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French Open Tennis and World Cup Preparations Top a Busy Sporting Weekend

May 30, 2018

If you are looking for some top-quality sports betting this weekend then there are two sports that have plenty to offer the punter over the next few days and beyond. First up, the French Open tennis tournament is underway at Roland Garros with the big questions being can anybody defeat the seemingly unbeatable Rafael Nadal at his spiritual home, and which women’s player will come through the draw to claim what is a massively open women’s tournament win?

Also, sports punters will be well aware that we are now counting down the last couple of weeks until the start of the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia, with the opening game between the hosts and Saudi Arabia scheduled to kick off on June 14. Over the next week or so, the 32 teams that reached the finals will be making their final preparations across a series of friendly games and there are some crackers scheduled to take place at the weekend.

Let’s begin our look at the best bets available this weekend with the French Open, before we preview some of the big international friendlies taking place across Friday, Saturday and Sunday too.

French Open Tennis

  • Men’s Tournament

With Andy Murray out injured, Roger Federer opting not to play and Novak Djokovic not regaining his very best form, it seems that Rafael Nadal’s progress towards what would be an incredible 11th French Open title should be easier.

The Spaniard came through a decent first round match with Simone Bollelli and with so many of his contemporaries out or out of form, he is the massive odds on favourite to claim the title.

His main opposition could come from other Grand Slam winners, such as Marin Cilic as well as a number of clay court specialist players like Alexander Zverev, who is the second seed in the men’s draw, and Dominic Thiem, who is one of the few players to have actually beaten Nadal on the Spaniards preferred surface.

In truth, it is hard to see any of the remaining players in the men’s draw getting the better of the Spaniard if he is anywhere near his best, as he seems to be, so the better option for a bet here may be an each way bet on the outright market as if you can predict the other finalists, Coral will pay you at ½ the stated odds.

With that in mind, I think either the 7/1 available on Zverev or the 11/1 on Thiem is arguably the two best options for your each way punt.

  • Women’s Tournament

If the men’s tournament is dominated by one player in particular, then the women’s draw is the polar opposite with so many people in with a chance of taking the crown. Last year, 50/1 outsider Jelena Ostapenko became the second unseeded player ever to win the crown and this year, Serena Williams, who has already ousted Karolina Pliskova from the tournament, could repeat the feat.

The American is playing in her first slam event since giving birth to her daughter last year and her confidence will be high after a victory over a seeded player who reached the semifinals of this tournament last year.

Other notable players to watch include Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova and Elena Svitolina.

This could be a really close event and in truth any of the top 30 or so players in the event will feel that they have a good chance of success, especially if they can negotiate the tricky opening rounds.

You can back Serena Williams to make a remarkable return to Grand Slam tennis at odds of 14/1 with Coral Sport and I think the American may well be worth a flutter given how open this tournament is.

International Friendlies

  • France v Italy (Friday 1st June)

Friday night sees Didier Deschamps France welcome Italy to Nice in what will be both team’s second friendly game in the space of a few days. On Monday night, France defeated the Republic of Ireland in Paris by a 2-0 scoreline, thanks to goals from Giroud and Fekir. While Italy on the same night played Saudi Arabia in St.Gallen, Switzerland and Roberto Mancini will be happy with a 2-1 win from his first game in charge of the Azzuri (Balotelli and Belotti scoring).

While Italy will be using this game as preparation for the new Nations Cup starting as well as European Championship qualifying, France will be fine-tuning preparation for the World Cup as they go into Russia as one of the big favourites to win the trophy.

Deschamps played a largely inexperienced and untested team against Ireland on Monday but I expect him to play a team more akin to his first choice eleven against Italy in what should be a cracking game between two of Europe’s elite teams.

Tip – France look a solid bet and have the edge over Italy in recent encounters. I’m backing Deschamps men to get the win at 4/6 with Coral.

  • England v Nigeria (Saturday 2nd June)

Both these teams have qualified for the World Cup Finals, Nigeria drawn into a tough looking Group D alongside Croatia, Argentina and Iceland, while England were drawn into a rather more benign Group G alongside Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.

No doubt both managers see this fixture as a chance to play against the type of opposition they’ll be facing at the World Cup but both also need to make some key tactical and personnel decisions. As such, I think this is likely to be a more experimental fixture than competitive, although neither side of course will want to head out of this game on the back of a morale-sapping defeat.

I think Nigeria’s squad isn’t as strong as it once was, but then again neither is England’s, but I do feel the Three Lions have just the edge in terms of top level experience and quality and while I cannot see many goals in this game (their two games previously have seen just one goal scored), I do think that Southgate’s men may just steal the win,

Tip – I do predict something of a midfield battle between the teams but I think Nigeria’s lack of potency in attack could be their undoing and while England don’t score many, I think one goal will be enough to win it. I’m taking England to win at 19/20 with Coral.

  • Brazil v Croatia (Sunday 3rd June)

Brazil will continue their ‘World Tour’ at Anfield on Sunday as they welcome Croatia in what is a crucial World Cup warmup fixture for both teams. While Brazil should make light work of their opponents in Group E (Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland), Croatia face a tougher task in Group D with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria lying in wait.

Roberto Firmino will be happy to be playing on his home ground and it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to Philippe Coutinho returning to the home of his former club. Brazil also welcome back Neymar following injury and the Gold and Green look well set to make a fierce challenge to lift the World Cup this summer.

Croatia though cannot be written off as they have some outstanding players, especially in midfield and attack and if they play to their best, they can cause Brazil plenty of problems.

Tip – Croatia won’t make it easy I am sure, but Brazil are in such great form at the moment and lose so few games that it would be crazy to back anything other than a Brazil win here which is a 4/9 chance with Coral.

About Ian John

Ian John
Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.