After what seems an interminable period of World Cup qualifiers a familiar list of European countries is heading to the World Cup in South Africa and the seeded play-offs should ensure that remaining big hitters will get through. But there remains the process of sorting wheat from chaff in the Champions League, with four more rounds of matches before Christmas.
The bookies (and Uefa?) are already banking on a Real Madrid-Barcelona final, in Madrid, with the Catalans 7-2 favourites and the galacticos 5-1 second "jollies". The "country protection" rule will keep them apart until the quarter-finals. It would be fun if Uefa's orchestrations were disrupted by an outsider – how about Seville, who are 28-1 (Betfred, Blue Square) despite topping their group and recently beating Real in La Liga? Each-way pays half the odds, so they're 14-1 to reach the final. Frédi Kanouté and Luis Fabiano are full of goals.
Even Uefa couldn't sort out today's Cesarewitch, a 34-runner, 2m 2f handicap. Sieve the field by draw (higher the better), age (older is best), weight (below 9st) and finally those toughened up over hurdles. Royal Rationale fits this bill – £10 ew, at 20-1 with Bet 365, who pay five places, unlike some.
Tomorrow's big NFL game sees the unbeaten Saints take on the unbeaten Giants in New Orleans. Drew Brees, the home QB, throws for fun but New York have a mobile defence and a pounding running game – £10 win Giants, 13-8 Ladbrokes.
*St Helens couldn't hold off Leeds in the Grand Final; Stade Français looked pretty in pink; but the Ospreys may yet regret letting Leicester come back to draw.Reuse content