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Patrick V is the man most feared by British bookmakers. So much so that no betting organisation in the country will touch him. He has pocketed over £10 million from gambling on horse races. Patrick V is Britain’s most successful gambler.

5 questions about Bundesliga 2015-2016


Raphael Honigstein is ESPN FC’s German football expert and poses 5 questions about the new Bundesliga.

The 53rd Bundesliga season starts on Friday night when champions Bayern Munich take on perennial underachievers Hamburger SV at the Allianz Arena.

In Germany, many are convinced that the Reds will win a historic fourth consecutive title to underline their dominance, but there’s also a widespread belief that they will be pushed a lot harder by the competition than they have been in recent years.No such consensus exists about the makeup of the rest of the table, however. The Bundesliga is a league in which financial minnows like Augsburg can finish in fifth place on the back of a £30 million budget and giants are regularly sucked into the relegation fight. As such, after Bayern, it will once again prove incredibly unpredictable. Here are the five key questions for the next 10 months.

1. How will the Pep Guardiola situation resolve itself?

Bayern knew that the Catalan was not an ordinary manager, but they’re still taken aback by the unusual scenario they find themselves in ahead of their third season with the 44-year-old.

The club are sold on Guardiola’s coaching capabilities, perhaps more so than with any other manager in living memory, regardless of public perception. But Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and the other bosses are also frustrated by Guardiola’s reluctance to commit himself to Sabener Strasse beyond next summer.

The culture at the club is one of a frank, blunt exchange of views, with fallouts and makeups, not enigmatic silences and whispered insinuations via intermediaries. Bayern are used to getting their way. Failing that, they much prefer a timely rejection to drawn-out uncertainty.

Guardiola, on the other hand, seems to regard the pressure on him to make up his mind as counterproductive. He’s cut an exasperated figure before the first ball has been kicked in the league, and in turn, his bad mood has only made his superiors more anxious. The squad is so devastatingly good that the fallout on the pitch will be limited, but the impasse cannot go on forever. Every unconvincing performance and poor result will feed into the atmosphere of unease, and a coach short on patience could find it hard to keep the deeply stacked squad happy.

By Christmas at the latest, Guardiola will have to show his hand. Ironically, him leaving might not prove detrimental in the short term. His predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, won the treble after his departure at the end of the 2012-13 campaign was announced in January.

2. Just how good will Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund be?

Twelve months ago, Dortmund’s squad was widely rated the best ever, and the Black and Yellows were seen as favourites to win the title in some quarters, too. It played out differently, with Dortmund fighting against relegation for the first half of the season and Jurgen Klopp departing in May.

But Germany’s second force of the current decade are poised to bounce back strongly in 2015-16. The new coach, 41-year-old Thomas Tuchel, is already making waves with his extreme attention to detail and a tactical flexibility designed to make Dortmund’s high-pressing game more sustainable and less one-dimensional.

A very deep squad that hasn’t lost any of its key players (for a change) will give Tuchel plenty of options to rotate and react during and between matches. Players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan look as if they can reach former levels of excellence under the Swabian’s guidance. A long run in the Europa League might make challenging of the title against Bayern a tall order, but Dortmund will provide plenty of thrills. Maybe there will be a bit of silverware as well.

3. Will we see a return of the elite clubs?

1980s big boys Hamburger SV could well continue where they left of in recent seasons and start their campaign by getting hammered by Bayern. Optimism is in short supply in the port city following their embarrassing first-round DFB Cup exit at the hands of fourth-division Carl Zeiss Jena; another nerve-wracking relegation fight might well loom for Bruno Labbadia’s team.

Other big, traditional teams look better placed to get into the right half of the table again. Under new coach Alexander Zorniger, a pressing disciple from the Ralf Rangnick stable, VfB Stuttgart should be much improved. The 2007 champions should have a shot at the Europa League spots. Werder Bremen, perennial Champions League contestants not too long ago, have lost key striker Franco Di Santo to Schalke, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Viktor Skripnik were to lead them to a top-10 finish in his first full season in charge.

Armin Veh’s teams tend to either over- or underachieve, but who’s to say that Eintracht Frankfurt don’t go on another one of those crazy runs? And Borussia Monchengladbach, last year’s biggest feel-good story for all neutrals, will surely be hard to shift from the top of the table. The Foals looked really strong in their 4-1 win over St. Pauli in the Cup. This well could be the season when the blue chips hit back against the upstarts like Augsburg, Mainz and Hoffenheim, who have been exploiting the old elite’s poor coaching and player dealings for a few years.

