|Lyon vs Strasbourg
Lyon went into this season confident of being real challengers to PSG, but last week’s result might have proven they aren’t up to the task. Strasbourg have comfortably settled into their second year back in Ligue 1 and will be hoping for a blockbuster result in this match.
With a young vibrant squad featuring one of the deadliest attacks in Europe that scored over 80 league goals between their front four last season, Bruno Genesio’s men went into his campaign with the belief that they could win their first league title since 2008. Only a small margin of the squad played in the summer’s World Cup so many came back fit and healthy for the new season, their only pivotal player out due to international commitments being Nabil Fekir who returned from Russia with a winners’ medal.
The team also has two of the best young midfielders around with Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele making 32 appearances each at the ages of 19 and 20 last season. Despite all this strength, the team already have suffered their first loss of the season with them falling short to newly promoted Stade de Reims last week. The Olympians huffed and puffed with 66% possession and five shots on target, but a lack of real quality in front of goal saw this game fall into the hands of Reims who managed to convert one of their two accurate strikes. Last season’s top scorer Pablo Chavarria broke free of Lyon’s patchy defence and converted Ghislain Konan’s accurate cross in the first half to see them win 1-0.
For them to lose this early on in the season to a newly promoted club is extremely disappointing and manager Genesio will be hoping that he can recreate the form they managed after their first defeat last year of going unbeaten for the following two months. They face a Strasbourg side who managed to beat them late on in a dramatic 3-2 classic towards the tail end of last season.
The Alsatians have managed to bounce back from two relegations between 2008 and 2010 with two promotions between 2015 and 2017 and now find themselves treading water in Ligue 1, having gotten four points from their opening two games. A fantastic opening day victory over a strong Bordeaux side followed by a draw with Saint-Etienne has spelled a great start to the season for Thierry Laurey’s men.
They had much more possession than both of their opponents who probably expected to walk all over last year’s 15th placed team, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne did play the large majority of the matches with ten men but are still good teams and should’ve been better despite the circumstances.
A solid pre-season coupled with great signings in the forms of Ibrahima Sissoko and Matz Sels has given them such confidence for these early parts of the campaign and due to their recent performances and summer, they could really get something from this game.
Strasbourg closed out last season with some pretty poor form of only one win in their last 14 games, but they really look like a newly invigorated squad and could extend their unbeaten streak here. They have scored 15 in their last ten including three so far this season against some tough defences and could get some more against Lyon who have been partial to conceding goals in recent years and has been a large roadblock in the way of their long-term success. Lyon do have a really strong front line with them finishing last season with nine league wins in their final ten games, scoring 29 goals along the way, but Reims managed to keep a clean sheet against the prestigious attacking trio of Mariano Diaz, Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore last time out so it shows they are human. We do expect them to get a goal here though, Lyon are usually a quality side and should edge this buoyant Strasbourg team slightly, Lyon had the fourth best home record last season where the Alsatians had the second worst away record which should hand the Olympians the win in this one. We’re backing a home 2-1 victory.
|Middlesbrough vs West Bromwich
Middlesbrough have made a terrific start to their 2018/19 Championship campaign, winning three of their first four matches to push them to 2nd spot in the standings behind early leaders Leeds United.
Boro pit their wits against recently relegated West Brom at the Riverside on Friday in a game that sees Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis come up against his former employers. Pulis’ reunion with the Baggies adds an extra layer of intrigue to what already looks fascinating encounter.
Having drawn 2-2 on the opening weekend of the Championship season at Millwall, Middlesbrough have gone an a three-game winning streak, taking maximum points from their clashes with Sheffield United, Birmingham City and Bristol City.
Adding to their impressive set of results, Pulis’ men secured clean sheets to go along with their points, though their recent 3-3 Carabao Cup draw with Notts County shows that their defence is far from rock solid. Boro evemtually progressed to the next round of the cup after a penalty shootout against County.
West Brom will be bouncing into Friday’s game after their most recent result and performance. The Baggies rattled seven goals past a dreadful QPR side at the Hawthorns, six of which arrived in a rip-roaring second half.
