Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

The Punter: Gers to suffer agony in Europe

The Old Firm of Rangers and Celtic are 17-2 to make it through the qualifying stages of the Champions' League.

Of the British teams, the Scots came out worst with the Teddy Bears having to confront 5-1 outright favourites Barcelona .

But Walter Smith will be looking for the other qualifying spot although the French boys Lyon will be fancied to grab that, so the heavy hitters will be looking to take the 1-4 that Rangers do not make the knockout stages.

It is unlikely there will be many takers for the 25-1 on Rangers topping Group E.

However, it is a different story for Celtic and Gordon Strachan who done themselves proud last year when the Bhoys bowled out in the last 16 to eventual winners AC Milan in extra time.

They come up against the Italians again in Group D and also Benfica whom they ousted for second place in the group last year.

They have to be worth supporting at 7-4 to qualify with only Benfica and Shaktar to overcome.

Of the British teams, Chelsea are 9-4 to go furthest and no doubt Jose Mourinho will have his attention focused on winning this trophy for a second time.

It is the holy grail for Chelsea and they should be good enough to come through in Group B.

The Blues are 13-2 second favourites behind Barca (5-1) to succeed but Liverpool, chasing their sixth Champions' title, are much better value at 12-1 and also at 5-2 to be the 'best of British.'

Liverpool should have no trouble in coming through Group A alongside Porto, Marseille and Besikitas and after that, it is a matter of the luck of the draw.

On the face of it, Arsene Wenger will not be complaining about Group H containing Steaua Bucharest and Slavia Prague and most likely Seville.

Prague beat Ajax, so caution is advised where the Gunners are concerned in qualifying accumulators.

Man United's Nani will face his former club Sporting Lisbon in Group F but the games with Roma will be crucial after last year's hostile atmosphere in Rome.

Dynamo Kiev are no mugs either, so Sir Alex Ferguson will need to see his side hitting top form at the right time to make sure there are no slip ups.

Looking at the group odds from William Hill, Liverpool (4-9), Real Madrid (4-6), Barcelona (1-2) and Man United (8-11) appear to be the safest on offer.

It amount to a nice 5-1 plus opportunity.

Ohuruogu down for Olympic gold

CHRISTINE Ohuruogu is only a 4-1 chance to with Paddy Power to win the Olympic Gold in Beijing next year.

That follows her victory in the World Championships in Japan, even though she is not guaranteed to be in China.

She has to overcome a lifetime Olympic ban which is currently under appeal.

She was banned for 12 months from international action after missing three drug tests.

It should be pointed out that she has never failed a test and forgetfulness led to her ban.

Initially, she was as big as 20-1 to compete next year and has been slashed by William Hill to evens to get on the track in the light of this week's triumph.

Christine remains a firm favourite at 8-11 not to be in Beijing but that evens - 5-2 was available yesterday - is still worth taking.

That 5-2 was a standout 20-1 after her World triumph, but did not last long as Hill's moved quickly to limit liabilities.

They have also introduced her at 10-1 to be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year but have seen few takers so far.

There are worse 10-1 shots and she is definitely worth an each-way bet, although the prize is looking more and more likely to be going to Lewis Hamilton.

After Britain's first and second in Osaka where 40-1 shot Nicola Sanders took the silver, Coral offer 16-1 for a British one-two in the same event in China.

Ohuruogu was 10-1 as she lined up for the final with Sanders only 4s after being 33-1 outsider.

She and Sanders are 7-1 and 16-1 respectively to claim gold in London in 2012 while Ladbrokes go 10-1 that Ohuruogu will win an Olympic gold at any time.



Paddy Power: Olympics 2008 Women's 400m; 4-1 Christine Ohuruogu; 8-1 Nicola Sanders.

Olympics 2012 Womens' 400m: 7-1 Christine Ohuruogu; 16-1 Nicola Sanders.

Hill's: Ohuruogu to compete in 2008 Olympics: 8-11 no; evens yes.

Ladbrokes: 10-1 Ohuruogu to win Olympic gold at any time.