Brilliant Barney has a chance to cause trouble for big guns
Van Gerwen the one to beat after lifting European Trophy
ITV4, 7pm Friday
Michael van Gerwen is the guv'nor at bullying the opposition in mid-ranking events like the German Masters but it might pay to side with one of his compatriots in Dusseldorf over the next couple of days.
The world number one goes off the odds-on favourite and full of beans after dotting up in last week's European Trophy, with the Dutch destroyer peaking nicely ahead of the most congested and lucrative part of the calendar.
Van Gerwen will take all the beating, though from the other half of the draw in this 16-man field, Raymond van Barneveld must have each-way claims at fancy prices.
Barney has enjoyed a few decent months with a final appearance at the Perth Masters, a semi-final slot at the Champions League and a quarter-final berth in Dublin at the Grand Prix.
He should see off local boy Stefan Stoyke and would not mind taking on top seed Gary Anderson in the quarters given that the Scot has hardly picked up a dart in the last month after becoming a dad.
Barney should see this competition – shorn of the likes of Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall – as a gilt-edged opportunity to get back into the winner's enclosure.
First-round matches in the Castello Arena are best-of-11 legs and for a couple of big names to fall, have a look at Mensur Suljovic and James Wade.
Suljovic can do no wrong having won the Champions League last month – his first televised triumph – sandwiched between great runs at the Matchplay and Grand Prix.
But he's far from the finished article and has a weakness against his first-round opponent Kyle Anderson. These two have met six times and the ever-improving Aussie has won five of them. He, too, is buzzing having pulled off a couple of wins this year.
A top player in ropey form is Wade, hammered 6-1 by Nathan Aspinall in the first round of the European Trophy at the weekend.
That followed a 6-1 thumping by Richie Burnett at a tour event in Barnsley a few days earlier which in turn came hot on the heels of a first-round exit at the Grand Prix.
Ordinarily Wade would take care of Kevin Munch, a German journeyman who has played on plenty of big stages though rarely with much luck.
However, Wade looks out of sorts right now and Munch is a fair price.
R van Barneveld
1pt each-way 28-1 general
K Anderson to bt M Suljovic
1pt 6-4 general
K Munch to bt J Wade
1pt 7-2 Coral, Sky Bet
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