Mark O'Haire - Bets In Italy & France To Kick Off 2022

10 min

With 17 winners from his last 18 selections on Matchbook Insights – Mark O’Haire has been in decent form, to say the least!


Following a brief break over the festive period, Serie A has roared back into action with a concoction of goals, chaos, comebacks, and controversy.

The 16 matches to have taken place in 2022 have produced a huge 59 goals, at a rate of 3.69 goals per game – 75% of those fixtures featured profitable Over 2.5 Goals selections and 38% went Over 3.5.

Those bulbous small sample figures aren’t a million miles away from season-long trends on the peninsula.

Italy’s top-flight is posting a 3.09 goals-per-game average with 61% of contests producing three goals or more and 39% featuring a minimum of four goals or more, as Both Teams To Score backers have collected in 60% of the overall 205 match-ups.

Two of the division’s chief goal protagonists now go head-to-head on Sunday as Sassuolo and Verona meet at the Mapei Stadium, and it’s difficult not to be involved in a goals-based wager, particularly with Over 2.5/3.0 Goals chalked up as a 1.76 shot.

Sassuolo smashed 10-man Empoli 5-1 last weekend to extend a remarkable streak for winning both Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score pokes. The two markets have each copped in 14 of the Neroverdi’s past 15 Serie A dates, with the two selections clicking in the same game on 13 occasions.

2H792RB Alessio Dionisi (U.S. Sassuolo) during US Sassuolo vs Cagliari Calcio, italian soccer Serie A match in Reggio Emilia, Italy, November 21 2021

Unfortunately, Sassuolo star Domenico Berardi is suspended here, although Alessio Dionisi’s squad is well-stocked with plenty of firepower capable of stepping into the breach.

The hosts haven’t always been at their eye-catching best on home soil this season, but the Neroverdi should get ample opportunity to cut loose against Verona.

Hellas have been beaten in four of their last eight outings (W2-D2-L4) with their two triumphs in that time arriving against struggling Spezia and Venezia. Last time out, Verona were turned over at home by rock-bottom Salernitana and Igor Tudor’s team have toiled in the defensive stakes since the start of the season, giving away easy goals.

Remarkably, the two sides have each collected only two clean sheets in 21 Serie A tussles this term, but have both managed to get on the scoresheet in 18 of those contests. It’s led to an identical 17/21 (81%) success rate for Both Teams To Score, with Over 2.5 Goals landing in 17 (81%) Sassuolo showdowns, as well as 15 (71%) Verona encounters.

The duo have also recorded 10/21 (48%) winners in the Over 3.5 Goals market with combined goals-per-game averages coming in at 3.36 – more than enough evidence to support a solid wager on Over 2.5/3.0 Goals on Sunday.

Double Them Up

A new feature on the Matchbook site as we combine both of Mark’s and Adrian Clarke’s Best Bets from our Weekend Football Podcast in a competitively priced Double:

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It’s been a miserable season for famous French outfit St Etienne.

Les Verts have been embroiled in takeover talk, financial crisis and a side that’s struggling to stay afloat in Ligue 1.

The 10-time champions sit rock-bottom, five points from guaranteed safety with only two league triumphs to their name in 2021/22.

Head coach Claude Puel was dismissed in early December. Pascal Dupraz has since been appointed with St Etienne’s board believing the new boss’s charisma and emotional character could provide the catalyst for a turnaround. However, Les Verts have since been beaten by Reims and Nantes without scoring before the winter break.

This is the club’s first Ligue 1 outing of the new year, and despite doing a bit of business in the transfer market already,

Dupraz is handicapped coming into Saturday’s showdown with Lens.

African Cup of Nations duty, combined with injury and COVID-related concerns, means up to eight players could be absent here, including the club’s leading lights.

Wabhi Kazhri, Denis Bouanaga and Saidou Sow are all representing their county in Cameroon this month and therefore will miss the match. The trio make up 70% of St Etienne’s total league goals output this season, highlighting the problems in the home camp.

2GMGJXF Lens, Hauts de France, France. 19th Sep, 2021. joy of the Lens team after scoring their goal during the French championship soccer Ligue 1 Uber Eats RC Lens against Lille OSC at Felix Bollaert Delelis stadium – Lens.Lens won 1:0 (Credit Image: © Pierre Stevenin/ZUMA Press Wire)

Lens may produce their best work as hosts, however, circumstances here should give Franck Haise’s charges hope of securing top honours.

The visitors are ranked fourth on Expected Points (xP), third on Expected Goals (xG) ratio, and boast a 0.50 xG per-game supremacy this season, a really impressive figure for a side chasing a top-six finish.

In contrast, St Etienne occupy a bottom-three berth in both the xP ratings, xG ratio rankings, and their own xG per-game supremacy sits at a woeful -0.47. Sainte have won just once at their Stade Geoffroy-Guichard base in 10 attempts, have fired blanks in their last four Ligue 1 outings and have recorded a solitary shutout all season, conceding 2.11 goals-per-game.

With Lens notching in 17 of 20 league fixtures, the visitors should expect to at least earn a share of the spoils if they enhance that record at St Etienne on Saturday, bringing the -0.25 Asian Handicap into play at kind 1.85 quotes.

This selection means we’ll be paid out in full if Lens win, and lose only half of our stake should the game end all square.

Recommended Bets From Serie A & Ligue 1

  • Over 2.5/3.0 Goals in Sassuolo vs Verona 2 units @ 1.76
  • Lens -0.0/0.5 Asian Handicap in St Etienne vs Lens – 1 unit @ 1.85

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