Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire looks to continue his recent hot form with a pair of punts from Europe this weekend with the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 taking top billing.
August can always be a tricky month to negotiate from a betting perspective. It’s a time where strong pre-season views can be challenged against those of the bookies, with very little worthwhile hard data to fall back on. So I’m obviously delighted to see this Insights column deliver the goods over the past fortnight, including two winners on Tuesday.
Cheltenham did the honours when undervalued against Carlisle, as did a goal-heavy game at Crawley, but I’m back on the continent this weekend with games in Germany and France piquing my punting interest.
DODGY DEFENCES LEAD TO GOAL-HEAVY GAME
Augsburg got off to a flyer on the opening weekend, with summer recruit Florian Niederlechner taking just 31 seconds to put the Fuggerstädter in front against last year’s runners-up, Borussia Dortmund. From there, however, it was a day to forget at Signal Iduna Park for Martin Schmidt’s men as they slumped to a deserved 5-1 defeat.
Survival remains the priority for Augsburg in their ninth successive season of top-flight football. The Bavarians sailed dangerously close to the wind in 2018/19 with defensive issues blighting any potential on-field progress. No team last season had a weaker defence than Augsburg as they conceded 71 Bundesliga goals (2.10 per game).
Augsburg have attempted to improve that return with the arrival of Czech internationals, goalkeeper Tomas Koubek and centre-back Marek Suchy, as well as recent signings Tin Jedvaj – on-loan from Leverkusen – and former Arsenal man, Stephan Lichtsteiner. The latter pair are in line to make their debuts for the Fuggerstädter on Saturday.
Phillip Max is also expected to return, whilst last season’s top scorer Alfred Finnbogason has resumed full training, and should at least be a part of the squad at the WWK Arena. Schmidt has said he’s keen not to curb Augsburg’s attacking instincts, and with Marco Richter, Michael Gregoritsch and Niederlechner to also call upon, goals shouldn’t be a problem.
The Austrian head coach isn’t renowned for high-scoring encounters, although Augsburg have been a model of consistency when supporting goals at the WWK Arena in recent campaigns. A huge 71% of outings here since the start of 2017/18 have paid out for Over 2.5 Goals and with plenty to prove defensively, a repeat really appeals at 2.01 on Saturday.
Union Berlin made their Bundesliga bow last weekend against RB Leipzig with a total of 395 games of top-flight experience spread across their starting XI, 377 of them belonging to Christian Gentner. The newcomers fought valiantly but their resistance was broken early on and Leipzig eventually racked up a relatively cushy 4-0 success in the capital.
The Berlin boys won promotion under Urs Fisher with a solid foundation, boasting the 2. Bundesliga’s strongest backline that conceded nine strikes fewer than the next best side. But the opening encounter suggested Union could fall short as they step up in class against top-level opponents, even if Neven Subotic steps in at centre-back this weekend.
The visitors were far less stodgy when taking to the road during their promotion-winning campaign and it’s interesting to note 71% of Union’s games as guests last term saw both sides score. Fisher could unleash Anthony Ujah from the start here and his team have the tools to trouble Augsburg, with evidence pointing towards an enjoyable encounter.
BRITANNY BOYS BACKED TO AVOID DEFEAT
Rennes hit the headlines last Sunday night after securing a surprise 2-1 success over all-conquering Ligue 1 giants PSG at Roazhon Park. Les Rouge et Noir were good value for the victory, winning the shot count, landing more on-target attempts, as well as generating a higher Expected Goals (xG) figure on the night. The win was certainly no fluke.
Head coach Julian Stephan praised his team’s character and application after SRFC came from behind to triumph following a mix-up between goalkeeper Romain Salin and his defence gifted a simple opener to the capital club. However, M’Baye Niang’s smart finish and Romain Del Castillo’s header turned the tables on PSG as Rennes secured a famous win.
Sixteen-year-old prodigy Eduardo Camavinga continued his remarkable ascent with an assured and confident display in midfield, creating the winning goal and enjoying dominance in the centre of the park. Having broken into the Rennes side last season, the Angolan youngster is already subject of interest from Spurs following his headline displays.
Stephan is sure his Les Rouge et Noir outfit will have their feet back on the ground for Sunday’s trip to Strasbourg. The visitors endured an inconsistent 2018/19 campaign and tended to toil when well-fancied to pick up points on the road. Nevertheless, there’s an excellent opportunity for Rennes to make their mark this weekend.
Strasbourg were involved in Europa League qualification action on Thursday night, beating Eintracht Frankfurt in a testing battle in the French heat. Le Racing scored with their only on-target attempt and due to their early continental commitments, have already played seven competitive matches since the end of July, with signs of fatigue already showing.
Thierry Laurey’s team have failed to fire in the final third during their opening Ligue 1 outings, managing just three shots on-target against Reims and Metz, and the Alsace outfit have also only registered six league victories at their atmospheric Stade de la Meinau base since the beginning of last season, tabling two triumphs against top-13 teams.
With that in mind, Rennes can be supported with a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap line on Sunday afternoon. The well-rested visitors are looking to challenge the upper echelons of Ligue 1 in 2019/20 and the timing might be right for the Brittany boys to put down another statement performance as they bid to bag three victories from three.
- Over 2.5 Goals in Augsburg v Union Berlin 2 units @ 2.01
- Rennes +0.25 – 2 units @ 1.70