US Open – Men’s Singles Alex Molcan vs Diego Schwartzman – Correct Score: 3-0 Schwartzman @ 2.15
Alex Molcan might indeed be the rising star in 2021 across the ATP tour, reaching a career high ranking of 136 just last week, earning 75% of his prize money this year as well as winning his first ATP challenger title just last month. The Slovakian breezed through qualifying, has won ten straight matches as well as 17 out of his last 20. This does include some decent scalps, beating Damir Dzmuhur in Wimbledon qualifying, and Robin Haase on clay on route to his title in Liberec.
This though, a whole new kettle of fish. Molcan has only played 9 matches on the main tour, and is coming off two hard fought victories (as well as qualifying) in the US Open. All against opponents nowhere near the calibre of the man who will be standing on the other side of the court come Friday night.
Diego Schwartzman is looming towards the peak of his powers on paper – sitting at world number 14 and 29 years of age, you sense the Argentine’s big run is going to have to come soon. His US Open campaign has started immensely strong, beating two good opponents in Ricardas Berankis and Kevin Anderson both in straight sets.
With World Number 8 Casper Ruud already being bundled out, Diego will be looking at this US Open as a chance to really progress, with a clash against players ranked 80 or 117 waiting for him in the fourth round. Can expect Diego to come out firing on his way to a fourth round grand slam appearance, winning this one comfortably over a youngster who will do himself no harm, no matter the result. 0.5 unit.
NFL – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys – Handicap (incl. OT) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5 @ 1.78
As we know, the Bucs are the defending Super Bowl champions. They lead off the season here at home against the Cowboys, and we think this one will end just as the Bucs previous competitive outing did at Super Bowl LV – with a resounding victory.
Tampa Bay have the greatest player in the history of the sport lining up for yet another year at quarterback in Tom Brady alongside an absolutely stacked offense with options aplenty and the #2 ranked overall defense according to football analytics site PFF.
The Cowboys have got their franchise QB healthy once again in Dak Prescott, back together behind the famed Cowboys O-Line which is healthy once more. This won’t be enough to overcome Brady and Bruce Arians in our opinion – a home matchup for the reigning champions to open the season provides Dallas with a steep mountain to climb. Ignore the poor preseason form of Tampa Bay – they rested a lot of their first team players – and the Cowboys were just as unimpressive. We’ve got the Bucs to win by at least a touchdown here. 1 unit
English League 1 – Cheltenham Town vs Milton Keynes Dons – Both Teams to Score – Yes @ 1.82
In this English third-tier match, we see last season’s League Two Champions in Cheltenham Town play host to an MK Dons on the back of four successive games without a loss. The visitors currently sit 11th on the table, despite only losing once so far this season.
Meanwhile, Cheltenham are in 17th after only managing one win to this point. Despite their lowly status in the league, The Robins have been far from disgraced in their league matches so far, scoring in all of them, despite losses to Fleetwood Town and recently relegated Wycombe Wanderers.
With goal-scoring midfielders Alfie May and Callum Wright fully fit after being rested for their recent cup-tie against Bristol Rovers, you’d expect that they’ll be able to find the back of the net against an MK Dons side who have only kept the one clean sheet in the league until now.
The Dons are also a high-scoring side, but there is a chance that leading goal-scorer Mohamed Eisa will miss this game through injury. Despite this, they should have the quality needed to find the Cheltenham net at least once, hence us taking this leg. 1 unit.
FIFA WC Qualification – UEFA – Ireland vs Azerbaijan 1 x 2
Ireland @ $1.56
Poor Ireland. They put on a tremendous show against Portugal, before Ronaldo broke Irish hearts with two very late goals to deny a famous victory.
It’s do or die time now. 0 points from 3 games, on which each occasion they lost by solitary goal. Surely Ireland will fancy themselves at home against Azerbaijan who are also yet to secure any points.
With both teams chasing a result, can expect goals too. 2 units.
FIFA WC Qualification – UEFA – Switzerland Vs Italy – Asian Total – U2.5 @ 1.72
These two teams met each other as recently as mid June, as Italy ran out 3-0 winners in their European Championship Group A match. A competition the Azzuri went onto win. Despite that result, Switzerland acquitted themselves well, progressing from the group stage and knocking out pre-tournament favourites France on penalties before being edged out by Spain in the quarter finals, also on penalties. It’s worth noting that the group stage fixture between these two took place at the Stadio Olimpico, essentially making it a ‘home’ game for Italy.
Since then the Swiss have recorded a 2-1 home victory over Greece, and are two wins from two in Group C, with Italy top with three wins and a draw from the four games they’ve played so far. The aforementioned draw came in a disappointing 1-1 at home to Bulgaria in their last match, where despite having 27 shots on goal they couldn’t find a winner against a resolute Bulgarian side.
