There’s a full card of midweek league action from Italy and Spain to enjoy and football betting analyst Mark O’Haire picks out his favourite three fancies.
Leicester’s slaughtering of Southampton ensured this column was only capable of a good (rather than great) weekend return last time out. Having opposed a high-scoring encounter in favour of Both Teams To Score at St Mary’s, Saturday’s success with Fleetwood and Sunday’s profit from Real Sociedad at least made up for Friday’s fright night.
With domestic attention turning towards the EFL Cup, my focus shifts back to the continent with Serie A and La Liga both taking to the field for full midweek cards.
Underrated Bergamo Boys Can Cause Napoli Problems
Atalanta fell behind early on against Udinese on Sunday but it didn’t take La Dea long to reassert their dominance with Gian Piero Gasperini’s group putting on a record-shattering display.
The Bergamo boys racked up a stunning 7-1 victory to move to within touching distance of Serie A table-toppers Juventus after nine rounds of action.
The Nerazzurri equalled their all-time biggest Serie A win after the 7-1 triumph against Triestina in 1952, whilst also becoming the most prolific side in the three points for a win era, scoring 28 goals in their first nine outings, the best effort since Milan’s 29 in the 1992.
However, Gasperini laughed off suggestions Atalanta should be considered as Scudetto challengers despite notching the most top-flight goals and points in the calendar year thus far. The veteran boss was clearly keen to deflect expectation and attention away from his thrilling La Dea outfit, although it’s hard to dismiss the Bergamo club from the conversation.
Wednesday night’s match-up between the Orobici and Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo could give us further clues on how far this Atalanta side have come. And for us punters, it’s difficult not to be seduced by the generous quotes on offer for the away side to avoid defeat in Naples.
I’m indeed happy to take the 1.9 on Atalanta +0.5 at 1.9.
Last term, the guests returned W1-D4-L0 at top-six rivals, with that win earned here at Napoli. The Nerazzurri are streets ahead of their hosts across all the major performance data metrics in 2019/20, are generating underlying numbers that rank amongst the best in the continent and have also earned nine more points than Napoli in 2019 as a whole.
Thirteen of Napoli’s 17-point tally has been earned against bottom-six dwellers in Serie A this season and the Partenopei’s weekend stalemate with Spal followed a deeply unimpressive home victory over Verona. And with full-back Kevin Malcuit rumoured to have suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage, problems are mounting.
Carlo Ancelotti’s crew are already without Mario Rui, Nikola Maksimovic and Elseid Hysaj through injury, while Faouzi Ghoulam seems to be out of favour.
Entering any game against Atalanta without a fit and able defence is a concern and odds-on quotes for the hosts look disrespectful towards the dangerous visitors from Bergamo.
Goals To Flow In Serie A Showdown
Sassuolo have established themselves as a top-flight club in recent seasons and registered a respectable mid-table finish in 2018/19. The Neroverdi came close to piercing the top-10 before downing tools in their final four fixtures and were a difficult team to overcome at their base in the Emilia-Romagna region.
Roberto De Zerbi’s attack-minded outfit were beaten only five times in front of their home fans with games often thrilling affairs at the Mapei Stadium. Matches averaged a huge 3.47 goals with almost half of their 19 Serie A outings producing Over 3.5 Goals profit. it’s been a familiar theme for Sassuolo this time around.
The Neroverdi smashed Sampdoria (4-1) and Spal (3-0) in their opening two Mapei Stadium encounters before falling to defeat to high-flyers Inter Milan (3-4) and Atalanta (1-4) here. Friday night’s narrow 1-0 victory at Verona has put De Zerbi’s troops back on track and they’ll fancy their chances for the visit of Fiorentina on Wednesday.
Fiorentina fell to a last-minute, controversial 2-1 loss to Lazio on Sunday evening and head coach Vincenzo Montella was quick to criticise the officials post-match. La Viola had been unbeaten since 1st September and boss picked the same starting XI for the seventh game in succession as the Florence-based club chased a fourth league victory this term.
With Franck Ribery and Federico Chiesa leading the challenge in Fiorentina’s 3-5-2 system, opportunities and attempts from inside the penalty area have been plentiful and so La Viola should be well capable of getting on the scoresheet. With that in mind, it makes sense to look towards the goals markets considering Sassuolo’s consistency in such positions.
Since the start of last season, Over 2.5 Goals has collected in 15/23 (65%) of the Neroverdi’s home outings, whilst the same 15/23 (65%) figure copped when viewing the Both Teams To Score market in Fiorentina’s road trips.
Taking Over 2.75 Goals at 1.95 is well worth the outlay in what’s expected to be an exciting match-up at the Mapei.
Thursday Night Thriller Forecast In Spain
Five triumphs from their past seven La Liga fixtures has propelled Villarreal into the thick of the top half battle in Spain.
The Yellow Submarine dispatched Alaves on Friday night as their fearsome forwards of Gerard Moreno and Toko Ekambi did the majority of damage late on.
What Javier Calleja’s side lack in defensive cohesion, they make up for in a multi-skilled and flexible attacking unit. Villarreal are adaptable, versatile and have a deep squad capable of causing plenty of problems in forward areas from the bench.
It is therefore no surprise to see the Yellow Submarine score eight (33%) of their 24-goal tally in the final 15 minutes.
On Thursday night, Villarreal travel to the Basque Country for a tricky tie against Eibar. Expertly set-up under wise tactician Jose Luis Mendilibar, the minnows have struggled to make their promising performances count thus far, falling to defeat in half of their 10 matches. However, Los Armeros are no easy meat at Ipura.
Eibar have scored in all bar three of their last 23 games on home soil since the beginning of last term and should be well able to make their mark against a Villarreal defence that’s already leaked at least twice on five occasions, and managed only four shutouts on the road going back to the start of 2018/19.
In fact, no side in Spain is seeing more open play opportunities at either end than Villarreal this season and so with Over 2.5 Goals clicking in 15/23 (65%) Eibar outings as hosts, plus 8/14 (57%) Villarreal away days under Calleja following suit, taking a repeat at 1.91 is advised.
- Atalanta +0.5 – 2 units @ 1.9
- Over 2.75 Goals in Sassuolo v Fiorentina 2 units @ 1.95
- Over 2.5 Goals in Eibar v Villarreal 3 units @ 1.91