Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

The Punter: Croke to take on the world

Croke Park is now well and truly open for business on the sporting front.

And the home of Gaelic is priced at 66-1 to host the World Cup final in 2018.

Now that would be something, but of course it all depends on whether Ireland and Scotland's joint approach betters England's desire to land the final for the first time since 1966.

Both Paddy Power and William Hill quote the Celtic nations at 33-1 with England 11-8 favourites now that the FA have decided to pull out all the stops in catching FIFA's vote.

There is a long way to go and a lot of politicking to be done before the decision is made.

Ireland and Scotland plus China, seem to be the only serious threats to England who can be expected to get most of the European votes.

Interesting to see a difference of opinion of the layers in some cases.

For example Russia is 9-2 joint-second favourites with Hill's, but as big as 33-1 with Paddy Power.

Equally Spain are on offer at 9-2 with the former, but can be taken at 14-1 with the latter.

With Lansdowne Roads redevelopment firmly underway and scheduled for completion in 2009 and a capacity in Croke Park of 82,500, Ireland hosting the World Cup is not such a wild dream especially as Scotland has Hampden Park, Ibrox Park, Parkhead and Murrayfield to call upon in the provision of suitable stadia.

The good news of course for England, Scotland and Ireland, is that the successful nation(s) will not have to qualify.

Which Country will host World Cup 2018 (Paddy Power)? 11-8 England; 5-2 Australia; 5-1 China; 8-1 Holland/Belgium; 14-1 Spain, Italy; 20-1 USA; 33-1 Ireland & Scotland; 33-1 Mexico, Russia, 40-1 Nigeria; 50-1 Canada.

William Hill: 11-8 England, 9-2 Spain, 9-2 Russia, 7-1 Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg, 10-1 Australia, 10-1 China, 20-1 Mexico, 20-1 USA, 25-1 Canada, 33-1 Ireland/Scotland.

2018 World Cup Final To Be Played At Croke Park (Hill): 66-1

Joe can be 21 today

Joe Calzaghe is one of Britain's best sporting ambassadors.

He has ruled boxing's world super middleweight division for the last decade and bids to defend his crown for a remarkable 21st time in the Millennium Stadium tonight.

The Welshman will be very much at home in Cardiff and while he is taking on a very good opponent in Dane Mikkel Kessler, holder of the WBA and WBC belts, Calzaghe should have too much nous for him.

However, there has been substantial support for the latter in recent days and he is down to 6-4 in places.

That leaves Calzaghe available at 4-6 with Bet365 with totesport and others 4-7.

The latter also go 11-8 about Calzaghe ending his career undefeated and that is certainly worth a wager as he will probably only have two or three more fights after this evening.

Take that pace and retrieve the stake by backing Joe to win tonight on points at 6-5.

Ladbrokes make it 1-2 for the fight to go all the way which looks another very strong possibility and well worth a punt as it won't matter who gets the verdict.

Calzaghe is 6-5 to win on points.; Kessler 100-30.

To win tonight: 4-7 Calzaghe; 20-1 draw; 13-10 Kessler.

Method of victory: Calzaghe by k/o or disqualification 3-1; Kessler by k/o or disqualification 4-1.

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