Writing about pre-season football, you tend to come across Premier League sides facing opposition that you are a bit unfamiliar with, or that you only have a cursory knowledge of before doing a bit of research.
But even allowing for that, I’ve got to admit Ventura County Fusion are a new one on me. I’m not going to lie to you, I’d never even heard of them before noticing that they are facing Swansea City on Saturday and apart from knowing they have a name that sounds like the sort of car that Sarah Pailn would drive, I couldn’t have told you much else.
Their website tells me they play in the Western Conference’s Southwest Division of the Premier Development League and that at only six years old, the club has grandiose plans to compete ‘against the very top clubs in the globe’.
So an encounter with a Premier League team is big news for ‘The Fusion’, who with a nickname like that make themselves sound like a cereal bar. Excited at the possibility of facing the Swans in, as they call it, an exhibition match (their website also lets people know that these games can also be described as ‘friendlies’) this is a big deal as Ventura attempt to enhance the brand.
Swansea are there for entirely different reasons. On a week-long training camp as the Welsh side prepare for their second season in the Premier League, Michael Laudrup is getting to grips with the task at hand, which is looking increasingly like one he’ll have to go about without midfielder Joe Allen.
The 22 year-old is currently with Team GB at the London Olympics, but it is looking like he has played his last game for the Swans, with former boss Brendan Rodgers keen on a reunion with Allen at Liverpool.
It would be a huge blow to Swansea and Laudrup will be hoping Allen’s departure will not lead to an exodus of the players who performed so well in securing an 11th-placed finish last term.
The Dane is definitely without Allen for the time being as they face the Californians and on the back of an unbeaten campaign in 2011, can ace Ventura (I’ll probably get sacked for that gag, and with good cause) cause an upset against their illustrious opponents?
They are 8/1 to do just that, with Swansea strong odds-on favourites at 4/25 and the draw is at 25/4. However, this is a match that leaves me cold from a betting point of view.
Swansea will win, but if you have the 25 you don’t need the four and in most of the other markets, the odds are too short to be interested in (prime example: over 2.5 goals is 1/4).
So if Swansea are such favourites, there is mileage in the even money that both teams do not score, which means you’ll double your money if Swansea keep a very likely clean sheet. Don’t be betting too much on this one, though.
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