IT’S that time of the week again.
We’re picking the best of the best from the weekend’s sporting events and see if we can’t jag a parlay result.
With a mix of international soccer, NRL and UFC, this week’s multi takes you around the globe.
Multi for June 26-28:
- Copa America Quarter Final: Argentina to beat Colombia @ $1.90
- NRL: North Queensland to beat Cronulla @ $1.51
- UFC: Yoel Romero to beat Lyoto Machida @ $2.55
Multi dividend: $7.32 with WilliamHill.com.au
Copa America Quarter Final: Argentina vs. Colombia
Saturday, June 27, 9.30am AEST, beIN Sports
Prediction: Argentina wins
Any team that features the two best strikers in the world can simply not be ignored.
Even if you know nothing about soccer, you would have heard of Barcelona icon Lionel Messi and Manchester City superstar Sergio Aguero.
Household names the world over, these two hold the keys, not only for the club teams in the Spanish Primera Liga and English Premier League, but also for their nation.
The Argentineans are the Copa America tournament favourites and are ranked three in the world.
But this one won’t be a walkover against a Colombian side that is ranked just one below it in fourth and features the likes of Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez and Manchester United disappointment Radamel Falcao.
After opening the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Paraguay – with one goal each coming from Messi and Aguero – the Argentines have eked out a pair of 1-0 wins over Uruguay and Jamaica, Aguero’s diving header vanquishing the former, and Gonzalo Higuain breaking that pair’s dominance with the goal that defeated the Calypso Kings.
By contrast, Colombia has had a tougher time of it, falling to Venezuela, 1-0 in the opener and drawing with Peru 0-0.
It did win back some respect and scrap its way out of the group stage with a 1-0 win over brazil thanks to Jeizon Murillo’s 36th minute strike.
It might have been the Colombians’ only goal in the tournament, but it gave the nation its first win over Brazil since 1991.
For all their pluck, the fighting Colombians don’t possess the star power or the quality of the Argentines and, while we’re expecting an entertaining South American tussle, we’re picking La Albiceleste to make it through to the semis.
Messi is far too motivated for this one, having clocked up his 100th cap for his country against the Jamaicans. Argentina has never won this tournament and Messi says he would “give it all up to win the Copa America”.
Argentina: Sergio Romero; Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Otamendi, Ezequiel Garay, Pablo Zabaleta; Lucas Biglia, Javier Pastore, Javier Mascherano; Angel Di María, Sergio Agüero, Lionel Messi
Colombia: David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Cristian Zapata, Murillo, Jeison Armero; Juan Cuadrado, Alexander Mejia, Sánchez, James Rodríguez; Teofilo Gutiérrez, Radamel Falcao
NRL: North Queensland Cowboys vs. Cronulla Sharks
Saturday, June 27, 5.35pm, watch on Fox Sports
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.51)
Cronulla Sharks ($2.60)
Prediction: North Queensland Cowboys win
We’re gonna ride this thing out with the North Queensland Cowboys – even with superstar Johnathan Thurston set to miss.
So good have they been this season that they’ve all of a sudden won 11 straight and are in the box seat to make it 12 in a row against the Cronulla Sharks.
So often they’ve had the great man Thurston to thank for wins during the streak, but never more than the thrilling 21-20 result over the Canberra Raiders on the weekend.
A Thurston field goal as time expired broke the deadlock and gave the Cowboys their 11th on the trot after Antonio Winterstein, Matthew Wright and Gavin Cooper had all crossed.
But Cowboys’ coach Green confirmed Thurston pulled up sore after the match and would not play against Cronulla.
“He pulled up a little bit sore with his shoulder after the weekend,” Green said.
“Obviously backing up only a few days after the Origin, he knew it was an issue going into the game so how he pulled up after that we were never going to be really sure.
“It’s still pretty sore so at this stage we will rest him.
Second on the ladder, North Queensland will take on a desperate Sharks side that sits just outside the eight on points alone, but has a game in hand on every side above it, but the third placed St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Sharks had their own thriller to deal with against the Newcastle Knights on the weekend, just getting over the line 30-28, coming back from 10 points down in the second half.
Jack Bird was brilliant for the Sharks, finishing two tries, gun Ben Barba, Valentine Holmes and Luke Lewis crossed and Michael Gordon made no mistake in front of the sticks, converting all five of his opportunities.
Not many picked the Sharks to challenge at the start of the season, but if they can somehow cause a boil over here, it will put them in the mix for a top eight berth.
Many say no Thurston, no Cowboys, but we’re going to back the rest of the side to lift in his absence.
UFC Fight Night Machida vs. Romero
Sunday, June 28, Noon AEST, Watch on Fox Sports, Fight Pass
Lyoto Machida ($1.50)
Yoel Romero ($2.55)
Prediction: Yoel Romero wins at $2.55 with WilliamHill.com.au
A couple of nice bankers and an upset special in this UFC middleweight bout.
We reckon this fight is ripe for the picking for the under dog Yoel Romero, despite Lyoto Machida’s obvious pedigree in the octagon.
Machida, a former light heavy weight title holder, got smoked by Luke Rockhold in his last fight – which was just two months ago – and he has a history of struggling against superior wrestlers.
You guessed it, that’s Romero’s specialty.
The Cuban is an Olympic silver medallist in freestyle wrestling.
A big feather in the cap against a guy who struggled against specialised wrestlers Chris Weidman and Phil Davis.
Of course, Machida (22-6-0) has superb striking power and speed brought about by his karate expertise and the Brazilian’s footwork is a thing of beauty, but you just feel if the monstrous Cuban, dubbed ‘Soldier of God’, can keep his head, bide his time and get ‘The Dragon’ on the ground, he can win this fight.
One thing’s for sure, if he does get beaten, it won’t be because he’s given up. Romero eats adversity for breakfast, having been decked or taken down in fights against both Derek Brunson and Tim Kennedy, only to battle back with his superior fitness and win the battle with big knock outs.
“Machida is a great fighter with a lot of history,” Romero said of his opponent.
“He has fought in two tough weight classes and was champion at one point.
“I think this will be a great fight for fans to watch and enjoy.”
Romero won’t want to cop one on the chin – but then again, no one does – but if he can mix and match with his more versatile skills, the man who has lost just once in UFC company can undoubtedly cause an upset in this one.
Should he win against the fourth ranked Machida, it will give him six fight wins in a row and surely put him on the map for a title shot.
But the Brazilian won’t just lay down and die.
“I was very happy to get this opportunity to fight Yoel,” Machida said.
“I’m always training and it’s good for me to get back in there and fight.
“I believe defeating Yoel is very important for me in order to stay in the mix.
“And that’s the goal.
“I need to go out there and win this fight and get right back in the mix for a title shot.”
We’ll find out Sunday.
Lights out for Power as punters jump sinking Port Adelaide ship
AFL multi tips, exotics & best bets for Round 9, 2015
2016 AFL Grand Final bonuses, free bets & money back specials
Geelong vs. Sydney Preliminary Final line & disposal betting tips
Sydney leads 2016 AFL premiership market as focus turns to finals
Josh Kennedy goal scorer & Coleman tips: Round 22 Eagles vs Hawks
Dalhouse and Treloar disposal betting, AFL Magpies vs. Bulldogs
Richmond vs. Collingwood betting & Dustin Martin disposal tips