Mark O’Haire heads to the continent again this weekend for his strongest selections.
Despite missing a catalogue of players, Juventus did the business for this column on Tuesday night, although Milan surprisingly came up short against Udinese at home. The two teams in question now lock horns in Turin on Saturday night (more on that contest below) as the Old Lady look to wrap up an unprecedented ninth straight Serie A title success.
We’re on the home straight for the 2018/19 campaign and there’s still plenty to play for around the continent. I’ve found two great value plays to share from Italy and the Netherlands to cover the weekend.
Old Lady Too Big To Ignore
Juventus moved 18 points clear at the top of Serie A in midweek, coming through a controversial victory in Cagliari with consummate ease. The Old Lady were missing many big-hitters in Sardinia – including Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic – but always appeared in control as they clinched an impressive 2-0 triumph.
Max Allegri returned to a 3-5-2 system to combat his long list of absentees, although the Bianconeri were still able to field a strong starting XI, highlighting the strength of their squad compared to domestic rivals. Juve fired in 17 attempts – 13 of which came from inside the area – and generated 1.98 Expected Goals (xG). Their title defence is now a formality.
Ronaldo might not be ready to return for Saturday’s enticing encounter against Milan with a Champions League quarter-final showdown against Ajax on the agenda next midweek, but there’s still plenty of evidence to suggest Juventus are too big to ignore at 1.75, odds that imply the Old Lady have just a 57% chance of beating the Rossoneri in Turin.
In 2018/19 alone, Juve have pocketed 26 wins from 30 Serie A outings, including W13-D2-L0 on home soil. The hosts have W10-D1-L0 against top-half rivals and beaten Milan in each of their last five head-to-heads by an aggregate 12-1. Meanwhile, their overall league record in Turin under Allegri points towards a phenomenal 87% win rate.
If we dig deeper and only look at the Bianconeri’s efforts at home to top-six opposition, the hosts have bagged 20 victories from 23 matches under Allegri’s watch – that’s not the sort of long-term form I’d be keen to oppose at quotes of 1.75 this weekend.
Milan have suffered a damaging few weeks; the Rossoneri were second-best in a derby defeat to Inter before a listless performance at Sampdoria returned a 1-0 loss last weekend. In midweek, AC were profligate against Udinese at the San Siro and visibly faded in a ponderous second-half described by Gennaro Gattuso as “physically sluggish”.
Having talked up Juventus’ results against Italy’s elite, it’s also worth ringing the alarm when detailing Milan’s performances when taking on Serie A’s leading lights. The visitors have W3-D5-L6 against top-half teams, including W1-D2-L3 on the road. Away, the Rossoneri have taken top honours in just five of 14 games and W1-D3-L4 against top-six outfits.
Performance data also suggests Milan have been overperforming in 2018/19. Ten clubs are generating a bigger xG figure, eight clubs have bettered their xG from open play return and eight sides have also fired in more shots from inside the opposition penalty area. Unsurprisingly, Juventus’ defensive figures are streets ahead of their league rivals.
What’s more, Milan are ranked 10th when viewing the away xG ratio standings in Serie A with just a 48% share, below the likes of Bologna and Genoa. That 48% figure is dwarfed by Juve’s 70% figure in Turin and suggests the hosts should be much closer to 1.60 on Saturday, making the current 1.75 far too big to ignore.
Goals And More Goals In The Eredivisie
The Eredivisie is Europe’s top-scoring, top-flight division in 2018/19 with an average goals-per-game tally across the league of 3.43. A chunky 65% of games have featured Over 2.5 Goals and 43% of contests have even featured four or more goals; it’s been fabulous fun from a neutral perspective and provides plenty of obvious Overs-based appeal.
Sunday sees two of the best operators in the goals market clash as Emmen entertain Heerenveen, and the goals line looks a little vulnerable. At the time of writing, Over 3 Goals is available to support between 1.88 and 1.90, suggesting the Over 2.75 Goals line could be offered around the 1.65-1.70 mark, which would be the steal of the century.
If we can’t get on the Over 2.75 Goals line at anything above 1.65, there’s no sweat in shifting focus towards the Over 3 Goals play, which is still a mightily generous and attractive offer above the 1.85 mark.
Why? Well, these two teams are a haven for goals-based punters, particularly Heerenveen when they take to the road. The wonderfully-nicknamed De Superfriezen (meaning, the Super Frisians) are kamikaze in their approach outside of the Abe Lenstra Stadium by effectively adopting a ‘next goal wins’ type mindset to matches.
Writing before Thursday night’s contest at Feyenoord, Heerenveen’s away days are averaging 4.85 goals under Jan Olde Riekerink, a former Ajax youth coach. All of those 13 tussles featured at least two goals with 11 breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. Ten produced Over 3.5 Goals, nine went Over 4.5 Goals and five fixtures even saw at least six goals scored with 10 returning Both Teams To Score profit.
The guests have actually notched at least twice on 10 occasions on their travels, leaking two or more goals themselves in 10 contests too. De Superfriezen struck four times at Ajax, three times when visiting AZ and bagged twice when welcoming PSV and scored three goals in their reverse contest with Feyenoord. Riekerink’s outfit have recorded just two clean sheets across the whole campaign, whilst their xG game average stands at 3.20 away.
Emmen are enjoying their debut season in the Eredivisie and occupy a relegation/promotion play-off place following a 5-2 midweek thumping at home to Ajax. The hosts have silenced just one opponent since arriving in the top-flight and leaked at least twice in nine of their 14 fixtures at De Oude Meerdijk. Emmen have scored in all bar three of their 14 home games.
All bar one of Emmen’s 28 encounters in 2018/19 have produced at least two goals with Over 2.5 Goals collecting 20 times as matches have averaged a hunky 3.57 goals. The hosts are generating 1.30 xG at De Oude Meerdijk and should be well capable of joining Heerenveen in a high-scoring shootout on Sunday.
The home side have returned Over 2.5 Goals profit in 13 of their last 16 showdowns – all of which went Over 1.5 Goals – as half also featured four or more goals. The current goals line is too short and I’ll take great pleasure in attacking it ahead of the weekend.
- Juventus to win – 4 units @ 1.75
- Over 2.75 Goals in Emmen v Heerenveen 5 units @ 1.65 or above
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Nigel Seeley and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s football action, with four games analysed, all in different competitions. Nigel, a betting journalist and top tipster across multiple sports has some strong opinions on Watford vs Wolves in the FA Cup Semi Final, and Wimbledon vs Accrington in League One. Mark, the brains behind FBA-nominated site WeLoveBetting, takes a detailed look at Juventus vs Milan and Emmen vs Heerenveen, which contains his best bet of 2019!