Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo
Third-placed Real Sociedad host the early LaLiga game this Saturday, with Celta Vigo coming to town. Although Celta Vigo have improved a little in recent weeks ever since coach Carlos Carvalhal switched to a back four, they should find it really tough away at one of the best units in the division.
Real Sociedad have won their past five matches against Celta Vigo and it makes sense when you look at the philosophies of these two clubs. No matter who the coach has been at the Galician side, Celta Vigo try to play a possession-based brand of football that is similar to La Real’s. However, Real Sociedad simply do it better and have more quality in their squad.
Although Real Sociedad suffered a shock loss to Real Valladolid the last time they played at home, it should be kept in mind that they had a major injury crisis that week, with 10 players on their medical report. But, that Real Sociedad injury list is now down to just five.
Meanwhile, Celta Vigo have suffered a very serious injury as their starting goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín is now out for the rest of the season. Whether Iván Villar or Diego Alves replaces the Argentine shot-stopper this weekend, the Real Sociedad front line of Mikel Oyarzabal, Takefusa Kubo, Brais Méndez and Alexander Sørloth is more than capable of taking advantage.
Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig
Wolfsburg host RB Leipzig on Saturday with just six points separating the two teams. After six successive wins in the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg are winless in their last three (2 defeats, 1 draw) and come into this game following a 0-0 draw with bottom-club Schalke. RB Leipzig are winless in their last two, a 0-0 draw against Cologne and a 2-1 defeat against Union Berlin, despite leading. It’s vital for RB Leipzig to win if they want to stay in the title race. They’re currently 7 points behind Bayern Munich.
Operating in a 4-2-3-1, Wolfsburg failed to convert any of their 4 chances against Schalke last weekend. It was their lowest number of chances created in 2023, but that’s down to Schalke’s improvement. Prior to their draw at Schalke, Wolfsburg created 10 chances against Bayern Munich in a 4-2 defeat, 9 against Hertha Berlin and 8 against Freiburg, both resulted in big wins (5-0 and 6-0).
Wolfsburg’s front three of Patrick Wimmer, Jakub Kaminski and Jonas Wind has the possibility to cause problems against an RB Leipzig defence that struggled against the pace of Union Berlin’s Sheraldo Becker last weekend. Wolfsburg’s No. 9, Jonas Wind, averages a goal every 131 minutes in 2023, and is proving a problem for Bundesliga defences with his unique skillset. A talisman, often the Dane will drop deeper, bringing Wimmer and Kaminski into play with Mattias Svanberg making deep runs.
As for RB Leipzig, Christopher Nkunku has returned to training and although he’s unlikely to start, he may get a cameo. The Frenchman is Leipzig’s top scorer this season, and they’ve missed his threat in the final third. We can again expect to see Marco Rose set his side up in a 4-2-3-1, matching Wolfsburg.
Expect to see plenty of action at both ends. Only Bayern Munich (11) average more chances than Leipzig (8) per 90, and they’ll likely see more of the ball as Wolfsburg look to play on the counter-attack, utilising the pace in the wide areas and the space left by Mohamad Simakan.
Wolfsburg have scored in 14 of their last 15 games across all competitions and have scored in all but one game at home this season. Likewise, RB Leipzig have scored in 18 of their last 19 games, but they’ve kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 9. I can see both teams scoring on Saturday.
Monza v Milan
This is a very intriguing matchup at the U-Power Stadium in Monza on Saturday evening because AC Milan are enjoying something of a resurgence after a terrible run of form in 2023, but they come up against a very confident Monza side.
The Brianzoli are actually on a longer unbeaten run than anyone else in Serie A, winning four and drawing four of their last eight games. They are up to tenth in the table and look to be clear of any real threat of being dumped straight back down into Serie B.
They will very much feel that they have what it takes to get a famous win over Milan here with the Rossoneri having won just two Serie A games in 2023. Monza won’t be scared and with players like Andrea Petagna, Gianluca Caprari and Matteo Pessina enjoying some good form, they could well find the back of the net.
As for Milan, whilst they have been in this awful form, they beat Torino 1-0 last time out and they very impressively beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Tuesday night. They will feel that they are turning a corner and that can only lend itself to them scoring on Saturday against Monza.
