Hertha Berlin v RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig come into their Bundesliga clash against Hertha Berlin full of confidence after dumping Borussia Dortmund out of the German Cup in midweek. It was a win of huge importance for Marco Rose’s side who had lost four of their last five games across all competitions prior to beating Dortmund. With an away game in Berlin, RB Leipzig find themselves two points behind fourth place Freiburg as they look to secure Champions League football for the coming season.
Their 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night was arguably one of their best of the season. Excellent in the press, hungry and well-organised, Mohamed Simakan, Konrad Laimer and Timo Werner all played an exceptional role, and that’s bad news for Hertha Berlin.
RB Leipzig have failed to score in their last two Bundesliga games from a total of 32 shots and an xG of 3. Werner’s goal against Borussia Dortmund will certainly give the German forward some confidence with after scoring just four goals in 14 games across all competitions prior to Wednesday’s game. In the absence of Christopher Nkunku, who hasn’t played since March 3, it’s important that Werner imposes himself on the game and against a Hertha side that has conceded nine goals in their last four games, he may not get a better opportunity to find his form as we enter the latter stages of the season.
As for Hertha Berlin, they occupy the relegation playoff and are three points behind Hoffenheim who occupy 15th. Their game against European football chasing RB Leipzig may already seem a write off with their upcoming games against Schalke and Werder Bremen far more important in their relegation battle. With RB Leipzig playing midweek, Hertha have had a full week of preparation in this fixture but despite picking up a point at Freiburg last weekend, they looked disorganised throughout.
With a combined 32 shots in their last two Bundesliga games, chances will certainly be aplenty against Hertha Berlin, who have just one clean sheet in 11 league games in 2023. RB Leipzig’s win against Borussia Dortmund came at an important moment in their season, and you would certainly expect them to beat a struggling Hertha Berlin squad.
Real Sociedad v Getafe
Real Sociedad vs Getafe has all the makings of a low-scoring game, as we’ll see a home team that loves slow and patient possession football against an away team that doesn’t mind sitting deep and putting men behind the ball to stifle play. These tactics have worked well for Getafe in recent times, as they haven’t lost any of their past three meetings with Real Sociedad and drew last season’s visit to the Reale Arena 0-0.
Getafe adopted this exact approach when they visited the division’s other Basque side last weekend, as they went to Bilbao to take on Athletic Club and escaped with another goalless draw. As they return north this weekend, they’ll look to play the exact same way against a Real Sociedad side that is struggling to score, with just three goals scored in their past seven matches.
Looking at the overall goals stats from this season, the average Real Sociedad game produces just 2.26 total goals and the average Getafe game produces the same total of 2.26 goals. There are only three teams in LaLiga with lower averages than that this season.
That means we should expect under 2.5 goals in this one, something that has happened in 77 percent of Real Sociedad’s home games this season and something that has happened in 62 percent of Getafe’s away games.
Torino v AS Roma
Roma’s previous game against Torino threw up entertainment and twists, with Nemanja Matic scoring a 94th-minute leveller for the Giallorossi after ex-Toro forward Andrea Belotti had missed a penalty just a few minutes earlier. Then, Karol Linetty headed the Granata ahead and they had looked good.
Torino can be tricky opponents for anybody under Ivan Juric this season, and Roma’s issues in front of goal has shot them in the foot a number of times this season and isn’t helping them in pursuit of a top-four finish.
Tammy Abraham has had more than his share of problems, as has Andrea Belotti. Paulo Dybala has been their only guarantee, but has carved out chance after chance only to see his teammates go and miss. Both have defensive strengths though and Roma don’t give up too much under Jose Mourinho – not that it comes as much of a surprise.
It’s hard to pick a winner here as Toro are more than capable of upsetting the odds, despite Roma making the trip north as favourites. A low-scoring affair should await though, and under 2.5 goals or a no on both teams to score should be safe enough picks.
Portimonense v Rio Ave
On October 24, 2022, Rio Ave faced off against Portimonense at home, with the visitors going down to 10 men within a half-hour as Fahd Moufi was dismissed, whilst Andreas Samaris set up Emmanuel Boateng’s goal before the interval to secure a 1-0 victory for Rio Ave. It was yet another low-scoring fixture between the two sides (the previous match in 2021 had produced a goalless draw), and it was a sign of things to come for both teams. Portimonense have scored 18 goals and conceded 33, combining for 51 in total, the second-fewest in the Primeira after Casa Pia (50). Rio Ave have the joint-third-fewest with 52 alongside Vitória, scoring 25 goals and conceding 29.
Apart from a 2-1 win against Gil Vicente on March 12, 15 of Rio Ave’s 16 last matches have featured under 2.5 goals, the other exception being a 3-1 loss at Vizela on January 29. These include a 2-0 defeat to Braga, 1-0 losses to Sporting and Porto and a 1-0 loss to Benfica at the weekend. It doesn’t matter if they’re going up against one of the nation’s top sides or a team fighting relegation (as seen in their recent 2-0 win against Santa Clara) – Rio Ave are typically a safe bet for low-scoring fixtures.
