The Signings of Rivals: Neymar vs Bale Revisited

When Neymar signed with Catalonian giant FC Barcelona, the financial details were at the time unknown, but the impact for the present and future of the club was correctly assumed to be great. It was also viewed as a leg up during the offseason of their cross-country rivals, star-studded behemoths in their own rite, Real Madrid. Not to be outdone, on the pitch or with their chequebook, the favourite club of the Spanish capital signed PFA Player of the Year and member of UEFA Team of the Year in 2013 Gareth Bale for a world record transfer fee of €100 million and an approximate total cost of an additional €1.5 per year in comparison to the final figures revealed for Neymar’s acquisition.

Bale V Neymar

The question remains then, who is performing better for their respective clubs almost two full years into their tenure? Also pertinent to ask is who is getting more value for their money so far, and who projects to perform better in the future and thus receive better value?

Relative Skillset

While Bale has changed positions across his professional career, he remains a stalwart, athletic powerhouse that has the skills of someone you would expect to be smaller and more nimble. His speed in particular stands out as, by all accounts, he is one of the fastest players if not the fastest in all of European football.

Both play with an ambidexterity that makes it seem like they do not possess a dominant side, but in reality Neymar plays the centre-right while Bale has gone from the left back position to a left wing attacker. The Welshman’s toughness and physicality are what landed him in the defensive line in the first place, but as an attacker he uses his height and strength advantage in the box for headers. Overall, he is a physical specimen to be reckoned with.

Bale Quiz

In contrast, Neymar incorporates traditional Brazilian flair in his game, relying on quick changes of pace and direction along with some masterful footwork that got him recognized in the world of football as a prodigy from a young age. Like Bale, he is a wizard from the spot, a true threat from almost any area on the field from the free kick. While he plays on the opposite side of the field from Bale, he tends to occupy the centre more. He is a true playmaker, and a threat to do almost anything with the ball when you factor in his quickness and ability to feign and deke effortlessly. He has been compared in style of play with such luminaries as Ronaldinho and Pele, both compatriots.

Statistical Output

Comparing these two stars’ stats is only natural considering they have both been in La Liga for their respective clubs for the same amount of time, their positions and roles for their teams are similar, and their salaries are only percentage points apart. That said, let us delve into the numbers.

Each holds a distinctive advantage depending on which season you look at, and over the aggregate of almost two full seasons, their output in terms of assists and goals over time played is almost equal. During his first full season at Real, Bale averaged over one goal or assist (1.13) over 90 pro-rated minutes played, which is quite a feat. His last season in La Liga has been plagued with nagging injuries as he has generally been less consistent, which is not to take away from his playing a key role in winning La Copa del Rey and the Champions League trophy the season prior. In both deciding matches, he nailed home the capper with the go-ahead goal. By that measure, his signing has been a success.

Neymar did not mesh as well with his club at Camp Nou his first season, which is not to say that it was a failure – far from it. His signing at an age three years younger than Bale was looked upon something for the present as much as for his future potential, which he was dripping with, and that projection is now paying dividends. Partly a factor of gelling his with fellow historically adept attacking line of Uruguayan Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi (who had a down year during Neymar’s first season), partly attributable to adjusting to the pace and skill of the best league in the world from lesser competition in his homeland, the Brazilian wonder kid picked up his goals plus assists over 90 minutes rate to just under one (0.95) in his second year. While team success was harder to come by last season, his side stands on the brink of a rare treble, with just several more days to decide the ultimate outcome, which might just be a season for the ages.

Neymar Quiz

Not only has Neymar been more consistent over the two season period, but he has shown improvement, a big part of the investment Barça’s bosses were banking on. This bodes well for the future of the Catalonian side. That said, the two have been almost exactly equal in that particularly statistical category, only separated by 0.01. By this measure, Bale slightly edges Neymar out in terms of value per total goals plus assists, but that is likely to change in the coming seasons.

Star Quality off the Field

Neymar shines as a celebrity for one of the most football-crazed, largest nations on earth. He has been praised as a role model as a man of faith in an at least nominally religious country, as well. As someone who was rated the most marketable sportsman of the year in 2013, even ahead of soon-to-be teammate and Ballon d’Or winner, Messi, he has gone on to sponsor major brand names, signing an 11 year deal with apparel giant Nike and more recently teaming up with PokerStars, the leading online poker website.

Bale has been praised by former coaches and teammates past and present for his quality of character. When coming over to La Liga, he moved with his high school sweetheart and their baby daughter. He is known for his trademarked ‘heart celebration,’ among other things, and is currently on the cover of the massive hit videogame, FIFA 14. While earning slightly less in endorsements than his Brazilian counterpart at Barça, he is a much touted and beloved football figure, especially in his old haunts in the UK.

Overall, both of these players are phenomenal in their own right. Only time will tell who has the brighter future, but both have already accomplished much in their relatively short time in football, and it is a near certainty that more awards will be lavished on them both.

Increase in betting and casino sponsorship in football

In an increasingly digital world it is perhaps unsurprising that the betting industry has grown at such a rapid rate. With so many platforms that now facilitate gambling, such as mobile and computer, players are not restricted to how and when they want to bet.

This has resulted in over £40 billion being wagered on a wide variety of sporting events and casinos in 2014. The market is booming and extremely lucrative.

One thing that has not changed however is the most popular betting opportunity. Football. Attracting all ages, the chance to back your favourite club with hard earned cash provides a thrill almost like no other. Unsurprisingly, football clubs have clicked on, developing a commercial marketing strategy that mutual benefits all.

Clubs get a substantial boost by betting and casino sponsorship, whilst the sponsor get’s their product promoted in its most targeted setting. Fans also benefit by becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities provided by multimedia betting. They are also often given exclusive offers for joining their clubs betting partner.

