Weblog: The football punter

It's crystal clear to me where the value bet is

HE’S the top scorer in Spain, he’s the top scorer in the Champions League, he’s the holder of the Ballon D’Or and he’s got a waxwork model at Madame Tussauds.

I’ve even heard it said he’s better than Ricky van Wolfswinkel, though clearly that’s a debate to be had long into the night.

Regardless, what is true is that Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be lining up for Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final on Wednesday against Barcelona, the 633rd time these two have met in the past three years.

I love the stat that Real are slightly better when Ronaldo doesn’t play than when he does, and that should inch me towards wanting a punt on Barca.

But then word from the Nou Camp is that Barcelona might have to go with a central defensive duo of Javier Mascherano and Alex Song, which has immediately got me leaning the other way.

Can’t make my mind up, so I’ll stick to a lay of Everton at home to Crystal Palace instead.

I know it’s unfashionable to question Roberto Martinez – indeed it’s almost illegal to dare suggest Ross Barkley doesn’t go to the World Cup – but I’m sure the Toffees would far rather be playing Arsenal than Palace.

Tony Pulis’s men are a miserly mob, who may not be able to score many goals but they hardly look like conceding either.

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Match in Focus

20:30 TODAY SS1

Barcelona v Real Madrid

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Real Madrid have kept clean sheets in all of their eight Copa del Rey matches this season
Expert verdict
Cristiano Ronaldo's hamstring injury is worse than first though but the Portuguese's probable absence may not prevent Real Madrid from beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. Real have lots to look forward to after reaching the Champions League semi-finals while Barca were beaten by Granada on Saturday and suffered European elimination last week.