The victory was West Brom’s 3rd in a row in all competitions after they conquered Norwich at Carrow Road in a pulsating 4-3 victory and saw off Luton Town 1-0 in the Carabao Cup.
The Baggies, who performed so poorly in front of goal in the Premier League last season, have found defences easier to breach in the Championship so far this term. The Baggies have scored an incredible thirteen goals in their four fixtures in the division since the new campaign got under way.
Middlesbrough’s unbeaten start is undeniably impressive, though WBA haven’t lost to Boro in any of their last eight meetings with them. With both of these teams in such good recent form, Friday’s match promises to be high on quality. We’re tipping this pair of Championship big hitters to cancel each other out somewhat, which should result in them sharing the points. We’re predicting a draw in the outright result market.
Both Middlesbrough and West Brom have 100% scoring rates so far this season. Both attacks have been purring and both teams have managed to get their names on the scoresheet in all five of their domestic fixtures in 2018/19. We expect that trend to continue this week, so we recommend taking the both teams to score option.
Our correct score prediction follows the same train of though. Middlesbrough and WBA have been finding the net with regularity this term. They have plundered twenty-one goals between them in the Championship so far, so goals are likely again at the Riverside on Friday. We’re forecasting a 2-2 draw.
|Leganes vs Sociedad
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|Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim
|Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim
Betting Preview: Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim
German champions Bayern Munich – a title the Bavarians have had for six years now – began preparation for the new season at the International Champions Cup in the United States (W1 L2). Niko Kovac’s charges followed that up with a commanding 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Super Cup, with last season’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski sending out an intimidating message with three well-taken goals. Lewandowski struck again on Saturday as Bayern Munich edged past SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB Pokal to maintain Kovac’s 100% start as coach.
Hoffenheim’s third place finish last season secured them automatic qualification into the UEFA Champions League group stages for the first time in the club’s history. Coach Nagelsmann’s achievements over his two and a half seasons at the club, turning them from relegation contenders to two consecutive top four finishes, has naturally drawn a lot of attention, even more so due his age – at 31 years old, he is the Bundesliga’s youngest coach. He will leave Hoffenheim to join RB Leipzig next summer, but has stated his commitment to go out on a high.
The visitors’ pre-season has been positive to that end, with loanee signing Joelinton scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Kaiserslautern in the DFB Pokal first round last weekend. However, even with a few other transfers in over the summer (see team news), Nagelsmann will have a massive challenge in finding a way to break through the Bayern defense at the Allianz Arena without two pivotal players from last season, forwards Mark Uth (sold to Schalke) and Serge Gnabry (returned from loan to Bayern). Some selection headaches in midfield due to injuries will do him no favours either, especially with Bayern Munich having returned to their best at the back with captain Manuel Neuer between the sticks once again.
While there is no better feeling in German football than getting one over on Bayern Munich, unfortunately for Hoffenheim, their chances look slim on Friday. Bayern love nothing more than winning on the opening day of the season – the Bavarians have won all of the last six Bundesliga openers, with scorelines like 3-1 against Leverkusen, 5-0 against Hamburg, and 6-0 against Bremen being some more notable results – and Hoffenheim, as with most German sides, have a poor record on the road to the champions. Bayern Munich have won 8 of the 10 meetings at home to Hoffenheim (W8 D2), scoring three goals or more in five of them. Nagelsmann couldn’t have asked for a tougher opener.
Hoffenheim have managed to get a few results against the Bavarians since he took over (W2 D1 L1), but both wins have come on their own turf. On the road with a much weakened squad should prove a much tougher challenge this time around, especially with Bayern missing only forward Serge Gnabry, who was also absent for their 5-2 pumping of Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena back in January. Bayern are consistently the best home team in the Bundesliga (see statistics), and taking everything into account, it’s tough to see anything other than a high scoring home win. Our prediction: 4-0 Bayern.
contributed by freesupertips.co.uk
|Ajax vs Dynamo Kiev
Betting Preview: Ajax vs Dynamo Kiev
Ajax and Dynamo Keiv continue their push for the Champions League group stage this week, with both potentially 180 minutes from reaching the last 32 of the competition. Given the financial boost a group stage spot brings, these two could receive a huge boost based on their success in this play-off clash. They’ve each fought through the qualifiers to make it this far, and now one of them is set to claim one of the six spots still open in the group stage. Can Ajax get out in front in this first leg, or will Dynamo strike a huge blow?
