Sunday’s football takes place in Scandinavia alongside South America, with games in Brazil, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Colombia. It is all to play for in Colombia as the play-off phase draws to a close, where Rionegro Aguilas have really struggled despite finishing first in the division heading into the play-off round.
Our League Scouts have once again been hard at work finding the very best value bets across all the football being played on Sunday.
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Sunday’s Best Bets & Predictions
Deportivo Pasto v Rionegro Aguilas
The wheels have fallen off Águilas at exactly the wrong time of the season. For much of the first stage of Colombia’s league format in which every team faces each other with the top eight qualifying for this semi-final phase, Águilas were the star performers.
Under Lucas González, a manager in his first ever top job, Águilas played some of the best football in the division. Using fresh ideas and an analytic-focused approach usually missing from most Colombian coaches, Águilas finished top of the league and were many neutral fan’s pick for the title.
Yet in this semi-final phase they have imploded. In fairness they’ve been quite unlucky. In three of their four games so far, they have out-performed their rival’s xG. But that clinical touch in front of goal that saw them plunder 32 goals in the first league stage, has now deserted them.
It didn’t help that one of their games, the reverse leg of this match, was abandoned after 18 minutes due to a thunderstorm with the remainder played early the following morning. Another factor for their slump is the loss of key midfielder Kevin Castaño who was sold to Cruz Azul for a club record $4m a week ago and won’t play again this season.
González has long enthused that his captain is the best midfielder in the division. He’s probably right. Águilas tactics were heavily indebted to his reliability in shutting out the opposition in midfield and without him the team doesn’t have the same confidence to commit men forward.
With three consecutive blanks in front of goal, Águilas go into this match already eliminated. Pasto too are practically out of the title race, needing to win their last two matches and pray for a miracle to qualify for the final. They too have struggled badly in front of goal recently, scoring just 1 in their semi-final matches. At their high-altitude home they will have the edge. But with spirits low on both sides, we expect a sluggish affair, with few goals. Under 2.5 goals looks to be excellent value here.
AIK v Elfsborg
AIK have been below par all season long, struggling majorly at both ends of the pitch. Injuries haven’t helped but that is no excuse for only collecting one win in eleven matches. The solitary victory came nine matches ago, recording four draws and four losses since, and performances have been in line with results. They both struggle to control matches and prevent the opposition from creating chances, meaning they often stand little chance of winning except for a stroke of luck.
Last week against Kalmar however, there was a small turn of the tide, with a decent performance meaning they should have won the game on paper. Such is their current misery though that they missed a penalty to shortly afterwards concede a cheap goal, but managed to rally and grab a point through a late Magashy goal.
The winter signing has been one of the few bright spots this campaign – unfortunately for AIK he went down in training the other day and looks to be missing this game as a result. It adds to a list of absentees through injury, with Otieno, Björnström and Bilal Hussein also suspended for this match.
Elfsborg’s season has been the direct opposite, recovering from a tough year in 2022 to show a real drive and determination to be at the upper echelon of the league. A very competitive squad in all positions has helped, with the young starlet Jacob Ondrejka a real bright spot. His imminent departure will test their depth but should bring in a hefty sum, some of which may be spent on a replacement to gear up for a title challenge in the autumn.
They are unbeaten in 10 consecutive matches after an opening day defeat to champions Häcken, and while people around the club may have been hopeful of a successful season, few would have predicted being in the position they are now in, pushing an imperious Malmö side for first spot. If afforded space, they can be absolutely lethal in transition, but also have the quality to break down deep defences.
Djurgården however managed to contain them well in their 1-1 draw last weekend, cutting out counter attacks early and not allowing them to build up from the back. Despite this, Elfsborg could and maybe should have won the match through the chances they created.
With the away side in excellent form and a stronger squad to boost, AIK will struggle for any sort of result here. In addition, this is Ondrejka’s last game and he’ll want to go out with a bang.
AC Oulu v FC Inter Turku
The most inconsistent team in the division, AC Oulu are often a tough one to call. They have a striker in fine form, served and supported well by former and future Finland internationals, but also a defence who struggle to keep clean sheets against the poorest sides in the league.
At KuPS on Wednesday, the forwards barely had a sniff and they’d already conceded the only goal before even getting started. Better teams will lose to KuPS but this Oulu team have ambitions of European football next summer.
