Martin Laurence: Three European bets to get stuck into this Sunday

9 min


Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Sunday 4th March, 15:15 KO

After the midweek round of fixtures, there can be no question whatsoever as to the form side heading into the big match in La Liga this weekend and having seemed home and dry not so long ago, Barcelona aren’t sitting comfortably at all. The blaugrana drew for the third time in their last five league outings on Thursday, this time to strugglers Las Palmas, while Atleti won in some style at home to Leganes. The 4-0 victory for Diego Simeone’s side was their sixth in succession in Spain’s top-flight, scoring 16 and conceding just twice in that run.

Diego Simeone and his team have been on a hot winning streak of late.

Barca, meanwhile, have been far from their free flowing best for some time now, with a 6-1 win over Girona last weekend the only time they scored more than twice in their last ten matches in all competitions.

Up against La Liga’s best defence, then, and a side that are finding their groove in front of goal to boot – with Antoine Griezmann in remarkable form – the odds on the visitors to come away from Camp Nou with a result are high. That home advantage might be key, but there’s value to be had on an outcome that might just suit both sides.

Simeone will know that a defeat may well be curtains for their renewed title hopes, extending Barcelona’s lead to eight, and while he’d love to close it to two this weekend, keeping Ernesto Valverde’s side within touching distance will be absolutely vital. Conversely, the hosts know that defeat would arguably put Atletico in the ascendency for the title as the outstanding form side in the division.

We could see a more reserved approach from the Catalans than usual then, and a fourth stalemate in sixth between these sides is the angle I would look to.

Montpellier vs Lyon

Sunday 4th March, 16:00 KO

The fact that Montpellier are still the underdogs in this tie despite Lyon’s struggles of late just doesn’t add up for me. Throw in the fact that the visitors are likely to be without their first choice striker in Mariano and sure to be without Nabil Fekir – their strongest player by a distance – and the value is certainly with the hosts on Sunday.

That’s not to say Bruno Genesio can’t name a decent line-up in their absence, but a young side missing its talisman away to a wily Ligue 1 opponent may well struggle.

Ivory Coast striker Giovanni Sio has been in great form of late for Montpellier.

Defensively, La Paillade are a real force after all, conceding just 21 goals across their 27 league games thus far, which is a record only PSG (19) can better in France’s top-flight.

The hosts score less than one a game too, it should be said, but fatigue is catching up with OL, who may actually be a little relieved to have been dumped out of the Coupe de France on Thursday. They’ve played eight games in the space of a month in all competitions, where Montpellier have played just five.

Struggling defensively, without a clean sheet in ten domestic outings, and without their best players in attack, the away side’s winless run may well stretch to six league games and as such I would be tempted by the Montpellier / draw no bet option.

Freiburg vs Bayern Munich

Sunday 4th March, 17:00 KO

A glance at the Bundesliga table would suggest that Bayern’s trip to Freiburg on Sunday should end in another convincing win for the runaway league leaders. They are 31 points clear of their hosts this weekend, down in 13th, but it’s also worth considering that Jupp Heynckes’ side are a full 19 clear of second.

While that may highlight the fact that they are head and shoulders above the rest, it also shines light on the fact that beneath them, with just 12 points between Dortmund in second and this weekend’s hosts mired in the bottom half, there’s not much in this league elsewhere. In fact, Freiburg are no mugs.

Robert Lewandowski’s mid week bust up with Mats Hummels may give a sign that Bayern are vulnerable this weekend.

They’ve lost just seven of 24 games all season, which is the same number of defeats as Frankfurt up in the Champions League places, owing to a sensational defensive record on home soil. In fact, Christian Streich’s side have conceded fewer goals in home games (7) than their illustrious visitors on Sunday (9), and the joint fewest in the league.

The hosts’ solitary defeat at the Schwarzwald-Stadion this season came against Schalke, and ended just 1-0. Meanwhile, Hoffenheim are the only side to have scored twice away at Freiburg and still left having been on the end of a 3-2 defeat. Moreover, the recent meetings between these sides in the Black Forest have seen Bayern struggle to exert their dominance.

A 2-0 win back in 2012 is the only occasion in the last eight league meetings between the two at Freiburg that the reigning champions have won by more than a single goal and, as such, the value is on the handicap lines for me, specifically Freiburg +1.5.

Recommended Bets:

  • Barcelona vs Atletico – Draw at 3.9
  • Montpellier vs Lyon – Montpellier +0.0 at 2.13
  • Freiburg vs Bayern – Freiburg +1.5 at 1.98

Click here for Matchbook’s Latest Soccer markets