Sturm Graz v Austria Klagenfurt
Buoyed by their triumph in the ÖFB Cup final – their first trophy in five years – Sturm Graz kept hot on the tails of Bundesliga leaders Salzburg last time out thanks to a victory over Austria Vienna.
That means their destiny remains in their own hands: win their remaining four games, including a tricky trip to Salzburg next weekend, and they will be Austrian champions for the first time since 2011.
Their next opponents in that pivotal season run-in will be Austria Klagenfurt, who sit bottom of the Championship Group but are level on points with Austria Vienna (both 19) and only two points behind Rapid Vienna (21).
With the two capital clubs set to go head-to-head in the derby this weekend, this is the perfect opportunity for the Carinthians to make up some ground in the race for a European berth.
Sturm Graz will be the heavy favourites, however. Not only do they have the superior head-to-head record, having won six of their previous seven top-flight meetings with the Carinthian outfit, Christian Ilzer’s charges have also won six of their last eight Bundesliga matches, while opposite number Peter Pacult’s men have suffered defeat in five of their last eight outings.
During that period the Grazers have found the net 16 times – an average of two per game – while the Klagenfurters have conceded 18 goals (2.25 per game on average). In our eyes, that makes Sturm Graz heavy favourites to pick up the three points they need to continue their title charge and score over 1.5 goals in the process.
LASK Linz v RB Salzburg
The two remaining unbeaten sides in this season’s Championship Round meet at Raiffeisen Arena on Sunday afternoon as LASK host Red Bull Salzburg in a top-three clash.
LASK currently sit eight points behind the league leaders, but have the added motivation that a victory on Sunday will confirm their spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League Group Stages after missing out last season. Salzburg, on the other hand, have a three point advantage over closest rivals Sturm and will consider this a big hurdle in securing the Austrian Bundesliga title.
The clubs drew 0-0 at the Red Bull Arena back in mid-April and since then have identical records of two victories and a draw apiece as both clubs dispatched Rapid Vienna, and Salzburg picked up a huge victory on the road at Sturm Graz.
However, history looks kindly on Matthias Jaissle’s side in this fixture with an 11-game unbeaten run over the Linz club, and they are enjoying their best unbeaten run away from home (12 wins, 1 draw) since 2012-13.
With those kinds of runs under their belt Salzburg head into this fixture as big favourites, and with young midfielders Oscar Gloukh and Dijon Kameri in creative form, plus Sekou Koita in the mood for goals, they should overcome Nicolas Capaldo’s suspension and pick-up a victory that would be crucial as they hunt down a tenth consecutive Austrian Bundesliga title.
Monza v Napoli
Napoli’s title celebrations have been in full swing for over a week now, and they’ll look to continue their scudetto tour of Italy on the road to Monza on Sunday afternoon, and there are again likely to be plenty of northern-based Partenopei fans crammed into the stadium just outside of Milan.
Monza might have their eye on this as being a chance to catch Napoli lacking in motivation now that the title has been sealed and they have nothing left to play for, but the champions are the best team in Italy still and should be able to get the job done.
Their earlier meeting this season saw Napoli run out as emphatic 4-0 winners back in August. It’s worth noting that Monza were still finding their feet in the top flight back then though, and they have improved under Raffaele Palladino since.
Still, Napoli are the much stronger side of these two and Luciano Spalletti is expected to continue fielding his big names, with each of Kim Min-jae, Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia set to start in his XI on Sunday.
While it’s always tempting to back either the Georgian or Nigerian to have a hand in a goal, an away win here should also bring in a successful bet.
Fiorentina v Udinese
Udinese travel to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday to face a Fiorentina side locked level on 46 points with them, and the Viola might just have their eyes elsewhere. Trailing after a first-leg loss to Basel in Florence on Thursday night, Fiorentina will surely be fully focused on the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final in the week to come.
All predictions in Italy point toward Vincenzo Italiano fielding a strong side nonetheless, with Arthur Cabral the most likely to be given some rest at the tip of their attack.
