Martin Laurence: More Sunday fun expected this week in Serie A and Ligue 1

7 min

It was a hat-trick of sorts for me last week, and while it wasn’t quite three winners, with Saint-Etienne only managing a one-goal victory – a void bet after my handicap tip – Real Betis were a no-brainer to cause Atletico problems and Crotone dragged Udinese right into the relegation mire to ensure my other bets landed.

With pride restored after a swing and a miss the week previous, I’m avoiding LaLiga and the Bundesliga from this Sunday’s matches, with two selections from Italy and one from France worth considering.

Sampdoria vs Cagliari

We start in Serie A and it’s a pretty straightforward bet as Sampdoria host Cagliari, aiming to keep their hopes of a European finish alive. The hosts’ form, in general, has been indifferent to say the least but Milan’s struggles of late have ensured that Marco Giampaolo’s side haven’t really lost too much ground. Currently four points adrift of Atalanta in sixth, this weekend’s fixture represents an opportunity to bridge the gap a little given that it looks like the most favourable of the sides in competition for that spot.

Cagliari are, after all, not quite out of the woods in the relegation shake-up just yet, and the home advantage in this match is particularly pertinent.

‘Samp’ have been excellent at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris this season, boasting the fourth best home record in Italy, while their visitors only points on the road from their last five matches came at bottom club, Benevento.

They’ve scored just once across their last four visits to Samp too, and are averaging fewer than a goal per game this season, so the price approaching evens on the -0.5 handicap is too high.

Bologna vs AC Milan

Remaining on the peninsula, focusing on another match up in the race for a Europa League berth, AC Milan will be desperate to get themselves out of their current funk when they travel to Bologna. The home side have nothing to play for by comparison but have still remained tough to break down of late, particularly at home, and this one isn’t primed to be a particularly entertaining affair.

The reverse fixture between these sides was the first in six in which both teams had scored, and even when Milan were winning matches under Gennaro Gatusso, they’ve not been a fluid attacking side all season.

Both of these sides league games since the turn of the year have averaged just 2.07 goals per game, with each of Bologna’s last nine Serie A outings falling under 2.5 goals, along with eight of Milan’s last ten.

With the visitors winning their last two matches in this fixture 1-0, a repeat certainly looks a real possibility between two sides who have looked blunt going forwards for the past month. At 1.80 on Matchbook at present, under 2.5 goals looks a sure thing to me.

Angers vs Marseille

In high spirits following a 2-0 win in their Europa League semi-final with Salzburg, Marseille know that they still can’t afford to take their eye off the ball in Ligue 1 in what is a three-team tussle for two tickets to the Champions League next season. Clinging to Lyon’s coat tails in the pursuit of Monaco in second, OM are in good form and face a very favourable opponent this weekend.

Angers are all but safe from the drop after all, and while they’ve caused some strong sides problems this season – including the reverse fixture with Rudi Garcia’s men – the hosts now have very little to play for and are struggling with injuries this weekend.

Potentially without as many as six first-team players this Sunday, it’s the home side that will perhaps be more weakened than the away team, with rotation likely to be minimal from Garcia after a strong result on Thursday has allowed him to give this game the necessary focus.

Angers have picked up a little at home of late but just five wins from 17 games show how they struggle to make that advantage count, while Marseille have travelled well this season. Indeed, their three defeats have each come against the trio currently above them in the table, and their record against sides in the bottom half is excellent on the road, winning each of the last five.

Recommended Bets:

  • Sampdoria -0.5 handicap at 1.97
  • Bologna-Milan under 2.5 at 1.81
  • Marseille to win at 1.92

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