The European football season is heading into the final furlong and Mark O’Haire peruses the markets across the continent whilst picking out his favourite fancies from the weekend.
There are only two rounds of fixtures left in Serie A and Ligue 1 but there’s still plenty to play for at both ends of the respective tables. Champions League places and Europa League berths are yet to be confirmed and the relegation battle is heating up as we approach the finishing line.
Get With The Goals In Rome
Lazio tasted Coppa Italia glory in midweek but the Biancocelesti return to domestic matters on Monday knowing Champions League football is beyond them after a disappointing season. The Romans have fallen short against Serie A’s leading lights and their inconsistent campaign could see coach Simone Inzaghi moved on this summer.
Le Aquile have managed just W5-D2-L4 since their famous derby success over Roma with Inzaghi’s constant tinkering with formation and personnel playing their part in Lazio’s muddled efforts. However, the Biancocelesti have tended to be strong operators when welcoming bottom-half outfits to the Stadio Olimpico and they’ll be keen to sign off in style.
Indeed, eight of Lazio’s nine home triumphs this term have arrived against clubs occupying a bottom-half position coming into this weekend. Over the course of Inzaghi’s reign at the club, the hosts have actually returned a very strong W27-D4-L5 when entertaining the same sample of guests in the capital, with 21 (58%) of those ties featuring three or more goals.
That’s the angle of attack I’m keen to explore when Bologna pitch up at the Olimpico. The visitors arrive in resurgent form since the appointment of Sinisa Mihajlovic; the Serbian joined the club on a rescue mission but few anticipated the Rossoblu returning such impressive performances, collecting W8-D2-L5 following Pippo Inzaghi’s axing.
Bologna’s results have seen the revitalised Felsinei move five points clear of the relegation zone with their more attack-minded approach paying dividends. Built around a freedom of expression in the final third, the seven-times Italian champions have scored in all bar two of their 15 outings under Mihajlovic, notching twice or more in seven of their past 10 tussles.
Eight of Bologna’s past nine outings have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals barrier, whilst nine of their most recent 14 fixtures have seen both sides score. What’s more, seven of the Rossoblu’s nine trips to the top-half this term have produced at least three goals and a repeat for Monday night’s match appears underrated around the 1.81 mark.
Les Gones Can Make Their Mark Against Caen
Lyon are embroiled in a fabulous fight with regional rivals Sainte Etienne in Ligue 1 for the third and final Champions League qualification place from France. Les Gones enjoy a four-point cushion with two fixtures to play after crushing Marseille 3-0 last Sunday at the Stade Velodrome; two days earlier Sainte had suffered a shock home defeat to Montpellier.
OL produced the goods when it mattered most and Bruno Genesio’s troops should be backed to confirm their place in the top three with an uncompromising victory over struggling Caen this weekend. The home side can be supported with a -1.5/2 Asian Handicap at 1.81, a selection that would see us make money should Lyon win by at least two goals.
Les Gones haven’t always been a model of consistency in 2018/19. Genesio has come under plenty of criticism from supporters throughout the campaign but Lyon have tended to be strong operators regardless. Only runaway champions PSG can better the hosts’ return in the Expected Goals (xG) standings, as well as looking at shots from inside the penalty box.
During Genesio’s reign, OL have registered a 65% win ratio on home soil with 42% of matches won by a margin of two goals or more. Drilling down into performances against bottom-half stragglers and Lyon have W26-D4-L5 with 20/35 (57%) victories arriving by at least a two-goal margin, good enough to secure profit on Saturday evening.
I’ve been opposing Caen all season and backed the Normandy club for relegation last June – if they manage to survive it will be an astounding feat. Incredibly, SMC have W4-D1-L2 of late to move out of the automatic relegation places despite their dreadful displays throughout the majority of the 2018/19 campaign.
Nevertheless, Fabien Mercadal’s men have earned their positive recent results against fellow scrappers and they’re unlikely to be capable of keeping Lyon out having lost six of seven trips to the top-eight and shipping twice or more in eight of 11 trips to teams in 12th and above. Meanwhile, their attacking numbers are quite frankly appalling.
No team averages fewer shots from inside the penalty area generates a worse Expected Goals (xG) figure or creates a lower xG from open play return. The visitors have been blanked in 19/37 (51%) away days since the start of last season and a similar showing could be on the cards when they head to the Groupama Stadium on Saturday.
- Over 2.5 Goals in Lazio v Bologna 3 units @ 1.81
- Lyon -1.5/2 – 2 units @ 1.81
Mark O’Haire joins Sully to preview the best bets from Saturday’s showpiece from Wembley as Man City take on Watford with an unprecedented domestic treble on the line.