It’s a case of so far, so good where the new £10 to £10k Challenge is concerned. Two bets down out of the seventy-odd required to turn a tenner into ten grand and unlike in my initial attempt, the opening couple of punts have come in without incident. First off, I correctly predicted there would be over 1.5 goals in last Saturday’s Chelsea-Newcastle clash and I then repeated that trick on the same bet in Wednesday’s Spanish Supercopa El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The contrast between now and then is startling. During the first attempt at the £10k challenge, I almost came a cropper on the first two bets when England nearly overturned a 2-0 handicap in beating Italy and then plucky Southampton took a second-half lead at Manchester City to seriously leave me sweating.
Those close scrapes severely affected my mojo, to the point where I was having doubts and second thoughts about nearly every flutter I fancied.
I felt like a striker during a barren drought. I imagined myself to be Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll when gifted a one-on-one, but all I could see was a 25-year-old Lev Yashin guarding a set of Subbuteo nets. There was simply no way through. Every presentable opportunity was fraught with potential pitfalls and humiliation but I couldn’t pass to a team-mate, I had to muster a shot with my pathetically feeble limbs past this almighty, looming presence between the sticks. I failed.
I fully expect City to get their act together and see off a QPR side who were dismantled 5-0 on the first day by Swansea and have largely been constructed over the past 72 hours on the form and reputation of 2007.
So in effect, falling at the third hurdle and needing to start the challenge again was perhaps the best thing that could have happened. The weight of failure has been lifted from my shoulders and the haunting memory of James Milner hitting the post in the last minute in Berne has dissipated among millions of other essentially inconsequential footballing moments. I am breathing again.
After the comfort with which my first two bets have come off in the new challenge, my confidence and bravado now know no end. To keep the striker analogy going, I am suddenly Gerd Muller in his heyday, the ball has dropped in the six-yard box and there’s a comically high and wide goal with a scrawny kid in an oversized keeper’s kit which hangs down to his knees trembling as I pull back the trigger. And in case you were wondering, yes, it is David de Gea this time.
But in truth, the identity of the unlucky custodian is irrelevant. The long and short of it is that I can’t miss and perusing this weekend’s global fixture list, I see untold opportunities to keep this golden streak going.
For a start, Real Madrid are 1/10 to beat Granada at home, which looks a solid option. But at 3/25, I can also see FC Kufstein beating Pinzgau Saalfelden in the Austrian Regionalliga West, I reckon there will definitely be over 1.5 goals in Port Vale v Torquay at 3/10 and there is no way both teams won’t score in Sochaux v Montepellier at 87/100.
Yet in order to fully exorcise the ghost of £10k challenges past, I have decided to revisit a stadium which still holds bad memories – the Etihad Stadium. It was here that I dismissed Southampton’s chances of getting anything against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City and I feel that I, like City, have unfinished business to attend to.
Last season’s title decider was too close for comfort for many of the Citizens faithful and after an indifferent opening to their defence, I fully expect them to get their act together and see off a QPR side who were dismantled 5-0 on the first day by Swansea and have largely been constructed over the past 72 hours on the form and reputation of 2007.
Bwin’s 3Way football betting market has City as huge 9/50 favourites and buoyed on by the memories of Sergio Aguero’s late, late league clincher back in May, I think Mancini’s men will roll back the months and inflict more misery on former boss Mark Hughes.
Using my accumulated £13.22 on a City win at 9/50 will increase my prize pot to £15.60 before a double header of international games with plenty to choose from slides into view.
Bet 3: Manchester City to beat QPR @ 9/50
Current balance: £13.22
Potential balance: £15:60
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