derby, as Chile is very tough and organized on defense and fully capable of stifling the Spanish.  Chile needs only a draw but a win sends them through, while Spain absolutely must win if they want to guarantee passage to the knock-out phase.  The likelihood of a Swiss win means their will be pressure on both teams and passions will run high.  Wouldn't Chile love to knock Spain out of the tournament?  And failing to advance to the final 16 would be a humiliation of epic proportions for the talented Spanish side.  We think Portugal is a paper tiger and Brazilian skill will prevail over 90 minutes, but this other match fraught by history is too close to call.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Luchametric World Cup Handicapping: Yanks and Argentina Best Bets


Barely in time for today's early matches, we give you our updated WC 2010 suggestions.

There are no real value bets today or tomorrow.  But we think Argentina over Greece and tomorrow's Yanks vs Algeria offer the highest probabilities and the highest pay outs.

Notice we've added draws to the probabilities and we have added a column indicating what each team needs out of the match in order to advance (or in some cases, to have any chance at all to advance given other results).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Luchametric World Cup Handicapping: Our Upset? Paraguay Over the Azzurri

By MJD and El Luchador

All eyes at Nordecke Luchador are on Gooch's knee, Donovan's mental stability, and the back four (who would have thought at this point we'd be worry about our defense and not our strikers?).  But in fervid and besotted anticipation of South Africa 2010 we offer our meager advice for several opening matches at this year's world cup.

All US fans of the beautiful game look to Saturday's match against England with bowel-shaking anticipation.  We firmly believe the US is being given short shift in this match.  Best odds have the US at a mere 13% chance of a win. This is abject nonsense.  We set this match at a  solid 50% England win; 25% US win; 25% draw.  But, we advise American punters to keep their hands in their pockets.  A US win is just not a good bet--but we absolutely do not count our Yanks out.  Further, English confidence is misplaced.  They are overlooking a team filled with solid professional talent well-seasoned in Europe's top leagues.  And Buddle, Gomez, and Findlay have demonstrated that North American soccer can no longer be discounted out-of-hand

We like Paraguay over Italy as our upset.  We looked closely at Denmark over Holland and Uruguay over France, but we think that France's talent is being overlooked by a world press hungry for stories and that the Dutch without Robben are still one of the top five teams in the world. Still, we think these will be great matches to watch.

Finally, we can't help but conclude that the German machine will roll over the Aussies (Oi!) and that Argentina will win handily over Nigeria in spite of Maradona's abject freaking lunacy.  Lastly, we see Cameroon perhaps falling behind Japan early but coming back to win pulling away.