After Chelsea secured Champions League glory at the weekend by beating the Germans on penalties could England really do the same at Euro 2012? The Chelsea starting 11 contained three Englishmen: Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard, two of which buried their penalties. It may not have been an attractive victory but Chelsea defended well and took their chances – could England do the same?
Ashley Cole (31) will definitely be starting in Poland and Ukraine. No doubt. He is one of the best left-backs in the world, if not THE best. His performance on Saturday night was exceptional and he is a vital part of Roy Hodgson’s team. Many a football supporter dislikes him and for obvious reasons, but if you can look past his enormous personality defect he is a quality defender, and his penalty was tidy.
If the Paddy Power blog team was in charge, and according to our football manager game we have all the credentials, we’d play Terry and Cahill at centre back. Cahill was spectacular in the first leg against Barca and if he can keep out the best club team in the world he could keep out Spain as well. Frank Lampard has been sitting in a deeper role for Chelsea this season, could he do the same for the Three Lions alongside Scott Parker?
England are still 10/1 for Euro glory with the Germans at 10/3. But if Saturday night is anything to by you can put your house on England winning the tournament on penalties. If you had a small house that wasn’t worth much. Now what was that we heard about Didier Drogba having an English cousin twice removed?
Nadal’s love affair with the French
Rafael Nadal is aiming for a seventh career win at Roland Garros this week as the first round of the French Open starts on Sunday. Nadal absolutely loves this tournament and has an incredible record here, but can he do enough to topple world number one Novak Djokovic?
Djokovic is 2/1 to win the tournament, with Nadal the 5/6 favourite. Nadal is ‘the King of Clay’ and has won this tournament a ridiculous six times in the last seven years, but is not playing his best tennis of late. To be fair, his ‘not great’ tennis is, in our book, ‘still top drawer’ tennis but critics have their doubts.
The final is on June 10 and there could be a couple of surprises between now and then. Tomas Berdych reached the semi-finals of this tournament in 2010 and is a decent 40/1 shot. For the more outrageous gambler, Nicolas Almagro has won 11 ATP titles on the clay and is a massive 125/1 shot for this tournament. Expect at least one very drunk Paddy Power employee crawling around the bars of Dublin if he wins it!
Irish boxing sensation Katie Taylor is going into the London Olympics full of confidence. The 25-year-old has won four world title and five European titles all in a row since 2005 and will be the number one seed for the Games which start on July 27th.
She is a big favourite for the gold at odds of 1/4 but Russian Sofya Ochigava will be a big threat. Taylor beat Ochigava in the world championship over the weekend, 11-7 in a closely fought contest. It could be that the two go head to head again in London in the fight for gold.
Collapsing in the cricket
England face a difficult contest against an inexperienced West Indies side as the first of the three test series continues at Lord’s. Many would agree that England should still win this test and are big favourites at 1/6 to do so.
It’s not that long ago though that England collapsed chasing 145 against Pakistan this year. They crumbled for 72 on that occasion and trail here by 180 runs after already losing the wickets of Andrew Strauss and James Anderson. You could land a plane on the pitch at Lord’s though and conditions certainly favour the batsman.
Kemar Roach has been impressive with the ball in hand and if he and Shannon Gabriel can go up a level more the 4/1 for West Indies could prove to look massive in hindsight. England’s batting order has strength throughout though, with Jonathon Trott, Kevin Pieterson and Ian bell all capable of producing a decent knock. It would take a special performance from the West Indies to do the business here.
Hamilton aims for Monaco glory
The Monaco Grand Prix is this weekend which means lots of gorgeous girls sipping cocktails on yachts and plenty of celebrities wandering around the playground of the rich and famous. Oh and there’s some racing there as well.
Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso head the leader board going in to the race with Lewis Hamilton close behind in third. Hamilton has been on pole twice this year but is yet to win a race, finishing eighth in the last two Grand Prix’s. In a season where looking after your tyres is proving more important than ever, Hamilton has shown improved mentality by balancing maturity and aggression. If the McClaren garage can pull their socks up in the pit lane then 11/4 looks a good bet. Vettel is 9/2 for this race which he won last year.