Featured Matches
Previous
Arsenal
Besiktas
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Besiktas
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Steaua Bucuresti
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Malmo FF
SV Salzburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bradford City
Leeds United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
León
Herediano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Municipal
Pachuca
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cobresal
General Díaz
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Independiente Terán
Trujillanos
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional Potosí
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
River Plate
Universidad Católica
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
Deportivo La Guaira
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Alianza Lima
Barcelona
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Atletico Rafaela
Newell's Old Boys
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rosario Central
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
River Plate
Defensa y Justicia
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Boca Juniors
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Irapuato
U.A.N.L
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Celaya
ESPNDeportes 12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Oaxaca
Chiapas
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Mérida
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Zacatepec
Guadalajara
ESPNDeportes 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América RN
Atletico Paranaense
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Cruzeiro
Santa Rita
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Ceará
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bragantino
Corinthians
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
Flamengo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Palmeiras
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
LDU Quito
Deportivo Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Seoul
Pohang Steelers
0
0
FT-Pens
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0FC Seoul win 3-0 on penalties
Game Details
Guangzhou Evergrande
Western Sydney Wanderers
2
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Amazulu
Bloem Celtic
0
2
LIVE 26'
Game Details
Mamelodi Sundowns
Orlando Pirates
0
1
LIVE 14'
Game Details
Pretoria Univ
Free State Stars
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Silver Stars
Kaizer Chiefs
0
1
LIVE 24'
Game Details
SuperSport United
Mpumalanga Black Aces
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
Postp
Game Details
Carmelita
Club Sport Uruguay
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cartagines
Perez Zeledon
Postp
Game Details
Antigua
Marquense
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Petapa
Coatepeque
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vida
Marathon
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil Jul 21, 2014
Read
Jun 27, 2014

The joy of betting on the World Cup

Watch all the goals from Brazil's Neymar, Argentina's Lionel Messi, and Germany's Thomas Muller as they vie for the World Cup Golden Boot.

One of the few things that now distinguishes the UK from the US culturally is our view of gambling as a form of mainstream entertainment and of bookmakers as a legitimate, respectable part of our business culture. William Hill, Ladbrokes and the rest are our Starbucks and McDonald's -- or they would be, if we didn't have thousands of Starbucks and McDonald's. Even a tiny row of retail outlets will contain a betting shop, and we bet on everything -- politics, weather, the Booker Prize, talent shows, the names of royal babies -- these days usually online, an option still illegal in America. At halftime in televised Premier League games, a famous actor comes on screen to tell us the odds for second-half scores and scorers. Our second, third and fourth divisions are sponsored by Sky Bet. Nottingham Trent University has a professor of gambling studies.

So, of course, Britain bets on the World Cup. Betting is patriotic, because by gambling we are supporting one of our few real growth industries. We bet patriotically, too. Costa Rica (top of Group D, two wins out of two) were 4/1 to beat winless, pointless odds-on favourites England the other night. And my own family has done its duty, many times over. I introduced my young sons to betting during the last World Cup, in South Africa, because they were too young to sit through whole games without annoying everyone else in the room; a fifty-pence online punt on corners had the magical effect of inducing total focus. On the one hand it was stupid, dangerous and morally reprehensible, and on the other I got to watch the whole of Slovakia versus Paraguay. You do the maths. Please. I'm too scared.

And this year, so far, we're winning for one simple reason: there have been an extraordinary number of goals, a record number in the group stage, and if you place a bet on more than two in every game, then at the time of writing, you'd be well ahead. Football has changed. The English tend to forget that the 1990 tournament -- remembered fondly here because of the national team's appearance in the semifinals, and mythologized accordingly -- was so spirit-crushingly negative that it forced a change in the laws of the game. The new rule forbade goalkeepers from picking up a back-pass, and has unquestionably been successful; that's just one of the reasons it has become more or less impossible to hate a team simply because of how it plays the game, in the way one could hate the old Italian catenaccio system.

One of the shrewdest bets of this World Cup? Placing some money on Luis Suarez biting an opponent.

"In football, defence was always superior to attack," Michel Platini once said, but now, it appears, the reverse is true, and not simply because there is a new and adventurous spirit abroad. Defending is an art that seems less interesting to multimillionaire players than it used to, and the unchanging, highly drilled back four is a rarity even in the club game. Players switch teams too often; squads are too big and need rotating; defenders spend way more time being suspended than they ever did. It's hard to see a single country in the tournament that could rely on shutting a team out and hoping to win by pinching a goal from a set piece at the other end. The Russians were boring -- they were coached by Fabio Capello, after all --but they were also inadequate, at both ends of the pitch.

Yet, paradoxically, true strikers are in short supply. Two hundred million people live in Brazil, and just about every single one of them breathes football. So why is Fred playing at centre-forward? Spain were the reigning world and European champions coming into the tournament, yet the only strikers they could call on were ageing David Villa of Melbourne City, hapless Fernando Torres, whose lack of confidence over the past couple of years has been ghastly to watch, and Diego Costa, who bafflingly made two appearances for Brazil in 2013, and who endured a wretched tournament anyway.

Miroslav Klose is, of course, a true striker, but if you'd told him at the 2002 tournament that he'd be getting a game for Germany in 2014, he'd have laughed at you. Klose celebrated his 36th birthday just before this World Cup started, and he could reasonably have expected a global footballing superpower to have found someone else by now. Most Arsenal fans are a little disconcerted to see Lukas Podolski sitting on the German bench, too. At the Emirates we're used to seeing him sitting on the bench -- it's not that. But as Arsenal aren't overburdened with top-quality forwards, we presumed his poor season meant he didn't have a hope in hell of getting anywhere near a squad that has a decent chance of winning the tournament. Klose is the only orthodox striker in Germany's 23-man squad, but their attacking midfielders more than compensate. (Nobody quite knows what Thomas Muller is, but he's the joint top scorer in Brazil.) The "hole" everyone now seems to want to play in will soon be as big as a lunar crater. What's wrong with them all? Here's a career path: hang around on the edge of the box, wait for a rebound off a defender, knock it in from 2 yards, become a national hero. It worked for Gary Lineker and Gerd Muller.

Jonathan Brack, a Swedish teacher, made the best and shrewdest bet of the tournament: he got 175/1 on Luis Suarez biting an opponent, and won 1,200 pounds (pending, presumably, Uruguay's desperate, embarrassing appeal). Suarez has provided one of the moments in the tournament to date that will be repeated on television for as long as there are televised World Cups. A couple of the others came in the extraordinary, sad, thrilling game between Netherlands and Spain, but Robin van Persie's header from Daley Blind's brilliant cross, and Arjen Robben's electrifying footrace against Gerard Pique produced only goals, however, and goals, even great ones, are predictable within the context of a football match. The Suarez assault, deplorably unsporting though it might have been, was one of those moments that make sport so addictive: front-page headline news that is at the same time comprehensible, relatively harmless even to the victim, and astounding. Life, regrettably, is not like that, and we should do everything we can to delay its return on July 14.