They are heavily reliant on Ashley Coffey but Otto Liimatta is the spark who can score and assist and will be the main threat to Inter from midfield. The loss of Cristhian Valencia to suspension further weakens the back line.
Inter return to the road after four consecutive home games (winning three), with Jarkko Wiss’s methods paying off. But those were games a team with podium goals would expect to win. On their day, AC Oulu can test anyone.
Bismarck Ampofo was excellent again in midweek and will have his hands full trying to destroy the midfield. Darren Smith has four goals in his last four matches and will fancy adding to that tally. After his trumpeted return to Finland, Timo Stavitski has still yet to score a league goal and is starting to lose status. Petteri Forsell, nearly 33, is struggling to do 90 minutes and is also goalless. With everyone else struggling, there is an awful lot resting on Smith’s shoulders.
Haugesund v Sandefjord
The home side have only won 2 out of 9 games and have some of the worst metrics of any team in the division yet are somehow odds-on favourites to win this match. The price looks wrong and Sandefjord are very underrated. Haugesund beat Godset 2-1 last week, but they were very fortunate that their opponents missed a glutton of chances.
The West coast outfit have the worst xG and xGA statistics of any team in the Eliteserien and if they continue these trends then they will go down. At just 0.80 xG per game their attack force clearly isn’t much to be feared. At the other end of the field their best player has easily been goalkeeper Egil Selvik.
Sandefjord travel here on the back of an excellent 4-1 victory vs Odd last week. They played some excellent football in that match and when this team performs to its best then they are very dangerous. Sandefjord have a poor reputation and in the media they were many peoples favourites to get relegated.
This means they can be a very underrated side and I believe that to be the case in this fixture. Sandefjord’s metrics are nothing remarkable, but they are performing better than Haugesund and have already travelled to the likes of Brann, Molde and Rosenborg.
The away side also have an excellent recent record at this stadium, winning on their last two visits. Both teams play on natural grass and Sandefjord are used to this sort of surface, so it poses no problems. I think they are worth backing in the double chance market at 1.83. All of the pressure and expectation will be on Haugesund to win, and I don’t think they will enjoy being in that situation. Sandefjord can at very least draw this game and the value certainly lies with the visitors.
Bodø/Glimt v HamKam
This fixture looks like a total mismatch between top of the table Glimt and a desperately struggling Ham Kam outfit. The home side have been at their imperious best this season racking up 9 wins out of 10 games, as they remain unbeaten. The only shadow over the club is the future of manager Kjetil Knutsen who continues to be linked with a move away to the likes of Ajax or Celtic.
This is nothing new though and Glimt are used to dealing with speculation. The team from inside the Arctic Circle are legitimately strong and have an average xG of 1.91 per match. Only Molde and Brann have better metrics at both ends of the field, but Glimt have a clinical touch and a control within their games which is why they are 8 points clear at the top. Bodø/Glimt have scored at least two goals in every match so far and there is little to suggest that will change here.
Ham Kam won 2 of their first 3 matches but have since struggled desperately. They’ve now dropped to second bottom of the table and conceded a massive 23 goals in 9 league games. Their record and performances away from home have been particularly disappointing with 4 out of 4 defeats and a -12 goal difference. There have been too many times when they’ve fallen behind and then left themselves totally exposed, a situation which happened during last week’s 0-4 defeat at Rosenborg.
In fairness, they have massively underachieved their xGA metric of 14.13 and a combination of some poor individual errors, tactical mistakes and some dodgy goalkeeping have been to blame for their results.
Bodø/Glimt will surely win the game but backing them at odds of 1.14 will hardly make you rich. When you take the home side to win and over 2.5 goals then the price gets bumped up to 1.44 which is much more appealing. This bet has won in 7 of 10 Glimt matches this season with the only losers being a couple of 2-0 wins and a 2-2 draw.
The only real danger score would appear to be 2-0 exactly but most people would expect the hosts to rack up 3 or 4 goals in this game. It should be very straightforward for the league leaders facing a defence which has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese.
Odd v Molde
Molde came from 2-3 down to beat Viking 4-3 last week and it could be a big result for their season. If they had dropped more points, then any faint hope of catching Glimt at the top could have evaporated entirely. As things stand, the defending champions are still a massive 12 points adrift and down in 4th place, but they are trending upwards with 5 wins in their last 6 league games.
