Mark O'Haire
5 months ago - 8 minute read

Mark O’Haire – Sticking To The Continent This Weekend

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

Back-to-back full houses are just what the doctor ordered ahead of the campaign’s conclusion and I’m back on the continental trail again this weekend, searching for more value winners. Ligue 1 on Friday night and Serie A on Sunday morning taking centre-stage.

GET WITH THE GOALS IN TUSCAN DERBY

Having seen his side surrender a one-goal half-time lead at Bologna, Empoli boss Aurelio Andreazzoli admitted his team are running out of opportunities to secure Serie A survival. The Azzurri’s 3-1 reverse last weekend has left the Tuscans four points adrift of safety with four tricky looking ties to come, starting with a derby date against regional rivals Fiorentina.

Andreazzoli bemoaned his team’s profligate finishing, slapstick defending, the referee and his squad’s injuries in a post-match rant. Having enjoyed great success in his first stint with the club, the Empoli boss has been unable to stem the bleeding of the Azzurri’s downturn in results since mid-December (W3-D4-L12) having arrived in March on a rescue mission.

Nevertheless, 11 of the 13 points accrued during that 19-game slump were earned at their Stadio Carlo Castellani base and the hosts actually ranked in mid-table when viewing results at home across the full campaign. A return to familiar territory will aid Empoli’s battle against the drop and they could be capable of taking advantage of a directionless Viola.

Vincenzo Montella is back at the helm in Florence.

Returning Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella confessed his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Sassuolo on Monday night was “not worthy” of the famous club. Jordan Veretout had a penalty save but La Viola were dominated throughout the contest and the former Italy star didn’t hold back in his post-match assessments.

The visitors head to their Tuscan neighbours having picked up just three triumphs from 17 on their league travels this term, offering Empoli a great opportunity to clinch maximum points. However, the more appealing play is to support a goal-heavy game, with Over 2.5 Goals available at 1.72.

Empoli’s encounters are averaging 3.21 goals with 24/34 (71%) beating the two-goal line – including 20 of their past 24. Meanwhile, 14 (41%) games have even broken the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. At the Stadio Carlo Castellani, the Azzurri have seen 3.35 goals-per-game with the hosts seeing 12/17 (71%) matches produce successful Both Teams To Score bets.

No Serie A side has kept fewer clean sheets than Empoli’s tally of four, whilst 12 of Fiorentina’s 17 away trips have produced profitable BTTS selections, suggesting it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the two involved in a high-scoring shootout on Sunday.

YOU’D BE MAD TO SUPPORT MARSEILLE

Having fought back from liquidation and relegation to the fifth tier in 2011, Strasbourg’s remarkable renaissance continues to bedazzle French football fans. Back-to-back titles brought Le Racing back into Ligue 1 last season for the first time since 2008 and after securing survival on the penultimate weekend, the Alsace outfit have continued to surge.

The thought of playing in Europe would have been a dumbfounding dream for Strasbourg supporters throughout the last decade.

After being relegated in 2008, the club plunged down the divisions amid spiralling debts. They resumed business as fifth-tier amateurs in 2011 but less than a decade later Le Racing will be competing in the Europa League.

It’s all down to their versatile and intelligent head coach, Thierry Laurey. Building the club’s success on vigilance, adaptability and pragmatism, Laurey insists his players are well drilled and organised, yet fluid and capable of achieving results by varying means; his approach has led the way to a remarkable Coupe de la Ligue title success earlier in 2019.

Sitting on the cusp of the top-half, Strasbourg don’t have a huge amount left to play for this term but don’t expect the Alsace club to roll over, particularly at their boisterous Stade de la Meinau home. Le Racing have been one of Ligue 1’s greatest entertainers in 2018/19 and their effervescent approach should again lead us towards an entertaining encounter.

Strasbourg Manager Thierry Laurey has been a revelation as top dog with Strasbourg

Strasbourg have built their solid foundations upon a competitive W13-D13-L10 record at their Stade de la Meinau base since returning to Ligue 1 and the hosts will be no easy meat for Marseille on Friday night. The visitors have claimed only six triumphs on their travels this term and make no appeal at skinny prices.

Downright deserved, Marseille no longer have a shot at playing Champions League football next season. Rudi Garcia’s group are eight points adrift of third-place with only four fixtures to play; yes Les Olympiens still meet Lyon before the campaign concludes, but there’s little positivity surrounding the club and only a glimmer of hope around the Stade Velodrome.

Change is desperately needed around Marseille with a dying project and a patchy squad.

The fallen giants are easily opposed here and Strasbourg hold plenty of appeal at 1.93 to avoid defeat with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start. The hosts have suffered a sole defeat in seven against the top-eight this term and held Lille and PSG to home and away draws.

However, I’m also keen to support Over 2.5 Goals at 1.93. Collectively, the pair have delivered 22/34 (65%) winners in this market when viewing their respective home/away records, whilst 24/34 (71%) fixtures also returned profit for Both Teams To Score backers. The pair have kept only six clean sheets in that sample and scored in 30/34 (88%).

Recommended Bets

  • Over 2.5 Goals in Empoli v Fiorentina 4 units @ 1.72
  • Strasbourg +0.50 – 2 units @ 1.93
  • Over 2.5 Goals in Strasbourg v Marseille 2 units @ 1.93