Big call for armchair fans: Milan, Barcelona or Middlesbrough?
Domestic cup delicacies from three nations available to taste tonight
There hasn’t been a bet of the day for a while, so to repay fans of inexpert tipping worldwide, tonight’s feast of football seems like an appropriate time to offer three for the price of one, that price incidentally being nothing.
All prices listed are from bwin, and if you bung all three choices into a treble, you could win £66.54 for a £10 stake. Yes, you could just as easily win nothing, but what kind of defeatist attitude is that?
Middlesbrough v Sunderland
Back Sunderland at 19/20
One of my most dispiriting football nights came in a February FA Cup replay at the Riverside in 2009, watching West Ham surrender within 20 minutes flanked by thousands of rowdy teenagers lured up north by the irresistible offer of free coach travel.
Naturally, Boro have won just one FA Cup match since, exiting to the mighty Burton last season, and though their display to draw at the Stadium of Light was laudable, there will be no encore. Tony Mowbay’s men are winless in five, Sunderland have won six in eight and we’re easily led by form.
AC Milan v Juventus
Back under 2.5 goals at 3/4
As a child of an era when James Richardson’s talents were recognised on terrestrial TV, I strive to defend Italian football against enemies wielding evil adjectives like defensive, negative, cynical and most audaciously boring to describe Serie A.
Admittedly, those fighting the good fight weren’t helped by the 2pm game chosen by ESPN for their free-to-air weekend to attract new customers being a super dull 0-0 between AC Milan and Napoli lit up only by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s rubbish slap at Salvatore Aronica.
Juventus were also involved in a stalemate on Sunday, so even though this is the tie I look forward to most of tonight’s trio, I’ll be armed with the euphemism “intriguing tactical battle” afterwards to justify a lack of goals.
Barcelona v Valencia
Back both teams to score at 19/20
Low-scoring semis aren’t a problem in Spain however, as those who tuned into Athletic Bilbao’s 6-2 victory over Mirandes on Tuesday will be aware.
With Barcelona’s defence as inept as the squeaking disgrace of a fire alarm at Chez Whiteboard of late, leaking five times in three home ties, and the European champions in crisis (or unbeaten in 17, albeit drawing three in four, to all you melodrama sceptics out there), the goals should continue to flow.