Atalanta v Lecce
These two sides are both very happy with how things are panning out so far in Serie A. Lecce were expected to be right in the thick of the relegation battle but some steady form throughout the campaign and good result against the teams around them mean they are up to 13th.
The Salentino are an enjoyable side to watch with a handful of players that can hurt a lot of sides. The front three of Federico Di Francesco, Gabriele Strefezza and Lorenzo Colombo has been impressive and that is why it is fair to think they could score against Atalanta.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have been in great form recently and are up to third place. They beat Lazio 2-0 last time out and could have scored plenty more. It is very possible that they thrash Lecce if the Puglian side are not at the races, but it is also possible that an end-to-end game between two confident attacking sides sees loads of goals go in.
With Rasmus Hojlund and Ademola Lookman in devastating form, this Sunday lunchtime fixture could be a very entertaining one to watch. The aforementioned Di Francesco will be very excited because they are the team he has scored the most against in Serie A during his career. He has scored four times against La Dea for four different teams.
There are five confident attacking players on the pitch here playing for two confident sides, so that could be a recipe for goals.
PSG v Lille
It’s rare that PSG go into a Ligue 1 home match at odds as long as 1.62, yet that is the case as they prepare to face Lille in Sunday’s early kick off. Of course, this comes off the back of Tuesday’s largely lamentable performance against Bayern Munich in losing 1-0 in the Champions League, but a reaction should be expected from the home side on this occasion.
Kylian Mbappe may well be preserved for this game given he was playing through injury in midweek, while it might be that Neymar is dropped after poor recent form following by an appearance at a poker tournament in Paris on Wednesday that will not have been appreciated by those around the club.
Nevertheless, PSG have plenty of ammunition in their side, with Marco Verratti, in particular, set to be sharper after barely playing in 2023 to date.
Lille, meanwhile, are in mixed form, having won two drawn lost two of their last five matches. LOSC’s main strength has been their home form, with four defeats in their 11 league road trips this season.
They face a defensive headache for this match with Ismaily missing out. They have got away with playing Timo Weah as a full-back against weaker opponents, like Strasbourg last weekend, but on Sunday they will face a PSG team that beat them 7-1 at the start of the season.
PSG may not be as strong as they were then, but they are still not a side to be underestimated and have won each of their last three against LOSC, scoring 14 goals in the process.
Lyngby v Nordsjaelland
The Sunday slate of Danish Superliga matches kicks off with a local derby in Northern Zealand as Lyngby take on big brother FC Nordsjælland.
The home side are most likely looking into their last couple of months as a Superliga team. They are dead last in the league with just eight points after the first 17 matches. The Royal Blue have won just one game this season, and with 13 points between themselves and Brøndby in 10th place, it is highly unlikely that Lyngby survives. To make things even harder for Lyngby, they’ve lost several high-profile players this winter as Adam Sørensen, Kasper Jørgensen and Magnus Westergaard have all left the club.
League leaders, FC Nordsjælland, have also lost some stars. They sold top scorer Andreas Schjelderup to Benfica for a new record fee, but have signed club legend Emiliano Marcondes from Bournemouth to replace him. The Tigers also have a new head coach as Johannes Hoff Thorup has replaced Flemming Pedersen on the sideline. Nordsjælland have also signed exciting midfielder Zidan Sertdemir from Bayer Leverkusen and look ready to fight for the championship in the spring. Nordsjælland delivered some stellar performances in their friendlies this winter, and they remain the favorites to win the league.
Nordsjælland are a significantly better team than Lyngby, and despite the loss of Schjelderup we expect them to win this one comfortably. Odds 1.70 on FCN to win at Betfair is a tremendous bet.
St. Gallen v Luzern
St. Gallen have struggled to build any momentum over the last couple of months, winning a in style one week and then suffering a disappointing result in the following outing. For example, their 7-2 win over Sion in November was followed up by a draw with Basel at home and a loss at Zurich. FCSG were emphatic winners over Servette two weeks ago, winning 3-0 and then they were thumped 5-1 by Young Boys in Bern last weekend. The result in the capital perhaps wasn’t unexpected, but the manner of the defeat especially after taking the lead was a hard one to stomach. Despite that win over Servette, Peter Zeidler’s team return to action on Sunday trailing the Geneva club by four points in third and this is down to that inconsistent form.
Luzern are in a good place at the moment. They aren’t winning many games, they have just one victory from seven, but they’ve only lost two of those games and those defeats came against YB and Basel. More encouragingly, they won in Basel at the end of January, held YB and then earned a point away to Lugano in their last three games. Being hard to beat has kept Luzern well within touching distance of a return to European football next season.
FCSG are strong at home but they’ve only won two of their last six at Kybunpark, conceding in seven of their last eight at the venue. Luzern have only failed to score in two of their last ten and I think they can breach a St. Gallen defence that is lacking confidence. The home side haven’t failed to score on their own patch since December 2021 so I think we’ll see goals at both ends here.
WSG Tirol v Red Bull Salzburg
While WSG Tirol are flying high in fourth place and jostling with the traditional big guns of Austrian football – the Tyrolean team are on a six-match unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga (W5 D1) – it has been a mixed start to the year for Salzburg: the Red Bulls suffered their first Austrian Cup elimination in five years against Sturm Graz in the quarter-finals, before bouncing back with victories over Austria Lustenau in the league last weekend and Italian outfit Roma in the Europa League round of 32 in midweek.
Both Thomas Silberberger and Matthias Jaissle will be able to field a more or less full strength side in this clash at the Tivoli Stadion in Innsbruck. Salzburg do have some players missing but young attacking midfielder Dijon Kameri would have been the only one with a realistic chance of breaking into this outstanding young team. Watch out for midfielders Nicolas Seiwald and Luka Sučić, who were majestic against Mourinho’s men on Thursday.
This is a meeting between the two most in-form clubs in the division in the second half of the regular season, with both teams taking 16 points from their six games to date. But we think Red Bull Salzburg will be a bridge too far for this overperforming WSG Tirol side: the reigning champions have won eight of the last nine meetings between the teams and scored at least twice in each of those games (35 goals in total). In our eyes, that makes them heavy favourites to pick up all three points and score more than once in the process.
Go Ahead Eagles v FC Twente
After Go Ahead’s long unbeaten run, they have suffered five defeats from six, including an exit from cup competition to Eerste Divisie side ADO Den Haag. These losses will surely have decreased confidence. However, they did have 56% possession last time out at high-flying Sparta Rotterdam, creating 18 goal attempts.
They meet FC Twente, who, though they sit fifth, are chasing a spot higher in the table this season. They are a monster in home games, but they look so short of quality whenever they play away from home. I watched them in their last away game (a 1-1 draw with lowly Groningen), and they just didn’t control the game the way a team chasing the Eredivisie title should.
The Eagles have a number of players who can hurt Twente. Bobby Adekanye will enjoy exploiting Twente’s defensive weakness in midfield. The safety of a +1 handicap makes this bet look exceptional value, especially when you consider Twente’s lack of goals when they play on the road.
FC Utretcht v PSV
I would suggest that Utrecht look a totally different side under new head coach Michael Silberbauer. They have really improved the way they attack. Taylor Booth in particular has been impressing on the right wing. That said, they weren’t as impressive losing 2-0 to ten-man Vitesse last weekend, which the players recognised after the match as not good enough. Under Silberbauer, Utrecht often create a lot of chances, but they have been quite wasteful. They have shown us though when playing at AZ when they drew 5-5 that when the right striker gets on the end of a chance, they can be a really good side.
I think PSV are in for a tough test, which Utrecht away always offers the top sides. A key factor could be that PSV come into this having played on Thursday night in Spain. In the last league match, the Eindhoven club found Groningen to be easy work with a 6-0 win. Some goals are back in the side after an initial wobble when Cody Gakpo and Noni Madueke first left. It now seems up to Xavi Simons to take on the mantle for Ruud van Nistelrooy’s men in terms of providing that spark playing behind Luuk de Jong. Is Simons in Oranje contention for next month’s squad? He could prove his worth once more with a big performance here.
Goals for both sides look likely. Will we get a tired PSV or one that is still very much in title contention? Utrecht look good to back for goals for whichever PSV turn up.
Manchester United v Leicester City
Leicester travel to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon to face a Manchester United side in excellent form. The hosts have been involved in some goal heavy games in recent weeks and I’m expecting much of the same here. United faced Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday night, in a thoroughly entertaining affair ending 2-2. This game comes just a matter of days later and I feel the away side certainly have enough in the tank to find the back of the net. The Foxes thumped Tottenham at the King Power last weekend by four goals to one, courtesy of goals from Maddison, Iheanacho, Mendy and Barnes. Goals have been flowing for the away side all season long so I’m confident they’ll be able to keep this up here!
The Red Devils remain unbeaten at home since their early season defeat to Brighton. I fully expect them to be on the score sheet once more though, something they’ve managed in 14 of their previous 15 games on home soil. Marcus Rashford has been in the form of his life in the last few months, having bagged at least one goal in 13 of his last 17 matches. This terrific run does not seem to be slowing down and there’s every chance he can cause chaos amongst the Foxes backline. With the previously mentioned Europa League campaign back under way and the Carabao Cup Final on the horizon, this could give Ten Hag the opportunity to shuffle the pack ever so slightly. However, one thing is for sure, Casemiro remains suspended and Eriksen remains sidelined until the back end of the season. In my opinion, this is an extremely key area of the field to be missing such influential players and Leicester have the personnel to cause problems. Maddison, Mendy and Tielemans just to name a few, depending on who Rodgers selects on match day.
You may find the selection of both teams to score an interesting one for this particular game. However, there’s plenty of reasons to support this, Leicester have a superb scoring record especially in away fixtures. It’s now 16 of their last 18 Premier League games on the road that they’ve been on the score sheet. This tremendous run dates back to the previous season and is proven over a large period of matches. Not just this, they are currently a team looking sharp in attack, having hit 10 goals in their last 3 in the PL. A couple of standout players I’d like to mention are Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison. The Nigerian striker is set to lead the line as he’s forced his way into the gaffer’s plans due to some brilliant performances. A total of 5 goal contributions have been achieved in just the last 2 games, so I’m envisaging he’ll get the nod in attack and could well be the man to unlock the door. Their star midfield maestro in James Maddison is also set for another start and it’s clear as day he can cause problems against any team. Now back to full fitness and scoring in his last 2 and providing an assist, I believe he can certainly make his presence felt yet again!
After crunching the numbers, the selection of BTTS can give us a serious run for our money with goals set to flow at Old Trafford.
Troyes v Montpellier
Sunday afternoon sees a Troyes side that has drawn seven of its 11 home games tackle a Montpellier side that has seen only one of its 11 road trips finish all square. If the result of this match is, therefore, unpredictable, a high-scoring match should be on the cards.
From Troyes’ perspective, they need to get something positive going. Defensively, they have been awful in recent weeks, with 11 goals conceded in their last three and 21 leaked in their previous seven league matches. They have tried a couple of different shapes, but these have not worked. Moreover, there are selection issues ahead of the weekend, with a number of wide defenders doubtful.
Montpellier, meanwhile, are benefitting from the arrival of Michel Der Zakarian back at the club. He took over for a second stint in the dugout last weekend and watched his team record a simple 3-0 win over Brest. This is a side whose potential offensively has not been unlocked this season and should improve under their new head coach.
The visiting side have the tools available to have an exciting and dynamic side, with the likes of Elye Wahi, Teji Savanier and Stephy Mavididi, who is an injury doubt before this match, all dangerous players. They can be undermined by a weak defence, with two or more conceded in five of their last seven league matches.
This match finished 3-2 to Montpellier on the opening day of the season, and a similarly open game is in store here.
Lamia v Olympiacos
Savvas Pantelidis’ tenure at Lamia has lasted less than three months, as the experienced Greek coach terminated his contract with the club by mutual consent after his team’s thrashing at the hands of OFI on Monday. The in-form Heraklion-based side netted four goals to grab a comfortable road victory against a struggling Lamia.
Pantelidis is the second coach to depart the club this season, with Gianluca Festa being fired back in November after the team’s poor start to the season. The Greek manager failed to improve Lamia, who have lost nine of their last 13 matches, with their only win this season dating back in late September, when they beat second-bottom Levadiakos.
Lamia currently sit at the bottom of the table, having scored just nine goals in 22 Greek Super League games thus far. On Sunday, they will face an Olympiacos side who bounced back from a painful 3-0 loss at AEK Athens with a convincing 6-1 victory over Panetolikos, in what was the reigning champions’ finest performance this season.
This morale-boosting win helped Olympiacos to overtake PAOK, as they currently sit third in the table, five points behind leaders Panathinaikos. Their upcoming game at Lamia is considered as their easiest away fixture until the end of the season and Olympiacos will push to grab all three points and hope that the other title contenders drop points this weekend.
Olympiacos have won nine of their last 10 games against Lamia, having scored an average of 2.6 goals per game. They should be expected to both secure a win on Sunday and score more than one goal, their season average being 1.9 goals scored per match.
Silkeborg v Copenhagen
Arguably the most exciting match Sunday in the Superliga is between Silkeborg IF, placed fourth, and FC Copenhagen, placed third. Silkeborg are just three points behind the reigning champions from Copenhagen, and this fixture is the definition of a six pointer.
Last season’s bronze winners from Silkeborg had a mixed winter. They lost top scorer Nicklas Helenius to AaB, and they only won three of their six friendlies over the break. Silkeborg didn’t sign a replacement for Helenius and are thus hoping Tonni Adamsen, who played semi-professionally last season, can keep developing. They did sign midfielder Lasse Vigen Christensen on a free transfer though, but he’ll likely need some time to get back into match fitness before truly being able to contribute.
Copenhagen went into the break before the World Cup with three victories in a row and strengthened their squad with Jordan Larsson and Diogo Goncalves in January. Unfortunately, they lost left back Victor Kristiansen to Leicester City, but they will chase the gold no matter what. Copenhagen didn’t lose a single friendly this winter, and they need three points in this match. They are struggling with injuries though as Andreas Cornelius, Zeca, Nicolai Boilesen and Mamoudou Karamoko are all out.
The astro turf in Silkeborg usually creates some fast and exciting games. It is a difficult place for the guests, and we expect the home side to create their share of chances in a game rich on goals. The pick of the game is over 2.5 goals at odds 1.87 at Betfair.
Rayo Vallecano v Sevilla
Andoni Iraola’s Rayo Vallecano team have been one of LaLiga’s surprise packages this season, just as Sevilla have shocked everyone, though they have done so in a completely contrasting fashion. Rayo Vallecano currently sit sixth in the LaLiga standings, whereas Sevilla are in 12th and were in the relegation zone just last month.
At home, Rayo continue to be strong. Only Real Madrid and Barcelona, both unbeaten, have suffered fewer defeats at home than Rayo this season and Iraola’s team have had no problem grinding out results, with no defeats to teams in the bottom half at home this season.
Sampaoli has pushed his Sevilla team into better form of late, winning three of their last four, but it’s important to point out that this good form has only materialised on home turf at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Their three away trips since the World Cup break have seen Sevilla pick up just one point with a draw at Celta Vigo, while Barcelona made light work of them and Girona secured a late victory.
Another important factor could be the fact that Sevilla were in Europa League action against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday night. A convincing win involved Sevilla’s strongest possible line-up and saw them lose Loïc Badé to injury. The hangover from that could mean that Rayo are primed to take advantage after a full week of rest heading into this game.
Grasshoppers v Zurich
Grasshoppers and city rivals Zurich will meet for the third time this season at the Letzigrund on Sunday. GC have enjoyed this fixture so far, emphatically winning 4-1 in mid-October after drawing 1-1 in the first derby at the beginning of that same month. GC will be content with their form since returning from the break, losing out to YB at home and Servette in their most recent match was disappointing, but they also secured three points in a home win over Basel and earned a draw in Ticino against Lugano. There will still be some anxious looks over their shoulders at the Letzigrund this weekend though, especially with Zurich and Winterthur just four points behind in the relegation spots.
Zurich do have the opportunity to move within a point of their neighbours, something that seemed pretty inconceivable back in November when they trailed by eight points and had won only one match at that stage. That FCZ have a chance to close the gap on their rivals is a testament to the improvement brought on by Bo Henriksen. A win over Winterthur at home last weekend would’ve been ideal to ease relegation concerns but the 1-1 draw extends the unbeaten run to five games, a much more welcome statistic than earlier in the campaign when FCZ endured a thirteen-game winless streak.
There are several reasons why this latest edition of the derby should be an exciting encounter. The last eight have featured goals from both teams and five of those eight have featured Over 2.5 Goals. Grasshoppers score and concede over a goal per game while FCZ have scored in their last five and have finally overcome a toothless start to the campaign in front of goal. I would go Over 2.5 here, GCZ have scored in conceded in eight of their last eleven and FCZ in three of the last five and this derby simply rarely disappoints on the goals front.
Spezia v Juventus
Juventus are very odd team to predict this season because thanks to the points deduction, they are much lower in the table than their quality would suggest.
They have won their last two in Serie A against Salernitana and Fiorentina although they did fail to beat Nantes in the Europa League on Thursday night. The Bianconeri were in full control of that game and had an early lead, but they failed to capitalise on their dominance and allowed the French side back into the game.
Based on the evidence of what the front three of Federico Chiesa, Angel Di Maria and Dusan Vlahovic can do together, they should be getting all three points against a Spezia side that are in a rotten patch of form and have been dragged right into the relegation scrap.
They have lost three and drawn one of their last five and Hellas Verona are just two points behind them now, so Spezia could be in the bottom three by the end of the matchday.
The departure of Jakub Kiwior appears to have hit the Ligurian side hard and even if Juventus are not going to be very thrilling to watch, it would be a major shock if they did not get all three points in La Spezia. The Bianconeri have won each of their last five against Spezia, and the Aquilotti have not scored at home in the last 329 minutes played.
Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz 05
Bayer Leverkusen have improved remarkably under Xabi Alonso. The Spaniard is already implementing a style of play that’s unpredictable, and interesting to analyse. But in the opposition dugout, Bo Svensson is doing some excellent things at Mainz, whilst on a limited budget.
After five successive Bundesliga wins, Bayer Leverkusen lost two before last weekend’s win against Hoffenheim. They were also involved in a 3-2 defeat against AS Monaco in the Europa League on Thursday night. Die Werkself were winning until the 75th minute, before two late goals from the Principality side.
Alonso has plenty of options to keep things interesting and his opponent guessing. We’ve seen Leverkusen line-up in a 3-4-3 under the Spaniard but of late, he’s reverted to a 4-2-3-1 with Piero Hincapie and Jeremie Frimpong at full-back, two players that like to get forward. A double-pivot of Robert Andrich and Exequiel Palacios appears to be the go-to midfield with Florian Wirtz operating as the No. 10.
But it’s in attack where things get interesting. Frimpong likes to get forward on the right which against Monaco, allowed Nadiem Amiri to sit narrower. But against Mainz, we could see the return of Amine Adli. The Frenchman alongside compatriot Moussa Diaby offers significant pace in attack, but they do miss a focal point in attack. Patrik Schick played two minutes against Monaco, his first action since November 1 following an injury.
Mainz will prove difficult opponents for Bayer Leverkusen. They’ve won two of their last three Bundesliga games, scoring nine goals. Wins against Bochum and Augsburg, Karim Onisiwo proves a significant goal threat with four goals in his last three Bundesliga games. Lee Jae-Sung scored a brace against Augsburg and offers a threat from midfield, something Leverkusen will need to be wary of.
This will certainly be an interesting tactical battle but Bayer Leverkusen have the superior squad. They’ll want to rectify their midweek defeat against Monaco and will look to make it successive wins in the Bundesliga. European football is still achievable for Alonso’s side.
Toulouse v Marseille
Ligue 1’s most attractive fixture of the weekend may just have been saved for last, with two in-form sides set to battle in Toulouse, with Marseille the visitors.
TFC have quietly pieced together a very solid first season back in Ligue 1, and in recent weeks particularly have impressed. Indeed, in their last 10 matches, they have picked up eight victories and have only been beaten (narrowly) by PSG.
No club in Europe’s Big 5 leagues has scored more goals in all competitions in 2023 that Philippe Montanier’s side, who ran out 3-1 winners over Rennes last weekend thanks to an efficient spell in the latter stages of the first half.
Each of their last four Ligue 1 games has produced more than 2.5 goals, while six of their eight since the World Cup have also tipped over that figure. The other two have both seen two goals netted.
Marseille, meanwhile, are building momentum towards potential title challenge ahead of a math with PSG next Sunday at the Velodrome. Toulouse’s attacking style is likely to suit them – and it certainly did the previous occasion they met as they ran out 6-1 winners four days after Christmas. It has been less than two months since then.
OM have won their previous away matches 2-0 against Troyes, Nantes and Clermont, but Toulouse are a more capable attacking side than any of that trio, and so goals at both ends should be forecast. Given the volume of goals these clubs score, back over 2.5 goals.
Barcelona v Cadiz
Only 72 hours after taking on Manchester United at Camp Nou, Barcelona will be back in action on home turf against Cádiz. The Andalusians will pose a very different test to the Red Devils and remain entrenched in a relegation battle despite winning two of their last three matches as they’ve made a revival.
However, that revival has been led by Cádiz’s home form, with both of those wins coming at their place. Just four teams in LaLiga have conceded more than Cádiz’s 1.8 goals per game away this season, with their last away trip seeing them concede four against Athletic Club.
Xavi will be forced into changes, particularly owing to Pedri’s hamstring injury in midweek, but will still have a strong line-up, especially in attack. Robert Lewandowski is expected to start and could be joined by Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres, both of whom have the potential to get on the scoresheet. Franck Kessié will also retain his place in the midfield, having been involved in four goals in five starts in 2023.
Five of Cádiz’s eight previous visits to Camp Nou have ended with a defeat by more than a one-goal margin, and they will be fearful of that again. A draw and a shock win on visits in recent years came at a time when Barça were much weaker than this current side, which has only conceded one goal from 10 matches at home in the league and which will be optimistic of continuing to score for fun while remaining tight at the back.
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