Borussia Monchengladbach v Freiburg
With just two wins in their seven Bundesliga games in 2023, Borussia Monchengladbach host Freiburg on Saturday with pressure already mounting on Daniel Farke. After an impressive win against Bayern Munich, which effectively brought Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig into the title race, Gladbach were defeated 4-0 at Mainz last weekend, a result that casted doubt on the future of Farke.
Conceding goals is certainly a problem for Borussia Monchengladbach. They’ve conceded 10 in their last three Bundesliga games and their task has been made far more difficult with the departure of Yann Sommer. Ko Itakura and Nico Elvedi is Farke’s preferred partnership but with neither particularly great in the air, Freiburg duo Michael Gregoritsch and Lucas Holer, who are excellent in the air, have the ability to cause problems. Gladbach’s issues are also evident when Jonas Omlin, their goalkeeper, was their third fastest player against Mainz, who converted 4 of their 7 chances on Friday.
In attack, Gladbach’s problem is that they can’t convert chances. Although they created 5 against Mainz, they scored 0. But only RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich create more than Gladbach’s average of 7 chances created per 90. Marcus Thuram will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season but if he wants potential suitors to take note, he has to start converting.
Freiburg meanwhile have just one defeat in their last six league games. They come into this weekend’s game following a 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen and sit just five points behind leaders Bayern Munich. Whilst unlikely they’ll be crowned champions come May, their incredible story continues and they’ll be eager to make sure it doesn’t end in Monchengladbach on Saturday.
Gladbach have only failed to score in 2 of their 11 home games this season but face difficult opposition in Freiburg. They have quality in their squad with Jonas Hofmann and Thuram and so chances will evidently be created. With fans on their back, they have to get a result against Freiburg. Christian Streich’s Freiburg have scored in six successive Bundesliga games and have only failed to score in 4 of their 22 Bundesliga games. Both Teams to Score looks like excellent value this weekend.
Hearts v St. Johnstone
Sitting third in the Premiership, Hearts will look to get back to winning ways on Saturday when they play host to St Johnstone at Tynecastle – and it is a match that is liable to produce goals.
Hearts have played 13 times at home in the league this season. In these matches, there have been a total of 51 goals – just one strike short of an average of exactly four. Indeed, only two of their previous matches in their capital home this season have failed to produce at least three strikes. When they met St Johnstone here back in the late days of August, they played out a 3-2 thriller, hinting at what might be to come on Saturday.
Saints, on the other hand, are considered to be a more conservative side, yet with 76 goals in their 27 league matches this season, they are averaging very close to three goals per game. Indeed, three of their last six in the league have seen over three goals. Those two that failed to see a trio of strikes all had two.
The head-to-head record of these sides, meanwhile, hints towards an entertaining affair. Each of the two previous games this season have finished 3-2 in Hearts’ favour, while the final game of last term between the clubs was a 2-1 home win for Saints.
Hearts’ tendency to be involved in exciting home matches as well as a string of exciting matches between the clubs suggests the odds of over 2.5 goals in this game are too big.
Ayr v Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Ayr have seen their title hopes in the Championship fade in recent weeks amid a string of disappointing results and on Saturday they will have their work cut out at home to turn things around against Inverness.
The Honest Men have failed to win any of their last four fixtures in normal time. This run started against league leaders Queen’s Park as they went down to a 2-0 defeat but continued alarmingly in the Scottish Cup against a poor Elgin outfit and saw them lose to Partick Thistle at home. Last weekend, the rot was stopped to some extent as they drew with Raith.
Ayr’s attack has stopped functioning in recent weeks, with no goals at all scored in their last three league matches. Meanwhile, their home record is unspectacular, with just five wins from 13 matches.
Inverness, meanwhile, are three without a win but the only team to beat them in their last 10 has been Hamilton, who have been a bogey opponent for them this season. Their most recent game saw them travel to Dundee, who were league leaders at that point, and earn a 1-1 draw. They have also held league leaders to Queen’s Park to a 0-0 draw since the turn of the year.
The final thing that suggests that Inverness should be backed to at least avoid defeat here is the head-to-head record. ICT have lost only one of the last nine between these clubs in the last three years.
Kelty Hearts v FC Edinburgh
The two sides promoted from League Two last season will meet at New Central Park on Saturday, with Kelty playing host to Edinburgh. Contrary to pre-season expectations, it has been the capital side who have flourished playing a division up, with Allan Maybury’s men chasing the promotion playoffs while Kelty are in a non-descript mid-table position.
The home side have struggled for squad depth in recent times and have moved to take a couple of young defenders on loan from Hearts and Hibs prior to the loan deadline this week but that is unlikely to have an impact on the starting XI, which is again set to be without experienced defenders Jason Thomson and Jordon Forster – a significant blow.