Last season’s Eredivisie runners-up have made a strong start to their domestic campaign, claiming four points as they chase the Dutch title. However, their main focus has to be getting in to the Champions League group stage draw on the 30th of August. They’ve adapted to the competition much easier than 12 months ago, when they went out to Nice at the first hurdle. This time around they’ve won three and drawn one of four qualifiers, but can they continue that momentum against Dynamo Kiev?
The visitors have also started well in their domestic league, with four wins from four. They’ll head here full of confidence after that start, as they chase a return to the group stage. They last reached that stage in 2016, so this isn’t entirely new territory for the Ukrainian side. They went out in their opening qualifier last summer, but Dynamo have fared better this time around, with their 3-1 aggregate win over Slavia Prague taking them in to the play-off round. Can they go a step further and return to the group stage?
The visitors will be looking to build on their good start, and their form this season should worry Ajax. The Ukrainian side have won six of their seven games this season, winning the Super Cup, topping the table and progressing in Europe. They’re going to be a tough side to break down, as those six victories have all come with a clean sheet. Dynamo are really well organised, and that may pose a problem for the Dutch side.
Ajax aren’t hugely blessed going forward, they’ve scored a single goal in back to back league games. They’ve been slightly more free-flowing in Europe, but we expect them to tighten up, given what is at stake. They will be wary of conceding an away goal – given that defensive faults at home put them out of two European competitions last summer. Their home qualifiers this summer have brought two clean sheets, so we expect their defence to keep the score down too. We’re going for under 2.5 goals
contributed by freesupertips.co.uk
|Malmo vs Midtjylland
Betting Preview: Malmo vs Midtjylland
This is one of the toughest ties to call in the play-off round of the UEFA Europa League. Malmo can be backed at around 10/11 to win on the night but it is the Danes who most bookies have as the slight favourites to progress over two legs. Midtjylland will certainly feel as though any form of result this Thursday will leave them in the box seat heading into the 2nd Leg.
The fact this is a local derby of sorts only adds to the intrigue as the Danish and Swedish champions face off. Both sides have already dropped out of the Champions League but Europa League group stage football would be a decent consolation prize. That said Malmo will still be bitterly disappointed to have lost to Vidi of Hungary on away goals in the Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round having come through a seemingly tougher tie against Cluj to reach it.
Midtjylland by contrast fell at the first hurdle in that competition, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Astana. They easily beat The New Saints as they dropped into the Europa League to set up this tie as both teams aim to extend their European adventures into the depths of the Scandinavian winter.
It’s a tough one to call with the teams seemingly very evenly matched. It’s certainly hard to see Malmo losing with home advantage. They are yet to taste defeat in 12 matches under new coach Uwe Rosler in all competitions with the German doing a great job of getting their season back on track. They’ve managed to climb the Swedish Allsvenskan standings and now look capable of pushing for Europe after a nightmare start to their title defence left them languishing in the bottom half.
The Danish League by contrast runs through the winter so it is only 6 games old and Midtjylland have made a solid rather than spectacular start with 11 points from 6 games. They do seem to have recovered from a shaky opening to the season though and are unbeaten in 7 matches heading into this tie.
It’s a clash which has the potential to be very tight and follow a similar path to Malmo’s Champions League tie with Vidi which saw both legs drawn. Indeed all of their last three European matches have ended all square and with both teams here on decent unbeaten streaks and looking evenly matched, going for the Draw appeals in the Full-Time Result market.
contributed by freesupertips.co.uk
|Olympiakos vs Burnley
Betting Preview: Olympiacos vs Burnley
Just one fixture remains between Burnley and an historic appearance in the Europa League group stages, but they will have to see off the threat of Greek giants Olympiakos if they are to make it to that stage of the competition.
Olympiakos, unlike their opponents, are veterans in European competition. They are one of the dominant forces in Greece and have played some part in European competition in every season since 1993. That’s not to say that it’s always been a successful journey for them, but nobody can argue with the level of experience the club brings.