Whilst Rio Ave will enter this match on the back of three consecutive victories, Portimonense will enter this one on the back of five consecutive defeats — all of which saw them fail to find the back of the net. Paulo Sérgio’s side sit seven points clear of the relegation playoff spot and will be looking to give themselves some breathing room with a much-needed result. Expect them to focus on shoring up the backline and getting a point against a Rio Ave side that sits 14 points clear and have all but sealed their top-flight status. Expect a low-scoring fixture in the Algarve.
PSV v Excelsior
PSV can sense an opportunity to finish above Ajax. Champions League qualification (for the play-offs) for the beginning of next season would add shine to what has been a relatively disappointing campaign for PSV which promised so much. They may still go on to win the Dutch Cup, though, too, but even a semi-final against fourth-tier opposition looked a tricky affair, coming away with a narrow 1-2 victory.
Ruud van Nistelrooy has at least overseen an improvement in his side recently in terms of goal-scoring, and at home, they have been particularly imperious, scoring five against Cambuur, three versus Twente, and putting six past Groningen. In my view, this can be put down to the return to fitness of Luuk de Jong, the rise of Johan Bakayoko from the right wing, and Xavi Simons continuing his fine campaign.
As for relegation-threatened Excelsior, it will be a toss-up between them and Emmen for the final relegation play-off place at the end of the season. A 4-1 win over Cambuur aside, Excelsior have really struggled to score goals in 2023, failing to score in six of their last eight in the league.
Excelsior don’t have the resilience nor strength of character, in my view, to surprise PSV, hence why I think taking this handicap is a likely win.
AA Gent v Union St Gilloise
With the arrival of Union, KAA Gent await perhaps what could be the most difficult match of the regular competition. This is followed by an away match against KV Mechelen and a concluding home match against Oostende.
Gent are two points ahead of Club Brugge in the standings and if they don’t want to fall out of that top four two matchdays before the end, it is essential to win against second in the league.
Hein Vanhaezebrouck could not count on Piatkowski last week against Seraing and so midfielder Castro-Montes was in the three-man defence to replace Michael Ngadeu, who left for China. In attack however, Vanhaezebrouck has an easy time on the selection front. The Cuypers-Orban duo guarantees goals in recent weeks. Certainly the latter is in superb form. Since the Nigerian made his debut on 11 February 2023. e has scored more often than any other player in the top-10 European leagues.
Union are still in contention for the title. Like Gent, they are also still playing European football, so both teams could be daring to rotate. Up front, however, Union can rely on man-in-form Boniface. He is expected to start, as is winger Lapoussin. The latter is the player with the most successful dribbles in the Pro League.
Gent scored at least three goals in each of the last three Jupiler Pro League matches (2-6 against Zulte Waregem, 3-0 against Eupen and 0-5 against Seraing). Union can present equally punishing statistics. They managed to score in the past 28 league games. This good form from both teams makes us confident of goals from both sides.
Lazio v Juventus
Lazio won’t want to have their 3-0 humbling against Juventus earlier this season in their minds as they welcome the Old Lady to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening for the weekend’s standout game, but it will be hard for them to put it to the back of their minds. This game is a straight shootout to be the best of the rest in Italy as Napoli storm toward their first title in 33 years.
As interesting as it might be, it’s not likely to be a thriller that has you on the edge of your seat as we have two of Italy’s best three defences facing off. Lazio have leaked just 19 goals in Serie A this season – the best record in the top flight – and Juventus’ 22 is bettered by only Maurizio Sarri’s men and champions-to-be Napoli’s 20.
As well, neither team are purring in front of goal. Ciro Immobile has been injured and even when fit hasn’t been in his usual form, while Juventus are a side lacking a striker that fits their system as Duvan Vlahovic has struggled in his second season at the Allianz Stadium under Massimiliano Allegri.
Both sides, though, have the ability to score goals from midfield, but their defensive excellence is likely to prevail here and a low-scoring affair is probable in the Eternal City.
Heerenveen v Volendam
In each of their last eight games, Heerenveen have scored at least once. In a mixed bag of results, Sydney van Hooijdonk’s goals – five in his last four games – are helping his side stay in contention for the European play-offs. Heerenveen are currently ninth, and it is likely that eighth or higher will be enough for a play-off place this season.
I do think that the Frisians have been a bit better recently after it had seemed their great start to the season was slipping away.
Both teams to score would be a good bet here given Heerenveen’s decent form but their defence is still a little leakier since Andries Noppert’s injury leaving second choice goalkeeper Xavier Mous to deputise.
Volendam were incredibly lucky last Sunday to get a point at Utrecht. A 0-0 draw did not tell the full story as three goals were chalked off by VAR in Volendam’s favour. They didn’t see much of the ball and they sat in with their back five. I think they will try that tactic again here, with Henk Veerman coming up against his former club. With Volendam’s set-up I don’t see how they can get much pace in behind Heerenveen’s marauding full-backs, which is why I am backing a home win.