That European game adds an element of unpredictability to the outcome in Tuscany. As much as Fiorentina will have the semi-final in mind, they won’t want to face that game off the back of another loss – having lost and drawn their last two in Serie A ahead of the first leg and until now as well.
What we should be looking forward to though is a game full of chances. Neither side has particularly impressed defensively this term, at least after Udinese’s surprisingly good start to the 2022/23 season. Fiorentina have shipped 40 goals so far and Udinese have let in 41, similar figures to the 43 conceded by 16th-placed Lecce.
A result might just be too hard to call here, but both sides being flawed should see chances, and each of these teams has the quality in attack to punish defensive errors, meaning both should be able to score.
Toulouse v Nantes
Sunday’s repeat of the Coupe de France final will see Toulouse host Nantes, and just as in Paris, this is a match in which both teams should be heavily favoured to find the net.
Toulouse’s attacking capabilities are clear, despite drawing a blank in their last couple of league matches. Indeed, they have failed to score in three of their last four home matches, but this is out of the ordinary for a team that hit five against Nantes in the cup final a couple of weeks ago.
Against Nantes, they should certainly be capable of netting at least once. After all, they will play a team that has not kept a clean sheet in their last 11 league matches, conceding at least two goals in all of their last seven against Ligue 1 teams.
The visitors will be under the charge of new management, having sacked Antoine Kombouare earlier this week. Rookie coach Pierre Aristouy will take charge, stepping up from the reserves.
Nantes should be boosted by the departure of Kombouare, who branded his team “s**t” very publicly just a matter of weeks ago. While this should give the visitors an injection of energy, it is unlikely to be enough to cure their defensive problems.
Les Canaris are a team that have underperformed this season, particularly offensively, and a change of management should free them up in this regard. With their defence in a disorganised state, though, expect both teams to score in this game for a sixth time in seven fixtures between these clubs.
Hammarby v Djurgardens
Hammarby’s season has been nothing short of a let-down so far, collecting 7 points in the first 7 matches while registering only two wins. These have come at home against fairly weak opponents in Degerfors and Varberg, while the performances and results against better teams have been way below par.
Marti Cifuentes’s chopping and changing suggests he has not yet found the balance in his starting eleven, with many personnel changes in the off-season and plenty of youngsters now in important roles. The defence is shaky and the attacking lineup hugely inexperienced and thus inconsistent.
Their midfield is a real strong point, but it certainly isn’t enough to offset the other deficiencies currently. The tough Mjällby held them to a 0-0 draw in midweek in a match that, in fairness, Hammarby should have won with xG figures of 1.29 and 0.46 respectively. There were signs of improvement, but in real terms they need to start winning games regularly, especially against weaker opponents.
The continued absence of Adi Nalic from the start is a surprise, especially with some injuries in the squad, after his lively performance with a goal and an assist against league leaders Malmö FF recently. His ingenuity and creativity in the final third are certainly needed, even though his lack of defensive work rate may be an issue in the longer term. New signing and exciting prospect August Mikkelsen, who looked a very interesting acquisition, has not found his feet at all and has looked out of place on the left wing.
Djurgården have had their own fair share of struggles to kick off this campaign – with three losses already registered, they are nearly halfway to last season’s total tally after less than a quarter of all matches played.
A couple of deflating defeats were however followed by a thumping 3-1 win over Kalmar most recently. The game was closer than the scoreline suggests, but for once this season their finishing was clinical when they have otherwise underperformed their xG.
Joel Asoro has started two games in a row at striker after a spell as a substitute and gives the side a different dimension with his pace running in behind. Oliver Berg is probably also more suited to his more withdrawn role in the midfield three and can pull the strings from there.
Things are finally looking up for the blue-striped giant after some testing times, although the defence is still a real concern. Jesper Löfgren has been excellent in two consecutive matches and should keep his spot as Carlos Gracia has not impressed since his arrival.