Last season they made it to the Champions League group stages as well, although their inadequacies were clearly displayed in a group including Barcelona, Juventus, and Sporting Lisbon. The fact remains that Olympiakos know how to win in Europe though, and that’s something that Burnley will have to be very aware of on Thursday.
The Clarets are less experienced in continental competition, with this being their first foray into the current format and their first season in Europe since the 1960s. It was a huge achievement for them to even get this far, so to be just a step away from the group stages is a massive achievement for the underdogs.
However, the demands of domestic and continental competition already seem to be straining the small Burnley squad. They have already played six competitive games this season, and they are yet to win a single one of them in normal time.
Fortunately they have been able to rally in the Europa League though, beating Aberdeen 4–2 on aggregate after extra time and knocking out Istanbul Basaksehir 1-0 on aggregate, again requiring extra time to do so. Among these European trips they have drawn against Southampton in the Premier League and, most recently, lost 3-1 against Watford in a very poor showing.
Burnley’s tiredness has been obvious in their two Premier League games so far, with their performances falling as both games wore on. Another away day is unlikely to have given them enough time to recuperate, but they are a team who know how to avoid defeat under Sean Dyche.
In fact, they have lost only four of their last 17 competitive games. An avoidance of defeat is precisely what Sean Dyche will be aiming for here, and considering five of their six games so far this season have ended in draws this looks a very good bet. It’s also worth noting that Olympiakos have drawn three of their last four home games in the Europa League, so we’re backing that along with a typically tight 1-1 correct score predictions.
contributed by freesupertips.co.uk
|Gent vs Bordeaux
Betting Preview: Gent vs Bordeaux
Gent have been in fantastic form recently as they’ve strolled through the competition, but Bordeaux have faced major crisis which threatens to thwart all of their hard work up until now.
After Bordeaux’s victory over Mariupol last week which sent them through to this play-off fixture, manager Gus Poyet went on a rant during his post-match press conference, discussing the situation around the sale of the club’s attacker Gaetan Laborde. Laborde was recently sold to Montpellier and Poyet revealed that the club had sold the player without his approval, saying that he asked them only to let him go once a replacement was signed. But the club did not heed his desires and he brandished the hierarchy a “disgrace”, to which club president Stephane Martin subsequently sacked him as his comments had gone too far in the Frenchman’s eyes.
Bordeaux now find themselves without the manager who saved them last year and qualified them for the Europa League against all odds. The fans and players have been up in arms over the decision with the squad refusing to train last week following the news. Fans have also expressed their rage online as well as at Bordeaux’s weekend match against Toulouse.
The Girondins had been playing extremely well up until this point, but their performance levels took a nosedive in their first match without Poyet. They were bullied off the pitch by a pretty average Toulouse side and this could spell real worry for the team. They now face a great Gent side who are high off four consecutive wins and as they look for a fifth, the French could find themselves in the firing line.
Gent started off their domestic season pretty poorly with a loss and a draw against Standard and ZW but have bounced back with four wins back-to-back, scoring 11 goals along the way. The Belgians are unbeaten in their last six home games and will back themselves to get another positive result here against a Bordeaux team in meltdown. They suffered a pretty poor finish to last season with only two victories in their last eight games but an extremely positive pre-season where they won eight of their nine matches seems to have spurred the team on again to their full potential.
Gent have never won the Belgian First Division but have pretty consistently been in and around the title race for the last 13 years. Through this, they have become pretty seasoned regulars in Europe with one of their highlights coming in a fantastic 2016/17 campaign under Hein Vanhaezebrouck where they qualified for the round of 16, notably beating Tottenham along the way.
Gent will back themselves to get a good result from this game due to their formidable recent home form as well as the torrid state of their opposition at the moment. Bordeaux have been linked with several high-profile managers but as long as they continue under the interim leadership of their fitness coach Eric Bedouet they are bound to suffer. Gent should win this one pretty easily at home as Bordeaux have conceded in each of their last five games while the Belgians have 46 goals in their previous 15 matches. We’re backing a 3-1 win for Gent as Bordeaux have scored in all of their European matches so far but won’t be up to the task without Gus Poyet and we’re therefore doubting them to get anything from this game.
contributed by freesupertips.co.uk