Meanwhile, Kelty have not shown any propensity to beat teams above them in the league. The last time they beat a team currently above them in the league was a shock 3-2 away win against Falkirk in October. It is one of only three victories they have achieved against the top six so far.
Edinburgh, meanwhile, have made it their speciality to pick off the league’s weaker teams. Although they recently experienced a four-game losing streak, three of these opponents are with them in the top four, while the other, full-time Queen of the South, have been their bete noire this season.
Edinburgh won 2-0 in Fife on the opening day of the season and followed that up with an identical success at home in October. The odds on them completing a hat-trick look tempting, but with such good value and much lower risk, double chance is the way to go here.
Dunfermline v Alloa
Dunfermline may lead League One by a healthy five-point margin, but the Pars have rarely found playing at home easy this season. Although the Fife side remains undefeated at East End Park in the league, they have drawn precisely half their games at the venue and are unlikely to find life much easier against Alloa on Saturday.
James McPake’ side have been steady rather than spectacular this season, often winning games by low margins. Indeed, they have picked up only three wins all season by three goals or more, which is remarkable for a team of their standing. More common have been 1-0 or 2-0 victories, which account for 10 of their 16 wins.
Certainly, they have not found life too easy against Alloa at home in their previous two meetings. They lost on penalties in the League Cup group stages after a 1-1 draw and got lucky with a cross that found the net in a 1-0 league win back in August.
Alloa, meanwhile, come into this game off the back of four successive league matches that have seen under three goals. Three of these matches finished 1-0 to the home team. Alloa have played strong opponents in this time, twice facing Falkirk, who are the most in-form team in the league.
Similarly, each of Dunfermline’s last four in the league have produced exactly two goals. These are not exciting teams to watch right now.
With the Pars’ 12 home fixtures having produced only 28 goals, there is little reason to expect this will produce an exciting flurry. Back under 2.5 at a price above evens looks very attractive indeed.
Annan v Stenhousemuir
Both Annan and Stenhousemuir started the season at quite a lick in front of goal, yet both clubs have become more pragmatic in recent weeks as they look to tie down top-four finishes. For this reason, a game in the style of the 2-2 draw that the clubs played out in October should not be anticipated.
From Stenhousemuir’s perspective, the sharp change in the number of goals in their game has largely been down to a change of manager. Gary Naysmith took over from Steven Swift and has set about making his team far more difficult to beat. He has been successful in this endeavour as they have lost only two of their last nine in all competitions, including a loss to Premiership Livingston in the Scottish Cup.
Stenhousemuir’s improvement has come with the trade off that they are not so exciting to watch. Not one of their last seven league matches has produced more than two goals and each of their last couple has been decided by a single strike.
Annan have cooled down less than their opponents, though last weekend it took a couple of late goals to defeat Albion Rovers away from home, while the 2-2 draw against Stirling a week previous was conditioned by their opponents going down to 10 men early.
The Borderers have typically been scoring a couple of goals a game but will find that difficult against an opponent in such fine defensive form. Having only conceded five goals themselves in their last six matches, this is likelier to be a cagier game than billed – and that makes the odds tempting.
Kortrijk v Sporting Charleroi
Kortrijk may well be four points above the relegation zone but they are far from assured a prolonged stay in the Pro League.
Coach Bernd Storck has to improvise at the back with two of his three starting centre-backs out for this one. Fortunately, he can rely on Togolese David Henen, who plays an important role out on the right flank in Kortrijk’s 3-5-2. He has played in all of their last three games and they have gone unbeaten in all three.
Charleroi have made strides forward since Felice Mazzu returned to the club. They have pulled clear of the drop zone and now sit in tenth, where a win will take them into the play-off positions. The Zebras rely on their defensive solidity for results, and with Kortrijk liking to take possession of the ball, the way this game should set out is fairly obvious.
Kortrijk may not have many creative players considering their preference for having the ball, but the two they do have, Selemani and Kadri have both contributed goals and assists in their last three games.
Both teams have been playing well lately, but Kortrijk’s unbeaten record at home since Storck came in, despite facing Genk and Anderlecht gives them the edge. Charleroi are winless in four away games now, and this is another tough away game to try and break that streak. Kortrijk Double Chance looks like excellent value.
Almeria v Villareal
Almería have had a very Jekyll and Hyde season since returning to the top division last summer, as they have been excellent at home but very poor away. Of their 25 points, only three of them were picked up on their travels, while the other 22 were won at their Power Horse Stadium, including last weekend when they defeated Barcelona 1-0.