Royal Pari v The Strongest
Royal Pari have a new manager in Roberto Mosquera who was at the helm during the club’s 2018-2019 successful spell. At home their record is mixed this year, two wins, a draw, and a defeat. The Strongest for their part have come out of the blocks flying this season, with five wins and a draw to their name. Aside from this they notably not only beat but thoroughly outplayed Argentina giants River Plate 3-1 on Tuesday night in their Libertadores debut, albeit at high altitude. Their recent away form is also impressive, two wins and two draws.
The Strongest lead the head-to-head 11-3 (notably these two have never drawn) and more importantly leads the series in Santa Cruz 4-2.
Royal Pari have also recently incorporated Luis Eduardo Demiquel and Juan Carlos Zampieri which could make them more consolidated, however, the likelihood is as long as The Strongest they use their first team should secure a win.
Braga v Estoril Praia
It is shaping up to be a historic campaign for Artur Jorge’s Braga, who sit third in the league table and find themselves five points above Sporting, two behind Porto, and 12 behind Benfica. After opening the month with a 2-1 win at Chaves, the Arsenalistas will be looking to grab their 20th league win of the season against Estoril Praia, and they will do so in the knowledge that a win combined with a Porto loss at Benfica will see Braga move into second place with just seven matches remaining. They will follow that up with a visit to second-tier Nacional in the Taça de Portugal semifinals, before playing Gil Vicente, Casa Pia, Nacional and closing out April with a visit from Portimonense. Braga are not only chasing a fourth Taça de Portugal title and a first in three years, but a return to the Champions League for the third time in club history and the first since 2012/13. Finishing second will see them qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage, whilst a third-place finish will see them advance to the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
Apart from a 0-0 draw against Porto on March 19, Braga have enjoyed an immaculate run of form at home this season, dropping points on just three occasions at the Pedreira – a 0-1 loss to Casa Pia on November 6, a 0-1 loss to Chaves on October 9, and a 3-3 draw against Sporting on August 7. They will be looking to continue their momentum on Saturday as they host an Estoril Praia side that recently snapped a six-game losing streak with a 1-0 home win against Gil Vicente.
Estoril sit 15th in the table with a six-point advantage over the relegation play-off spot and an eight-point advantage above the relegation zone, and they have suffered a wretched away record this season. The last time they avoided defeat away from home was October 30 in a 1-1 draw at Portimonense, and I don’t expect that streak to be broken anytime soon.
Braga have won four of their last five meetings in the Primeira Liga with Estoril, including a 2-0 win on October 22, and with the likes of Ricardo Horta, Abel Ruiz, and Simon Banza in attack, they will be licking their chops at the sight of an Estoril defense that has kept just two clean sheets since the start of November and that looks set for a nervy finish to the campaign. I’m expecting Braga to grab a comfortable win and stay at least five points clear of Rúben Amorim’s Sporting, and I’m expecting a 16th league defeat of the season for the beleaguered Cascais-based side.
Nacional v Trinidense
Two teams looking to reestablish their form in the league will square up at the Defensores del Chaco stadium on Saturday afternoon. Nacional are winless in three scoring just once while Sportivo Trinidense have tumbled down the table going five matches without a victory.
It isn’t surprising to see Nacional struggling in front of goal since the departure of last season’s topscorer Facundo Bruera. The 8 goals scored is the third lowest in Primera, but they also have the third best defence in the league as only Libertad and Guaraní have conceded less than 11. Jordan Santacruz is still suspended but Claudio Núñez is back after a two-match ban and could feature on the left. Gustavo Caballero returned from the bench against Tacuary, he had been disciplined internally but they desperately need his creative spark.
José Arrúa has been tinkering to find the winning formula again as his side haven’t been able to continue their great start to the season. Both wingers Pedro Delvalle and Nicolas Maná continue to be the most consistent performers but up front both Giménez and Álvarez have blown hot and cold. Lucas Barrios is yet to catch fire, the former Borrussia Dortmund man has yet to find the net in open play.
Nacional blanked against Tacuary in their last match, and that cautious approach favoured by Sarabia could also cancel out Trinidense. Triqui have seen BTTS land in 7 of their last 8 matches but it seems unlikely that either side will find two goals with Nacional struggling to score while standing firm at the back.
Universitario de Vinto v Wilstermann
Universitario de Vinto are in fine form, with three wins and four draws in their last seven games, including wins in El Alto and Santa Cruz and draws in Trinidad and Potosi. At home they have won two and drawn three of the last five. Wilstermann for their part are unbeaten in six, but five of them were draws. Away (although Wilstermann are only away technically, as these two teams share the same stadium) Wilstermann have failed to win in the last 14 games with eight draws and six defeats.
These teams met twice last season, with Universitario winning the first encounter 2-0 and the second ending goalless.
While Wilstermann may have a more valuable squad on paper they are plagued by off the field drama, they were deducted points before the season for failure to comply with regulatory paperwork and they are known to be in considerable debt. Their manager has practically left them to their fate and failure to qualify for international football hasn’t helped the balance sheet. Universitario, for their part, despite being managed on a much smaller budget are reaping the benefits of keeping a tightknit consolidated group and a settled side.
Universitario are too focused and on a roll and should win but there is exceptional value in the double chance line here.
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