Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts and favourite fancies from across the continent with the Bundesliga and La Liga taking centre-stage this weekend.
Foals Well-Fancied Against Union
Borussia Monchengladbach began their Bundesliga campaign with a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Dortmund last weekend but we’re not reading too much into the Foals’ opening day efforts. Leading lights Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea were only fit enough for the bench and the final score was harsh considering the pattern of play at the Westfalenstadion.
Gladbach actually enjoyed more of the ball, were marginally out-shot 10-8 and were only beaten 1.60 to 0.68 on the Expected Goals (xG) count with Dortmund’s tally including a penalty (0.80 xG). Foals boss Marco Rose felt his side played on the same level for both halves, but lacked drive in the box and missed a bit of quality in a few decisive moments.
The anticipated return of Thuram and/or Plea should provide Gladbach with the necessary firepower to hurt Saturday’s visitors Union Berlin and I’d expect Borussia Monchengladbach -1 in the Asian Handicap to return a push at the very least considering how strong the hosts are when welcoming the lesser lights.
Gladbach were one of the few Bundesliga clubs to remain solid on home soil post-lockdown and concluded the campaign with 12 triumphs from 17 at Borussia Park. The Foals scored an average of 2.35 goals-per-game at home, returned W11-D1-L0 when entertaining teams in 7th and below, winning by 2+ goals on 8 occasions in that 12-game sample.
Exclude last season’s top-three and Monchengladbach posted an eye-catching W19-D4-L5 return across all Bundesliga venues and the flat-track bullies should be well capable of enhancing that record on Saturday.
Union Berlin lost last term’s leading goalscorer Sebastian Andersson and standout summer signing Max Kruse is still working on his match fitness. The capital club upset the odds to consolidate in mid-table on their return to the top-flight but began the current campaign with a disappointing 3-1 reverse at home to Augsburg.
The Berlin boys were poor travellers in 2019/20, falling to defeat in 11 of 17 away days, and managed a sole shutout on the road.
The visitors shipped 2.25 goals on average, lost 10 of 11 matches at teams in 12th and above – 7 of which arrived by 2 goals or more – and finished with a -13.55 xG differential in games as guests.
Gladbach were ranked in the top three major metrics across the board in Rose’s impressive first campaign in charge and I’d expect the Foals to consolidate their position in the top-four this term and so make them strong favourites to collect top honours as hosts here.
Yellow Submarine To Stifle Barca?
It’s been a tumultuous six weeks for Barcelona since their 8-2 annihilation at the hands of Bayern Munich. Wantaway wonder Lionel Messi expressed his desire to leave the Catalans in the aftermath of that humbling embarrassment, head coach Quique Setien was ruthlessly dismissed and president Josep Maria Bartomeu has faced a vote of no confidence.
Ronald Koeman has since been parachuted into the head coach’s hot-seat but the Dutchman has had to deal with an exodus of first-teamers as the Blaugrana bid to avoid a crippling financial situation. Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal have departed in cut-price deals, whilst Artur and Nelson Semedo have also been shipped out of the Camp Nou.
To complicate matters, Marc-Andrew Ter Stegen – arguably Barcelona’s Player of the Year in 2019/20 – is injured for the club’s opening La Liga clash with Villarreal on Sunday night, Messi returned late to pre-season training and ever-reliable Sergi Roberto has said the squad is still struggling to shake off the negative energy from that Bayern nightmare.
So I’m not anticipating the Catalans clicking straight into gear at the Camp Nou. Villarreal have the physical advantage over the hosts – the Yellow Submarine have two La Liga games under their belts – and Unai Emery’s visitors were much improved in their 2-1 triumph over Eibar last weekend following an eye-catching summer spending spree.
Barcelona are not the force of yesteryear and the Blaugrana were only able to succeed by a margin of two goals or more twice in 11 encounters with top-12 teams in Spain last season on home soil. On the other hand, Villarreal were beaten by at least two goals only twice on their travels during 2019/20 and I suspect the Yellow Submarine can be competitive again.
Villarreal +1.25 returned a profit in trips to both Barcelona and Real Madrid last term and I think Emery’s outfit can repeat the feat in Sunday night’s showdown.
We’ll earn a half-stakes pay-out should the visitors suffer defeat by a solitary strike, with a full win locked in if Villarreal avoid defeat.
Only a Barca win by two goals or more sees our selection sink.
- Borussia Monchengladbach -1 – 3 units @ 1.75
- Villarreal +1.25 – 2 units @ 1.75