Italian Serie A
Juventus vs. Napoli (Saturday 7.45pm)
The biggest game of the weekend comes from Italy this time, where champions Juventus face the team that were expected to challenge them most closely this season, even after they lost Higuain to the “Old Lady” this summer. Juve may have not been firing on all cylinders lately, losing one of last week’s highlighted games in Milan, but they face a Napoli side missing both Milik and Gabbiadini here. The visitors are expected to use Mertens as a false nine, though it must be mentioned that Dybala is also absent for Juve.
The Higuain subplot will be the main focus of the media, but naturally our interest is in the betting lines. Currently Juventus are -0.75, while total goals is pitched at a rather conservative 2.25. Given the fact that the hosts have been over 60% of natural goal lines and the visitors over 40%, it looks like a fair bet to take this on, but there will be a need for an early goal. Both teams have performed similarly against the Asian Handicap and with a one-goal home win looking a likely outcome, we could also be tempted by the -0.5 @ 1.87 ahead of the -0.75 @ 2.12.
English Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City (Saturday 3pm)
The two sides with the best metrics from 2015/16 meet on Saturday, with the big surprise being that the contest isn’t televised. Spurs are still missing Alderweireld and Kane, so are below-strength and both ends of the pitch, while Sissoko has joined them on the sidelines due to suspension. Leicester have no new issues in terms of fitness, but Ranieri has suggested that he will need to use his squad intelligently with another big Champions League night on the horizon.
Pochettino also has a huge European game with Leverkusen to consider too, though, meaning that the -1 handicap on his side does look large. It is well documented that Leicester have struggled against the bigger teams so far this season, and while they beat Crystal Palace last weekend there were still some vulnerabilities at the back. As a result of this our lean is more towards over 2.5 goals @ 1.90, because both sides tend to go for the win and Leicester have been over the natural goal line in 67% of games this season.
English Premier League
Southampton vs. Chelsea (Sunday 4pm)
By this point of the season it’s probably safe to say that Southampton are back to being “good” again, with their impressive 1-1 draw at Man City last weekend pretty much confirming the fact. Chelsea are on a high after their demolition of Man Utd and have now kept three clean sheets in a row, which means they should be unchanged. Bertrand could be available for Puel, but the French coach must also be tempted to keep the same eleven.
It’s the under 2.5 line that jumps off the page given both sides’ defensive efficiency in recent weeks, but surprisingly just 11% of Chelsea’s league games have been under the natural line this season. As a result of this our eyes turn towards the Asian Handicap market, where backing the hosts at 0.25 seems sound enough given the fact that they have now beaten their handicap in five successive rounds.
German Bundesliga 1
Hoffenheim vs. Hertha BSC (Sunday 2.30pm)
This game sees fourth hosting third, somewhat surprisingly even at this stage, and hosts Hoffenheim are pegged as slight favourites in the market. This is no great shock on the surface, because while they had a punishing 120 minute cup loss against Köln in midweek, Hertha are missing key left-back Plattenhardt due to injury. Taking everything into account we have a slight lean towards the visitors on the 0.25 handicap due to their effectiveness on the counter, but given the fact that 38% of each side’s games have been over the natural goal line taking the 2.5 @ 1.85 looks a safer bet. Both sides will believe they can win and Hoffenheim have seen over 2.5 goals in four of their last five league games.
French Ligue 1
Saint-Etienne vs. Monaco (Saturday 7pm)
A big crowd is expected for one of the few big games left in France, with both clubs hoping to finish in the Champions League spots come the end of the season. At first glance the DNB line looks generous to Saint-Etienne, who have not been at all convincing this season, but Monaco have been volatile away from home and perhaps cannot be trusted. This means that more comfort could be found in the goals, with the 2.25 mark seemingly ignoring the fact that Monaco have been over the total goal handicap in an enormous 90% of games this season.
Ones to Watch
Feyenoord vs. Heerenveen (Sunday 3.30pm)
Top host third in a clash that should have a few goals; neither have lost in the last seven rounds.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Norwich City (Saturday 3pm)
Brighton are deserved favourites at home to Norwich based on form and latest team news, but it should be close.
Aberdeen vs. Celtic (Saturday 12pm)
This game has less spice now that Rangers are back, but Pittodrie ahead of Champions League looks tricky for Celtic.
Swiss Super League
Grasshopper vs. Basel (Saturday 7pm)
The cavalry has arrived in time for Basel’s visit, but a Grasshopper win would still be an enormous surprise here.
Austria Wien vs. Sturm Graz (Sunday 3.30pm)
Graz didn’t deserve to drop points last weekend and are still top, but this is a test of their credentials.