What Were The Odds Of That?
The FA Cup did little to revive it's appeal, in Spain it was business as usual while in Italy Sampdoria came from a goal behind to defeat Serie A leaders Juventus. The first footballing weekend of 2013 is in the books and Ed Malyon looks over the betting results.
There was no Premier League action in England this weekend as one of the world’s most traditional footballing days, that of the FA Cup Third Round, returned for its 2013 edition.
As with every year, we had the fairytale stories where the lower league sides travel to the big guns and of course we got to see some Premier League primadonnas having to slum it in ropey old stadiums with cold showers and the like, but when it came to the results we were fairly lacking in the ‘magic of the cup’.
The biggest shock result according to the average pre-match odds was Oldham Athletic’s win at Nottingham Forest (6.59), which fans in England may have noted came around 45 minutes into ITV’s hopelessly bungled highlights package show, but which hardly featured in newspapers or television reports.
The second-biggest was Macclesfield’s dramatic win over Cardiff City (5.03) but despite the Welsh side (I would have used their nickname but nobody’s sure what it is anymore) knocking very loudly on the door of the top flight, the non-league side were confident of an upset due to Malky Mackay putting out a weak, weak side full of fringe players and kids.
Depressingly, the third-biggest shock was Leyton Orient’s draw at Hull.
“Daddy, why are you taking the FA Cup outside with a shotgun?”
“It’s for the best, darling, trust me.”
The thing that draws everyone to the cup is not the fact that it’s a way into the Europa League, or it’s dubiously tacked-on American lager branding, it’s for the tradition of the competition – and a huge part of this is those surprise results, the stories.
Perhaps it’s the widening gap between the haves and have-nots that is beginning to manifest itself, or that other storylines (Robin van Persie’s late goal, Luis Suarez’s handball) are more newsworthy, but the overlooking of Oldham’s achievement twinned with the lack of any massive (c)upsets took all the fun out of the third round.
And that is what football’s about, is it not? Fun?
La Liga not so loca
Spanish football was back, and while there were plenty of narratives to keep the news-hungry sharks feeding on the blood of Portuguese ego-bots, there was nothing out of the ordinary when it came to results. Barcelona (ave. 1.09!) won the Catalan derby against Espanyol with consummate ease, and Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad despite playing 80+ minutes with ten men, which wasn’t the trialling of a new handicapping system (note to self: trademark this idea, could be great for La Liga or SPL) but merely a red card for Antonio Adán which was all part of a far wider, far bigger story which I won’t bore you with now.
If you were wondering, the biggest winner odds-wise would have been backing Mallorca to hold Atleti to a draw at 3.37. Yes, really.
In Italy though….
Bloody hell! English and Spanish teams weren’t up to much this weekend but Serie A went mad for a shock.
Pescara’s 2-0 win at high-flying Fiorentina was not on many betting slips, with the win best-priced at 19.7(!) and averaging around 13.66. Yet that wasn’t the weekend’s biggest surprise as leaders, champions and general all-round-good-at-football chaps Juventus were beaten at home by relegation-threatened Sampdoria.
A high-street bookmaker was as high as 20/1 for the Genoa side to win, but the way that they went 1-0 down, then down to ten men, before coming back to win 2-1 absolutely defied belief.
Mauro Icardi was the hero with a brace, having previously played twelve times this season and netting just a single goal.
The lesson? Sometimes you simply can’t predict football.
Follow Ed on Twitter : @eaamalyon
You can read more of Ed's thoughts at The Mirror