Martin Laurence: I'm off to the continent this week for three Sunday selections

7 min

After disappointment last week, it’s time for some redemption with my tips from across Europe this Sunday, again looking at three matches across three different leagues in the hunt for the best value.

Bologna vs Atalanta – 14:00 KO

I’m starting in Serie A this time around and venturing to Bologna for my first bet of the weekend, where Roberto Donadoni’s men host Atalanta, aiming to return to winning ways. It’s been a patchy season to say the least for the home side, who find themselves in mid-table obscurity despite the fact that they rarely ever draw, doing so just three times all season.

That highlights just how hit and miss Bologna have been, and while they have improved of late at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, winning three of their last four, it’s absences that may just halt that revival after an abject record at home prior to the New Year.

Without a key player in their defence (Giancarlo Gonzalez), midfield (Andrea Poli) and attack (Rodrigo Palacio) this weekend, what would likely have been an otherwise tight affair may have swung in the visitors’ favour.

Atalanta have no such concerns after all, and Gian Piero Gasperini should be able to name a full-strength line-up on Sunday, knowing that his side can’t afford to lose ground in the race for a European finish. They’ve improved markedly on the road in recent months, winning four on the spin prior to an admittedly disappointing draw at Crotone, and I’d expect their superior quality to win out against a weakened home side.

Stuttgart vs RB Leipzig – 14:30 KO

What a difference an away goal makes in European football, and RB Leipzig’s late concession against Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday will have put real doubt into the minds of both Ralph Hasenhuttl and the fans. Well-positioned at 2-0, they now face a trip to Russia next week with the tie very much in the balance and as such that could affect the visitors’ squad selection this weekend.

A match against a mid-table side may not seem like too much of a concern for last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, but this Stuttgart outfit won’t have given up hope of a European finish of their own.

Four consecutive victories have seen Tayfun Korkut’s men climb from 14th – and just one point above the relegation play-off place – to the top-flight security of ninth.

For a side that has struggled towards the bottom for much of the campaign to boast the second best home record in the league (2.1 points per game) highlights just how tight it’s been below Bayern in Germany, and on current form there is certainly very little between these sides, which is reflected in the odds. VfB have conceded just seven goals at home all season – the best record in the league – while just 13 of Leipzig’s 38 goals this season have been scored on the road so I would slightly favour the hosts under the circumstances.

Las Palmas vs Villarreal – 17:30 KO

I’m ending this weeks trio of tips in Spain, where Las Palmas have begun to show some fight in the battle against the drop. After 12 defeats in 15 had seemed to put their top-flight status in real jeopardy, just three losses in their last eight matches have at least given the side some hope of survival.

The home side have tightened up at the back of late and desperately needed to, and while they’ve still shipped just over two goals a game this season, that average is halved when just taking their last six matches into account.

That’s despite facing some tough opponents in recent weeks and months, with a return of seven points from the last 12 available at home, having faced three of the top five in that time, one that the fans certainly would have taken beforehand.

They are up against sixth-placed Villarreal this Sunday, so it might not seem as though things are getting a great deal easier but in truth, the Yellow Submarine is sinking fast. European duties seem to have caught up with them and they’ve managed just four points and four goals from their last six LaLiga fixtures while failing to score on their last two trips to Gran Canaria. Short of goals in general, it could be another frustrating evening for Javier Calleja’s side and the double chance odds on the hosts are good value.

Martin’s Sunday Selections:

  • Atalanta win
  • Stuttgart +0.0/0.5
  • Las Palmas +0.5