Molde have some brilliant underlying metrics with the second best average xG of any team (1.94) and the best xGA (1.00). This has not always transferred into results though and they have conceded goals at inopportune moments in games.
Last week they were fortunate that a red card swung the match in their favour otherwise they may have dropped more points. Erling Moe’s men are still a legitimately strong side though and it would be a surprise if they didn’t finish in the top two positions.
A fixture away to Odd looks the ideal timing. The home side have struggled this season with only 2 wins in 9 games. They got beaten heavily 1-4 vs Sandefjord last week which was an extremely worrying performance and result.
Odd started the campaign with 5 clean sheets out of 6 but it masked what were actually some poor underlying defensive metrics. They’ve been heavily reliant on star goalkeeper Leopold Wahlstedt, but he cannot save them all the time.
Odd have some offensive problems and the main issue is they lack a proper clinical #9 type striker. They have the 3rd worst xG average in the Eliteserien (1.01) and even compared to that they have underachieved. There is nobody in this Odd squad you would feel confident about hitting the back of the net regularly.
Molde are priced at 1.80 to win this game which actually looks quite big. They are easily the more superior side and should dominate proceedings straight from the off. Strange things have sometimes happened in their fixtures this season but logically it is hard to make much of a case for Odd to get anything here.
HJK v FC KTP
HJK’s latest mini crisis was halted in midweek with a tough win against Lahti, coming from behind with two more goals from Bojan Radulovic. Eight goals in nine games is a grand return but it was welcome to see Roope Riski start, his first in the league this year. These two together are a dynamic threat with different sets of abilities and a welcome boost.
Dejan Iliev became the first choice goalkeeper after a poor run from rival Jesse Ost, conceding three in the reverse of this fixture in early May. Iliev was on the books of Arsenal as a youngster and has been called up to the North Macedonia squad for their upcoming Euro qualifiers as a reward for his form. He’s looked solid and confident and will be hoping his defence help him keep a clean sheet against spirited but limited opposition.
KTP weren’t great at Inter on Wednesday, conceding in each half and going down to ten men (the foul for the red card provided the free kick from which Inter scored, albeit deflected). Not many teams will go to Inter and win so no shame, but it was Miska Rautiola earning a red card on his first league appearance and he’ll be banned for this match.
The defence will be strongly tested against the champions who desperately need a win to stay in touch at the top going into the international break. The 3-3 draw last month did provide entertainment but KTP will be facing a stronger HJK this time and will need to be at their very best to resist their dangerous strikers.
IFK Mariehamn v SJK
A Mariehamn team with two points from four games go into the toughest match so far depleted and in bad form. Defeat to Honka also included a red card for Mikko Sumosalo and a totting up bans for Suleman Usman and De, despite an early goal.
The performances have been poor and there is a gap forming between the bottom three (Mariehamn, VPS, Lahti) and the rest of the table. Elmo Henriksson saved his third penalty of 2023 against Honka but the side are conceding nearly two goals a game and are drifting towards at best a relegation playoff.
A tough derby win for SJK on Thursday against VPS was remarkable for the first goal, a giant throw-in by Terry Yegbe was tipped into the net by the Vepsu goalkeeper, although again it needed a late winner to seal another three points after a rare goal conceded.
The defence has only let in three this season, but SJK have only scored 3 goals in their last three games. They can’t keep relying on freak own goals. The coach is using the words ‘horrible’ and ‘relentless’ to describe his young team, but you can’t manufacture experience and goals. If they can let the handbrake off a little against a weakened Mariehamn, they may demonstrate their true title credentials.
There are unlikely to be many goals in this fixture but this Mariehamn side aren’t built to resist the relentless, horrible SJK, provided they can find the back of the net.
Internacional v Vasco da Gama
13th place Internacional host 19th place Vasco da Gama in what promises to be an interesting battle between two sides having below-par seasons.
After a tough start, Internacional seem to have found their feet and it all stemmed surprisingly from a loss to their bitter rivals Gremio. Since the 3-1 loss on May 21st, Inter are unbeaten in all competitions with three wins and two draws.
They took on Santos away from home at the weekend and earned a point in a 1-1 draw. Inter will be fairly pleased with the point considering it was Santos who had the better chances, which was reflected on expected goals with Santos having 1.60 compared to Colorado’s 0.81.
