Clermont v Monaco
Monaco are available at an extremely attractive price to overcome Clermont on Sunday. Philippe Clement’s side are one of the form outfits in Ligue 1 presently and have their eyes fixed on a top-three finish after a promising run of form.
The side from the principality have picked up seven wins in their last 11 matches in all competitions, while their away form this season has been very solid indeed. They have won six of 10 road trips in the league, and though they have failed to pick up maximum points in either of their last two, these were tricky journeys to face Lorient and Marseille.
Clermont, meanwhile, are on a club-record streak of five matches without a loss in Ligue 1. They have picked up a couple of notable scalps in that time, beating Lyon and Rennes at home, but their momentum has stalled a little via back-to-back scoreless draws against Nantes and Lille.
The big problem for the home side, though, is squad management. They have an extremely thin panel of players to pick from, which compares unfavourably to Monaco, who have a squad bristling with talent. The visitors would be favourites to win this match at the best of times, but at the end of a busy week that has seen both clubs play three times, it swings the odds decisively in the favour of the guests.
It is also worth noting that Monaco have won four of their last five matches against Clermont, and though the teams played out a 1-1 draw earlier this season, that came when the Monegasques were going through a very difficult period of form.
Mallorca v Real Madrid
There are unusually long odds on a Real Madrid win as they travel to face Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca, with the away team unbeaten in their last four games at the Estadio Mallorca Son Moix. The Mexican has got his team playing well and proving hard to beat, with only a second-lowest 0.67 goals conceded per game on home turf in LaLiga this season.
Keeping a shutout will be crucial to any hopes that the hosts have of victory, given that they have won four out of nine matches at the arena by the same scoreline this season: 1-0. However, that is much easier said than done and, despite limiting Barcelona and Atlético’s goalscoring potential, Real Madrid will be confident of keeping up their run of two goals per 90 over the last five matches.
While they may have drifted to five points off LaLiga leaders Barcelona, Real Madrid have certainly not been in bad form. Since the Super Cup defeat to the Catalan side, they have won four out of five games and are unbeaten. Their only dropped points came in a 0-0 draw at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu came against third-placed Real Sociedad, in a game which Los Blancos would have won on expected goals by 1.28-0.40.
Karim Benzema was withdrawn as an injury precaution against Valencia and it was played down by Carlo Ancelotti post-match. Even so, Marco Asensio and Vinícius Júnior were on the scoresheet and provide depth alongside Rodrygo Goes, who ranks eighth for expected goals in LaLiga this season. With such a lethal attacking threat, breaking down Mallorca seems a realistic prospect for a team in form.
Lorient v Angers
Lorient are available at an extremely attractive price to defeat bottom side Angers on Sunday, with the morale of the visiting team crushed by recent events.
Angers have lost their last 13 matches in Ligue 1 and find themselves 10 points adrift of safety in Ligue 1. Given they have picked up only nine points in 21 matches this season, it would take a miracle for them to be saved.
Certainly, they had a chance to close the gap on the main pack in midweek when they hosted Ajaccio, but after taking the lead, they slumped to a 2-1 loss. The winning goal from the guests arrived in stoppage time and came as a hammer blow to a team already desperately lacking in confidence.
Lorient, meanwhile, are going through something of a transitional period. They lost key attackers Terem Moffi and Dango Ouattara towards the end of the January transfer window but appear to have signed very well. Bamba Dieng is an excellent signing from Marseille while Romain Faivre’s arrival from Lyon is another mouth-watering addition. With goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck arriving from OL, Lorient will hope a problem position has been addressed. Despite these changes, Lorient remain sound at home. They drew 2-2 against Monaco and then shocked Rennes – both top-five sides.
Angers’ dire run of form has to end at some point, but the odds on Lorient getting a sixth win in 11 home matches this season are just too tempting to turn down given they are playing a demotivated side desperately seeking confidence.
Strasbourg v Montpellier
Important relegation matches are typically characterised as low-scoring affairs, but Sunday’s clash between Strasbourg and Montpellier should be an entertaining affair if the recent form of the two clubs is maintained.
Both teams are stronger going forward than they are at the back. Only one side outside of the top seven has scored more than Montpellier’s 31 goals, while Racing’s 25 puts them firmly in the middle of the road when it comes to finding the net. Defensively, though, both teams are woeful, averaging the concession of nearly two goals per game.
The strengths and weaknesses of the two sides are likely to be magnified coming into this game because they have key attacking players miss out in midweek. Habib Diallo was left on the bench for Strasbourg in midweek so should come into this game well rested, although Kevin Gameiro remains banned. Similarly, Montpellier can welcome back Wahbi Khazri after suspension alongside the talented Elye Wahi.
Remarkably, 13 of Strasbourg’s last 14 Ligue 1 matches have produced more than 2.5 goals – a run that started with a 2-1 loss in Montpellier back on September 17. La Paillade are no so regularly involved in such high-scoring matches, but four of their five league matches in 2023 have produced at least three goals.
Historically, this is a game that produces goals, too. Six of the last eight between these sides in the league have yielded three or more goals, while each of the last five has seen both teams score. This may be a relegation matchup, but it is not likely to be a typical one.
Torino v Udinese
This is a very interesting game in regards to where the two teams are placed in the Serie A table, but not in regards to how they play football. Udinese sit in seventh place which would mean Europa Conference League qualification, and Torino are just behind them. They are only split by two points as well.
There is a lot riding on it and a defeat for either team would be a big problem. Neither are prolific attackers and they both have very solid defences, meaning the recipe for goals just isn’t there.