By earning 1.83 points per game at home and 0.27 points per game away, the difference is 1.56. That is by far the largest difference between home and away form in the division, as there is no other side averaging more than a full point per game more at home compared to on the road. So, it’s great news for the Almería fans that they’re at home again this weekend, and with almost a complete squad available to boot, as Gonzalo Melero is the only injury doubt.
Plus, their opponents Villarreal aren’t in particularly good form. Although they scraped a 2-1 win against relegation zone side Getafe on Monday, Quique Setién’s side had lost their previous four LaLiga matches. It’s just one away victory from the Yellow Submarine’s past 10 LaLiga road trips, so they really won’t be looking forward to this match at a stadium where everybody is struggling.
Backing Almería this Saturday is particularly intriguing considering there are surprisingly high odds for any kind of bet on the in-form home team.
Estoril v Vizela
Estoril Praia finished atop the Portuguese second division in 2020/21, four points clear of Vizela and five clear of Arouca, with Bruno Pinheiro following up promotion and a run to the Taça de Portugal semi-finals in his first season with an impressive ninth-place finish. Vizela and Arouca, on the other hand, weathered a relegation fight and secured their top-flight status on the penultimate day of the campaign in what would be Vizela’s first Primeira season in 36 years and the second in their 84-year history.
Pinheiro departed Estoril at the end of the campaign, with ex Benfica B manager Nélson Veríssimo taking charge, having led Benfica to a third-place finish and a run to the Champions League quarter finals after taking charge on an interim basis midway through the 2021/22 campaign. Since retiring from playing in 2012, Veríssimo had spent a decade in a variety of roles at Benfica, and at 45 years of age, he was going to be taking on his first-ever role as a permanent manager.
His adventure in Cascais began with a 2-0 victory against Famalicão, with the club enjoying several other impressive results such as a 1-1 draw to Porto, a 3-0 win at Paços de Ferreira, and a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente, but when they looked set to close out December by hosting Boavista, the electricity went out at Estoril’s Estádio António Coimbra da Mota, and the game was postponed for February 9. The lights would soon go out in Veríssimo’s reign as the club lost 2-0 at Arouca, beat Casa Pia 2-0, lost 1-0 to Marítimo, Famalicão, Vitória, beat Boavista 2-1 and lost 2-0 to Rio Ave.
A 3-1 defeat to last-placed Paços de Ferreira was the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Veríssimo receiving the sack and Estoril falling to a 2-0 defeat to Sporting in the following match. They will be looking to kick off March with a successful result under new manager Ricardo Soares, who led Gil Vicente to a fifth-place finish and a first-ever European qualification last season, only to leave for Al Ahly in June, where he would last just two months before getting the sack as the Egyptian giants finished outside the top two for the first time in 30 years.
Soares returns to management six months later with the task of guiding Estoril Praia to safety. Estoril 15th in the table, four points behind Gil Vicente, Chaves, Portimonense, and Vizela, as well as six above Marítimo in the relegation playoff spot, seven above Santa Clara, and 10 above Paços de Ferreira, and they will be looking to kick off Saturday’s action in the Primeira Liga with an impressive result against Vizela at the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota, but they face a tall task as they look to come away with three points.
Vizela. Apart from their losses to Benfica, Porto and Sporting, Vizela have enjoyed an impressive run of form under new manager Tulipa, closing out December with a 3-0 win against Vitória and opening the year with a 2-1 loss to Famalicão. Apart from defeats to Porto and Sporting, Vizela have fared well in recent weeks, beating Marítimo 3-1 and Rio Ave 3-1, before drawing 0-0 to Chaves, 1-1 to Gil Vicente and losing 2-0 to Benfica at the weekend.
They are going up against an Estoril side that is on the brink of falling into a relegation scrap, and whilst they will be without Brazilian defender Anderson due to suspension, they have more than enough firepower to escape Cascais with at least a point.
Austria Lustenau v Sturm Graz
After a tough loss to LASK off the back of a highly controversial penalty call, Lustenau will look to keep their top six hopes alive with a result at home to second-placed Sturm, as Bryan Teixeira is set to feature against his former club. The Lustenau defence has been airtight in the last two games, and they were desperately unlucky to concede after a shocking refereeing error gifted their hosts a stoppage time spot-kick last Friday.
That aside, Markus Mader’s team have been well-drilled and disciplined at the back lately, helping them to win their last two at home without conceding. Keeper Domenik Schierl has played a big part in that too with some fine form between the posts, and the main issue for Lustenau is that they’re looking somewhat toothless when they reach the final third. A suspension to their last match winner Lukas Fridrikas doesn’t help the home team in that regard.
Sturm slipped up against Klagenfurt last weekend, and they’ve actually won just two of their last five in the Bundesliga, falling further away from Salzburg at the top. Injuries to William Boeving, Albian Ajeti, Otar Kiteishvili and Jakob Jantscher have blunted the impact of a team who already thrive off a strong defence rather than all-out attacking prowess.