The away side (well, on paper) is looking the stronger team both squad- and form-wise, and while they have some way to go to find last season’s heights, would be expected to get at least a point here. Derby day is never easy for Djurgården, but they look primed to battle it out here against a shaky Hammarby team.
Mjallby v Sirius
A tough contest is expected here between two sides struggling to record wins – Mjällby have two while Sirius are currently winless. The home team’s ruggedness has defined them for some time, and we can expect more of the same here. They may not record many victories but are always difficult to play against and beat.
Mjällby tend to limit their opponents to half-chances, and despite often giving up possession, make sure their opponents keep the ball in harmless positions of the pitch. At the other end, they don’t create much themselves, relying on counter attacks but not committing too many men forward for the most part.
Five goals scored and five conceded points to a real stability as well as an inability to get to dangerous goalscoring situations themselves. Silas Nwankwo, the breakthrough prospect of last season, has certainly been missed with his threat in behind, and he will remain out with a cruciate injury until at least the summer.
Sirius have been one of the big disappointments so far, struggling massively to score goals to begin the season. The last two matches they have been more free-flowing, instead being opened up much too easily defensively.
Six goals conceded in two matches speaks volumes and the balance is still lacking for them to start picking up wins, and they have overperformed their xG significantly in those games too. There is an overriding feeling they are lacking a real goalscorer who can get them victories on his own, and while Christian Kouakou wasn’t at his best last season, he can add something different to this struggling side.
While Sirius have scored more recently, Mjällby have only conceded five goals in seven home matches this season in the cup and league. It does not seem likely the away side will change that trend, and Mjällby will limit their opponents’ opportunities.
Elche v Atletico Madrid
LaLiga will pit the worst team in the competition, Elche, who are already relegated, up against the team with the best record in the 2023 calendar year in the shape of Atlético Madrid on Sunday afternoon. Averaging 2.83 goals per 90 over the last six games in LaLiga, the Colchoneros will fancy their chances of securing another comfortable victory.
Of Elche’s last six games, two have been lost by more than a single goal, against Girona and Valencia, but this season their 11 games against top six sides have ended with more than a one-goal defeat on nine occasions. That includes the 2-0 defeat against Atleti in Madrid in the first game back after the World Cup.
The good form of Antoine Griezmann, who has six goal involvements in his last three games, means that Diego Simeone won’t be overly concerned by the absence of goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Given that Elche average 0.76 goals per game, substitute Ivo Grbić will be expecting a quiet afternoon.
A confident and dominant Atlético team will surely prove too much for a fragile Elche team who now have absolutely nothing to play for. Injury to Oblak may seem important, but it is at the other end where Atleti will be hoping to significantly out-score their opponents with their fluid attacking style which has helped them to break down teams in recent weeks, putting six past Sevilla and five past Cádiz and Valladolid in their last two games.
Austria Vienna v Rapid Vienna
The two city rivals go head to head for the fourth time this season, with Rapid away in Favoriten and looking to end a long barren run in the Vienna derby. Whilst Austria have won two of the three meetings already this season, Rapid have to go back to 2019 to remember the last time they gave the Green & Whites the bragging rights of the capital.
The Violets have only failed to find the net once in the past 13 derbies, and although they haven’t won in their past three home games, they scored at least once in each of those matches.
Haris Tabakovic and Doron Leidner were their derby heroes back in March, but with Andreas Gruber and Matthias Braunöder they have other candidates who could make the difference against a shaky Rapid back line and their young keeper Niki Hedl.
Rapid managed a thrilling 3-3 draw in the last derby at home – showing all the frailties of the two defences when under pressure – but away at this venue they were extremely flat in defeat. There will be a reaction to that toothless performance from March, as top scorer Guido Burgstaller will want to move towards the Golden Boot with a memorable goal in this big game.
