Martin Laurence: Slim pickings in Europe this weekend but I'm hoping Italy and Portugal will oblige my Sunday trio of bets

6 min

With no action in either Germany or France this Sunday, my search focused itself to Italy for this weekend, with two incredibly low prices on sides facing the drop.

Meanwhile, after venturing to Portugal last time out and correctly predicting under 2.5 goals in the Lisbon derby between Sporting and Benfica – a match that ended 0-0 and handed Porto the title – I finish up with a return to Liga NOS and a similar angle.

Bologna vs Chievo

A glance at the odds in this one would suggest that Chievo are either the stronger side of the two or in better form, but neither is particularly accurate. The former is far from it, in fact, with the hosts this weekend five points better off with two games remaining.

While Bologna have let their form slide somewhat of late, their last three defeats have gone to the form book, away to Sampdoria and Juventus and at home against AC Milan. In general, their form at the Stadio Renato Dell’Ara has been steady, winning all four of their home matches against sides currently in the bottom half of the table since the turn of the year.

While it’s true that Chievo are in far greater need of the points in the battle against the drop in Serie A, there’s been an overreaction to a home victory over fellow strugglers Crotone last time out.

To have the away side as favourites despite the fact that they’ve picked up three points from the last 42 available on the road is bizarre. I’ll be backing the home side – somehow a considerable underdog – in the handicap market here.

Verona vs Udinese

Somehow Udinese are still being backed as heavy favourites in matches despite the fact that their winless streak has now extended to 14 games. They’ve suffered defeat in twelve of those, with a solitary point since the 11th of February coming against bottom club Benevento, who were reduced to ten men with over half an hour remaining.

While’s it’s true that they face another side that have already succumbed to the drop in Verona, the visitors’ confidence is through the floor after a run that has seen them slip to 17th, just one point above the relegation zone. Despite that, and the fact that they play away from home, Udinese are as low as 1.58 to pick up all three points.

Moreover, in seven meetings between these sides in Verona, the away side have won just once, with that victory coming against 9-men after two dismissals for the hosts.

It’s still fair that Udinese be considered as favourites under the circumstances, but the notion that they might win by more than a single goal having not done so in 19 matches since Christmas is a stretch.

Rio Ave vs Braga

For my final tip this week I’m shifting to Portugal and also moving away from the handicap markets and into the goal lines. It’s fifth against fourth in Liga NOS, but such is the disparity between the top four and the rest of the league that a whopping 27 points separate Rio Ave from Braga.

The former have secured a Europa League finish owing to a respectable defensive record having only mustered 39 goals in 33 matches thus far, and while their visitors have been free-scoring by comparison, they’ve struggled in this fixture in recent years.

Six meetings between the two have passed without the away side so much as mustering a goal, let alone all three points, with under 2.5 goals scored in their last 11 encounters at the Estadio dos Arcos.

As such, the considerable price of 2.14 on that figure to become a dozen is somewhat alarming. The price is still over evens for unders on the 2.5/3.0 goal line and that’s where I’m headed for this one.

Recommended bets:

  • Bologna +0.0/0.5 at 1.82
  • Verona +1.0 at 2.04
  • Rio Ave vs Braga – Under 2.5/3.0 at 1.89

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