Olympics – Mens Football.

With the Euro Championships over and the football season still just under a month away, the Men’s football is sure to be one of the most watched events of the games. Football-starved and Football-betting-starved males and females have the chance to once more get their daily/weekly accumulators on and sit back and watch the events unfold.

As a very keen ante-post punter there are an array of bets which particularly take my eye, with many bookmakers seemingly underestimating many of the South-American goal-machines.

The top goalscorer market is always one of interest and Neymar is clear-favourite at a best-priced 11/2 with Paddy Power. This is justified and in my opinion, rather large when you take a look at who Brazil will face in the Group Stage. Neymar is Brazil’s talisman and has been in scintillating form all season for Santos, scoring 30 goals in 31 games in the 2012 calendar year thus far, as-well as 7 assists. He has scored 9 goals in 18 games for Brazil at Senior International level and has earned plaudits from some of the worlds greatest footballers, with Pele even saying he rates Neymar as a better player than Messi. When taking this into account, as well as the fact he is penalty taker for Brazil, who are sure to earn numerous with their trickery inside the box, you can then begin to look at the Group that Brazil are in, and start to see why I think it is a massive price. Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand. No offence to each nation, but they are nowhere near the standard of the Brazilians, and with Neymar being at the heart of nearly every attacking move, you would have to fancy him to have one hand on the Golden Boot by the end of the Group stage.

His main rival for top-goalscorer crown come in the shape of Spain’s Adrian Lopez, who has been in fine form for Atletico Madrid this year. He is likely to lead Spain’s attack on his own, and has to be feared, especially as Spain’s Group is also considerably weak. At 8/1 with Ladbrokes, he could provide a very safe each-way bet, as he is sure to have many chances to prove his worth within the Group Stage. The only negative is, if he fails to impress early on in the competition,  there is a chance he could lose his place as the lone striker.

Neymar’s team-mates Hulk and Pato are close behind in the betting, at 9/1 and 10/1 respectively and are both clinical attackers. However neither are certain to start, so it would be a slight risk, to plough in confidently into the pair, with Hulk often allowed to drift wide to create chances for Neymar who, although has often played down the wing before, is likely to start down the middle. However, if Neymar is to start in a wide-left position, it is likely that Leandro Damiao will be starting down the centre, and he is currently 20/1 at Paddy Power, which looks massive. Brazil’s centre-forwards are likely to get goals in any major tournament, and if he is given the chance, the Internacional is sure to keep the trend going and he will be keen to impress Tottenham who have been following the progress of the youngster for a while. He is offered at a lowly 8/1 with most bookmakers, so be sure to catch on to the 20/1 as soon as possible as I am sure he will start the tournament a single-figure price with every bookmaker.

Other interesting candidates are the Uruguayan pair of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, who are both 10/1. Uruguay have a very strong squad and have shown they can score lots of goals as a team, with their 6-4 victory over Chile proving this. Suarez scored a hat-trick in that game and looked at his imperious best, having often been creator as opposed to finisher at Anfield last season. He has improved his shooting accuracy and looks a good bet, as the team is sure to advance to the latter stages of the tournament. However of the pair, I would side with Edinson Cavani, the forward has became a new player since signing fo Napoli in 2010 and has so far bagged 66 goals in 94 games, including goals against both Manchester City and Chelsea in last years Champions League. He is clinical and has proved himself at the highest level, meaning he will be fearless heading into games for the Olympic side, having already represented his country at senior level 40 times. The  €100 million price-tag that has been slapped on him by Aurelio De Laurentiis will provide a bit of pressure, but the players inclination to move away from Napoli will mean he will be trying extra-hard to draw attention from the biggest clubs across Europe.

In the outright market, it looks set to be a three-horse race for the Gold Medal, between Brazil, Spain and Uruguay. The Brazilians are worthy favourites, with such a strong side, with tremendous strength in depth. Their exuberance will add sparkle to the competition, with the flair of Neymar, Pato, Hulk and Ganso, coupled with the creativity of the reportedly Chelsea-bound Oscar, who pulls the strings in the midfield, they look set to claim a medal at the very least. However at a best-priced 6/4, it looks no value at all, and although they controlled the game for large periods of time against a newly-formed Great Britain side in a friendly, they hardly set the world alight and will come up against tougher tests during the tournament.

Spain are next in the market at 11/4, the same price the senior national team to land Euro 2012 which they duly did. They have chosen three of the players who helped win the Euro’s in their squad, with Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez being selected. This experience will help the squad, and it looks as though Spain have the right mix of flair to tie in with their solid defence and accomplished goalkeeper, Manchester United’s David de Gea. Cristian Tello, Iker Muniain, Mata and and Adrian Lopez look set to complete a scintillating front-four which is certain to scare every set of defenders at the games. Juan Mata will be instrumental in the teams success and the 24 year-old Chelsea man will come into the tournament with bags of confidence after managing to bag a goal in the 4-0 victory over Italy in the Euro Final. Spain’s Olympic Coach Luis Milla has been involved with coaching the Spanish under 19 squad before moving onto the under 23’s so he knows a lot about the group of players which is sure to help, as the players already have a relationship with Milla and understand his free-flowing footballing philosophy. They will surely be disappointed if they don’t manage to top what looks a relatively simply Group, consisting of Japan, Honduras and Morocco.  This will mean their route into the final will be the simplest it could be, and a Silver Medal looks set to be the least they can expect.

Uruguay have been heavily backed in from 12/1 to a now best-priced 7/1, after a series of good results in the run up to the games. They have class running through the spine of the team with big things expected of the centre-back partnership of Alexis Rolin and Sebastian Coates,  Calzada and Rios in the centre of midfield, as-well as the attacking quartet of Cavani, Suarez, Ramirez and Hernandez. They looks set to comfortably advance to the latter stages of the tournament, but I feel their defence, which is prone to leaking goals (shown after recently conceding 4 against Chile), will struggle against the likes of Spain and Brazil.

Great Britain will have home advantage, but don’t look set to strong challenge for the Gold Medal. Drawn in a tough Group, with Uruguay, it is likely that Team GB will finish second in the Group and will come up against Spain a lot earlier than they would have liked. GB have opted for Giggs, Bellamy and Richards as their over-23 players and although they are all brilliant players in their own right, it looks as though we lack the class and flair to pose a real threat in the latter stages. Pace and Strength is something the team has in abundance but there is only so far that will get them, as during the 2-0 defeat against Brazil, the team looked static and although it is obvious that they will learn to play with each-other and understand their team-mates style of play as the tournament progresses, I don’t think it will be enough. All this being said, it would be no shock to see GB contesting the Bronze medal game, as I would fancy the chances of the team against other side apart from Brazil, Spain or Uruguay.

Advised Bets:

2 points win: Neymar Top-Scorer – 11/2 – Paddy Power

1 point e.w: Leandro Damiao – 20/1 – Paddy Power

2 points win: Spain – Outright Winner – 11/4 – Paddy Power

1 point win: Spain v Brazil – Finalists – 3/1 – William Hill

1 point win: Neymar (TGS) @ Spain to win – 33/1 Paddy Power