Olivier Giroud and Brahim Diaz are back amongst the goals and Rafael Leao will be desperate to do the same.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Werder Bremen
Eintracht Frankfurt host Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon as they look to make amends for their 3-0 defeat against Cologne last weekend. It’s a result that has likely put Eintracht out of the Bundesliga title race as they now sit 8 points behind leaders Bayern Munich, but that could be bad news for Bremen as Frankfurt look to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
Only Bayern Munich (59) have scored more goals than Eintracht Frankfurt (40) in the Bundesliga this season and despite Borussia Dortmund playing some excellent football in 2023, Randal Kolo Muani and Co. are really lighting up the Bundesliga. The Frenchman has scored 9 and created 10 in 19 Bundesliga games this season and is making a claim for Player of the Season. Kolo Muani has struck up an incredible relationship with Jesper Lindstrom, who himself is enjoying his best season to date with 9 goal contributions (7 goals, 2 assists) in 19 games, and is expected to return this weekend.
The signing of Philipp Max on loan from PSV has also helped provide balance to the Eintracht squad after failing to sign a replacement for Filip Kostic in the summer. Oliver Glasner has tried Luca Pellegrini and Ansgar Knauff at wing-back but neither shone, Max has come in and made the place his own.
Operating in a 3-4-3, Eintracht Frankfurt can cause Werder Bremen problems. Only Bochum (49) and Schalke (41) have conceded more goals than Bremen (39) after 20 games. Against a fluid three that contains Kolo Muani, Lindstrom and Mario Gotze, Eintracht Frankfurt may have a field day. There’s no better front three to watch in the Bundesliga than Eintracht’s.
But whilst they’re prone to conceding plenty, Werder Bremen have goals in their squad. Niclas Fullkrug has 13 goals and 3 assists in 19 games, partnered alongside Marvin Ducksch who has 9 goal contributions (4 goals, 5 assists). They’ve also signed Maximillian Philipp on loan from the remainder of the season whilst Jens Stage offers a threat from midfield.
Fullkrug will always provide a threat in the final third for Werder Bremen, but if Eintracht Frankfurt start are quick as they often do, Kolo Muani and Co. could well be 2-0 or 3-0 up by half-time. We can certainly expect goals in this fixture.
Mallorca v Villareal
Villarreal are the slight favourites when they visit Real Mallorca this weekend, but the islanders are not to be underestimated. That’s because Javier Aguirre’s side have won each of their past four homes games, and all by a 1-0 scoreline, as was the case when they beat Real Madrid in their previous home fixture. Meanwhile, Villarreal have lost three in a row, home or away, so make this trip in poor form.
While either side could end up winning this game, one thing we really shouldn’t expect is many goals. As the four 1-0s in a row demonstrate, Real Mallorca are the kind of team that often edge low-scoring matches. In fact, their games have produced the fewest goals in all of LaLiga so far this season, with an average of just 1.71 goals per Real Mallorca game so far. Villarreal’s games, meanwhile, have produced the third-fewest goals in the division, at 1.90 total goals per match.
The bookies clearly know these stats too and that’s why the odds for this to finish with under 2.5 goals are particularly low. But, this really should be a game of few chances and few goals, and not only because of the stats across the season so far. Stylistically too, we should expect Villarreal to absolutely dominate possession in this game but do little with it, as they usually do, and for Real Mallorca to sit back in a 5-4-1 low block and offer up hardly an inch of space, as they usually do.
Inter v Udinese
It is very hard to predict what you will get from Inter in terms of goals because whilst they are one of the highest-scoring teams in the division, they are capable of some seriously dire performances where it just never feels like they’re going to find the net.
That is what happened when they faced Sampdoria on Monday night. They drew 0-0 against one of the worst teams in the league, and coming up against such a stubborn Udinese team will be a test for Simone Inzaghi.
Inter’s Curva Nord fans have been on his back demanding a change of attitude from the team, but Udinese are one of the harder teams to score against in Serie A and despite seemingly so rarely picking up wins, they are still eighth in the table.
There will be very little incentive for Udinese to push forward and try to make the game a thriller at San Siro because they are happy with their league position and will be content to take a point from this trip and move on.
The partnership between Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku that is getting another chance in recent games is yet to turn into goals, whilst the likes of Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu are not producing the same figures as they were last season.
Chuck into the mix that Inter have kept seven of their eight Serie A clean sheets this season at home. No team has conceded less than them at home this season. Also, Udinese’s strikers only account for one of their 30 goals this season.
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