So just how big has betting and casino sponsorship become in football? The world’s official richest club, Real Madrid, set the trend, signing up to Spanish bookmaker BWIN. In the subsequent years, BWIN’s client base trebled. Whether it is sports betting or casino games such as online pokies, you’ll be able to find it at sites sponsoring Premier League teams. If not, visit Pokies Palace for one of the best choices around.

Within the last few years ten Premier League clubs, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Stoke, Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham, Newcastle, Fulham and Liverpool, have all been sponsored by betting companies. This is all despite strict legislation from the Gambling Act which forbids advertisement of casinos and betting services that are not based with the EEA or are part of the Gambling Commission White List.

The success of these relationships has even resulted in football leagues being sponsored by betting and casino companies. The whole English league, for example, is promoted by SkyBet, whilst in the last few days the Scottish league announced a £4 million deal with Ladbrokes for rights of all levels of the professional Scottish leagues.

There have been major criticisms of this increasing trend. Some have questioned the morality of betting sponsorships, whilst others have blamed clubs for gambling addictions and other side effects of the activity. Strict legislations from the Gambling Act, as previously stated, have policed this well, however, and have protected players influenced too severely by the sponsorship.

As the football betting world continues to economically grow, there is no doubt that this type of sponsorship will become even more of a common trend, especially with the introduction of mobile gambling at sites such as Mobile Pokies Online.

How to make money betting on football

The football betting industry is a rapidly increasing business. Multimedia gambling opportunities, increased gaming sponsorships, and a greater range of markets available, now mean that football betting is a much enjoyed part of many people’s lives.

Financial losses are a natural cap on this enjoyment however. Critics of football gambling revel in stating that ‘the house always has the edge’ and ‘players will only gamble back their winnings.’ Whilst these two statements contain elements of truth, there is undoubtedly a way to minimise this ‘house edge’ and gamble in a disciplined, efficient manner.

The first, and most important, step for any football punter is a website called oddschecker. Oddschecker compares prices for every market of every match, giving punters an easy opportunity to always get the best odds. The useful site also includes details of all free bet offers and new account specials.

Understanding the best football betting markets is also incredibly important. The vast majority of losing gamblers are those who place numerous small staked accumulators. They predominantly feature a wide range of teams, from a random list of divisions. Bookmakers profit massively from this ‘Hollywood’ style of betting. Those more successful stick with singles and doubles, and usually these tend to be in the lower leagues rather than the Premier League.

It is also worth noting that bookmakers have the highest ‘house edge’ on goalscorer markets. They exploit gambler’s love of individual players, knowing they will back them no matter the odds. First, last, and anytime goalscorers are almost always priced up at odds that do not follow their statistical scoring records.

Any successful football punter will stress the importance of analysing statistics before gambling. Footballstats.co.uk and opta.co.uk are especially good websites crammed with detailed information of both team’s performances. Spending hours analysing statistics on all markets may not sound like fun, but it gives you the best chance to be profitable. After becoming accustomed to statistical betting you subconsciously become able to weigh up whether a bet represents good or bad value.

It is important to remember that betting on football usually has around a 10% margin built into it by online bookmakers. This is greater than the 5%-7% margin built in for slots and fruit machines at sites like Fruity Reels. Whilst many may disagree, statistically speaking you are likely to lose more money by betting on football than playing online fruit machines.

Finally, as previously mentioned it is essential to remain disciplined and efficient in your betting. By setting a limit each month of how much you are prepared to gamble, any potential net losses are instantly minimised. Efficiency can be measured through always taking the best odds, limiting selections to either a single or a double, and thoroughly researching before placing the bet. Oh and remember, bet with your head,, not your heart!

Football Rivaries: Celtic v Rangers

Celtic v Rangers

Celtic v RangersPerhaps the saddest aspect of Ranger’s demotion, extinction and absence from the top flight of Scottish football in recent has been the fact that fans have been deprived of the Glasgow derby. Whether you had an interest in Scottish football or not, the 4 times a year that the teams from Scotland’s biggest city collided were always worth watching!  Drama, passion, guts, goals, tears and joy. Words cannot express what this one game means to different people. Religious differences aside the clubs are long term rivals and the prospect of future derby clashed must wet the appetite of all football fans.

Although the basis for the term is unclear, the words Old Firm make the hairs on the back of the net stand up. Almost 100 league titles between them, domination of the domestic game and success in Europe as not stopped the Old Firm game being the decisive point of the season. One may be higher in the league, another may reach a cup final but the season will be judged on the games that matter and to Rangers and Celtic fans that can only mean the Old Firm.

Memorable games dominate fans minds such as the 6-2 thrashing Celtic dished out in 2000, the 5-1 win Rangers returned in the same year and the record 7-1 Celtic win the in the 1950s. Each fan has their own personal memory of a game that captures the entire footballing world.

Trouble has marred the clash and the police presence for the match is higher than in any other British derby. Although a passionate city, Glasgow is a small one and on derby day it is sometimes safer to stay indoors than venture out into the sea of blue and green/white hoops. Violence marred matches in the 1980 Cup Final when fans brawled on the pitch and in 1999 objects were thrown around Celtic Park. The occasions though are rare and it is the football that often does the talking.

Many players have attempted to play for both sides, some with more respect than others but the people, players and fans of Glasgow are expected to nail their colours to one mast. Green and White of Celtic of the Blue of Rangers.

The joys of the Old Firm game were taken away from fans as Rangers suffered demotion and had to reform from the lower ranks to the Scottish Leagues. Celtic fans may have taken joy in the troubles of their bitterest rivals but deep down felt a gaping void as the season began with the traditional countdown to Old Firm Day. The passion will return, the teams will contest the title again and the footballing world will be treated to the joy, passion and excitement of the Old Firm game.

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