The Betting Directory's Bold Sporting Predictions For 2017
As the curtain closes on a quite frankly abysmal 2016, things can only get better in 2017 and we have taken a look ahead to what the sporting year might hold in store. There is plenty to look forward to and we've made four - one for each goal that England scored during Euro 2016 - bold predictions for what might happen...
Andy Murray - To win two majors during 2017 @ 11/4
Andy Murray, the three-time Sports Personality Of The Year winner, was one of the few bright spots during 2016 as the Brit won Olympic gold and Wimbledon again. Murray's ascent to the top of the world rankings was hugely impressive as he reached the final of thirteen of the seventeen tournaments he entered, winning nine titles in the process.
The Scottish star is growing with experience and you get the impression that he is working out how to peak for the major tournaments now. He reached the final of the French Open last year and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go well at the US Open without the distraction of an Olympics this time.
That Australian Open crown still remains elusive and we'll be backing Murray to win two of the four major titles on offer at 11/4 with Paddy Power.
Atletico Madrid - To win the Champions League @ 9/1
This might not be the boldest of statements considering Atletico Madrid are as short as 9/1 to win the Champions League but we fancy that this will be their year. The Spanish side reached the final in 2014 and 2016, losing to Real Madrid both times, but they have the 'advantage' of not being in contention for the La Liga title this time around.
Atletico have been surprisingly poor domestically but they were superb during the group stages of the Champions League and Diego Simeone will relish the opportunity to be able to rest players for the big European nights. Simeone's team are cup specialists and they will take some beating over two legs.
Hideki Matsuyama - To win a major in 2017 @ 7/2
There were four first-time major winners in 2016 and we are backing Hideki Matsuyama to add his name to that growing list of first-timers in 2017. The Japanese star ended 2016 with four wins in his final five starts and we fancy this could be his year.
The 24-year-old is made of the right stuff as far as temperament is concerned and he has built up enough experience to be considered a genuine challenger now. The Japanese star has racked up five top-tens in his past fifteen appearances at major tournaments, including a tie for 7th at the US Masters and a tie for 4th at the US PGA Championship last term.
The Masters might offer his best chance of a maiden major win as he finished 5th at Augusta in 2015 and he is currently 18/1 for the 2017 edition (Coral), while he is 7/2 to win any major (Bet 365).
Ben Stokes - To be named SPOTY @ 100/1
Finally, there are relatively slim pickings in the sporting world in 2017 and the public might be keen to put a different name on the trophy after watching Andy Murray romp to victory again.
There is plenty of cricket to enjoy during the calendar year though and England are currently favourites for the summer's Champions Trophy on home soil, which could give someone like Ben Stokes a fantastic opportunity to come to the fore for his country.
Stokes is becoming a growing force for his country in all formats and this could be the year that he replaces Andrew Flintoff in the public's hearts.
Stokes will be relishing a home Test series against South Africa as he averages 58.71 with the bat against them and he can punish the West Indies too. There is then an Ashes Series to enjoy in Australia from November and the timing could be perfect for a crack at SPOTY glory.
Time it right and Stokes could become England's talisman during a relatively quiet sporting year, with Ladbrokes going a massive 100/1 for him to be named SPOTY in December 2017.
2017 Sports Personality Of The Year Odds
*Odds correct as of 11th Dec, 16:41. Odds are subject to change.
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