Udinese may just try and frustrate the hosts all game long as Torino need the points more and the gap in the table means that Udinese have no real aspirations to get any higher than seventh this season. That would represent a superb campaign.
Torino will be the team with more of the ball, but breaking down this Udinese team when they have something to protect is no mean feat and it will take a moment of skill of a slice of fortune. Udinese have conceded 22 goals so far, their lowest tally after 20 Serie A games since 2011/12.
These two sides have both conceded 22 goals, which makes them the joint fifth-best defences in the division this season so far, behind only Napoli, Lazio, Roma and Juventus.
Stuttgart v Werder Bremen
Werder Bremen are sitting relatively comfortable in mid-table, eight points above the relegation playoff and the final European spot. On Saturday, they’ll be looking to pick up successive wins for the third time this season after navigating a tricky game against Wolfsburg. Niclas Fullkrug, the highest scoring German in European football this season, scored a brace in a 2-1 win to take his tally to 13 for the season. Bremen also made a deadline day move to sign Maximilian Philipp on loan for the remainder of the season, which should ease some of the goalscoring burden on Fullkrug.
Where Bremen are involved, goals tend to be too. Their last six Bundesliga games have all finished with Over 2.5 Goals. SVW also tend to be clinical in the final third – they’re outperforming their xG (24) by five goals. The same can’t be said for Stuttgart, who are underperforming by six goals in the same metric. With the departure of Sasa Kalajdzic last summer and somewhat of an injury crisis, VfB have struggled with just three teams scoring fewer. However, only Bochum (44) and Schalke (41) have conceded more goals than Bremen (37) this season, which could provide Serhou Guirassy and Co. with the motivation they need.
Like Bremen, Stuttgart games always provide goals. Eight of their last nine Bundesliga games have finished with Over 2.5 Goals and both of teams have something to prove, whether it’s fighting to stay in the European race, or avoiding relegation. Bremen’s 5-3-2 provides fans with some enthralling football but leaves them susceptible at the back when Anthony Jung and Mitchell Weiser push forward to support Fullkrug from the wide areas. It’s space that January arrival Gil Dias, who is expected to make his Bundesliga debut, will look to exploit.
Although perhaps not as enticing as other fixtures this weekend in terms of matchups, Over 2.5 Goals between Stuttgart and Werder Bremen offers excellent value.
Girona v Valencia
Home team Girona will be looking to recover after back-to-back defeats, but they may struggle to do so should they maintain their run of failing to keep a clean sheet in any competitive fixture this season. With 3.1 goals per game at Estadio Montilivi, we can expect another entertaining show from Girona, but also from Valencia.
Girona’s home record and shabby defending feeds into the idea that these two teams both promise goals, ranking fifth and sixth respectively for expected goals in LaLiga this season as the teams creating the most chances outside of the top four. Equally, they both concede over 1.5 expected goals per 90 too.
Voro’s Valencia will be without Gabriel Paulista after he was sent off for a hard tackle on Vinícius Júnior in midweek and Mouctar Diakhaby will need to be careful as he too is only one match away from suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. That prospect could have Girona attackers Cristhian Stuani and Valentín Castellanos licking their lips.
Both teams have scored in more than half of Valencia’s LaLiga fixtures this season, while the figure is even higher for Girona, with 15 of 19 LaLiga matches for Girona this campaign ending with both teams on the scoresheet. The odds are excellent value for that streak to continue when these two teams come face to face on Sunday.
Real Sociedad v Real Valladolid
This one should be a comfortable game for Real Sociedad and they’ll be looking to return to winning ways after their nine-match winning streak was brought to a halt by defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and a 0-0 draw against Real Madrid. However, even in those games, the foundation of their success has remained in the form of defensive stability.
Injury to Aritz Elustondo could mean that Real Sociedad are even more conservative than usual, with Martín Zubimendi being tipped to drop into the back line from his usual holding-midfield role. That will mean that the focus is defence-first and looking to continue to be deadly on the counter.
12 of their 19 games this season in LaLiga have been under 2.5 goals, while Valladolid’s figure is also below the league average, with 11 out of 19 coming in at under 2.5. The away team are the lowest-scoring side in the competition on the road with just five goals in nine games, while their xG is the second lowest in LaLiga for away fixtures with 0.59 per 90.
They have strengthened of late, but even in last week’s win they could not break the deadlock against Valencia at home until deep into injury time. Real Sociedad will provide a much tougher test and will also have to defend against a frontline full of new players who are still settling in after the January additions of Cyle Larin and Darwin Machís.
Inter v AC Milan
The headline game of the weekend is of course the Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan. It is one of the biggest fixtures in world football and will attract attention from all over the globe.
It’s fair to say that neither of these teams are where they expected to be at this stage of the season. Milan had genuine aims of defending their title and Inter believed that they had a squad in place that could snatch it back from their city rivals.
As it stands, the Nerazzurri are in second placed but are a whopping 13 points away from league leaders Napoli. Milan on the other hand, have dropped out of the top four but plenty of teams are on very similar points tallies.
Considering the attacking talent that both teams have and the fact that anything other than a victory will cause real anger among the fans, there should be serious attacking intent from both. Milan are at crisis point and desperately need a morale-boosting win.
Inter’s form may be better, but the contract situation with Milan Skriniar means that the fans are really not happy with the club and there is less support for Simone Inzaghi than there was at the start of the season. A draw is of little use to either, a win would be a platform to build from. That is why there should be goals in this one, the talent is on the pitch.
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