Both teams really need to push for a win on Sunday, as European places are on the line and Klagenfurt are lurking close behind. Austria will feel they have the upper hand at home, but that will leave spaces for Rapid to exploit, and with the quality of their crossing this season, they’ll surely give Burgstaller enough to work with in order to get in the goals.
Arsenal v Brighton
The chase for the Premier League title is still on for Arsenal as they look for a strong finish to their campaign. Since their defeat to Manchester City a couple of weeks back, they’ve been in flawless form. Arsenal have navigated through a couple of potential banana skin fixtures having swept aside Chelsea and Newcastle.
Most impressively was the performance put on at St James Park last weekend where they gained a 2-0 victory. It was another fabulous strike from outside the box by Martin Odegaard that set the Gunners on their way and a late own goal from Fabian Schar put the game to bed.
Surprisingly their opponents were thumped on home soil by an out of sorts Everton side. The Toffees have struggled for goals all season long and the 5-1 victory claimed by the visitors came as a real surprise. Brighton found themselves 3-0 down by half time and it was always going to be too much from then on.
This fixture gives us the perfect opportunity to keep on-board with the theme of Arsenal goals. The Gunners have comfortably reached this line of 2+ goals in each of their last six matches at the Emirates. During this time, they’ve averaged a mammoth 3.5 GpG, an incredibly high return. It’s impossible to ignore this fantastic goal scoring form and is certainly worth punting on this weekend.
To give further context to this selection, Arsenal have notched 2+ goals in 14 of their 17 PL games at home this season. That’s an 82.35% win rate, statistics that simply cannot be ignored.
Consistency has been the key throughout and the inform Martin Odegaard deserves a mention. The Norwegian midfield maestro has 15 goals to his name, as well as 7 assists. He could well be heavily involved once again here.
Others to note are Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka who’ve both been in magnificent form throughout the entire season. The pair have racked up 28 goals between them and have every chance of adding to this total against Brighton.
The Seagulls have had a superb campaign and sit in 7th position in the table as things stand. However, it’s their defensive record on the road that’s been poor. They’ve now conceded in 13 of their last 14 away trips in the PL. In addition to this, Brighton have shipped multiple goals in 9 of these games. Therefore, the selection of Arsenal 2+ goals becomes even more appealing.
All the statistics point to Arsenal filling their boots in front of goal. Consequently it’s well worth backing Arsenal to score 2+ goals as they look to chase down Man City at the top of the table.
Halmstads v Malmo
Halmstad are a real mixed bag to date, slaying dragons and surprising everyone with wins against AIK, Djurgården and Häcken at home. Meanwhile, they have lost by at least two goals in the other four matches, with two of those coming against Degerfors and Brommapojkarna.
Currently in 10th, they will be content, but they have to stop leaking goals in every other game to survive. There are four points down to Sirius in the relegation playoff spot, but it’s still early days and things can change very quickly in a congested division. At home they are undoubtedly a different team, but were also beaten by a 2-0 scoreline by BP at Örjans Vall.
Malmö FF, on the other hand, have been an absolute freight train to commence the 2023 season, demolishing everything in their path and registering 7 wins in 7 after another brilliant performance over AIK the other day. With 20 goals scored and 4 conceded, this sort of dominance is rarely seen in Allsvenskan, despite some very impressive campaigns by this team in the past decade.
The reinforcements, such as Stefano Vecchia and Taha Ali, have made a real difference, while Nanasi coming back from his loan has taken big steps in his development. There are various threats and depth in all positions on the pitch, with a much broader squad here than in any other club.
The fluid and flexible 3-4-3 system implemented by Henrik Rydström suits them perfectly and nothing looks to be able to stop them currently. Without European football this campaign, their full focus is on getting back to the pinnacle of Swedish football, before a likely return to the Champions League where they should be.
Halmstad are much tougher on their own turf, but despite this, Malmö are a different beast to any side they have faced to date. I fully expect the sky blue machine to continue on their current path by beating Halmstad by a couple of goals, with the home team not as solid defensively as they would like to be.
*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: