Aalborg v Lyngby
Sunday’s early match up is arguably this round’s most important match in the Danish Superliga. Number 12, AaB, take on number 11, Lyngby, in a real six pointer. The loser of this match is likely to be relegated, while a winner can keep hope alive of catching up with AC Horsens and surviving.
AaB are going into this match with two draws in a row and need three points to get closer to AC Horsens and relegation. With just 18 points left to play for, the seven points up to Horsens (with one game less played) will be difficult to close, but AaB have a strong team on paper. Things have also improved under head coach Oscar Hiljemark, as the red and whites are slowly improving. Hiljemark is able to choose from a full squad here.
At Lyngby, things are looking worse. The guests are without captain Andreas Bjelland due to suspension, while starters Alfred Finnbogason, Willy Kumado and Kristian Riis are all out with injuries.
This is a shame for Lyngby who have looked good recently, but also lacked the necessary quality to truly make this an interesting relegation battle. Last week, they threw away a 2-0 lead against OB and had to settle for a draw, and that has been the story of their season. They have been close but simply haven’t been good enough to get the points needed to stay up.
We expect AaB to pull away with the victory here due to the many injuries in the Lyngby squad. However, we take a slightly cautious approach and recommend you bet on AaB to win at odds 1.95 at Betfair Sportsbook.
Rangers v Celtic
There is little doubt where the power balance in the rivalry between Glasgow’s two biggest clubs lies at present, with Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic dominating Rangers this season. Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final will be the fifth meeting of the clubs this season, with the Hoops having won three of these fixtures and having claimed a 2-2 draw at Ibrox.
The latest meeting between the teams took place at Celtic Park just three weeks ago, with Celtic coming out on top 3-2. It was the fourth successive occasion that they had scored at least twice against their fiercest rivals and served to highlight the difficulty that Rangers have in coping with them defensively.
Rangers, meanwhile, are in a difficult moment after slipping 13 points behind their rivals in the Premiership race last weekend as they were surprisingly defeated 2-0 away to in-form Aberdeen. Although they were unlucky with the opener from Liam Scales, which was a cross that found its way into the top corner, this was the fourth match in five that they had conceded at least two goals.
They are not defending well enough at present to give themselves a serious chance against Celtic, whose intensity and strength in depth should see them have enough to get through this tie, even if it’s via extra-time. Having that mental edge over their rivals could also make all the difference, with the Hoops having already triumphed 2-1 over Rangers in the League Cup final in February at Hampden.
Fulham v Manchester City
The Champions are in the capital this weekend to face Fulham and it’s a game I can only see going one way! City are on an incredible run of form at this moment in time having now won their last seven league matches on the spin.
Last time out they thumped fellow title challengers Arsenal by four goals to one at the Etihad and I’m expecting a similar outcome here. On the other hand, Fulham were beaten midweek at Villa Park by a goal to nil. It was a poor performance in truth and they only managed one single shot off target in the entire game!
It’s all about the Citizens in this matchup and I must mention the goal machine Erling Haaland. The Norwegian has amassed a ridiculous 40 goal contributions in just 29 games. The vast majority have been goals as you’d imagine 33 in total. I fancy him to be on the scoresheet once more and he may well fire the Blues to victory here!
Overall as a team though, City have been finding the back of the net extremely frequently in recent times. 29 times they’ve now hit the onion bag in their last ten Premier League fixtures, averaging out at a whopping 2.9 GpG in this time.
Therefore, this gives us every reason to believe they’ll win this fixture and bag the goals required for our selection. Within this timeframe (last 10 PL games), it’s nine wins out of ten and I strongly fancy another wide margin victory.
A couple of final stats on the visitors are that the pick of City win and over 2.5 goals has landed in the last 4 PL games in a row. The other, City have now beaten Fulham in the last 13 H2H’s in all competitions. So, it’s bound to be a mammoth task for the home side.
Fulham have had a great season by their standards there is no question! However, the form has dipped and their talisman Alexsandar Mitrovic remains out due to suspension. It’s now five defeats in their last seven in the PL and I feel this one may well be damage limitation.
I can see the Cottagers coasting through til the end of the season now but a top 10 finish still well within their grasp. With no stand out goal scorer in the side, it’s clear to see there’s no focal point in attack.
Carlos Vinicius could be given the nod by Marco Silva but he’s likely to be feeding on scraps as a lone striker. An alternative option could be Dan James as the deployed centre forward, just as we saw in the previous game at Villa. Though, whoever lines up come Sunday, I can’t see anything but an away victory.
With Fulham on a downwards trend and their opponents in the form of their entire season, take City & Over 2.5 goals and we’re all set for another winning pick!
Newcastle United v Southampton
It’s a 644 mile round trip for Southampton this weekend and I’m expecting them to be heading home empty handed! The Saints remain rock bottom of the table and are six points adrift as we enter the final run in. The visitors have been in woeful form of late and they were defeated in midweek by local rivals Bournemouth.
Time is running out for Ruben Selles’ men and this fixture could be one of the final nails in the coffin. In complete contrast, the Magpies are in flying form right now. It was another comprehensive victory during the week at Goodison Park. Newcastle ran out 4-1 winners with goals courtesy of Callum Wilson, Joelinton and Jacob Murphy.
As I mentioned, the Toon Army are on fire, they’ve picked up 21 points from a possible 24 in the last couple of months! This magnificent run has seen them rocket up to 3rd in the table and a Champions League spot is seriously on the cards. On this excellent run, the goals have been flying in left, right and centre! 23 goals have been scored in this time, averaging out at 2.87 GpG, a fantastic return.
Both Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak have been utilised in attack by Eddie Howe, with both now seeming to enjoy at least some time on the pitch together. Regardless of this though, whoever has started from the off has delivered!
Wilson now has bagged six goals in his last 265 minutes on the pitch, whereas Isak has 4 goals in his last 285 minutes. The pair are vying for a start here but we’re likely to see one or the other from the off. One thing I envisage though is that between them they’ll find the back of the net in this game!
Another player I have to reference here is Joelinton, the Brazilian has been a key player not just in recent times but all season long. He’s racked up an impressive 4 goals in his previous 5 and the powerhouse of a player could well be at it again in this inviting fixture.
Relegation looks highly on the cards now for Southampton and there are quotes of 1/25 (1.04) to see them return to the EFL. Things just haven’t got going since Ruben Selles was given the manager’s job and they’ve now lost four of their previous five in the PL.
Goals have been one of their biggest downfalls in recent times, bar the excellent performance at the Emirates last weekend. The drought comes over a sustained period of time now and they’ve only managed to score multiple goals in 4 of their previous 25 games. A sobering thought, now facing one of the teams who simply cannot stop scoring!
They do however have a top class player in James Ward Prowse, though all their hopes can’t be pinned on one individual. Even he’s struggled, with just a single goal contribution in his last seven. However, others have to step up and it’s something I really don’t foresee here.
This is a 5 star tip for a reason, back Newcastle win and over 1.5 goals with confidence!
Clermont Foot v Reims
Reims are wildly under priced for this game against an opponent that they are only one point ahead of in the Ligue 1 table and which is in substantially better form that they are. It seems that the hype surrounding head coach Will Still is behind this, yet is not a fair reflection of where these two teams presently are.
Clermont come into this match off the back of four successive victories. Although three of these have come against sides in the relegation zone and the other was against a fatigued Nice outfit last weekend, this will have bred confidence in the squad as well as a desire to keep their present run going.
On the other hand, Reims are not a side in good touch right now. They have won only one of their last five matches and have failed to win any of their last three. These have not been against particularly impressive opponents as they were held by a stout Brest side at home before losing at out-of-form Rennes and then at home to Strasbourg last weekend.
Reims, meanwhile, have been average away from home this term. Although they have suffered only three defeats on their travels, they have only picked up four victories, with only one of these coming against a team in the top half of the standings.
Meanwhile, Clermont hold the edge in the head-to-head. The Auvergne side won 4-2 when the sides met in August – a match that pre-dates Still taking over – and are unbeaten in their last couple at home against the Champagne club. They are well priced for that sequence to continue.
Varbergs BoIS v Kalmar
Varberg, while having been difficult to beat at the start of this campaign, still don’t have a win on the board. Three consecutive draws were last week followed by a 2-0 defeat to the struggling Hammarby, leaving Varberg in 11th, with only goal difference separating them from a relegation spot.
Defensively, they are solid and can shut down all but the best of opponents. The issues, however, lie at the other end of the pitch, with little cutting edge in and around the opponent’s penalty area. They let go of Alexander Johansson, who has started off the season on fire at Mjällby, too easily, and any replacements such as Al Hamlawi haven’t hit the ground running.
One of the main issues however is a lack of creativity, with the team only fashioning 1 big chance all season and accumulating a total of 4.0 xG in 4 matches. If they are to stay up again this year, more is needed from their attacking players, but there is a lingering doubt of the amount of quality actually present in the squad.
Kalmar’s impressive start to the campaign carried on last weekend – a 2-0 win over Halmstad puts them in 3rd with 3 wins to date. They have been incredibly solid defensively while not losing much impetus in attack. The departure of influential manager Henrik Rydström to Malmö FF could have destabilised the team, but replacement Jensen has picked up the reins admirably.
His style of play is a bit more direct, although they are still able to control matches well, and defensively they are extremely solid. New striker Mileta Rajkovic looks a real tank, already scoring 8 times in 8 competitive fixtures since his arrival. He fits in well with the style of play implemented by the new manager, and it looks like the squad now has very few weaknesses.
Kalmar look like they will continue to impress and can overcome a lacklustre Varberg side struggling for any sort of consistency.
Malmo v Hammarby
Malmö’s calamitous last year feels like a distant memory, with a more harmonised squad, better direction for the club, and a real tactical plan under new management with Henrik Rydström. One of, if not the best manager in the division can work wonders, especially when you already have the highest quality squad in Sweden.
Their faultless start to the season is down to a combination of controlled possession play limiting their risks and a varied attack with several threats. Defensively so solid with only 1 goal conceded from 2.3 xG as well as 7 goals scored in 4 matches, with Isak Kiese Thelin back to good old form racking up the second highest xG figure in the league.
Stefano Vecchia, new exciting signing from Rosenborg, is starting to really find his feet too, and the midfield trio of Pena, Larsson and Christiansen is working beautifully. There is so much strength in depth in the team that it will take much to stop them winning Allsvenskan this year.
Hammarby have looked close to shambolic at times so far, but last week was a step in the right direction, beating Varberg 2-0 at home and looking less vulnerable on the counter. Two wins and two losses two far is no disaster and it remains to be seen if they can step it up against better opposition, but the defence needs to improve if that is to happen.
The frailties have been clear for all to see in a newly created backline, and while things should improve as they get more settled, the better teams in the league may still be able to expose their deficiencies. There are some structural issues, too, with their rest defence not solid enough to prevent dangerous transitions.
While their squad is strong, it does feel like something is missing, and there has been a lot of tinkering in the attacking positions. There are plenty of young talented prospects but little experience in forward areas which is bound to hurt consistency.
It seems Malmö may be able to suffocate the Stockholm side here and the pressure should be too much eventually, therefore a home win is on the cards.
Orebro v AFC Eskilstuna
These two sides have had very underwhelming starts to the campaign with the two sides currently sitting in the bottom-half of the 2023 Superettan season, after four matches. They were separated by just three points in mid-table in 2022 but will be concerned by the general trend from the end of last season and start of this.
In four games so far this season, Orebro have yet to manage to score a single goal. Their most recent outing was a 3-0 defeat to high-flying Vasteras which means they have picked up just two points with two goalless draws.
Christian Jardler replaced Axel Kjall towards the end of last season has Orebro crept up into the middle-of-the-table but their scoring form has yet to improve. Only Ostersund scored fewer goals than them in the Superettan last season and the pressure is growing on Jardler.
Last season, AFC Eskilstuna began with four successive victories before slipping off relatively dramatically. The visitors ended up sliding into mid-table and endured quite a forgettable campaign by the end of it.
This time around, they started with back-to-back defeats and a draw in their opening three matches before a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Trelleborg last weekend, via a late Marcelo Palomino penalty. There has been a lack of attacking fluency throughout their four matches with no goals from open play since their opening day 2-2 draw with Orgryte IS.
A prediction for the match result for this one is quite difficult because, frankly and potentially harshly, neither are a side you should back for a win. What will offer value, though, is to go low on goals, fairly obviously given Orebro’s start.
Start v Raufoss
I have previously mentioned how I believe Start to be the best team in the OBOS Ligaen this season. Over the course of the 30 games, I expect them to win this division and obtain promotion. They are unbeaten so far with two draws and one victory.
Start cruised to a 4-0 win vs Kristiansund in their solitary home fixture so far, an impressive success considering they were facing a relegated opponent. Despite the season ending injury to striker Jack Lahne there is more than enough depth and quality in this squad. Start already signed Henrik Skogvold on loan from Lillestrøm and he bagged a goal on his debut last week when they drew 2-2 away to Bryne.
Raufoss have also had a 4-0 win to their credit this season. They have surprisingly had all three matches resulting in both teams not scoring which is unusual for this high scoring OBOS Ligaen.
Raufoss have the highest overall xG average for any team (1.95) and this Start defence actually has a fairly poor xGA number (1.64). The visitors will come here with a belief they can at least score a goal or two and this is set to be a shootout. The style of both teams and managers is attacking and this match will be played on an artificial surface which should promote decent football and contribute towards goals.
Over 2.5 goals is the obvious bet for the game. Start could cover this on their own but I expect Raufoss to give a good account of themselves and hit the back of the net as well. For those looking to be more adventurous then you could take both teams to score and over 2.5 but let’s just keep it simple and back the over.
FC Copenhagen v Brondby
The main attraction of the Danish Superliga is the Copenhagen derby between FC Copenhagen and Brøndby. The home side are fighting for the championship while the guests are seemingly in a state of disarray.
The past weeks have been rough in Copenhagen. They have just one victory in their last five games and are coming off a 3-2 defeat to FC Nordsjælland in the cup semi-final. Nevertheless, Copenhagen are still looking like the next Danish champion and they remain top of the Superliga.
They have struggled with injuries lately, but their situation is slowly getting better, and they played a fine match against Nordsjælland despite the defeat. It also speaks to Copenhagen’s advantage that the match is played without away fans, so the entire stadium will be cheering the home team forward.
The chaos at Brøndby continues. Last week, they were demolished 4-0 at home against Randers, and the fight between the owners and the fans continues. Earlier this week, talks between the fan association and the ownership group broke down, which has caused huge criticism from both fans and media of the new owners.
Meanwhile, the squad is falling apart on the pitch. Brøndby have lost four of their last five Superliga matches and the performances have been embarrassing. Head coach Jesper Sørensen, who joined the club in January, is already feeling his seat becoming really hot, and he could soon find himself unemployed again. Star player Daniel Wass is furthermore doubtful for this game.
There are no games Copenhagen would rather win than the derbies, and three points here would take them much closer to another championship. We expect them to defeat a very poor Brøndby team and odds 1.57 at Betfair Sportsbook on the home victory is great value and our recommendation for this match.
LASK Linz v Austria Klagenfurt
Due to the ÖFB Cup final there’s only one fixture in the Austrian Bundesliga Championship Round this weekend with in-form LASK hosting Austria Klagenfurt.