4. Is Andre Breitenreiter the manager Schalke have been crying out for?

Since Huub Stevens’ first spell in charge (1996-2002), no Royal Blues manager has been able to hold the job down for two full seasons. Boardroom upheaval, bad decisions in the player market and plain wrong appointments have prevented the Gelsenkirchen club from fulfilling its considerable potential.

Can new boss Andre Breitenreiter break the mould and take the club forward? The 41-year-old has been given the nod after getting relegated with SC Paderborn, but Schalke have seen past the results and focused on a body of work that suggests that he can combine man-management with tactical knowledge, while having broad enough shoulders to deal with the frantic expectations.

The squad, a fine blend of local talents like Julian Draxler and Max Meyer plus seasoned pros like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, certainly brims with untapped potential. A simple improvement won’t do, in light of the strength of the competition for the Champions League places, but if Breitenreiter can get Schalke to play as well as Paderborn did — at the very limit of the players’ abilities — a positive season awaits.

5. Will there be a fourth miracle at the Bollenfalltor?

“We don’t belong to the Bundesliga,” SV Darmstadt 98 coach Dirk Schuster said in May. He was wrong: Darmstadt made it back to the top flight for the first time in 33 years. Their thoroughly improbable run (with a total budget was £5.8 million) followed a stunning promotion to the second division in 2014, and a lucky last-minute escape from relegation to the fourth division in 2013.

They were only saved by another side, Kickers Offenbach, failing to get a professional licence. Few people think the “Lilies” will blossom next season, but their defiantly unmodernised, 16,000-capacity stadium and never-say-die spirit could surprise a few people again.


Celebration champagne

The 10 most profitable spread bets of 2013

Top 10 Sports Spread Bets of 2013

Take a look at our top ten spread betting moments of the year below to gain betting inspiration for 2014!

Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro Total Points, Wimbledon semi-final, 5/7/13
Winning margin: 128 times original stake
Andy Murray made history in 2013 by actually smiling when he became the first British male to win Wimbledon in 77 years in July.
But why did his nemesis Novak Djokovic not put up a sterner test in the final? Because he was still shattered from his incredible encounter with Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis just two days before, that’s why.
The Argentine pushed Djokovic all the way in the longest ever Wimbledon semi-final in history which ended with the Serb squeaking home 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 in four hours and 43 minutes.
Spread betters who bought Total Points at 240 made 128 times their original stake when the players contested 368 points in total during the match.
Those who put their money on the match being a short-lived affair were left to cry into their strawberries and cream.

Chris Gayle Player Performance, Bangalore v Pune, 23/4/13
Winning margin: 170 times original stake
Chris Gayle’s unbelievable batting display in the IPL in April had the purists purring as the West Indies captain hit the fastest-ever century in professional cricket on his way to 175 not out.
The man-mountain reached triple figures in just 30 balls for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, eventually smashing 17 sixes and 13 fours in an astonishing unbeaten knock.
If that wasn’t enough, Gayle also chipped in with two late wickets with the ball.
For spread betters who bought his Player Performance quote at a meagre 45 (spread based on 1pt per run scored, 20 per wicket taken, 10 per catch taken and 25 points per stumping), it meant profits of 170 times their original stake size as the market made up at 215.
Anyone getting against Gayle on this occasion would have been left well and truly stumped.

Taylor v Lewis Multi 180s, Grand Slam of Darts semi-final, 17/11/13
Winning margin: 191.5 times original stake
Some say it’s one of the best games of darts of all time. When world number one Phil Taylor went head-to-head with fierce rival Adrian Lewis in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in November, the pair hit a PDC record of 32 maximums during a scintillating display of ‘arrers’.
Such was the quality on show during the battle between the two Stoke-born players that Lewis lost despite averaging 110.99.
Shrewd spread betters who bought Multi 180s (Taylor’s total 180s multiplied by Lewis’ total 180s) at 60.5 made profits of 191.5 times their original stake when the market settled at 252.
Those who sold on the spread were left to appreciate the high standard on show if not the lighter feel to their wallets.

Fall of 1st England Wicket, Australia A v England Ashes warm-up match, 8/11/13
Winning margin: 262 times original stake
England ended the year losing the Ashes. We all know that. And it was painful. Yes, they were rubbish. Humiliated. Embarrassed.
However, it didn’t look like it was going to be this way after a 3-0 summer series win over Michael Clarke’s men and then a promising performance from new opening pair captain Alastair Cook and Hampshire hitter Michael Carberry in a tour warm-up match Down Under against Australia A in Hobart in November.
In what was to be a rather misleading display of form, Cook made 154 before retiring out and Carberry 153 before stepping down in the same way.
Spread betters who bought Fall of 1st England Wicket at 56 made 262 times their original stake size when the market settled at 318.
Sellers were out of pocket on this occasion, but were in the money when the real action began as Cook and Carberry flopped spectacularly.

