With a whopping 21 winners from his last 24 tips on this column (+33% ROI on the season) – Mark O’Haire goes again this weekend with bets in Italy & Switzerland
TUSCAN TUSSLE TO PRODUCE GOALS
Empoli are nestled comfortably in mid-table as we head into the final third of the Serie A season.
The Azzurri have impressed in their first campaign back in the Italian top-flight with Aurelio Andreazzoli’s outfit 12 points above the dreaded drop-zone coming into Sunday’s showdown against relegation-threatened Cagliari at the decrepit Stadio Carlo Castellani.
However, there’s plenty on the line this weekend, with Empoli winless in seven league outings (W0-D4-L3) since mid-December. Last time out, the Tuscans played out their first goalless draw of 2021/22.
However, there was enough encouragement in their efforts against Bologna to suggest the expansive Azzurri are capable of re-finding their form.
Empoli failed to score for only the fourth occasion in their stalemate at Bologna. Still, Andreazzoli’s troops were the better team, generating 1.80 Expected Goals (xG) and hitting the woodwork amongst their 15 attempts at goal.
Back on home soil, the hosts will expect to produce similar numbers against a Cagliari team with a solitary shutout to their name.
Despite Cagliari’s defensive woes, the Sardinians have clawed their way out of the bottom three with three victories from their past five fixtures (W3-D1-L1), including a surprise 2-1 triumph at Atalanta most recently.
Walter Mazzarri’s men have been beaten just four times in 12 since November’s international break and will fancy their chances at Empoli.
Rather than side with either team here, the best solution is to support a goal-heavy game as Over 2.5/3.0 Goals is trading at an appetising 1.85.
Collectively, the pair have kept just five shutouts across their combined 48 Serie A games this season. Entertainment is to be expected, with the duo eyeing up this encounter as a winnable opportunity.
Matches involving Empoli at the Carlo Castellani tend to be wild affairs.
Indeed, fixtures here average 4.00 goals-per-game with Over 2.5 Goals landing in 11 of the 12 renewals and Both Teams To Score backers collecting in 10 of those 12 tussles. The Azzurri themselves have conceded multiple goals in 10 matches as hosts yet always offer a threat of their own.
SWISS LEADERS TO KEEP HOT-STREAK ROLLING
FC Zurich have been the surprise pacesetters in Switzerland’s Super League this season.
Chasing their first league title since 2009, table-topping FCZ have moved nine points clear of their nearest rivals following back-to-back victories on their return from the winter break.
Andre Breitenreiter’s boys are currently amidst an eye-catching 12-game unbeaten run (W10-D2-L0).
Zurich have been good value for their advantage, with a strong home record providing an excellent foundation to work from.
The hosts have posted W8-D2-L0 at their Letzigrund base, smashing in 26 goals in 10 home outings.
Zurich have also won the non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) count in seven of those showdowns, a feat they’ve also achieved in 13 of their overall 20 fixtures, to sit prominently amongst the top-three in the division for Expected Goals (xG) ratio.
It’s a surprise to see FC Zurich available at odds as big as 1.86 to overcome Lugano at home on Sunday.
Breitenreiter’s troops have proven ultra-consistent when taking on the ‘best of the rest’ – excluding encounters with Basel and Young Boys, and FCZ have taken top honours in 13 of their 16 such Super League outings.
Lugano sit fourth in the current league standings and have also remained dependable when facing the league’s lesser lights. However, the Naranja occupy a bottom-four rating on the road – losing half of their away days – and tend to fall short when taking on the division’s big guns.
Indeed, the visitors have managed just W0-D1-L6 against Zurich, Young Boys and Basel this term, scoring just twice and posting a measly 33% share of the total Expected Goals (xG) across those seven showdowns.
I’m therefore happy to invest my faith in FC Zurich securing a ninth straight success, as well as a third win from three against Lugano this season.
- Over 2.5/3.0 Goals in Empoli vs Cagliari – 2 units @ 1.86
- FC Zurich to beat Lugano – 2 units @ 1.86