Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts on his favourite three fancies this weekend from across the continent with action in Germany, Italy and Switzerland standing out.
Dortmund To Dismiss Out-Of-Sorts Freiburg
A nightmare collapse saw Dortmund’s surprisingly strong Bundesliga challenge fall at the final hurdle by two points last season but Die Schwarzgelben have made no secret of their desire for a sustained and serious tilt at the title this term. CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke declared as much last May.
BVB felt they must keep hold of their star assets in the summer, strengthen in areas of potential weakness, bulk out the squad to add cover & depth and switch their mindset towards a more ruthless attitude.
Looking at the club’s business, they’ve certainly given themselves a great chance of further progress.
Nico Schulz was arguably transformed into the best German left-back in the league by Julian Nagelsmann, former Gladbach winger Thorgan Hazard produced 20 goals and 15 assists in the last two Bundesliga campaigns, while Julian Brandt was transformed as a creative midfielder for Leverkusen.
All three were snapped up in the summer.
The return of Mats Hummels provided much-needed experience in defence, and Dortmund splashed the cash again in January to bring in goal machine Erling Haaland, as well as midfield lynchpin Emre Can to the fold to give the exciting young group a little more balance, ballast and experience in central areas.
Coach Lucien Favre is yet to taste Bundesliga title triumph but his lightning-fast counter-attacking game has already produced some thrilling results and the time might just be right for Dortmund to take the next step.
Die Schwarzgelben should continue their fabulous 2020 form with a cushy success here against Freiburg.
The Westfalenstadion outfit have recorded W22-D5-L1 when hosting league opposition under Favre, scoring at least two goals in all bar one of those 29 tussles. In 2019/20, BVB have bagged three or more goals in all bar two of their 11 home outings, smashing at least four goals in six occasions on domestic duty.
Saturday afternoon’s guests Freiburg made their best-ever start to a Bundesliga season (W4-D2-L1) with Christian Streich‘s side going on to suffer only two defeats in their opening 12 outings.
However, the Black Forest boys have since regressed to the mean and fallen back into the clutches of mid-table.
The Breisgau-Brasilianer have bagged only W3-D2-L6 since the beginning of December with five of those six losses arriving by a two-goal margin or more. Streich’s men are comfortably the second-worst side in the division according to Expected Goals (xG) from open play, conceding a catalogue of chances, particularly on their Bundesliga travels.
Dortmund are in the midst of two free midweeks and so can put their full focus on dismissing Freiburg in front of the Yellow Wall on Saturday with consummate ease.
Back the goal-hungry hosts to overcome a -1.75 Asian handicap at 1.73.
Parma To Put Rock-Bottom Spal To Bed
Six Serie A matches will be played behind closed doors this weekend with Minister of Sports Vincenzo Spadafora confirming the measures in place across areas in the north of Italy that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Parma’s match-up with Spal on Sunday is one of those fixtures that will go ahead in front of an empty stadium, however, that should not put off punters from the appealing 2.07 on offer to back the hosts against the league’s rock-bottom side.
Earlier this season, Ducali head coach Roberto D’Aversa complained that not enough people in Italy were talking about Parma, despite the Emilia-Romagna outfit occupying a top-half position amidst an ongoing injury crisis.
The Gialloblu continue to defy the doubters and sit just a solitary point off sixth-place.
Parma are back on the up in Italian football after the doom and gloom of bankruptcy and near extinction over the past 15 years. Following their second rebirth in the space of a decade, one of the continent’s most recognised clubs achieved a third successive promotion and a romantic return to Serie A last term.
Led by D’Aversa, the Ducali made a positive start to life back in the top-flight. The Crociati comfortably nestled into the safety of mid-table and have consolidated with room to spare in 2019/20.
There’s a fighting spirit about this side, although their best work is often delivered against the league’s lesser lights.
Since returning to Serie A, Parma have picked up W15-D7-L5 when taking on teams in 12th and below, as well as W10-D4-L2 when welcoming bottom-half dwellers to their Ennio Tardini Stadium home. Udinese and Lecce have both been dispatched here in 2020 so seeing off Spal should be within range.
As well as propping up the Serie A standings, losing 18 of their opening 25 encounters, Spal are also rock-bottom when viewing xG from open play ratio. The visitors have been beaten in all bar three of their 13 away trips this term, fired blanks in seven of 13 games as guests, whilst keeping only five shutouts in their past 32 away days since start of last season.
Spal head to Parma without influential creative midfielder Gabriel Strefezza and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the basement boys beaten once more.
Basel Faulty In Luzern
Basel dominated Swiss football for over a decade but the RotBlau come into Sunday’s showdown at Luzern in their worst run of results for well over 10 years. FCB are five points adrift of top spot in the Super League and vulnerable odds-on favourites to snap a worrisome run of results that dates back to September’s international break.
Marcel Koller’s men have managed just W7-D4-L6 in their past 17 encounters with a dreadful W1-D1-L4 returned in Basel’s most recent six league matches straddling the winter break. A solitary point was earned in back-to-back home ties against Thun and Servette, whilst on the road the RotBlau have garnered maximum points just twice in eight.
Poor leadership and decision-making at board level, a lack of conviction and forward-planning, as well as misguided spending in the transfer market has all contributed to Basel’s demise and it’s a surprise to see the FCB hierarchy persist with Koller despite the obvious lack of harmony and control he appears to wield over the underperforming squad.
Underlying data suggests Basel are actually overperforming this term and that makes the visitors easily opposed for Sunday’s showdown, a fixture that comes hot on the heels of their Europa League commitments on Thursday evening.
Therefore, Luzern with a +0.50 start at 2.02 is advised.
Luzern are a solid mid-table outfit in Switzerland, accustomed to streaky performances. The hosts are currently enjoying a hot run of form, taking 16 points from a possible 15, including W3-D1-L0 since the winter break. However, most eye-catching is Die Leuchten’s efforts when welcoming the league’s leading lights.
Indeed, FCL have turned over each of the top-three at their Swissporarena base in their past three outings, suggesting the unfancied home side are well capable of collecting at least a point against a faulty Basel outfit.
- Borussia Dortmund -1.75 – 4 units @ 1.73
- Parma -0.50 – 3 units @ 2.07
- Luzern +0.50 – 3 units @ 2.02