Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his two favourite fancies from the European scene this weekend.
It was a painful midweek of Champions League. Having been ahead of the anticipated gamble on Inter Milan (and then seeing the Barcelona team sheet for Tuesday night’s tussle at San Siro), I was confident the Italians would get off us to a winning start. However, Antonio Conte’s outfit buckled under the pressure and limped to an unexpected loss.
Thankfully, Atalanta’s stoppage-time third goal in victory at Shakhtar Donetsk softened the blow as our Over 2.75 Goals selection earned a half-stakes pay-out. Having licked my wounds and refocused energy, I’m excited about the return of domestic action as I believe I’ve unearthed two early Christmas crackers from across the continent.
Ace Athletic To Take Derby Honours
Athletic Bilbao boasted La Liga’s best defence before heading to Real Betis last Sunday. Les Leones had shipped just nine times in their opening 15 fixtures but a first-half blitz from their hosts saw the Basques three goals down inside the first 20 minutes. Gaizka Garitano’s group rallied thereafter but weren’t able to secure a share of the spoils in a 3-2 reverse.
The loss ended Athletic’s impressive recent run of results (W4-D1-L1) but that shouldn’t deter us from supporting the eight-time champions when they return home this weekend to face regional rivals Eibar.
Les Leones have been a team transformed since Garitano took charge 12 months ago with their San Mames efforts phenomenally consistent.
The Bilbao boys are available to back around 1.74 with a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle for Saturday afternoon’s showdown despite pocketing a wonderful W14-D5-L1 when entertaining La Lia opposition here under Garitano’s watch. That’s a remarkable 70% win rate and comes alongside a watertight 11 clean sheets in 20 San Mames outings.
Visitors Eibar have defied perennial pre-season predictions of doom to establish themselves amongst the Iberian elite since winning their very-first promotion to this level. But Los Armeros are in grave danger of losing their place in the top-tier following the departure of key players Joan Jordan, Ruben Pena and Marc Cucurella in the summer.
Eibar operate off a shoestring budget, and so capable replacements have been hard to find. Los Armeros have slumped to nine defeats from their opening 15 fixtures and now sit just two points off the drop-zone following a four-game losing streak. Even wily head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar is looking out of requisite answers to arrest the concerning slide.
Mendilibar’s men make the short journey to Bilbao having been thumped 4-1 at Basque neighbours Real Sociedad on their most recent road trip and the visitors have now been beaten in 13/27 (48%) games as guests since the beginning of last season. To make matters worse, Eibar rank inside the bottom five across a range of major performance data metrics.
Expect A Shootout In Bologna
It was great to see Sinisa Mihajlovic back on the Bologna bench last weekend. The former Serbian international was diagnosed with leukaemia in July and spent all of pre-season, plus most of the campaign in hospital undergoing three courses of chemotherapy, as well as a bone marrow transplant before being given clearance to return to work.
Unfortunately, the Rossoblu supremo was unable to inspire an immediate reaction from his team as they ran into a Milan side that produced their best performance of the season. Nevertheless, Bologna showed the fighting spirit Mihajlovic has imbedded in this team since taking over, as well as plenty of eye-catching attacking football to entertain the neutral.
The Emilia-Romagna outfit have largely produced exciting efforts in 2019/20. The 3-2 defeat was the ninth on the spin that Bologna have seen Over 2.5 Goals bank, as well as both sides scoring, and a repeat looks very likely to be on the cards when gung-ho Atalanta arrive.
Atalanta faced a do-or-die trip to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night with Gian Piero Gasperini’s group delivering a knockout blow to the Ukrainians. La Dea’s 3-0 success saw the Bergamo outfit pull off the Great Escape in their Champions League pool and secure their place in the Last 16 in their maiden voyage into Europe’s premier club competition.
Spirits will naturally be high, although legs and minds might be slightly weary for their weekend encounter at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. Even so, Atalanta rarely fail to fire in forward areas, generating more opportunities in front of goal this season than any of their Serie A rivals. However, the Bergamo boys haven’t been quite so impressive at the back.
La Dea boast only two shutouts against domestic opponents this term and that should encourage a Bologna outfit that still feature in the top-10 in terms of Expected Goals (xG), xG from open play, plus shots in the box ratio in Italy.
Over 2.75 Goals is trading at 1.76 and earns us cash should at least three goals be scored.
Collectively, 23/30 (77%) of the duos league fixtures have featured at least three goals with 16 (53%) breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. The pair have seen 23 (77%) bank for Both Teams To Score backers as the two teams have scored in all bar four of those 30 fixtures.
The two teams combine to average 3.60 goals-per-game – 3.00 xG on average – and since the beginning of last term have seen our preferred play make money in 36/53 (68%) of their respective home/away matches. That success rate improves to 31/43 (72%) when viewing goals returns following Mihajlovic’s arrival at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in January.
- Athletic Bilbao -0.50 – 4 units @ 1.74
- Over 2.75 Goals in Bologna v Atalanta 4 units @ 1.76