Mark Stinchcombe: “With the attacking quality on show it would be criminal not to take advantage of a ridiculously low 2.25 goal line.”

7 min

Club football makes a welcome return this weekend, and I’m straight back on the horse with my biggest and best bet of the season. It comes from La Liga on Saturday afternoon where Athletic Bilbao host Celta Vigo at San Mames.

I was drawn into this match as soon as I saw a goal line of just 2.25 with a goal expectancy of 2.55. In Celta’s 29 games this season there have been 87 goals at a rate of 3.0 per game so seeing the market then underestimate Bilbao games’ goal output is fantastic news.

There have been only 62 goals in Bilbao’s matches (2.14pg), however, while they are under performing in-front of goal this is also true going the other way. Based on expected goals they should have scored another 10 whilst conceding an extra 9 meaning their matches average xG is 3.20 while Celta’s is also higher at 3.30. Let me remind you here the goal line is 2.25.

When these sides met in the reverse fixture in November, Celta ran out 3-1 winners with a total xG of 3.06 and Bilbao won this match 2-1 last season with an xG total of 3.24. Luis Enrique’s former assistant Juan Carlos Unzue took over at the start of this season and 20 of his 29 games have seen over 2.5 goals (69%) and a whopping 18 of their last 20 away games have breached the 2.5 line (90%).

With the attacking quality on show in Aduriz, Raul Garcia, Inaki Williams and Susaeta versus Iago Aspas, Maxi Gomez, Pione Sisto and Daniel Wass, it would be criminal not to take advantage of a ridiculously low 2.25 goal line. And I’m having a rare 3pt bet here.

Chelsea face a must win game at Stamford Bridge

My second bet of the weekend comes from the Premier League in the big game between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are five points adrift of Spurs with just eight games to go and this really is must win if they want to finish in the top four.

I’m only interested in value so I make no apologies in focussing again on a low goal line of 2.25 with a goal expectancy of just 2.55.

This fixture has a history of goals, and in the nine games since Mauricio Pochettino took over in 2014, there have been 31 goals (3.44pg). If we go back to 2010/11 when Tottenham first made the Champions League, there have been 60 goals in the 18 games (3.33pg). If you backed over 2.25 in all 18 you would only have suffered a full loss just twice.

Chelsea won this fixture 2-1 last season and the line that day was 2.75 – a full half a ball bigger – meaning the odds on over 2.25 were just 1.52. We can get 1.86 this time around. The goal line may have something to do with the lack of Harry Kane for Spurs, but they’ve still scored 25 in the 14 matches he’s missed over the last two seasons (1.79gpg), which is only a 10% decrease. And with the need for Chelsea to attack, backing over 2.25 goals looks another good angle here.

The goal line looks a joke in this one

For my final bet I’m off to Portugal for a hotly contested clash between Braga and Sporting on Saturday evening as the race for both the Champions League places and the title hots up. Sporting are five points back on leaders Porto, and Braga are hot on their heels for third, just a further four points behind. Both are in red hot form with Braga having won 18 of their last 20 games and Sporting 14 of their last 19.

Again I’m drawn into a goal line of just 2.25 with goal expectancy of 2.45, in a fixture that breeds goals.

Twelve of the last 15 meetings between the sides have gone over 2.5 goals (80%) and going back to 2004/05 when Braga first announced themselves as a force taking part in the Champions League, their 31 meetings have seen 92 goals at an average of 2.97pg.

Braga have already scored 62 goals in 27 games this season and the great thing about their side is goals and creativity come from all over the team. Seven players have five or move goals and no fewer than 17 players have already claimed an assist. For Sporting, Bas Dost is back fit and he’ll look to feed upon the guile and craft of the three in behind him in Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes and Marcos Acuna.

The goal line looks a joke and this looks like a great bet to add to the above on Saturday and I’m having 2pts here.

Recommended bets:

  • Over 2.25 goals Athletic Bilbao v Celta Vigo ~1.89 – 3 points
  • Over 2.25 goals Braga v Sporting ~1.99 – 2 points
  • Over 2.25 goals Chelsea v Tottenham ~1.86 – 1 point

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