Mark Stinchcombe: Last weekend was profitable one and I’m keen to finish the club season on a high with three more picks.

9 min

It was a good weekend to round off the final matchday of the domestic season. Man Utd only beat Watford 1-0, St Johnstone came away with a draw against Ross County and Sporting Lisbon’s collapse continued in Maritimo.

Before a ball was even kicked in Scotland, Ross County got smashed in from joint faves to the 2.26 mark by the ‘bet on teams that need to win punters’. Despite me needing a 92nd-minute equaliser just to get my money back, there wasn’t much in the game, proving that St Johnstone were the bet at the prices.

Having backed under 3.25 goals at Old Trafford, it was pleasing to see a drab end of season affair play out. Particularly with the final day goal fests elsewhere as predicted, it was good to successfully pick a correct one to oppose. Both sides only had seven shots apiece and the expected goals returned just 1.37 to make a mockery of the 3.0 goal line. Listen on and there might be another Man Utd match we can take advantage of…

Manchester United’s Michael Carrick captain leads out his team before the Premier League match vs Watford last weekend.

It was Sunday Funday in Portugal

The main excitement came from Portugal on Sunday night with another injury-time goal in my favour (is that positive variance or is that just in fact football? Bolton Wanderers anyone) as Maritimo beat Sporting 2-1. Whether you played the +1.5 handicap, laid Sporting, backed Maritimo or a combination of all three, opposing Sporting was a great angle.

Just 7 – 10 in shots between the sides, with an xG result of 0.47 – 0.51 proving the Lisbon side were nowhere near the 1.31 the prices suggested. Further bad news for them were their players and manager being attacked by hooligans at the clubs training ground this week. Pretty bad timing when they have a cup final to concentrate on this weekend…

Goals expected at the Stadion Galgenwaard?

Onto this weekend and I want to start in Holland with the Europa League play-off in the Eredivisie. It’s the 2nd leg in Utrecht as they host Vitesse Arnhem, following a 3-2 defeat in the 1st leg on Tuesday. And it’s more goals I like the look of here.

Utrecht’s home games have seen 56 goals in 18 games, 3.11pg, and Vitesse away matches have had 62 goals, 3.44pg. 14 of Utrecht’s last 17 games have seen over 2.5 goals (82%) and 14 of Vitesse’s 18 have also had over 2.5 (78%), as competition for Europe hots up.

Utrecht won this fixture 5-1 just back in March and 10 of the last 11 meetings here between the two have seen over 2.5 goals. With the Eredivisie averaging 3.14 goals-per-game this season, backing over 2.75 looks value here.

SM Caen are no World Beaters

Over in France, I want to get with another side ‘who don’t need to win’ and it just so happens to be the best side – Paris Saint Germain. They play away in Caen who have got an eye on sides below them as they look to avoid the relegation play-off.

However, they can’t suddenly become world beaters against the champions and are in bad shape having lost 7 of 9 winless games. Worryingly six of those were by more than a goal and other than the bottom two, no side has lost more league games this season.

PSG played Caen here in the cup last month winning 3-1 priced at just 1.14. PSG also won 3-1 at home and won this fixture 6-0 last season. They lost 2-0 at home to Rennes last time out and a number of their personnel will be looking to make amends. It’s Unai Emery’s last game in charge and the likes of squad players in Rabiot, Draxler, Lo Celso, Meunier, Pastore and Trapp will all be looking to make a statement with World Cup squad places on the line.

There’s also 20-year-old Christopher Nkunku who’s an exciting youngster with 4 goals in 5 starts. PSG at better than 1.70 looks an excellent bet.

Chinese Delight

Finally, I’m heading to China where Tianjin Quanjin entertain Shanghai Shenhua. Tianjin only sit 11th after 10 games but I wouldn’t read too much into their league form, they’ve been concentrating on the Asian Champions League which they’re now into the quarter-finals of, having impressively eliminated last seasons league champions Guangzhou Evergrande. The quarter-finals don’t place until August, so expect an upturn in form from last seasons 3rd place side.

The loss of Giovani Moreno to International duty is a huge blow for Shanghai Shenhua.

The main angle here is opposing the away side.

There’s no Obafemi Martins who ruptured his quad last month and will be out for a long period but significantly their captain and talisman Giovani Moreno will miss the game for World Cup preparation with Colombia. This is on top of losing Carlos Tevez at the end of last season and also the continued absence of key domestic player Cao Yunding who scored five goals and assisted another 10 in 2017. Between them they’ve scored 37 goals since last year, meaning Shenhua will be missing 54% of their goals.

Tianjin, on the other hand, will have all their designated players in Anthony Modeste, Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel to call upon. Modeste and Pato have 30 goals in 45 games between them.

To give an idea of overseas ‘superstars’ impact, 20 players scored 10+ goals last season, just one of them was a domestic player. Tianjin won this fixture 3-0 last year and the price has already started to go and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go further.

Check out this week’s Matchbook Betting Podcast for my bet on the FA Cup final:

Recommended bets:

  • Utrecht v Vitesse over 2.75 goals ~1.88 – 1.5pts
  • PSG ~1.79 – 2pts
  • Tianjin Quanjian -0.5 ~1.94 – 1.5pts

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