Mark O'Haire - A Goals Angle In Scotland & Two Selections From The Continent

12 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts on his favourite three fancies this weekend with France’s Ligue 1, Scotland’s Premiership, and Spain’s La Liga1 in the spotlight.

Goals Fancied To Flow in Edinburgh

Hibernian and Livingston are the two leading Scottish Premiership scorers outside of the Old Firm this season and the duo lock horns on Saturday with an entertaining showdown expected to play out at Easter Road.

The November appointment of Jack Ross has put Hibs on the right path with the hosts returning W7-D3-L5 in their past 15 fixtures, three of those defeats arriving against the division’s Big Two. Last weekend the capital club collected an eye-catching 2-1 triumph at resurgent Kilmarnock and the Hibees are now just five points off third.

At Easter Road, the Edinburgh outfit have proven particularly prolific this term.

Hibs have racked up at least two goals in all bar one of their past 10 here across all competitions since late October and there’s plenty of attacking threat in Ross’ offensively-minded system. However, the lack of clean sheets has led to many of Hibs’ outings featuring goals galore.

Hibs manager Jack Ross has hit the ground running at Easter Road

Premiership home matches are averaging 3.23 goals with 85% breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. Including cup clashes, Hibs have beaten the Over 2.5 Goals line in 14 of their past 15 in front of their home supporters, 12 paying-out for Both Teams To Score backers with the hosts silencing only three of their guests in that same sample.

League outings here under Ross are generating a total of 2.75 Expected Goals (xG) per-game and with Livingston’s away days posting a 2.83 xG average on the road – generating 1.34 xG themselves when excluding trips to Celtic and Rangers – it’s pretty easy to be seduced by odds-against quotes on a goal-heavy game this Saturday afternoon.

Livi aren’t the same fearsome beast on their travels – the Lions benefit from an artificial playing surface at their West Lothian home – and have accrued only 10 points on the road, compared to 27 at Almondvale Stadium, however Gary Holt’s troops still pack a punch in the final-third with Livingston have netted in in 11 of their 14 games as guests in 2019/20.

Even so, the visitors have struggled defensively in those aforementioned 14 fixtures, leaking at least twice in 11 and averaging over two goals-per-game against. That figure could and should have been enhanced against a profligate Rangers outfit at Ibrox last weekend, suggesting Hibs will have plenty of opportunity to indulge in another high-scoring contest.

Alsace Outfit To Dismiss Plucky Amiens

Strasbourg continued their upward momentum with a well-deserved 1-1 draw away at Lyon last weekend. The Alsace outfit were operating with minimal possession but still managed to restrict the home side to just five shots all game and could easily have taken top honours having twice hit the post late on at the Groupama Stadium.

The point consolidated Le Racing’s place inside Ligue 1’s top-seven with their impressive revival after a slow start continuing to inspire. Thierry Laurey’s team appeared lethargic during the opening exchanges of the 2019/20 campaign due to their early Europa League commitments through July, but last year’s League Cup winners have recovered superbly.

Since matchday 13, Strasbourg have returned W8-D1-L4 in league action with only runaway table-toppers PSG and bang in-form Marseille earning more points. The Alsace giants have also excelled at their atmospheric Stade de la Meinau home, picking up W7-D0-L2 since the start September in Ligue 1 with all victories have been recorded against clubs below fifth.

Strasbourg’s Adrien Thomasson celebrates scoring against Lille recently.

Le Racing produced an Expected Goals (xG) average of 1.80 in those seven home victories, restricting their visitors to a paltry 0.40 xG from open play per-game, highlighting their strength at hosts. Laurey’s squad are also bolstered for Saturday night’s clash with Amiens by the return from suspension of defender Lionel Carole and midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko.

Strasbourg therefore hold plenty of appeal at around 1.80 at the Meinau against relegation-haunted Amiens.

The strugglers hit the headlines with their remarkable 4-4 draw against PSG last weekend but the defending champions were under-strength and distracted for that contest and still really should have picked up maximum points despite trailing 3-0.

Second-from-bottom Amiens are winless since November (W0-D5-L8), have tabled two triumphs since September and have previously been beaten in seven of 12 road trips. The guests have leaked at least two goals in eight of those away days and since promotion to the top-flight have walked away empty-handed in 18/31 (58%) away league fixtures.

Amiens have registered three points from a possible 45 when travelling to top-half teams on Ligue 1 duty (W0-D3-L12) – conceding three goals or more on six occasions – and head to Strasbourg with the division’s worst Expected Goals (xG) ratio, as well as shots in the box ranking, making them easily opposed.

Alaves Underrated Against Athletic

Alaves’ poor road return again came back to haunt El Glorioso last weekend as the Basque boys were beaten 1-0 at relegation-haunted Mallorca. Head coach Asier Garitano was frustrated by his team’s performance after starting the fixture on the front foot before slowly losing their grip on proceedings.

Defeat was Alaves’ eighth on their travels this term so Garitano and co will be keen to return to their Mendizorrotza base for Sunday’s regional derby against out-of-form Athletic Bilbao. The hosts have W5-D4-L3 in front of their home supporters this season with all three losses arriving here against top-six teams.

El Glorioso have proven stubborn opposition in their Basque backyard too.

Real Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal escaped with victories by the narrowest of margins and Alaves’ W5-D3-L0 return against bottom-half dwellers suggests they should have the capability of outperforming their bulbous odds against Athletic.

Alaves’ head coach Asier Garitano has enjoyed home comforts this season.

Alaves have been chalked up as almost 3.0 outsiders for Sunday’s showdown with punters able to support the Mendizorrotza men at 1.70 with a +0.25 Asian Handicap hurdle start, a selection that pays a half-stakes profit should the hosts secure a share of the spoils, and a full win should El Glorioso take top honours.

Garitano’s group have conceded just 0.75 goals-per-game on home soil in 2019/20 and are rated only slightly behind Athletic when viewing La Liga’s ratings for Expected Goals (xG) from open play. Chuck in home advantage, plus Athletic’s poor recent run, and away day blues, and there’s value in supporting underrated Alaves.

The visitors might be on the cusp of qualifying for the Copa del Rey final but Les Leones have toiled in league action since early December. The Bilbao club are winless in nine La Liga outings (W0-D4-L5), failing to score in four, notching more than a solitary strike just once in their worrying lean spell.

Athletic have racked up a paltry average of only 0.75 goals-per-game on their travels, winning just once in 12 away days this season (W1-D7-L4). Gaizka Garitano’s group are generating the fewest open play chances according to xG in Spain’s top-flight and that suggests Les Leones are overvalued for this fixture.

Recommended Bets

  • Over 2.50 Goals in Hibs v Livingston 4 units @ 2.08
  • Strasbourg -0.50 – 3 units @ 1.80
  • Alaves +0.25 – 3 units @ 1.70