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Heineken Cup Preview and Odds: Leinster and Toulouse Justified Joint Favourites

Leinster and Toulouse will start the 2011-12 Heineken Cup this week as joint favourites to win Europe’s top rugby union prize with odds of 9/2 available from Boylesports. Next best in the Boylesports betting market come Leicester Tigers with odds of 8/1, while Munster, Clermont and Northampton Saints are all just behind at 9/1.

Leinster of course come into the tournament as the defending champions after they saw off Northampton 33-22 in last year’s final at the Millennium Stadium and they would appear to have a more than decent draw in Pool 3 from which they should comfortably qualify for the knock out stage. They open their account with a visit to Montpellier, a team which has yet to win in Top 14 League in France this season, but who made it to the Top 14 final last season losing to Toulouse in a hard fought game.

French Champions, Toulouse meanwhile begin their campaign on Sunday when they will entertain Gloucester in a match from which they should comfortably claim the points. Toulouse are currently in third place in the Top 14 and are beginning to assert themselves now that they have all their international players back in the fold after their World Cup exertions.

Whilst it is easy to see why Leinster and Toulouse are the favourites, there are many pundits predicting that this year could belong to Wales. They will be represented this season by Scarlets in Pool 1, the candidate to be described the ‘Pool of Death’, which also contains, Munster, Northampton and Castres, Cardiff Blues are in Pool 2 along with London Irish, Edinburgh and Racing Metro, while Ospreys, possibly the pick of the Welsh teams are in Pool 5 with Biarritz, Saracens and Benetton Treviso.

Ospreys in fact open up with a home match on Saturday against Biarritz, where they will undoubtedly have coach, Scott Johnson insisting on a continuation of the good form which has earned them top spot currently in Rabo-Direct Pro 12, also known as the Celtic League. Ospreys have outstanding odds presently of 25/1 on offer from boylesports to become the first Welsh club to win the Heineken Cup this season and with the side that Johnson has put together these odds might well be worth taking up.

Munster winners in 2008, will also feel that they have a big chance to repeat the feat this term, but they will need to start on the ‘front foot’ in a very difficult looking match against Northampton this Saturday which for many is the match of the weekend. Certainly the Bookmakers fancy a Munster win hence odds of 1/2, however there will be plenty of ‘Saints’ fans taking the 2/1 against their team claiming the points and with their England contingent back in the groove, then they might just prove to be right.

Obviously Saracens and Leicester represent the strongest chances from the English contenders. The two teams fought out the final of last season’s Aviva Premiership, with ‘Sarries’ coming out on top and they have started the better of the two teams so far this season with only one league defeat thus far. Leicester’s poor start to the Premiership has surprised everyone, however, with a full squad available again following the World Cup, they will soon be in amongst it. Leicester in fact, in overall terms have an excellent record in the Heineken Cup and look a very good bet with odds of 15/8 to make the semi final at least.

As far as the odds are concerned in the top try scorer stakes are concerned, the Bookmakers have found it very difficult to separate Vincent Clerc of Toulouse, Chris Ashton of Northampton and Siteveni Sivavatu of Clermont all of which have odds of around the 12/1 mark. As far as the top points scorer is concerned the odds of 9/2 against Jonathan Sexton of Leinster claiming the prize for the second successive year look well worth ‘snapping up’.

2011-12 Heineken Cup Odds

9/2 Leinster
9/2 Toulouse
8/1 Leicester
9/1 Clermont
9/1 Northampton
11/1 Saracens
25/1 BAR

Odds have been provided by Boylesports.com who will be operating a Heineken Cup market throughout the season.

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