Sports betting

Weekend Review: Majestic Madrid the Real deal as bookies battle punters in final football weekend

Domestic season comes to an end with Nottingham Forest returning to Premier League as tributes pour in for horseracing legend Lester Piggott

The curtain came down on a thrilling domestic football season as the punters edged ahead with Real Madrid (13/5 in 90 minutes) securing their 14th Champions League title after beating Liverpool (19/20) 1-0 in Paris.

In an occasion overshadowed by shocking scenes outside the Stade de France and a delayed kick-off, Los Blancos got the better of Liverpool thanks to a Vinícius Junior tap-in after a fantastic ball in from Fede Valverde in the 58th minute.

Liverpool, who lost out on the Premier League title on the final day of the season, saw their hopes of a treble dashed despite dominating large periods of the final.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois put in a stunning performance to keep the Reds at bay and earn himself the man of the match award.

With goals in short supply and the likes of Mo Salah and Karim Benzema failing to find the net, it wasn’t a total whitewash for the bookies.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “Despite Liverpool being clear favourites on the night, punters latched on to the value and history of Real Madrid, who all told were the better backed team on the night.

“The 1-0 score line, lack of first half goals and no goals for Benzema, Salah or Mane helped us in the final counting, but overall Madrid winning meant the match went very comfortably the way of the punters. Madrid had also been well backed in the outright market so that left us in the red too,” he added.

Bet365’s Steve Freeth noted Courtois’ heroics, along with just a single booking, meant the operator walked away happy from bet builder and player markets.

He said: “Courtois has been outstanding in La Liga this season, but not as good in Europe and the 16/1 shot for man of the match saved his best Champions League performance for when it really mattered with the outright and full-time result market being a loser.

“His excellence, as well as things like just one goal, one booking, eight corners and not much from Karim Benzema meant it was very much advantage us on the bet builder and player market front, so in the end we were happy how the final played out,” he added.

With Liverpool having to settle for the League Cup and FA Cup double, Freeth told EGR how a potential quadruple next season has been greatly shortened with the Merseysiders having lost only four games all season.

He added: “In the end we needn’t have worried about Liverpool landing the quadruple, but we had a sweat on when it was down to 5/1 before they ran out of steam. They’re a lot shorter at 400/1 to pull it off next season.”

Elsewhere, at Wembley, Nottingham Forest (EVS in 90 minutes) returned to the Premier League after a 23-year absence following a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town (14/5) in the Championship play-off final.

An own goal from Chelsea loanee Levi Colwill just before half-time was enough to send the two-time European champions back to the top-flight of English football.

Betfred’s Alan Firkins said: “Forest edged Huddersfield to return to the riches of the Premier League, but not without a VAR controversy or two going their way.

“We go evens they stay up, and 8/11 they go down; such are the harsh realities of top-flight football,” he added.

Ahead of the Epsom Derby this Saturday, sad news from the world of horseracing came at the weekend with the death of legendary jockey Lester Piggott at the age of 86.

Piggott, who won his first race at the tender age of 12 in 1948, amassed 4,493 victories throughout his long career, including a record nine victories in the Derby.

Firkins said: “It’s Epsom Derby week, and sad to note that nine-time Derby-winning jockey Lester Piggott has passed away, aged 86. Fred [Done] paid tribute, calling him ‘the greatest flat jockey the world’s ever seen, a gentleman who lived and breathed horseracing.’”

Finally, in tennis, Rafa Nadal set up a quarter-final clash with Novak Djokovic in the French Open, as the Spaniard looks to continue his dominance on clay.

Fifth seed Nadal will face off against the Serbian tournament favourite after emerging victories from a five-set battle with Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Smarkets’ Pascal Lemesre said: “Rafa Nadal overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets in the fourth round and can now be backed at 6.4 (16%) for another Roland-Garros title.

“The Spaniard faces tournament favourite Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, with Djokovic odds-on for their match at 1.5 (67%),” he added.

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