Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts and favourite fancies from across the continent with the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 taking centre-stage this weekend.
Keep Capital Club Onside
Union Berlin stretched their club-record unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to five fixtures on Monday night with an eye-catching 3-1 success over 10-man Hoffenheim. Victory was long overdue for the capital club, who had produced impressively competitive displays in draws with Freiburg and Gladbach, whilst dominating Schalke without earning top honours.
Questions were asked whether Union could cope following the departure of key striker Sebastian Andersson in the summer, but head coach Urs Fischer has kept the close-knit squad firing with maverick Max Kruse making a major impact, whilst loanees Taiwo Awoniyi and Joel Pohjanpalo are relishing their roles when leading the attack for the Berlin boys.
Union’s preferred XI should be stronger on Saturday with skipper and assist-king Christopher Trimmel, plus fellow defender Robin Knoche, available again for selection.
The hosts should therefore be targeting their weekend contest as a golden opportunity to collect a 10th home league victory in 21 outings since promotion to the Bundesliga.
Die Eisernen delivered W6-D2-L2 when welcoming teams in 8th and below in their maiden top-flight campaign and appear to have continued that trend this term, taking W2-D2-L0 against sides currently occupying a bottom-half berth. With that in mind, the 1.90 available on Union to oust newly-promoted Bielefeld at the retro Stadion An der Alten Försterei appeals.
Bielefeld travel to the capital on the back of a four-match losing run.
Arminia offered precious little in a very defensive effort when going down 2-0 to Dortmund last weekend, having also come up short in their previous three against Wolfsburg, leaders Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen.
Even at this early stage, the visitors look short on required quality.
In fairness, Bielefeld held Eintracht Frankfurt and got the better of Cologne in their opening two fixtures, although neither display convinced neutrals that Uwe Neuhaus’ underdogs were capable of making the step-up, and the visitors’ lack of a goal threat is the chief concern. The guests are averaging fewer than five attempts per-game inside the box.
Union rank fourth in the Expected Points (xP) rankings from the first six Bundesliga fixtures and there’s a case to be made for the home side being shorter in the market than their advertised price, and I’m happy to support the Berlin boys when Bielefeld come to town.
Dijon Not Cutting The Mustard
Metz are worthy of support at 1.77 when entertaining Dijon at their Stade Saint-Symphorien base on Sunday. Last season’s relegation contenders are impressing in France, boasting the kind of loss-less form only bettered by Lille and PSG; Les Grenats have earned 14 points from a possible 18 (W4-D2-L0) since mid-September to shoot up the Ligue 1 standings.
Frédéric Antonetti’s outfit have toppled bottom-half clubs Lorient, Reims and Sainte-Etienne here in each of their past three outings and come into this contest off the back of achieving consecutive clean sheets.
No top-flight team has faced fewer shots on-target over the past six matchdays than Metz and Les Grenats’ tenacious attitude is winning plenty of support.
The Lorraine club are amongst Ligue 1’s leading pack for tackles, possessions won and pressure on the ball, highlighting the sterling progress Metz have made under Antonetti’s watch. The hosts have also coped well following the loss of leading goalscorer Ibrahima Niane to injury thus far, with Lamine Gueye particularly impressing on the left of the 4-3-3.
In contrast, rock-bottom Dijon remain winless across their opening nine outings (W0-D3-L6) and have been beaten in all four road trips.
Les Hiboux have leaked 12 goals in those away days – grabbing a solitary goal themselves – and have fired blanks in six of their overall nine Ligue 1 matches, leading to the sacking of head coach Stephane Jobard this midweek.
Jobard’s assistant David Linares will take over on a temporary basis but the Burgundy-based will need a major improvement to arrest their worrying run.
The Mustard Men are rated rock-bottom for all major metrics, generating a pathetic 0.37 Expected Goals (xG) average from open play and facing almost 11 efforts from inside the box on average per-match.
- Union Berlin -0.50 – 2 units @ 1.90
- Metz -0.50 – 2 units @ 1.77