Atromitos v Levidiakos
Volos dealt a hard blow to Atromitos’ hopes of securing a playoff spot, as the hosts netted a stoppage-time goal to extend their lead on their seventh-placed opponents to 10 points. It has to be noted that the Greek Super League’s top-six secure qualification to the playoffs through which they could potentially secure a European spot following a split at the end of the regular season.
Yet, despite their 2-1 defeat at Volos, Atromitos still have chances to make the top-six, mainly due to Aris’ poor form. The sixth-placed Thessaloniki-based side are just six points ahead of Atromitos, who have one game in hand. Hence, should they beat second-bottom Levadiakos, Atromitos could potentially close the gap on Aris in event their opponents drop points away at an in-form OFI.
This could be Atromitos’ last chance to push for a playoffs spot, their game with Levadiakos being regarded as their easiest fixture until the end of the regular season. Atromitos may have registered just six wins this season, but five of them came on home soil.
They did lose away at Levadiakos back in October, but this was one of their upcoming rivals just two wins thus far. In fact, Atromitos have won all their last six home games against Levadiakos, who have yet to record a road win in 2022/23.
No team have managed fewer points than Levadiakos (three) away from home and no Greek side have lost more games (eight) than Jasmiko Velic’s men this season. There is no Greek Super League team, apart from bottom-placed Lamia, who haven’t managed to beat Levadiakos at least once per season.
Comparing the two squads, there is a big difference in quality and Chris Coleman’s team are aware than their Monday fixture against a poor Levadiakos side is the definition of a must-win game.
OFI v Aris
OFI and Aris are coming into Monday’s game in very different circumstances. The hosts have just grabbed one of their most comfortable victories this season, as they beat a struggling Lamia 4-1 on the road. Yet, OFI are a curious case, as they impress away from home but struggle in Heraklion. In fact, Valdas Dambrauskas’ side have managed 13 of their 23 points on the road, having scored just six of their 21 goals on home soil.
Averaging 0.5 goals per home game, OFI have been conceding an average of one goal per match when they play at the Theodoros Vardinogiannis. This means that they may be struggling to find the back of the net at home, but they are compact in defence too. Just two goals have been scored in OFI’s last four games on home soil, while the hosts have managed to net more than one goal in just one home match this season.
On Monday, they will take on a struggling Aris, who recently fired their second coach of the season and are in danger of missing out on playoff qualification if they don’t bounce back in the remaining games. Aris will travel to Crete in their bid to avoid defeat after being beaten in all their last four games.
They will prioritise keeping their first clean sheet in five games over taking risks against an in-form OFI. It’s a tricky game for Aris, who have been dreadful on the road this season. In fact, only four teams have managed more points on home soil than Aris, but only four teams have scored fewer goals than them away from home.
Aris are scoring 0.7 goals and conceding 1.1 goals per game on the road, while five of the last six games between the two teams have ended with under 2.5 goals scored and we should expect the same from Monday’s duel.
Chaves v Sporting
Rúben Amorim’s first full season in charge would see him lead Sporting to their first league title in 19 years, before following that up with another 85-point haul, a second-place finish, victory in the Supertaça and Taça da Liga, as well as a trip to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 for the first time in 13 years.
Those days are firmly in the rearview mirror now – Sporting currently sit fourth in the table, eight points away from Braga, and 10 away from Porto – and they are as close to Benfica as they are to 12th-placed Portimonense. They lost to lower-tier Varzim in the Taça de Portugal in October and fell to a 2-0 defeat to Porto in the Taça da Liga Final, before following that up with a 5-0 victory against Braga, a 1-0 win against Rio Ave and a 2-1 defeat to Porto.
They delivered another anemic performance midweek with 72% possession, 16 shots but just 2 on target, with the Lions unable to find a way past FC Midtyjlland’s defense before conceding the opener in the 77th minute to Emam Ashour, an Egyptian midfielder making his first-ever appearance at a European club. Sporting were able to escape with a 1-1 draw via a last-second goal from Sebastián Coates, and they will be looking to bounce back as they travel to Chaves on Monday before heading to Denmark on Thursday.
Six of Sporting’s last eight fixtures against Chaves have seen both teams score, the sole exceptions being a 1-0 win for Chaves in the Taça de Portugal on January 17, 2017 and a 2-0 win on August 27, 2022. The newly promoted side took the lead within the hour-mark via Steven Vitória and doubled it three minutes later from Juninho Vieira, securing their first-ever victory at the Estádio José Alvalade.
Having ended a three-year spell in the second tier, Vítor Campelos’ side currently find themselves ninth in the table, 13 points clear of the drop, and have impressed in their return to the top-flight, winning at Braga for the first time ever, beating Gil Vicente and Casa Pia before returning from the World Cup break with a 2-0 loss to Famalicão.
Three straight 1-1 draws to Paços de Ferreira, Arouca and Boavista would follow, with Chaves losing 2-1 to Vitória via a 97th-minute winner from Alisson Safira and beating Marítimo 2-1 before settling for a 0-0 draw at Vizela.
