Mark O'Haire - Four Weekend Fancies For Valentines Weekend

11 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares four of his favourite weekend fancies, including action from the EFL, Bundesliga and Serie A.

Swindon To Shine Against Rudderless Scunny

Swindon picked up a vital 1-0 victory at Northampton in midweek to hold onto their place at the top of the League Two table. The Robins’ enjoyed rare back-to-back success despite head coach Ritchie Wellens missing the trip to Sixfields through illness, whilst three of Town’s key players – Mathieu Baudry, Jerry Yates and Keshi Anderson – were out injured.

All four are expected to return to action this weekend as the Wiltshire raiders look to extend their unbeaten streak at their County Ground base to 11 games (W8-D2-L0).

The hosts have taken top honours in 11 of their 16 home league fixtures this season and returned Expected Goals (xG) ratio figures above 66%, marking Swindon out as a solid play at 1.78 here.

‘All Systems Go’ – Swindon Town manager Ritchie Wellens returns to the sideline this weekend.

The Robins have proven remarkably consistent when taking on League Two’s lesser lights, tabling 14 wins from 17 against clubs outside the top-10. And Wellens’ outfit should be well capable of dispatching a Scunthorpe side that’s now treading water following a deeply disappointing campaign back in the fourth-tier.

Caretaker Russ Wilcox has been handed the reigns until the end of the season and supporters interest in the Iron is waning after a diabolical display in Tuesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Cambridge.

Scunny are ranked in the bottom-six for the majority of metrics, have lost seven of 11 against the top-15 and shipped at least two goals in nine of their most recent 11 outings, making the away side easily opposable here.

Leipzig To Put Bremen To Bed

RB Leipzig hit the skids in 2020 but Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit impressed sufficiently last Saturday at Bayern Munich to suggest the pretenders remain genuine challengers for a maiden Bundesliga crown. Die Rotten Bullen fashioned a few guilt-edged chances at the Allianz Arena with an impressive second-half performance during the 0-0 draw.

Returning to Leipzig, Nagelsmann’s troops will be expecting to bounce back to cushy winning ways when Werder Bremen pitch up on Saturday. The visitors are in dire straits following a disastrous 2-0 loss at home to Union Berlin left the famous northern club right in the relegation mire – it was Bremen’s ninth loss in 11 league games since mid-November.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side have struggled in the new year but last weekend’s gutsy performance in Munich will give them renewed confidence.

Werder have only won twice in the Bundesliga since September and highly-rated coach Florian Kohfeldt is under severe pressure to adapt his tactics for the battle ahead. The River Islanders have shipped two or more goals in eight of their past 11 and sporting director Frank Baumann weighed in with heavy criticism of the club’s underperforming players.

Only Bayern can better Leipzig’s offensive stats this season – RB are generating a huge 1.44 Expected Goals (xG) from open play and taking over 10 shots from inside the penalty box per-game – and such attacking strength should lead to a glut of opportunities against Bremen. With that in mind, taking the hosts to cover the -1.5 line at 1.73 appeals.

Leipzig have won all nine meetings with teams in 11th and below. All nine triumphs arrived by a margin of two goals or more with Die Rotten Bullen racking up at least three goals in all nine of those victories. Expect something similar at the Red Bull Arena this weekend.

Goals Forecast In Italian Encounter

Bologna paid tribute to head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic following last Friday’s thrilling 3-2 success at Roma.

The Rossoblu boss was diagnosed with leukaemia last July and spent all of pre-season, plus most of the first part of the campaign, in hospital undergoing three courses of chemotherapy, as well as a bone marrow transplant.

Mihajlovic was called back in for anti-viral treatment in recent weeks and was only released from hospital on the morning of that match in Rome. Even so, the Serbian was still on the bench to inspire his squad, encouraging his players to be brave in possession and take an open, attacking and adventurous approach to proceedings at the Stadio Olimpico.

It worked a treat as Bologna excelled in the capital to make it three wins on the spin, moving the Rossoblu to within touching distance of a European qualification berth.

There’s value in supporting the hosts extending that winning streak on Saturday against Genoa, although I prefer to play on goals with Over 2.5 trading at a generous 1.83.

Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic made an emotionally charged return to the sidelines in Rome last weekend.

Across Mihajlovic’s 40 fixtures in charge, Over 2.5 Goals boasts a 70% success rate with matches averaging a bulbous 3.18 goals. As hosts, Over 2.5 Goals has copped in 14/20 (70%) Serie A showdowns with three-quarters of those contests also paying out for Both Teams To Score backers. Bologna themselves struck at least twice on 13/20 (65%) occasions.

Genoa picked up a vital 1-0 victory against Cagliari last weekend but boss Davide Nicola was unimpressed with his team’s display as they battle for top-flight survival. However, the guests have shown more final-third flair in recent weeks and have delivered Over 2.5 Goals profit in nine of 12 road trips this term, as well as 12 of their last 16 trips to top-half teams.

Shootout Anticipated In Bavaria

Back to the Bundesliga now for a stats-heavy selection supporting goals as Augsburg welcome Freiburg to Bavaria.

Over 2.5 Goals can be snapped up at 1.74 and that price is too big to turn down considering the season-long averages put up in the German top-flight, plus by the two mid-ranking teams on show.

The Bundesliga has seen 68% of overall matches in 2019/20 breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with a huge average of 3.24 goals-per-game. Freiburg and Augsburg collectively have contributed 16/21 (76%) winners in the Over 2.5 Goals market when viewing their collective home/away records with a massive 3.53 goals seen on average.

Martin Schmidt’s Augsburg side have been a very solid team for an over this season.

The duo are also amongst the league leaders for total Expected Goals (xG), as well as total xG from open play, and crucially have all available leading goalscorers fit and available for this fixture, whilst combining to keep a paltry three clean sheets in those aforementioned 21 home/away tussles.

My metrics make Over 2.5 Goals sub 1.70 so take anything bigger for an anticipated shootout in Bavaria.

Recommended Bets

  • Swindon -0.5 – 3 units @ 1.78
  • RB Leipzig -1.5 – 3 units @ 1.73
  • Over 2.5 Goals in Bologna v Genoa 2 units @ 1.83
  • Over 2.5 Goals in Augsburg v Freiburg 2 units @ 1.74