Top scorer Emanuel Emegha only has four goals this season, and he still looks like a raw talent at 20 years old, and although nearly everyone in the squad has scored once this season, the lack of a dependable strike partnership is now starting to hurt this talented team.
After an uncharacteristic switch-off at the back last time, Christian Ilzer will demand that his team tighten up at the back on Saturday, and with few reliable forwards on either team, we expect a low-scoring encounter in Lustenau.
Ried v Austria Vienna
Bottom club Ried welcome Austria Vienna to the Josko Arena on Saturday, as the hosts aim to move off the foot of the table and the guests hope to take a step closer to a place in the top six. The Austrian Bundesliga is traditionally a high-scoring league, but at this stage of the season, with the split approaching quickly, the games have become closer and more cagey overall.
Despite Ried getting rid of Christian Heinle and installing new coach Maximilian Senft this week, he’s still going to find a worrying lack of firepower up-front, with the Upper Austrians the league’s lowest scorers by far.
The attacking presence of Leo Mikic and Stefan Nutz hasn’t rewarded Ried as much as it used to this season, and Seifeddin Chabbi has been unable to make the most of the one quick glimpse at goal he seems to get every week. The defence on the other hand has done its job fairly well, and often it gives the team a platform by keeping things tight, if only they could find the net.
Austria haven’t won away from home since winning the Vienna derby back in October, but they have a great chance to break that run here. Coach Michael Wimmer has proven to be a home specialist too, so he will want to get the points on the road, and he’ll be hoping that in-form striker Haris Tabakovic can make his physical presence pay off in the area.
With Dominik Fitz still not match fit, the Swiss forward is lacking an effective strike-partner and a regular chance creator. Austria have drawn a blank in their last two away fixtures and they’ve lost in two fairly recent games at Ried; although they’ll be the favourites before the game, we can see the hosts making life hard for them, leading to another low-scoring match.
Atalanta v Udinese
Both of these teams have seen their form slip in recent weeks after very positive spells at the beginning of 2023, particularly for Atalanta. Some of the results have started to creep back in for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, such as the loss at home to Lecce. La Dea have lost three of their last five in the league.
It is mainly the fact that they are at home that will concern the Atalanta fans. Their home form has been poor for a very long time. In the away results table, they sit in second with 24 points. In the home table, they are down in eighth, five points behind Bologna in seventh.
Their tendency to fall behind or even just concede at home means that it is not silly to back Udinese to find the back of the net at some point in the game. They have been involved in a couple of 2-2 draws lately and should have scored more than just the one goal against Inter on Matchday 23.
That being said, you can never confidently say that Atalanta won’t score and whilst Rasmus Hojlund and Ademola Lookman may have struggled in the past two or three weeks, they look to be a constant threat and one that will surely breach the Friulian’s defence.
Winterthur v Young Boys
Winterthur continue to plug away and pick up points in the quest for Super League survival in their first season back since 1986. Only one defeat in five games is far from bad form, however, Winti have only picked up one win in that time and drew the rest including two against the two teams directly above them in the table.
The problem now is that FC Zurich are improving each week and picking up victories to leave Winti at the bottom. On the plus side, Sion are always struggling to put more than a point on the board in each game too. It is pretty appropriate then that the two are locked level at the bottom.
The home side face the ominous task of keeping runaway league leaders YB at bay in Round 23. They will be buoyed by the 1-1 draw earned in Geneva away to Servette at the weekend, but they have not enjoyed any of the previous two matches against YB this season and despite Winti’s strong home record, losing only once and winning four of the last six on their own patch, they shipped five goals to YB at Schutzenwiese back in late August in a 5-1 defeat. That scoreline was repeated in Bern at the end of January too.
YB have stuttered domestically as of late, perhaps complacency is natural given their strong lead, but they bounced back from draws against Lugano and Zurich to trounce neighbours Thun in the Swiss Cup quarter-final in midweek. It is clear that the champions-elect are by far and away the best side in the country and they have a fantastic opportunity to return to winning ways in the league when they visit the team at the bottom of the standings.
YB has had Winterthur’s number so far this season and I don’t think that’ll change on Saturday. The last two league results weren’t YB at their best, but Lugano are a top-half side challenging for Europe and Zurich are improving and won’t finish down at the bottom where they currently sit. Winterthur don’t score often enough and concede too many, as evidenced in those two games against the Bernese side, to trouble Raphael Wicky’s men.
*Bet links only appear when accessing from mobile.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Haven’t got a Betfair account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Betfair and get £30 in free football bet builders when you place a £10 football bet on the Betfair Sportsbook. Here are the two possible outcomes: