Once again we have a South American and Scandinavian heavy set of best bets for Sunday, with 11 games across 7 leagues being provided by our network of League Scouts.
Today’s best bets feature the opening round of the Clausura season in Paraguay, alongside intriguing games up in Sweden and Norway as their respective leagues begin to really heat up.
Title-chasing Malmo will be looking to maintain their two-point lead in the Allsvenskan, whilst in the Eliteserien, two out of form sides in Rosenborg and Lillestrøm will be hoping to turn the corner and make a push up the table before they get left behind, or worse, dragged into a relegation battle.
Meanwhile in Brazil, there is a huge clash as the top two, Gremio and Botafogo, prepare to face off late on Sunday night.
We have you covered with the best bets today for leagues across the globe, and to take advantage of any these value picks you can sign up to Betfair via the offer below. Sign up to Betfair, deposit £5 on any game and get £20 in free bets:
Sunday’s League Scout Best Bets
Jorge Wilstermann v Blooming Santa Cruz
Our best bets begin in the early hours of Sunday, with one of the Bolivia’s derbies plays out in Cochabamba. With both these two teams seeking to focus on improving their lacklustre league placing, Blooming are 17th and bottom, which would imply relegation if the season were to end today, and whilst Wilstermann sit three places above them in 14th, they are more tellingly only two points ahead.
Blooming seem to have picked up somewhat recently, as they are unbeaten after two games in which they kept two clean-sheets, having previously conceded in 26 consecutive games. What is most impressive and unusual about those clean-sheets is that one of them was attained away to the mighty Santos (of Pele renown). Despite this, Blooming have been in serious trouble on and off the pitch for several seasons now, what’s more, they barely stayed up last season, have a depleted squad, and despite being one of the biggest sides in Bolivia have not won a league title for nearly 18 years.
For their part Wilstermann have lost two of their last three games but only three times all season and have been hampered by a much talked about six-point reduction for irregularities away from the field of play.
Wilstermann should win this at home as they are unbeaten in the last four to Blooming and one would expect at least three goals.
Malmö FF v Mjällby AIF
The first of two best bets from Sweden, Malmö are looking to continue their fine early-season form and make their way towards the Allsvenskan title, while Mjällby will be looking to cause an upset to solidify their mid-table position.
The hosts have been dominant for the majority of the campaign, scoring 34 goals in 13 matches. Their free-flowing football has been a joy to behold and they continued in fine fashion last week, smashing Sirius with a 3-0 scoreline. Their fluid system suits their versatile squad, with Sebastian Nanasi in particular flourishing in a free role. Scoring again last weekend, he now has 8 goals and 3 assists to his name in only 11 starts. With Anders Christiansen and Stefano Vecchia missing, his role becomes even more important in backing up Isak Kiese Thelin up top.
Mjällby cannot compete like Malmö but have performed admirably with a limited squad at their disposal. The goal will always be to remain in the division, and if possible, finish in the top half. That is a real possibility despite losing both Jacob Bergström to Djurgården and Silas Nwankwo to a cruciate ligament injury ahead of the season.
A young core has stepped up, remaining solid defensively while also not scoring much. In fact, they have the second-worst goalscoring record in Allsvenskan, but make up for this by also having the third-best defensive record. Only 13 goals conceded in 13 matches is impressive, and much of that is down to the likes of Otto Rosengren and Noah Persson excelling. Tom Pettersson, returning to Sweden after stints in the MLS and Norway, has been fantastic too, adding some much-needed experience.
They will likely need to sign an out-and-out striker to be able to push any higher in the division, however, as the lack of scoring threat in the squad is an issue.
Despite the away side’s prior defensive solidity, Malmö will be expected to put on a show here. The aforementioned Rosengren and Persson have both left the club, making the team significantly weaker defensively, and in any case, they have suffered batterings by the likes of Häcken (x2) and Djurgården this season already.
IK Sirius v Hammarby IF
Sirius had an atrocious start to the season, not winning any of their first nine matches, but have since won three of their last four. It looked like they were destined for the drop, with little quality in forward areas, but they have improved defensively while managing to get on the scoresheet with regularity.
The return to action last Saturday was not what they hoped for, but any points in an away game at Malmö are a bonus. A 3-0 battering was well-deserved, and in fact, Malmö could have scored more. Despite their improvements, Sirius can be vulnerable at the back, especially now that captain Marcus Mathisen is gone. There is a feeling that they can both score and concede in the majority of encounters, and that doesn’t look too likely to change with how the squad is built. They are out of the relegation zone, at least for now, but could easily slip back down with a few more poor results.
Hammarby’s season, similarly, has been a major let-down – they sit in 10th with only 4 wins from 14 matches, and in earnest, this sort of form was expected. The squad is extremely unbalanced, with too many young players making them overly inconsistent. It is a stark contrast to a few seasons back when they had assembled some of the most exciting players in the whole country. There is plenty of potential but Marti Cifuentes still hasn’t settled on a working front 3, while the defence is still much too open.
The injury situation doesn’t help, with plenty of starters out of action, but that is no excuse for an overall poor campaign. To make matters worse, Sweden international Edvin Kurtulus went off injured last week, in the deserved 2-0 defeat at the hands of Elfsborg, but he hopes to be back this weekend already.
Even then, Sirius score in the majority of matches. Hammarby, too, will be looking to provide more of a threat, and Sirius’s porous defence should give them a helping hand, making this best bet an excellent value play.
Åsane vs Skeid
This is a basement battle in the OBOS Ligaen which might put off some people, but from a betting perspective there is often great potential when two poor sides meet. With both teams on just 10 points and a draw offering little I would expect a contest which is win at all costs.
Defence has been the biggest issue and together combined Åsane and Skeid have conceded a massive 55 goals between them this season. Åsane have now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 9 fixtures and have been leaking goals left right and centre. Their last two results have been a 2-2 draw vs Kristiansund and a wild 3-3 vs Sandnes last week. At least they have goals in them and have netted at least once in 11 out of 14 league games this year.
Åsane’s underlying xG and xGA metrics are pretty much where we would expect them, even if they have slightly underachieved at both ends. Skeid have significantly the worst defence in the OBOS Ligaen conceding 32 goals and their average xGA is 1.73 which also ranks worst out of anyone.
They only just survived by the skin of their teeth last season via the relegation playoff, and it looks like it will be difficult for them to maintain their league status again. We can’t expect miracles from Skeid. They were expected to struggle but they fight hard in all games. They managed to draw 2-2 vs Kristiansund a few weeks ago and lost 2-4 at home to Sogndal last week.
Both teams are semi-professional clubs, so it’s difficult for the players compared to those who are fully pro. Over 2.5 goals are a short price but should be a virtual banker in a match like this. The dangling carrot of three points vs very beatable opposition should inspire both to attack hard with nobody settling for a draw. For those who prefer to be more adventurous then over 3.5 goals are a decent price at 2.10, but I will play it safe by taking over 2.5 at 1.40.
Rosenborg v Lillestrøm
Neither team is heading into this match in particularly good form. Rosenborg are actually in somewhat of a crisis and are hovering only just above the relegation zone. They sacked Kjetil Rekdal a few weeks ago and immediately replaced him with Svein Maalen for the rest of the season.
Maalen promised an immediate change of tactics and entertaining football. What has transpired since was not part of the script because RBK lost successive matches to Sarpsborg (0-3) and then a shock defeat away to rock bottom Aalesund last week (0-1). This is not acceptable for a club of their stature and already Maalen is under pressure from fans. They absolutely must deliver at least some sort of performance this weekend and ideally collect 3 points.
Lillestrøm are solidly placed in midtable but have just been meandering along recently treading water. Truth be told, they haven’t quite been the same since they lost the Norwegian Cup final to Brann in mid-May and mentally, I think it hit them quite hard. LSK have only won 1 of their last 5 games and disappointingly lost 0-1 at home to Tromso last week.
The visitors do possess one of the strongest attack duos in the league though with Akor Adams and Thomas Lehne Olsen. The latter has missed some game time due to injury but is now back fit. Nigerian hitman Adams has bagged 10 goals in what has been an impressive campaign. Lillestrøm have only kept two clean sheets all season which has been a definite achilles heel.
Rosenborg are clear favourites here which is a slight surprise. They couldn’t be backed with monopoly money, although a reaction is expected. The fans will demand they have a proper go here and Maalen needs to live up to his promise of attacking and entertaining football.
It is worth noting that despite not scoring, RBK did have an overall xG of 4.30 in their last two fixtures. The chances are being created but not converted. Over 2.5 goals look like a massive price at 1.85 when you consider Rosenborg’s desperate need for points. Lillestrøm have plenty of attacking firepower and should contribute as well.
Skövde v GAIS
After nearly finishing in the top three of the Superettan last season, Skövde have endured a really difficult 2023 campaign, ahead of the mid-summer break. GAIS, on the other hand, have been exceptional, following promotion last season, as they seek to challenge for back-to-back promotions.
After narrowly missing out on a top three finish in the 2022 Superettan season, Skövde have had an absolute nightmare of a campaign as they begin this return to second-tier action sitting rock-bottom in the table. They have managed just one win in their opening 12 matches as they six eight points behind Gefle, who are outside of the bottom four.
They have scored just nine goals this season, which is one more than the joint fewest duo AFC Eskilstuna and Helsingborg, and they have conceded 23, which is the most in the second-tier. That matches their underlying data with 1.78 being the joint highest expected goals against in the league.
GAIS, as mentioned, won promotion to the second-tier last season by finishing top of the Ettan Sodra. Fredrik Holmberg’s side have surprised many by seeking to emulate last season’s Superettan champions, Brommapojkarna, and earning back-to-back promotions into the top-flight.
Their most recent outing, a 4-0 demolition of Orebro, backed up a 3-0 win away at GIF Sundsvall, to leave them sitting third in the table ahead of the mid-summer break. The Gothenburg club have been slightly reliant on the output of the versatile, Julius Lindberg, who, often played as a wing-back, has played up-front on occasion this season, notching six times with one assist.
Like a few match-ups this weekend, this is one that has flipped since the start of the season. GAIS would have been major underdogs on the opening day but now they are firm favourites for this encounter.
Always Ready v Aurora
We head back to Bolivia for the evening best bets, with two teams having strong seasons featuring. Always Ready may have been soundly beaten at the weekend in Potosi in the League Cup but that shouldn’t take away from the legitimacy of their league title challenge, which saw them win five of the previous six games and which sees them four points off the top in third place.
Aurora for their part, together with Real Santa Cruz are the surprise package of the season, sitting in fifth place and far above the relegation battle which normally has them as a central character. Having only lost two of the previous ten games, Aurora have a tight defence to thank, having conceded barely 15 all season (only Wilstermann and Always Ready have conceded less).
In the last seven meetings Always hold the advantage have won four games, whilst the visitors have managed just one; but interestingly that one Aurora win was the previous time they played in El Alto and Aurora have conceded just one goal in the last three outings between the sides.
In terms of forwards Aurora’s striker Romero scored 12 in 14 this season but none in the last three, while Always Ready are increasingly dependent on the scoring prowess of veteran Jair Reinoso with eight. Top scorer Ramallo for his part has only managed two this season.
Always Ready should do enough to keep the three points but expect Aurora to put up a fight and the defences to be heavily involved.
Red Bull Bragantino v Sao Paulo
Our first of two Brazilian best bets, two Sao Paulo teams lock horns on Sunday evening as Red Bull Bragantino host Sao Paulo at the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid. These sides met as recently as February in the Paulista State Championship, on that occasion, it was Bragantino who ran out 2-1 victors thanks to two late goals, they would love to do something similar in this game.
Bragantino have been in wonderful form of late and are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions, a run of form which has seen them win their last four matches.
Last time out, they took on another Sao Paulo-based side in Corinthians and ran out 1-0 winners away from home, thanks to a first-half strike from Eduardo Sasha. Their XG of 0.88 compared to Timão’s 0.55 shows Bragantino just about edge the contest. Their home form has seen them win five of their seven matches and they’ll be eager to build on that.
Bragantino have a lengthy injury list here with; Bruninho, Leo Ortiz, Henry Mosquera, Helinho, Raul, Laquintana and Talisson all missing out due to injury.
Also on a good run at the moment are Sao Paulo who have won their last three matches in all competitions. Last weekend, they enjoyed a 1-0 home win over Fluminense, thanks to a late goal from Luciano. Dorival Junior’s men were worth winners according to XG which saw them rack up 0.87 compared to Flu’s lowly 0.12. Then in midweek, there was another positive home victory for Sao Paulo, this time another 1-0 win over rivals Palmeiras in the Copa do Brasil.
Despite their wonderful form at home, away from home, Tricolour are yet to win with three draws and three defeats from their six league matches – the second-worst away record in the league this season.
For this duel, they will be without Lucas Beraldo who went off injured in midweek.
With Bragantino looking unstoppable at home and Sao Paulo not enjoying their travels of late, the hosts will feel comfortable about picking up another three points in front of their own fans.
Sportivo Luqueño vs Guaraní
Sportivo Luqueño enter the Clausura with a solid points total that means they can be more focused on Copa Sudamericana qualification rather than worrying about relelgation. Guaraní have brought in a new coach, Juan Pablo Pumpido and some new players with their eyes on the Sudamericana knockout stages.
It has been an active transfer window for Luqueño, their topscorer from the Apertura Marcelo Pérez has been linked with a move abroad but they have brought it veteran Lucas Barrios for cover. Young defender Sebastián Olmedo has left for Puebla and his proposed replacement Rodrigo Melgarejo ended up signing for Cerro Porteño. Alfredo Aguilar has joined between the sticks while Paraguay U20s international Kevin Pereira has also come on board.
Guaraní have dipped into the Argentine market to pick up cover for outgoing players, River Plate youth teamer Felipe Salomoni replaces Marcos Cáceres in defence. Further up the pitch they have acquired
David Gallardo from Sarmiento who plays on the left wing. Homegrown talent Romeo Benitez will wear the number 10 shirt, fully fit a lot of hope is on his young shoulders.
Although Guaraní have had little rest due to Sudamericana commitments they look in good shape heading into the league opener. They will be eager for revenge having lost this fixture 3-0 in May as Luqueño ran riot. Since then both sides have got new managers and with Julio César Cáceres in charge of Luqueño we can hope for attacking football.
Gremio v Botafogo
Our second of two Brazilian best bets could well be the game of the weekend. The top two in Brazil go head-to-head at the Arena do Grêmio on Sunday evening as second-place Gremio take on league-leaders Gremio in what promises to be an exciting top-of-the-table clash, between two sides who have had challenging times in recent years, but are now both back on the up.
Gremio have been in awesome form of late with seven wins from their last nine matches, a run which has seen Renato Gaúcho’s side rise up to second place, not bad for a side who were playing second-tier football last season.
At the weekend, Gremio took on Bahia away from home and enjoyed a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Franco Cristaldo and a late winner from Gustavo Martins. Gremio were well worth their win according to the expected goals method, which saw them rack up an XG of 2.21, compared to Bahia’s 1.30. Then in midweek, against the same opposition in the same ground, Gremio and Bahia put on a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Copa do Brasil clash.
Luis Suarez is a doubt here, whilst Gremio have several guaranteed absentees in; Pepe, Everton Galdino and Fabio who miss out due to injury.
League leaders Botafogo will come into this duel with a seven-point lead over Gremio, as well as fresher legs having not played in midweek, something they’ll be eager to use to their advantage. Fogo have won their last four league matches and would love to make it six here. Last weekend, Botafogo took on fellow Rio de Janeiro side Vasco da Gama and ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Luis Henrique and Carlos Alberto. It was a comfortable evening for Fogo who put up an XG of 1.46, compared to Vasco’s 0.85.
Botafogo have three players missing for this duel in Lucas Fernandes, Patrick de Paula and Rafael who are all injured.
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Bruno Large is expected to take over the helm from Luis Castro who left to join Al Nassr.
Picking a winner between these two in-form sides is tough, but one thing that has been common with Botafogo in recent weeks is that they like to keep things tight, meaning over 2.5 goals in this one seems unlikely.
Cerro Porteño vs Guaireña
Our final of today’s best bets comes from Paraguay. The vice champions will be fully focused on the league having crashed out of continental competition. Guaireña have made some smart signings in the off season knowing that their future in the top division could depend on it.
Cerro Porteño snapped up Cecilio Dominguez hoping to fight in the Copa Sudamericana but have failed to qualify. The former Austin and América star will be perfect foil to Diego Churin which bolsters the attack. Defensively they were in desperate need of central defender and have turned to Rodrigo Melgarejo who returns to Paraguay from Celaya in Mexico. Alan Benitez also comes back to the club an important player at right back.
Guaireña have lost Paulo Lima who was a key defender, playing over 1,000 minutes in the Apertura season. They have reinforced plenty up front with Olimpia youngster Kevin Parzajuk being joined by another striker Enrique Borja and two wingers in Tomás Rojas and Iván Cazal. It makes for an exciting front line for the 2nd worst attack during the first half of the year.
Cerro Porteño only lost once at home in the Apertura, and this fixture ended in a comfortable 2-0 win which was the same result when the sides had met in Villarrica. You would expect the azulgrana to pick up three points again, but with Guaireña having upgraded in terms of firepower we can expect goals.
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