Shirt Numbers, Rubin Kazan v Dinamo Moscow, Russian Premier League, 26/9/13
Winning margin: 269 times original stake
Whatever happened to the former Blackburn and QPR centre-half Christopher Samba? He went to play in the Russian Premier League that’s what.
And when the giant Dinamo Moscow defender put into his own net against Rubin Kazan in a league match in November it sparked a payday for spread betters buying goalscorers’ Shirt Numbers.
Samba was wearing number 84 (own goals count towards the total in this market) and other scorers in the 2-2 draw included Gokdeniz Karadenis wearing 61, Aleksai Ionov wearing 99 and Alexander Kokorin wearing 91.
It meant a make-up of 335 and profits of 269 times the original stake for anyone who bought at 66.
Punters who were backing a low goalscoring affair were left to rue the Russians’ penchant for high team squad numbers.

Total Goal Minutes, Man City v Arsenal, Premier League, 14/12/13
Winning margin: 368 times original stake
Manuel Pellegrini may not sport a scarf in the stylish manner that his predecessor did, but he certainly stuck his neck out in his commitment to football with flair at the Etihad after taking over from Roberto Mancini.
It’s been goals galore at home for the Citizens since the Chilean took over at Manchester City and the most spectacular of these net-busting occasions was arguably the 6-3 dismantling of Arsenal in December.
A clutch of late goals helped bump Total Goal Minutes (the aggregate minutes of all goals scored in a game) to a huge 531 meaning punters who bought at 163 made 368 times their original stake.
Sellers of Total Goal Minutes were left with a painful experience – however, given City’s free-scoring record ahead of this game, those going short were few and far between.

Corners Squared, Roma v Cagliari, Serie A, 25/11/13
Winning margin: 541 times original stake
When former Arsenal misfit Gervinho struggled in front of goal for Roma in a 0-0 draw against Cagliari in Serie A in November, most football fans would have been grateful they hadn’t watched the game.
However, those with a knowledge of football spread betting are aware there is much more to trading the game than merely betting on straightforward markets such as the match outcome or number of goals.
Punters who took on Spreadex’s infamous Corners Squared market (total number of match corners taken, squared) would have been astonished to see 26 corners taken in total during the match.
Buyers at 135 made 541 times their original stake when the market made up at 676.
Anyone selling on any of the large choice of corner-related markets was caught flagging on this occasion.

The Grand National – Multi-Mules: 6/4/13
Winning margin: 550 times original stake
Everyone loves a flutter on the Grand National. Usually it’s your nan or next door neighbour putting their one £5 fixed odds bet per year on a horse they like the colours of.
But for spread betters there are a whole plethora of betting opportunities on the nags.
Multi-mules is a popular market which multiplies the racecard number of the winning horse with the racecard number of the second placed horse and aggregates them for all races across a meeting.
On Grand National day at Aintree, Aurora’s Encore romped home wearing 35 from Cappa Bleu wearing 18, meaning Multi-Mules made up 630 for this race alone.
Across the whole day, Multi-Mules made up at 1304, meaning spread betters who bought at 754 made 550 times their original stake size.
Those going short on this particular market on this day were left feeling like donkeys.

FA Cup First Round – Cross Goals: 9/11/13
Winning margin: 703 times original stake
The early rounds of the FA Cup often throws up a few mismatches with non-league sides facing rather more organised and far fitter lower league teams.
This was the case in the first round proper in November with some of the high-scoring results including Mansfield winning 8-1 at St Albans, Brentford thumping Staines 5-0, Preston hammering Barnet 6-0 and Leyton Orient quashing Southport 5-2.
Spread betters who bought First Round Cross Goals (total home team goals multiplied by total away team goals) at 2,356 made a profit more than 700 times their stake size when goals aplenty across all the ties saw the market settle at 3059.
For anyone predicting a day of few goals it was a first round to forget.

Rugby U20 World Cup, England Multi-Points, England v USA, 13/6/13
Winning margin: 1,415 times original stake
You can spread bet on almost any market on any sport you can imagine. How about England Under 20s’ first half points multiplied by their second half points in the Rugby Under 20 World Cup group game against USA in Vannes, France in June?
Didn’t jump out at you at the time? Well, those that bought on the spread at 1,513 were left in punters’ dream land when England romped in 48 points in the first half and a further 61 in the second half for a huge 109-0 win.
It meant England Multi-Points made up at a massive 2,928 and profits of 1,415 times their original stake for buyers.
However, anyone getting on the wrong side of the spread was well and truly mauled.