The Swiss are a tough proposition at home, having won five of their last six (with a draw against Spain thrown in). They do however have several important players missing, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Zhaka and Breel Embolo all unavailable. The Italians on the other hand don’t have any notable players out. A point would be a decent result for the Swiss, and with it being a difficult place to go coupled with the Italians toothless finishing against Bulgaria, the U2.5 goals looks a decent shout.1 unit.
International Rugby – Australia v New Zealand – Asian Handicap Australia 11.5 @ 2.95
The Men in Gold let me down big time in Auckland a couple of weeks ago so call me brave or stupid but I’m siding again with the Wallabies in Bledisloe 3.
Bledisloe 2 became a blow-out in the end with the All Blacks running away with a 57-22 win at Eden Park three weeks ago. Although that score line doesn’t look pretty the truth is this was an extremely competitive match for the first 47 minutes of the test the hosts’ just six points ahead at the break.
Another second-half fade out proved to be Australia’s downfall as New Zealand cruised home to lift the big trophy for another year.
The Bledisloe Cup is done for another year but The Rugby Championship is still up for grabs and if Australia have any desire to to stay in contention for that they need a result in Perth. Despite two bad results both games showed some positive signs from Dave Rennie’s men and will no doubt take some confidence back home with them.
What will also give the Aussies some hope is New Zealand’s sketchy form in Australia last year in The Rugby Championship, which included losses to the Wallabies and Argentina.
Perth’s Optus Stadium is the venue for this one which has only played host to one game between these two back in 2019 that ended in a 47-26 win to the Wallabies.
We’ll again have a play at the Asian Handicap in this one and hope Australia can at least stay with the All Blacks and avoid another lop-sided result. 2 units
US Open – Men’s Singles Roberto Bautista Agut vs Felix Auger-Aliassime – Felix Auger-Aliassime @ 1.94
The 21yo Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime, entered the US Open a career high rank of 15 in the world plays Bautista Agut. the 33yo 21st ranked player for a 3rd time. It is 1-1 in their head-to-head, both on hard courts, RBA winning a Davis Cup tie in 2 in 2019; F.A-A winning the most recent a SF in 3 at Cologne in Oct. 2020.
It is this seasons, and the more recent form that seems to point to a Felix win, mainly Cincinnati form. He beat a very tricky Khachanov in R2, then equally difficult Berrettini (in straight sets!), before falling to world no.3, Tsitsipas, but did take a set off him in the process.
He’s serving an impressive 0.68 Aces per game on hard court in the last year too, but what helps Felix is R.B.A. high rate of conceding them too (0.74 per game vs 0.3 Felix concedes).Bautista Agut ranking is on the slide, and it’s no surprise – he’s managed 3 straight victories once since March and that was at Wimbledon with the 64 player format.
He lost in straights Vs Dimitrov (who is really struggling this year) at Cincinnati. He practically had a bye R1 Vs Kyrgios, then did dispose of Ruusuvuori efficiently. But after only managing to get past R3 in 4/16 attempts this year, maybe Bautista Agut as slight fav could be too generous. 2 units.
CSGO ESL Pro League – Gambit vs Ninjas in Pyjamas – Gambit -1.5 Map Handicap @ 2.49
Coming into this tournament Gambit look really impressive having beat Team One 2:0 and Liquid 2:1. The world rank #2 team seem eager to head into playoffs after some time off, their last match was back in July at IEM Cologne.
In contrast, Nip seem to have struggled a bit this tournament losing to Liquid 0:2 and a mediocre win against Entropiq 2:0. Their performance so far seems a bit unorganised and inconsistent. At odds of 2.49, the map handicap seems like a good bet for a team that’s determined to reclaim the #1 world rank. 1 unit.
This week’s Community Tip comes from DanJones2021 who has chosen the following.
FIFA WC Qualification – UEFA – Israel vs Austria – Austria & Over 1.5 @ 2.75
Austria had a good performance at Euro 2020 (2021!), only being knocked out by eventual winners Italy in extra time. They beat Ukraine and North Macedonia at the tournament.
They have good form away from home in competitive games, winning 5 of their last 6 away games, excluding major finals.
Israel have only won 1 of their last 6 home competitive games, drawing 2 and losing 3 of these. Their 3 home defeats all featured over 1.5 goals.
If you discount the Euro 2020 finals, Austria have actually won 7 of their last 10 competitive fixtures, with 2 draws and only 1 defeat against Denmark, who backed up that victory with a strong showing at Euro 2020, reaching the semi finals.
There are good odds on offer for Austria here, who have a strong squad and will be looking to get their World Cup Qualifying campaign back up and running with a win here, but I fancy them with Over 1.5 match goals.