Football fans facing up to the gloomy prospect of a summer without football can take comfort from the impending start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. This tournament sees the 12 best North American teams square.
<p>Football fans facing up to the gloomy prospect of a summer without football can take comfort from the impending start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. This tournament sees the 12 best North American teams square off in a bid to lift the trophy and is expected to be ultimately contested by Mexico and the USA. It may not be the most prestigious of tournaments, but it is a welcome source of betting value for bettors that are forced to wait another six weeks for the start of the 2017-18 season. Here we preview the cup, who could win, the first round of games and some 2017-18 futures options for anyone missing the beautiful game this summer.</p><p><strong>Gold Cup Futures</strong></p><p>There are three groups of four teams in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the winner and runner-up in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals. The two best performing third-placed teams will join them in the last eight. There are few teams that can win it. Mexico are the heavy hitters in this competition, having won it in 2015 and lifted the trophy more times than any other team. They have just competed in the Confederations Cup, so they are sending a second string to this tournament, but that is true of most teams. The USA, for instance, have left out Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and more. So there are plenty of experimental squads featuring lots of youngsters and players that have not got a great deal of experience at international level. Dark horses are Costa Rica, who are strong going forwards but not great in attack, and Panama, who are strong defensively but leave something to be desired offensively. But eventually it should come down to a battle between Mexico and the USA. The States will benefit from home advantage, but examining the two squads Mexico have more strength in depth and look a good bet to win it at with</p><p><strong>First round of games</strong></p><p>The USA have a difficult opener against a stubborn Panama side that earned a 1-1 draw with them in a recent World Cup qualifier. The USA are under-strength, but it is still hard to see Panama winning this one as the States’ young players are full of talent and will be highly motivated by the chance of winning a regular starting berth. A full stake on a USA win at 1.80 with Bet Victor looks good. Odds are drifting on that so it might pay to wait a little while and see if the price improves. A half-stake on the draw at 2.40 with 10Bet would cover you. Mexico should beat El Salvador comfortably in their curtain raiser, so Mexico -1.5 Asian handicap at 1.86 with Bet Victor looks good. Honduras and Costa Rica are quite well matched but the latter has more experience and is stronger in attack so Costa Rica should edge it and the 2.15 on offer at Bet365 and William Hill looks interesting. Jamaica play Curacao in a battle of the islands and should prevail, with William Hill and Bet Victor offering 2.30. French Guiana is another minnow and while Canada are not exactly heavyweights they should win that game (1.81 with Bet Victor). Finally, Martinique and Nicaragua look hard to split so 3.13 on the draw might be interest with Marathon Bet.</p><p><strong>Futures for next season</strong></p><p>Bookmakers have released odds on who will win each of Europe’s top leagues in 2017-18. Real Madrid are favourites to retain La Liga, but Barcelona offer better</p><p>value at 2.11 with Marathon Bet. A new manager typically galvanises Barcelona, and Leo Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez should fire the Catalans to glory next season if they sign midfielders that will give them more of the ball. It is a bit too soon for nouveau riche Internazionale and AC Milan to challenge Juventus next season, while Napoli and Roma lack the quality, so Max Allegri’s men should scoop another title (1.62 with Betway). Bayern Munich should be equally dominant in Germany (1.20 with Bet Stars). Monaco surged to a first title in years in France last season but now their best players are being picked off by Europe’s elite, so the title should return to oil rich PSG (1.36 with 10Bet). Finally the most competitive league: the Premiership, where at least five teams can win it. Man City are spending big and have been made favourites, but have not strengthened enough defensively yet to suggest they will improve on last season’s third placed finish. Man Utd are second favourites, but they will struggle going forwards unless they really overhaul their attack. Right now Chelsea look great value to retain their title at 4.50 with Sportingbet as they have magnificent players like N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard and will also strengthen this summer. An each-way bet on a young, strong and improving Tottenham side at 11.0 with Betway would be another good option, as would the 4.00 on offer at Bet Victor on Harry Kane finishing top goal scorer for the third year running.</p>