Jon Karlsson

The new football season brings new challenges and for those who like to bet on football new opportunities. Some bets simply stand out as good ones even before a ball has been kicked and it's always a source of great competition between friends to be able to say "I bet on that before the season started". So whilst it is fun, it is also the ultimate test of your predictive powers.

So which bets should be taken before the season starts? Here are a selection that already look good value:

1. Bundesliga Winners Bet

Last season was something of a disaster for the most famous German club. But whilst a disaster for most big teams in other leagues would be finishing say 6th or 7th, for Bayern it was finishing 2nd, just two points from the champions Wolfsburg.

Under Jurgen Klinsmann Bayern simply didn't work last season. The former Germany striker tried to change too much too soon, and paid the price as the Bayern defence simply fell apart.

This time around Louis van Gaal is in charge and even though less new players have arrived than were thought would, Franck Ribery has importantly remained and Mario Gomez will add some more firepower upfront. It is hard to imagine Bayern Munich not winning the Bundesliga this time around and even though their price is short to begin with it will only get shorter through the season.

Their rivals simply don't have the power to compete over the course of a whole Bundesliga campaign and if Bayern hit form then there is only going to be one club lifting the title.

Recommended bet: Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga

2. Michael Owen Goals at Manchester United (Skybet)

Owen's move to Manchester United was perhaps the shock of the summer, but there is no doubt that he remains a classy striker when fit. The bar has been put at 9.5 goals for this bet, so Owen must just get to double figures to pass it. The bookmakers may assume that Owen won't play that many games and may well be on the bench more often than not. But it is a long season, with 38 Premier League games and Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to rest players when he can for the Champions League.

Man Utd will beat some smaller teams by four or five goals at Old Trafford at some point this season. It simply will happen. So in those games Owen can pick up a couple of goals and believe it or not those 10 could even be reached by Christmas.

Surrounded by such quality Michael Owen will get chances put on a plate for him. He is more than capable of converting them.

Recommended bet: Michael Owen to score over 9.5 goals (Skybet)

3. Champions League Dark Horse Bet

The odds for the Champions League are dominated by the usual big boys and when the margins between success and failure are so small it isn't worth siding with any of them before a ball has been kicked. Far better to look for some value from a team that could make a real impression at a very good price. Then that side can be layed if you so wish later in the campaign for a guaranteed profit.

Russian champions Rubin Kazan could go a long way in the Champions League. They have assembled a real team in Kazan and that is what could bring them some success. The Russians don't rely on individuals, but that said they do have some real quality, like Turkish stars Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Hasan Kabze.

It shouldn't just be Rubin's quality which should worry the opposition, but also the fact any team visiting the Central Stadium will have a very long trip to get there. This isn't Moscow and creature comforts will be a long way away for established western European stars. With the Russians available at a big price they are worth taking a chance on.

Recommended bet: Rubin Kazan to win the Champions League (Each-way)

4. England Championship Winners Bet

The Championship is sure to be a really competitive league this season, especially with Newcastle, West Brom and Middlesbrough strong Premier League teams dropping down. Predicting who is going to make it back up to the promised land is difficult.

However, there is some value to be had with Ipswich Town. The club which recruited Roy Keane to lead them has some real backing and Keane has bought sensibly so far. He also has experience of getting promotion, transforming Sunderland into a team to get up to the Premier League in an extremely short period of time.

It would be a surprise if Ipswich did not at least make the playoffs and there is every chance they could get higher. If they are looking good in January then the board will surely back Keane with more funds. With an each-way bet paying for the top three finishers Ipswich are certainly worth a bet.

Recommended bet: Ipswich Town to win the Championship (Each-way)

5. Top Goalscorer Greek Super League (Expekt)

The race to be the top scorer in the Greek Super League is sure to be an exciting one this season. Most people would assume that the duel will be between Olympiacos's Brazilian striker Diogo and Panathinaikos's new signing Djibril Cisse. This would be a fair enough assumption, because Olympiacos and Panathinaikos will make up the top two places at the end of the season.

However, one player that should not be overlooked is AEK Athens striker Ismael Blanco. Blanco has been a top quality striker since arriving in Greece in 2007. In 2007/08 he notched 14 goals to end up as the league's joint top scorer (with Luciano Galletti). Last season he got 19 to end as the top scorer in his own right.

There is no reason why he can't do this again. As AEK's main man he simply needs to fire and will be on the end of almost everything they create. He is the sensible choice to end the season on top of the scoring tables again.

Recommended bet: Ismael Blanco to finish as Greek Super League top scorer (Expekt)


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