I’m expecting both sides to find the back of the net in what could be a high-scoring affair in Chaves. The Trasmontanos have been held scoreless on just four occasions since the start of October – two of those being draws – and they will be licking their chops against a Sporting side that is sinking further and further into crisis, but that nevertheless should have enough firepower to grab a goal in Chaves.
Pedro Porro’s departure has deprived them of one of their biggest attacking outlets, and it is becoming clearer and clearer that the 3-4-2-1 system that brought tremendous succession in Amorim’s first two years is no longer viable. Experienced leaders like Antonio Adán and Coates have shown uncharacteristic mistakes and potential signs of decline, and the team as a whole is struggling to convince.
Things could get worse before they get better, and I’m expecting them to have a tough time coming away with three points at the Estádio Municipal Eng. Manuel Branco Teixeira.
Getafe v Valencia
This relegation six-pointer sees two of La Liga’s bottom three come face to face in what was a battle for Europe only a couple of years ago. Now, Getafe coach Quique Sánchez Flores is under immense pressure, while Valencia have this week appointed former player Rubén Baraja as their new coach.
Baraja faces the tough task of ending a run of seven games without a win in LaLiga. When starting a new job in his career, his debut has had under 2.5 goals on four out of five occasions, and goals could be hard to come by here given that Valencia have scored just one goal in their last four matches.
Getafe, meanwhile, have the lowest xG in LaLiga to date this season, with 17.49. Borja Mayoral’s missed penalty against Rayo Vallecano last weekend only signified the attacking failures of this team this season, with Enes Ünal seven goals in 21 games making him the only player to have scored more than five.
With only 10 goals scored in 14 games by either of these two teams since the return of LaLiga after the World Cup, this Monday night encounter has a lot riding on it and will likely be another tense affair. Under 2.5 goals on this occasion seems almost inevitable.
Benfica v Boavista
Benfica have lost just one game all season – a 3-0 defeat to Braga on December 30 – and yet they find themselves out of two competitions, having failed to reach the Taça da Liga knockout round and losing on penalties to Braga in the Taça de Portugal quarterfinals after drawing 1-1.
They nevertheless bounced back with a 2-0 victory against Club Brugge, with João Mário breaking the deadlock from the spot in the 51st minute and and David Neres grabbing a goal off the bench to give them a two-goal lead going into the return match in Lisbon. Roger Schmidt’s side are now competing in just two competitions and will be looking to continue their stellar start to the campaign at the Estádio da Luz in the final fixture of the weekend’s matches.
They have dropped points just three times – a 0-0 draw to Vitória on October 1, a 3-0 loss to Braga and a 2-2 draw to Sporting on January 15 – and they currently sit five points clear of Porto and are chasing their first league title in four years.
On August 27, Benfica traveled to the Estádio do Bessa with Nicolás Otamendi unavailable due to suspension, with Schmidt opting to give 18-year-old António Silva his debut in central defense alongside Felipe Morato rather than trusting Jan Vertonghen with the start.
Vertonghen would leave for Anderlecht in the following days whilst Morato – who had locked down a starting spot alongside Otamendi in central defense – would score the opener in Benfica’s 3-0 win against Boavista and start alongside Otamendi in the following match, before missing the next few months due to injury and not playing a single league match until January 21.
António Silva had taken advantage of his absence and solidified his place in the line-up, with the teenager earning a maiden call-up for Portugal in the 2022 World Cup and emerging as a revelation in defense. Benfica boast the best attack in Portugal (51) as well as the joint-best defense (12), and have kept 20 clean sheets in all competitions including five of their last six, and they will be looking to continue their impressive form as they take on Boavista in Lisbon.
After a bright start to the campaign that saw them win five of their first seven, Boavista regressed with two draws and four defeats as well as a Taça de Portugal elimination to fourth-tier Machico, before returning from the World Cup break with a 1-0 win against Gil Vicente, a 1-0 defeat to Braga and a 1-1 draw to Chaves.
They closed out January with a 4-2 victory against Portimonense before drawing 2-2 to Santa Clara, losing 2-1 to Estoril Praia and drawing 0-0 to Casa Pia.
The Axadrezados have had a man sent off in four of their last eight league matches, and that lack of discipline could prove costly against a Benfica side that has proven efficient in front of goal and that will have a fully fit squad available at their disposal, with Gonçalo Ramos and Rafa Silva returning from injury and starting in their 2-0 win against Club Brugge.
The last five meetings between these two sides have seen Benfica open the scoring on each occasion with Benfica winning three, drawing 2-2 in the league and winning on penalties in the Taça da Liga after a 1-1 draw.
With the exception of that draw in the cup, 11 of Benfica’s last 13 matches against Boavista have featured over 2.5 goals, and I’m expecting something similar at the Luz. Expect Benfica to come away with a fairly high-scoring victory as they look to extend their stellar run of form against Petit’s side.
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