The biggest tournament in football comes around only every four years, so excitement is reaching a fever pitch ahead of this week’s big kickoff. A distinctly underwhelming clash between the two lowest ranked teams at the tournament – Russia and Saudi Arabia – gets proceedings underway in Moscow on Thursday. Russia are in poor form, but they could not have been handed an easier opening game against the 5,000/1 tournament underdogs and they should scrape victory. On Friday, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will aim to terrorize the Egyptian defense in the early kickoff, while Egypt will be praying for Mohamed Salah to be fit and healthy. The next game is also an uninspiring clash – Morocco against Iran – but then the first massive game of the tournament sees Spain take on Portugal. That should be a fascinating clash and both teams to score appeals at 7/10 with Bet365 and 5/6 with Marathon Bet. There are four games on Saturday, and fans can watch the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric in action.
The second golf major of the year begins at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday, and all the world’s leading stars will bid for glory. World No. 2 Dustin Johnson is the antepost favorite at 10/1 with Bet365 and Ladbrokes, and his game should suit this course. It has been lengthened to 7,445 yards and his power off the tee will make him a force to be reckoned with. But golf is outrageously competitive these days, and an elite group also featuring Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm is clustered at the front of the betting. Any could win it, but Fowler looks an interesting choice at 20/1 with Ladbrokes as he has come close on numerous occasions and he is probably the world’s best player without a major to his name.
Rugby fans can look forward to another trio of heavyweight international clashes on Saturday. New Zealand are heavy favorites to extend their long winning run when they take on France in the early game. Backing the All Blacks with a heavy handicap appeals here. Australia ended Ireland’s winning streak with an 18-9 victory last weekend, but the Irish have a chance of instant revenge in the second test on Saturday. England are well and truly in the doldrums and they lost again to South Africa last weekend, but they too can gain revenge when they face the Springboks on Saturday. England are 6/4 with Bet365, and that looks like an interesting bet, as they have to return to winning ways sooner or later, given the quality in the side.
England face Australia in the first ODI on Wednesday and the second ODI on Saturday, and both matches promise to be enthralling clashes. Australia annihilated England in the Ashes last year, but the ODI team gained sweet revenge by taking the Aussies apart. England’s white ball cricket set-up is in great health right now and the hosts should feel confident in their ability to win both matches this week.