Mark O'Haire - Simeone's Men To Do A Job In Catalunya & A Goals Bet In Italy

7 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire returns from the International break to share his favourite fancies from the weekend’s European action with a focus on La Liga and Serie A!


After a solitary season in Segunda, Espanyol returned to La Liga, earning second-tier title honours under Vicente Moreno’s management. The former defensive midfielder was the architect behind Mallorca’s rejuvenation, and the Xerez legend has earned plenty of plaudits for his fine work in Barcelona over the past 14 months.

Arriving back in the top-flight, Los Periquitos have a remit to consolidate this season, with Moreno undoubtedly boasting the strongest squad of the three promoted clubs.

However, it’s been a tricky opening stanza for Espanyol with the newcomers unable to score in their first three fixtures against Osasuna (0-0), Villarreal (0-0) and Mallorca (0-1).

The Catalan club is averaging only five attempts from inside the penalty box per game and are yet to fashion a Big Chance this term.

The team’s non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) figure has been below-par – hardly ideal when arguably coming up against Spain’s strongest suit from a defensive standpoint this Sunday.

It’s been an unspectacular return to the top flight for Espanyol and doesn’t get any easier this weekend!

Atletico Madrid are already amongst the front-runners in almost all the defensive metrics in La Liga after three matchdays, and Diego Simeone’s troops are unlikely to stray away from their tried and trusted methods despite the re-signing of Antonine Griezmann.

Los Colchoneros tend to relish these match-ups too.

In 2020/21, Atletico went off as odds-on favourites in 13 of 19 away days in La Liga, winning on nine occasions. Yet, the guests are available to support at odds-against quotes coming into this weekend.

And if we look at the capital club’s 51 previous trips to bottom-half finishers, Atleti have returned an impressive W31-D16-L4 – that’s a 61% win rate, which would imply odds around the 1.67 mark on the straightaway success.

Due to the generous Match Odds available, we can opt for a touch of insurance on our Atletico wager by instead backing Simeone’s side -0.25 on the Asian Handicap.

If the game does end all square, we’ll only lose half of our stake, with the second half returned as a push.

With a very low goal expectancy, it’s a nice way of covering a stalemate.


Cagliari have posted a single point from their opening two outings in Serie A.

The Islanders were ragged in a 2-2 draw against Spezia before being blown away by Milan at San Siro (1-4). Nevertheless, Leonardo Semplici’s side will see Sunday’s showdown against Genoa as the perfect opportunity to register their maiden success of the season.

The Rossoblu have traditionally proven awkward operators in Sardinia, and with Joao Pedro and Leonardo Pavoletti leading the line, Cagliari will always cause opposition outfits problems.

Cagliari and Jaoa Pedro were stuffed at the San Siro two weeks ago!

When Semplici’s outfit entertain fellow bottom-half opposition, goals also tend to flow, with last term’s nine such contests at the Sardegna Arena featuring 2.77 goals on average, with xG per game coming in at a reasonable 2.62.

With Serie A posting above 3.00 goals-per-game on average since the start of last season, entertainment is expected.

Cagliari have kept only three clean sheets in 18 outings under their current coach.

While Genoa haven’t always excelled in terms of final-third output during Davide Ballardini’s stewardship, the visitors have reinforced their frontline with the eye-catching addition of Felipe Caicedo from Lazio.

The Grifone will be encouraged by the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Alessio Cragno between the sticks for Cagliari and, having failed to pick up a point against Inter and Napoli thus far, will see this as a winnable opportunity.

The market is anticipating 2.70 goals here, so Both Teams To Score looks a little on the high side at 1.74.

Recommended Bets

  • Atletico Madrid -0.0/0.5 – 2 units @ 1.74
  • Both Teams To Score in Cagliari vs Genoa 2 units @ 1.74

Watch Mark On Our Weekend Football Preview:

Subscribe to the Matchbook Betting Podcast here

Subscribe to the Matchbook Youtube channel here