Since LASK’s cup semi-final defeat they’ve recorded victories over Sturm Graz and Rapid Vienna and a solid away point at Red Bull Salzburg to cement their battle in the top three of the table. Austria Klagenfurt, on the other hand, recorded their first-ever victory in the Top Six (after 13 attempts) last weekend as they hunt down both Vienna clubs for the final guaranteed European spot.
The Linz side boast a huge historical advantage over Klagenfurt having never lost to the Carinthian club in a competitive match (12 wins and 3 draws), including their spell in the third-tier Regionalliga Mitte.
Didi Kuhbauer’s men are enjoying their best start ever to the Championship Round boosted by Japanese star Keito Nakamura’s league-leading 17 goals and assists, with only one defeat in 2023 so far after an impressive run of results. All of these signs point towards LASK continuing their positive start to the year and solidifying their position in third with a result at the Raiffeisen Arena.
Molde v Stabaek
It has been a huge shock that Molde have yet to win an Eliteserien match this season. The defending champions ended last year on an incredible 17 game winning run, but they have already lost twice this campaign.
Their latest defeat was 1-2 away to Lillestrøm last week although they made life tough for themselves by going down to 10 men in the first half. Playmaker Magnus Wolff Eikrem will now be suspended here as a result. New striker Veton Berisha has not fired yet and is an injury doubt for this game anyway. Ola Brynhildsen and Kristian Eriksen look like leading the line for Molde.
The hosts will be out for revenge because Stabaek knocked them out of the Norwegian Cup quarter finals last month after an epic penalty shootout. The visitors, managed by former Notts Forest and Blackburn player Lars Bohinen picked up their first league win of the season last week 3-0 vs Haugesund.
However, they suffered midweek disappointment in the Norwegian Cup semis by losing to Brann 0-2. It has been a short week of rest and preparation for Stabaek which is often difficult for newly promoted teams. They will need star goalkeeper Isak Pettersson to be at his best here.
It would be almost unthinkable if Molde failed to win a fourth straight game, especially at home facing newly promoted opposition. They are priced at 1.33 to prevail but we can bump it up to 1.50 by backing a home win & over 1.5 goals. I suspect Molde will dominate this match right from the off and be really hungry. They should win fairly comfortably.
Wolfsburg v Mainz 05
In what is potentially one of the most exciting games this weekend, Wolfsburg host Mainz with both clubs in with an excellent chance of securing European football for next season. After a draw, both teams come into this game on the back of impressive wins. Mainz beat then leaders Bayern Munich 3-1 whilst Wolfsburg put five goals past relegation threatened Bochum.
Mainz come into this game on a 10-game unbeaten streak and have won six of those games. The arrival of Ludovic Ajorque from Strasbourg in January has seen an upturn in form at the club. Ajorque has seven goal contributions (six goals, one assist) in 13 Bundesliga games this season and has scored in four consecutive games coming into this weekend’s fixture.
Not only in Ajorque an excellent target-man and a threat in the box, but the Frenchman also brings others into play and has already created an excellent relationship with the likes of Lee Jae-Sung and Karim Onisiwo.
M05 have also scored in all but one of their 14 away games this season.
Wolfsburg have been incredibly prolific in front of goal. They’ve scored 51 goals – only four teams have scored more – from an xG of just 44. Only four teams have a better chance conversion that Niko Kovac’s side and whilst no player has scored more than six Bundesliga goals this season, the goals are spread throughout the team.
The emergence of Jakub Kaminski in the last couple of games has also elevated Wolfsburg’s attack. The Poland international has neat dribbling, explosive pace, averages one chance created per 90 and as shown against Bochum last weekend, remains composed in front of goal.
Kaminski, Felix Nmecha, Patrick Wimmer and the return of Jonas Wind offers Kovac and Wolfsburg several options in attack.
Both teams have goals in their respective attacks with plenty of scoring opportunities expected at both sides. I’d expect Over 2.5 Goals to come in on this one.
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