Mark O'Haire
3 months ago - 9 minute read

MARK O’HAIRE – RESURGENT ROSOBLU TO ENSURE SERIE A SAFETY

Mark O’Haire looks to continue his recent hot streak with two angles of interest from Europe this weekend.

Following last weekend’s full house I’m back on the continental trail, searching for more value winners with Serie A, and particular, Bologna, again taking centre-stage on Saturday.

And for the first time in 2019, there’s a good reason to take a trip to Turkey on Friday night as table-topping Istanbul Basaksehir look to close out a maiden Super Lig title when struggling Goztepe arrive in the capital.

OPPOSE GOALS AS TURKISH TABLE-TOPPERS WELCOME GOZTEPE

Istanbul Basaksehir have led the Turkish Super Lig standings since November and have looked well on course for their first-ever top-flight title. For a club that was only formed in 1990, it would be a remarkable achievement, especially so as the top honours have been reserved for each of the nation’s big three in all bar one campaign since 1984.

Abdullah Avci’s men have been a model of consistency across 2018/19.

Having achieved top four finishes in each of their four seasons since winning promotion to the Super Lig, Basaksehir have excelled whilst Besiktas and Galatasaray have floundered, and Fenerbahce have imploded.

However, a run of just one victory from four has seen Basaksehir’s advantage at the top of the tree reduced to just three points. Although results have suffered, performances have continued to prove strong and Avci’s troops have continued to post eye-catching numbers despite dropping points against the likes of Rizespor and Kayserispor.

Less is more for Abdullah Avcı Basaksehir side this season as they continue to build on a ferocious defensive record.

Basaksehir have scored 17 goals fewer than the chasing Besiktas and Fenerbahce, averaging only 1.55 goals-per-game and running out victors by a margin of three goals or more on only three occasions. The Istanbul outfit have instead built their eye-catching campaign upon a solid foundation, silencing 16 (55%) of their 29 opponents already.

Avci’s men have conceded only 16 goals – seven in 15 matches as hosts – and leaked twice or more in only three fixtures. Naturally, with such a solid base, plus an attack that’s not often sparkled, low-scoring games have been the norm for Basaksehir, with matches averaging only 2.10 goals-per-game.

So I’m keen to take the Under 3 Goals line on Friday when the clear and deserving favourites welcome second-from-bottom Goztepe to the capital. The away side have W0-D2-L6 in their last eight encounters, failing to notch in each of their last five; indeed, the visitors have fired blanks in almost half of their Super Lig outings this season.

The Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium has been a formidable place for away teams to get a result from this season.

A rotten road record – 12 defeats in 15, failing to score in eight – has certainly held Goztepe back. Goz were nilled in five of seven trips to the top-half already this term, with each of those five reverses arriving by the same 1-0 scoreline. Meanwhile, when entertaining the top-two, Tamer Tuna’s troops have gone down by 1-0 and 2-0 correct scores.

We can therefore expect Tuna to take a similar approach to Friday’s fixture. Sitting two points from safety with three bottom-half sides to play, there’s enough on the line for Goztepe to try and keep things tight; in five games against the leading three sides in the division, Goz have given up 1.42 xG on average, whist their games feature only 2.30 xG.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the goals line has been set too high here.

It’s likely to be an attack against defence showdown in Istanbul; considering Basaksehir have notched more than twice only five times and Goztepe have conceded three or more goals in only five fixtures, it’s unlikely to be too one-sided in terms of goals.

Twenty of Basaksehir’s games have featured would have seen this selection collect, as would 19 of Goztepe’s 29 tussles. Collectively, only nine of their combined 58 outings have seen this angle of attack lose, making the Under 3 Goals angle a decent value play.

BOLOGNA BACKED TO PICK UP POSITIVE RESULT

Bologna bagged a 3-0 victory over Sampdoria last weekend, making it four successive wins at their Stadio Dall’Ara base. With Federico Santander and Mitchell Dijks suspended, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men took advantage of a dreadful display from the visiting goalkeeper to collect another much-needed three points in their battle to survive.

Now the Rossoblu look great value at 1.95 to overcome a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle to make it five wins on the spin in front of their home supporters against Empoli on Saturday. The hosts have kept three consecutive clean sheets in Serie A for the first time since March 2016 and have returned an impressive W6-D2-L4 since Pippo Inzaghi left his post.

Having been entrenched in the relegation zone before Mihajlovic took charge, Bologna are now five points clear of the bottom three with their final-third improvements really standing out. The Rossoblu have scored in all bar two of their 12 outings under the new boss, notching 10 goals in four games at home and managing 33 on-target efforts.

Sinisa Mihajlovic has worked his magic on this Bologna side in recent weeks.

Empoli occupy that third and final relegation spot but their campaign now looks to be running out of legs. The Tuscans defensive toils have been their Achilles heel all season and last weekend’s damaging 4-2 defeat at home to Spal was their 11th loss in 18 league outings since mid-December, pushing them further towards an immediate return to Serie B.

The Azzurri have kept one clean sheet since early September – in their last outing against an Atalanta side that attempted over 40 shots and produced an xG figure over 6.00 – and their awful away record (W0-D5-L11) is unlikely to improve here. The visitors have conceded at least twice in 11/16 away fixtures and are unlikely to be capable of shutting out a buoyant and confident Bologna team that’s averaging 1.61 xG under Mihajlovic.

Recommended Bets

  • Under 3 Goals in Istanbul Basaksehir v Goztepe – 2 units @ 1.95
  • Bologna -0.50 – 2 units @ 1.95

It’s crunch time across European football, and for the pod as well. After a glorious effort last week, with 4/5 winning selections, host Ali Maxwell is joined by Nigel Seeley and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s action, with four games analysed, across England, Italy and Turkey.