They will be seeking to be more creative in this duel. In midweek, they drew 1-1 away from home with Nacional of Uruguay in the Copa Libertadores, a result they will be quite frustrated with considering it was a late equalizer which stopped them from picking up all three points. They will be without the injured duo, Carlos de Pena and Gabriel for this game.
Their opponents, Vasco da Gama, have been in horrendous form of late, they are currently on a run of eight matches without a win. In this period, Vasco have suffered four defeats on the spin, as they rightfully sit in the drop zone after nine matches.
On Monday evening, they took on rivals Flamengo and a terrible first half saw them 4-0 down, which saw some Vasco fans head for the exits. A second-half penalty from Jair was nothing but a consolation goal in a disappointing 4-1 loss for Mauricio Barbieri’s men.
In more positive news, midfielder Andrey Santos will return to the side after being on international duty with Brazil’s Under 20s.
With Internacional building momentum and Vasco looking dreadful at the moment, it’s hard to see anything other than a home win in this battle.
Sao Paulo v Palmeiras
One of the biggest games of the weekend in Brazil sees Sao Paulo host rivals Palmeiras in the latest chapter of the Choque-Rei (The kings clash). The sides last met back in January 2023 in a 0-0 draw in the Paulista State Championship. This time, however, with Dorival Junior taking charge of Sao Paulo, goals should be expected in this battle.
After a 12-match unbeaten run, Sao Paulo suffered back-to-back defeats, starting with a 3-2 loss to Sport Recife, meaning they had to go through penalties to progress in the Cup, before a 2-1 league defeat to Gremio away from home in their last league outing.
Sao Paulo had more of the ball in the game but will be disappointed with the chances they created during the battle. In midweek, Tricolour returned to winning ways with a 5-0 thumping of Deportes Tolima in the Copa Sudamericana which will lift spirits heading into this clash.
Sao Paulo have no new fresh injury concerns for this clash, with Igor Vinicius, Jandrei, Galoppo and Joao Moreira missing out due to injury, as they have done all season.
Champions Palmeiras remain the only unbeaten side in the division, but sit in second place, two points adrift of the league leader, Botafogo. So far in the Brasileirão in 2023, Verdão have won five and drawn four of their nine matches.
Their last league outing, saw them put in a dominant display as they saw off Coritiba in a 3-1 victory. Their xG of 2.58 compared to Coxa’s 0.84. backed up their domination. Then in midweek, after falling 2-0 goals behind to Barcelona SC, Palmeiras replied with four second-half goals. To confirm qualification to the Copa Libertadores knockouts stage.
For this duel, Palmeiras will be without captain Gustavo Gomez who is suspended after picking up a third yellow card in the previous league match.
Despite the last two fixtures being goalless draws, I’d expect goals in this one. Sao Paulo have scored at least once in their last eight matches and Palmeiras haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last four but have scored eight during this period.
Flamengo v Gremio
Flamengo and Gremio lock horns in Brazil’s top flight for the first time since 2021 and on that occasion, it was a classic affair in Porto Alegre with the sides drawing 2-2 in a four-goal thriller.
Flamengo comes into this battle in great form of late. They’re unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions and a run which has seen them win three on the spin. Last time out in the league, they took on their fellow Rio de Janeiro rivals, Vasco da Gama and enjoyed a dominant 4-1 victory at the Maracaná. The Rubro Negro blew Vasco away with four first-half goals, something they’d love to emulate here. Then in midweek, in the Copa Libertadores, they ran out 2-1 winners at home over Racing Club of Argentina, thanks to a late winner from Victor Hugo.
Also in great form are Gremio who have won their last four matches in all competitions and come into this game having had more time to prepare than their opponents. Last weekend, after falling a goal behind. Gremio flight back to see off São Paulo in a 2-1 victory at home. They come into this battle in fourth place one point above their opponents.
Both sides have players missing for this duel. Flamengo will be without Matheuzinho and Leo Pereira who are injured, whilst Gremio won’t have Reinaldo who is suspended, as well as, Jhontan Robert, Pepe and Fabio who are all injured.
Despite both sides being in good form, Flamengo come into the duel as favourites. Gremio’s toughest test to date came against Palmeiras where they suffered a 4-0 loss. Whilst the same scoreline against Flamengo would be unlikely, they still may find it tricky to avoid defeat in this one.
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