Panathinaikos v Panetolikos
Although they didn’t celebrate their 0-0 draw away at Olympiacos on Sunday, Panathinaikos are aware that they should be happy they avoided defeat in Piraeus despite producing one of their worst derby performances this season. Panathinaikos took advantage of Olympiacos’ lack of a clinical touch in front of goal to keep their 15th clean sheet across all competitions this season and remained top of the league table, two points ahead of AEK Athens, who have one game in hand.
Only AEK Athens (11) have conceded fewer goals than Panathinaikos (12) this season, while Ivan Jovanovic’s side have allowed in just one goal and kept three clean sheets in their last four games. The game against Panetolikos will be the easiest home duel of the remainder of the season, as there are just two games to go until the playoffs.
Panetolikos will travel to Athens after keeping two clean sheets in their last two games against second-bottom Levadiakos and third-bottom Ionikos. However, they’ve struggled whenever they faced a Big-4 (Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK) team so far this season. In fact, Panetolikos have lost all their seven games against the aforementioned four teams, scoring just two goals and failing to net in five of those matches.
Panetolikos may have been recently trashed away at Olympiacos (6-1) and AEK Athens (4-1), but Panathinaikos have scored more than two goals in just two home games thus far, averaging 1.4 goals on home soil in 2022/23. Meanwhile, Panetolikos may have scored 16 goals in 12 away games, but Panathinaikos have conceded just six times on home soil – three of these goals coming in their 3-0 loss to PAOK.
Panathinaikos know how to grab professional victories, as they have repeatedly demonstrated this season. To do so, they will opt for a closed game which should not be expected to feature many goals. It has to be noted that all their home games this season have ended with under 3.5 goals scored.
AaB v FC Midtjylland
It is bottom versus top as AaB take on FC Midtjylland at home Monday evening. It is a must win match for both sides, but with the guests as favourites.
The home side has been a disaster this season. They have started the spring with two defeats and have eight between them and survival. Despite being one of the larger Danish clubs historically, nothing works for AaB these days, and the morale in the team is low. Stories about players being unhappy with head coach Erik Hamrén have been flowing, and anonymous players even complained to the media about Hamrén’s old school methods. AaB did beat Viborg 2-0 in the Cup quarterfinal Thursday evening, but the tough match could even mean that their players are slightly less rested than their opponents.
Midtjylland suffered a defeat last Monday at home to Brøndby, and they are now outside of the top six. However, FCM are still off to a decent start to the spring. They demolished arch rivals Viborg 4-0 in the opener, and they delivered a good performance against Sporting CP in the Conference League. Head coach Albert Capellas is really starting to leave his mark, and Midtjylland have climbed the table steadily since he took over. Midtjylland are a much stronger team on paper, and despite the recent defeat to Brøndby, they are travelling to Aalborg with plenty of confidence.
It is never easy to play in Aalborg, but Midtjylland enter this match as favourites. The Black Wolves are a significantly better football team than AaB, and with all the chaos at the home side, we expect FC Midtjylland to leave with three points. Odds 1.95 at Betfair Sportsbook is more than alright for FCM to win.
Dundalk v Shelbourne
Now, hear me out…..With Dundalk winning 5-0 at home to St. Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night it may seem strange for me to suggest that we might not see too many goals in this Monday night fixture but I’ll be shocked if I witness a worse display from any team this season than what Pats turned out on Friday.
Dundalk fans may not admit it, but the Lilywhites didn’t even have to play that well to put the Saints to the sword with their first two goals coming from set-pieces while the third was a goalkeeping calamity. Pats were punished for trying to play out from the back while Dundalk simply appeared to want it more which is very concerning from a Pats point of view.
Damien Duff’s Shelbourne will be no such pushovers. The Reds are one of the most unpleasant teams in the league to play against with Duff having them really well organised and hard to beat. Scoring goals has been a big problem for them but a 1-0 win in a fiery Dublin derby against Bohemians last time will have been a big confidence booster.
The last two H2H meetings between Dundalk and Shelbourne resulted in scoreless draws while Dundalk needed a late winner to overcome a dogged Shelbourne here last season. The other meeting at Tolka park ended 1-1 early on in the 2022 season.
Shelbourne’s first three games of the season have ended 0-0, 1-0 (loss), and 1-0 (win), that loss to St. Pat’s was a bit of a robbery in truth but you can see exactly what sort of team Shelbourne are from such scorelines.
Shamrock Rovers v Cork City
Not many would have predicted champions Shamrock Rovers still being winless after the opening three matches but ill-discipline and poor decision-making has cost the Hoops dearly.
Pico Lopes’ red card for lashing out in Sligo followed by some composure-less late defending saw Shamrock Rovers throw away a lead late on in the opening game of the season while TWO red cards in Drogheda again led to Rovers conceding at the death in game week two.
With Rovers three first choice centre backs all suspended for the visit of title rivals Derry City last Friday, the Champions were punished as the Candystripes inflicted a first Tallaght Stadium defeat on Shamrock Rovers in over a year (2-1).
Despite having two midfielders and a full-back making up their back three on Friday, Rovers still carried plenty of attacking threat and were the better team in the opening forty-five minutes against Derry. Some tactical tweaks by the away side in the second-half helped Derry to put more pressure on the makeshift Rovers defence with Jamie McGonigle netting the winner.
With Lee Grace and Daniel Cleary returning from suspension, Shamrock Rovers look to have a good opportunity to bounce back at home to Cork City on Monday night.
Newly promoted City also got off to a slow start this season with back-to-back defeats but Friday’s 4-0 thumping of relegation favourites UCD will have boosted morale. It goes without saying, UCD and Shamrock Rovers are entirely different propositions especially away from home.
A better barometer of Cork’s chances in this game is how they performed away to title challengers Derry City recently. While Cork troubled Derry on the counterattack at times, they were punished for defensive mistakes that you just can’t afford to make at this level and with Shamrock Rovers out for blood after a lacklustre start to the season, it’s hard to see Cork getting anything from this one.
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