Mark O'Haire - Back Bologna & Distracted Athletic Vulnerable

7 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire returns to share his favourite fancies from the weekend with a pair of plays proposed from Serie A and La Liga.


With seven rounds of Serie A action still to play this season, Bologna remain in top-four contention. The Rossoblu have sat inside the Champions League qualification places for over a month and supporters are starting to dream about the future despite dropping points in last weekend’s goalless draw at relegation-battlers Frosinone.

Surprise package Bologna are only four points shy of Juventus in third. However, in-form Roma have charged to within touching distance of Thiago Motta’s team, and so the Emilia-Romagna outfit (who boast the third-youngest starting XI across the division) will be doing their utmost to enhance their current W8-D1-L1 run since February.

Impressing with their bold, fearless and aggressive style, Motta’s coaching has had a transformative impact on several players. Riccardo Orsolini is in the picture for Italy’s Euro 2024 squad, whilst the likes of Riccardo Calafiori and Lewis Ferguson have enjoyed breakout seasons in the Bologna side, not to mention the star quality of Joshua Zirkzee up top.

The overachievers have been especially eye-catching at their Stadio Renato Dall’Ara home, suffering just two home defeats across all competitions thus far, one of which arrived on the opening day, the other coming against runaway leaders Inter. Exclude the top-two and Bologna boast 12 wins from 14 unbeaten home encounters, conceding just five goals.

I’m therefore happy to support the hosts on Saturday night when Monza arrive. The visitors have enjoyed another creditable campaign, settling into mid-table and well clear of relegation danger. But the Biancorossi tend to produce their best work when taking on the league’s lesser lights and have struggled for positive results when facing top-half teams.

Monza have earned 35 of their 42-point haul against the bottom-10, losing just once. However, the Lombardy outfit have posted only W1-D4-L10 when taking on the top-10, a record that includes five defats in seven winless road trips, scoring just one goal. Since the start of March, Roma, Napoli and Torino have all turned over the Biancorossi.

With that in-mind, I’m happy to support Bologna here and will include Under 4.5 Goals to give us the opportunity to support Motta’s men at a palatable 1.87. Only one of their Serie A showdowns thus far this season have featured five goals or more.

  • Bologna & Under 4.5 Goals in Bologna vs Monza – 1 unit @ 1.87


Athletic Club ended their run of six successive Copa del Rey final defeats as they earned a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Mallorca to end a 40-year wait for silverware last weekend. Alex Berenguer’s spot-kick proved decisive in Seville, sparking jubilant scenes at a sold-out La Cartuja stadium – and the celebrations have barely stopped since…

On Tuesday night, Athletic players joined supporters back home to sing and party long into the night, whilst on Thursday the Les Leones squad will be heading out on the famous Garbarra barge to head down the river in Bilbao in their own unique version of a street party. The club and city are determined to enjoy the moment after waiting so long.

Despite Ernesto Valverde’s best efforts, the presumption has to be that Athletic won’t be at their all-conquering best for Sunday’s return to La Liga action. Of course, San Mames is a fortress in Spanish football terms – only Real Madrid have managed to win in Bilbao this season – yet opportunity surely arises for Villarreal to add their name to the list.

With Athletic potentially fatigued from a mentally and physically draining week, Villarreal have the ability to pick up a positive result. El Submarino Amarillo have improved immeasurably under Marcelinho’s watch and have now suffered a solitary reverse in 10 league tussles, whilst proving particularly dangerous as an away day outfit.

Villarreal’s past four results on their travels have included victories at Barcelona, Real Sociedad and Real Betis, as well as a sharing of the spoils at Alaves. Therefore, the 1.99 on the visitors with a +0.5/1.0 start on Sunday holds plenty of appeal – we’ll be paid-out if Villarreal avoid defeat and only lose half our stake should Athletic win by a one-goal margin.

  • Villarreal +0.5/1.0 in Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal – 1 unit @ 1.99

Recommended Bets

  • Bologna & Under 4.5 Goals in Bologna vs Monza – 1 unit @ 1.87
  • Villarreal +0.5/1.0 in Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal – 1 unit @ 1.99

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