Weblog: The football punter

Late-season grind means hard graft for punters

THE longer the season goes on, the harder it seems to find a decent bet.

Take the Europa League for example - though as that’s all there is on the Thursday coupon I suppose we have to.

In October it was a piece of cake. There were anything up to six TV matches, a simple Google search could tell you which glamour teams had left half their squad at home for a trip to the back of beyond, and then you could just follow the money to see which eastern European clubs were ready to roll over. Job done, pockets filled.

At this stage it’s a little trickier. Obviously there are no teams with nothing to play for in a semi-final. The prize is right there. So unfortunately you have to work for your money.

Football punting is a relentless game and any chance to take a break from having to think through your bets has to be welcomed. Get a system and you’re laughing, but tonight I’m struggling.

So here we go, more trawling through endless form and stats. What can we find? Oh look, Benfica are unbeaten in 20 matches at home this season.  And they’ve won their last four in Lisbon to nil. Wow, look,  they haven’t been beaten in any competition since November 5! What I am I waiting for? Jump on the, erm, Benficans at 7-4.

Oh, hang on a sec. What’s this? Benfica have just won the league title? Been partying all week then, eye off the ball. And the Europa League final is at Juve’s home stadium? Why didn’t you tell me earlier? Forget the form, all systems go Juventus!

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Match in Focus

20:05 TODAY ITV4

Benfica v Juventus

Home Win Draw Away Win
Expert verdict
The two best teams left in the Europa League meet in Lisbon and Benfica look a value punt to take a lead back to Turin. Benfica have an outstanding home record in European competition and Juventus showed with their early Champions League exit that they are not hugely comfortable on the road in hostile arenas.