Mark O’Haire returns refreshed from the international break with goals angles in the old firm and Serie A!
Tight Tussle Forecast For Old Firm Derby
It will be a surreal Old Firm derby at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon as Celtic and Rangers lock horns behind closed doors. Supporters are still expecting a feisty fixture between the Scottish Premiership’s giant pair but COVID-19 related issues mean the hosts come into this contest handicapped in attacking areas.
Several Bhoys players were forced to self-isolate following positive coronavirus tests in their national team squads. Midfield marauder Nir Bitton and star striker Odsonne Edouard both tested positive while chief creator Ryan Christie was ordered to stay away after being in close contact with Stuart Armstrong, who was also positive.
James Forrest remains sidelined but crucially summer signing Albian Ajeti could return for Neil Lennon’s outfit, who have appeared laboured and lacking substance in forward areas all too often this season.
Celtic have struggled to break down opposition sides – at home and on the continent – and key absentees make this a tricky task against improving Rangers.
The Gers have been the better team in recent Old Firm skirmishes and were winners at Celtic Park last season.
Steven Gerrard has brought belief back to the Ibrox club and for the first time in forever, the blue side of Glasgow look like genuine title contenders this term.
Sure, the visitors haven’t always sparkled on their travels but the Teddy Bears’ have solidified their backline and displayed enough defensive nous across the past 12 months to suggest they can be a match for Celtic here. Underlying performance data from the opening 10 outings also implies Gerrard’s group are the team to beat.
Positive Asian Handicap prices on Rangers have been swallowed up ahead of Saturday, however, we can pick up Under 2.5 Goals at a reasonable 1.91 instead.
An early start immediately off the back of a hectic international card is far from conducive to an entertaining spectacle, nor is the aspect of playing behind closed door of Saturday’s showdown.
What’s more, there’s been an average of just two goals-per-game in this meeting since the beginning of 2018/19. Add in the absence of Celtic’s shining lights in attack, plus the magnitude of the first derby of the season – it might be seen as a match neither side can simply afford to lose – and therefore a punt on opposing goals appeals at the prices.
Bologna Underrated Against Expansive Sassuolo?
Sassuolo have made a thrilling start to the new Serie A season, sitting third after three rounds of matches and churning out successive 4-1 victories before signing off for the international break. The Neroverdi are synonymous with goals and their exciting, attack-minded style under highly-rated Roberto De Zerbi has plenty of keen admirers.
The Emilia-Romagna outfit provided three players to the Italian national side over the past fortnight with Manuel Locatelli, Mimmo Berardi and Ciccio Caputo all enjoying experience with the Azzurri, testament to the fine progress being made at Sassuolo. However, 2.44 quotes on De Zerbi’s charges are too skinny to consider for Sunday’s trip to Bologna.
For starters, the aforementioned 4-1 triumphs came against newly-promoted strugglers Spezia and Crotone, whilst for all their thrilling football in forward areas, there’s no doubt Sassuolo can appear vulnerable when out of possession. That should certainly encourage a Bologna side who know how to attack themselves under Sinisa Mihajlovic’s watch.
The Rossoblu have been regular goal-getters under the Serbian’s watch, firing only three blanks in 29 Stadio Renato Dall’Ara outings under the current coaching structure.
The issue is, Bologna just can’t keep their own sheets clean – it’s 36 Serie A encounters and counting since their last, and so Sunday’s showdown with Sassuolo should provide plenty of thrills.
A massive 76% of Bologna matches paid out for Both Teams To Score backers last term, a figure that increases to 85% when only taking into account the 20 tussles played at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara since the beginning of 2019/20. With Sassuolo breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier in 13/20 (65%) away days in the same sample, goals should be on the agenda.
The market is anticipating a shootout. Nonetheless, we can take the Over 3 Goals line at 1.85 for a slice of insurance knowing if exactly three goals are scored our cash is returned.
The past five meetings between the pair have provided at least a push for this selection so here’s hoping for another high-scoring match-up on Sunday.
- Under 2.5 Goals in Celtic v Rangers 2 units @ 1.91
- Over 3 Goals in Bologna v Sassuolo 2 units @ 1.85