The Community Shield is not a renowned betting attraction. Experimental lineups, limited motivation, friendly-pace, plenty of substitutions.
Still, here are a few interesting possible punts for Sunday’s curtain-raiser.
A repeat of last year’s scoreless stroll between United and Pompey or even a one-goal win for either side looks a decent shout.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 goals 9-5 Sportingbet
What about brave JT producing a “statement of intent”? There’s probably a goal bonus in his new deal as well.
Recommendation: First goal John Terry 22-1 Boylesports
Winner takes all
Chelsea to give Ancelotti an early prize and spark some post-Ronaldo “something fundamentally wrong with United” chatter.
Recommendation: Chelsea 90 mins 6-4 Bet365
The ultimate revenge mission. Perhaps the Waterford fans that streamed miserably out of Croke Park last September after Kilkenny’s clinical demolition job haven’t been dreaming of this day. But surely Davy Fitzgerald and the Waterford players have.
A defeat of that magnitude on the sport’s biggest occasion leaves a permanent scar on any playing career and the only way to rinse away the reminders is to somehow turn the tables on Kilkenny this time round.
Or at the very least come away with respectability.
Despite their rather unconvincing route to the semi-final stage, I think one factor alone will ensure Waterford make a much better fight of things this weekend; fitness.
Say what you like about Davy, but he has his Deise charges in excellent shape to make every contest a 70-minute game.
After the Munster final, much was made of another Tipperary fade-out. But perhaps more credit should be afforded Waterford for the way they hung on in a game that had seemingly slipped beyond reach.
Repeating the trick against Galway, this time with the reward of a late goal that just wouldn’t come against Tipp, suggested character rather than coincidence.
Factor in Big Dan’s mini-renaissance, the promising cameo of his younger brother and the continued excellence of John Mullane and you believe Waterford can cause the Kilkenny rearguard problems. And when is Eoin Kelly to produce his big performance of the year? Now would be the time.
Without Brian Hogan and Noel Hickey so far this year, Cody’s men have looked shakier at the back than we’ve seen for a while.
And the Kilkenny ruthlessness we’ve been in awe of for a few years now has only surfaced in patches this year. In fairness, when the work needed to be done against Galway and Dublin, nobody in black and amber was found wanting. But the hunger to punish opponents relentlessly doesn’t seem to be there.
There might just be a suspicion that some of Kilkenny’s pent-up dynamism is being held in cold storage for a potential clash with Tipp in September. An All-Ireland final day win over the blue and gold is the only thing missing from Kilkenny’s recent parade of glory. How Cody would love to wrap up the four-in-a-row with a comprehensive beating of the old foe.
All of which leads me to believe that Waterford – while not quite having the hurling to dethrone the Cats – have enough motive, power and purpose to make a match out of this one. For their part, you suspect Kilkenny will be happy to do enough.
Kilkenny by five or six – look for a good handicap price on the Deise.
Recommendation Waterford +8 (v Kilkenny) Evens
The Boks bore on. Peter De Villiers has been forced to defend his side’s robotic approach to dismantling their Tri-nations rivals after a second win in a week over New Zealand, both dominated by tactical and place kicking.
As we’ve seen in recent seasons, the South Africans aren’t usually ones for meekly changing their approach in the face of a little bit of criticism, so expect Morne Steyn’s boot to feature heavily again when the Wallabies visit Cape Town this weekend.
Having already lost to the All-Blacks in Auckland, Robbie Deans’s young side won’t relish another bruising away encounter. Undoubtedly, they will try to limit contact with the Bok pack, but that’s easier planned than executed.
With De Villiers admitting that his formidable outfit can still add greater efficiency to their game and pledging that his players will throw the ball around when the time is right, a ten-point or greater margin for the home side looks a good prospect. I’d take the Boks to match a decent handicap.
Recommendation: South Africa – 9 (v Australia) Evens