Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (Saturday 3.15pm)
There is really only one place to start this weekend, as Barcelona host Real in the first Clasico of 2016/17 with a six point gap to make up in La Liga. The home side are boosted by being able to name a full strength team due to Iniesta’s return, but Madrid are without Bale and Kroos, while Casemiro is in question due to fitness and would be a huge loss in a fixture of this type. However, the playing field is somewhat levelled by form, with Real on a run of fully deserved wins and Barca coming in off the back of their worst showing of the season at Sociedad, where they were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw.
Swinging the pendulum back the home side’s way is the fact that they only have a meaningless Champions League game coming up in midweek, while Real host Dortmund in a battle to top their group. If you’re a purist you should probably just opt out and enjoy the spectacle, but we’ll put our neck on the line by going with Real +0.75 pending Casemiro’s inclusion and also give a nod towards the Under 3.5 if the Brazilian makes it too.
Recommendation: Real Madrid +0.75
English Premier League
Manchester City vs. Chelsea (Saturday 12.30pm)
As a prelude to Spain’s big one, we have what looks like the best fixture in the Premier League to date as Manchester City host Chelsea at just the right time. The visitors are on a seven game winning streak since changing to 3-4-3, while City have been unconvincing in recent times but keep churning out the wins. This sets the contest up perfectly and there is no major team news to negatively impact either side, with just Kompany and Terry certain to miss out.
We have the typical big game set up of a -0.25 handicap on the hosts and 2.5 goals, with the fact that City have only beaten their line 36% of the time compared to 46% for Chelsea meaning we’ll back the visitors on the plus. We also like the idea of making a double with the Overs, as both teams have been over their natural lines 46% of the time this season. There should be good intent to take maximum points, but the visitors would be happier with a draw.
Recommendation: Chelsea +0.25 and Over 2.5
Italian Serie A
Lazio vs. Roma (Sunday 2pm)
There are a couple of great matches in Italy this weekend, with the Rome Derby taking top billing early. Lazio look likely to have a full strength squad, while Roma have concerns over Manolas and Salah, both of whom would nudge the line a little if they were absent. That line currently pitches the visitors as quarter-goal favourites, which looks questionable based on recent form and the fact that they struggle to keep clean sheets.
In total, an enormous 64% of their games have been over the natural goal line, which leads us towards liking the 2.75 in this very intense setting. However, it is important to note that the coaches have had plenty of time to prepare due to no midweek games, which could lead to a slightly cagier affair. Still, we’ll bank on the fact that neither can lie down if it goes to a +1/-1 game state.
Recommendation: Lazio +0.25 and Over 2.75
Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Internazionale (Friday 7.45pm)
The standout game on Friday sees a rejuvenated Inter heading to stuttering Napoli on a surprisingly wide +0.75 handicap. The hosts have Albiol back but are still lacking threat without Milik and Mertens, while Inter are again without Medel but have no fresh injuries after the win over Fiorentina. In addition to this there is the fact that Napoli have a crucial UCL game on Tuesday night to prepare for, while Inter are already out of the UEL and so have no such concerns. Pioli has seen some very open games since arriving, but this is first away fixture and so he could be a little more cautious. Still, we’ll back him to get at least a draw here and to oversee another exciting match.
Recommendation: Internazionale +0.75 and Over 2.75
Turkish Super Lig
Fenerbahce vs. Besiktas (Saturday 4pm)
It seems like there is a huge game every week in Turkey at the moment, and they don’t come much bigger than Fener versus Besiktas. Both are in superb form, though the hosts have been more impressive and do not have the distraction of a big Champions League game on the horizon. A -0.5 Asian Handicap on Fenerbahce looks fair enough for those reasons, but we still have a liking for them to beat it based on how professional they were in the recent 2-0 win over Galatasaray. Lens is their only small doubt, while Besiktas are without two starters.
Recommendation: Fenerbahce -0.5
Ones to Watch
Portuguese Primeira Liga
Porto vs. Sporting Braga (Saturday 8.30pm)
Third travel to fourth on Saturday evening and going by the Fair Form, neither of these teams have deserved to lose any of their last five matches. This makes an Asian line of Porto -1.25 look on the steep side, especially with a crucial Champions League match on the horizon.
Recommendation: Sporting Braga +1.25
English Premier League
Everton vs. Manchester United (Sunday 4pm)
Seventh host sixth with both teams performing below expectations in recent matches, though United’s performances have generally been better than Everton’s according to the Fair Form. This goes some way to explaining a -0.25 line on the visitors, but we’re more interested in a low-looking Total Goals line of 2.25.
Recommendation: Over 2.25
Scottish Premier League
Rangers vs. Aberdeen (Saturday 3pm)
This is always a game with needle in it and the two teams are only separated by home advantage, with the market assigning Rangers a -0.25 Asian line. The Ibrox club have consistently been overestimated this season, losing against the handicap 60% of the time, so we’ll take Aberdeen here.
Recommendation: Aberdeen +0.25
Leeds United vs. Aston Villa (Saturday 5.30pm)
Two historic clubs meet in the second tier, both having found form under new managers. One edge for Villa is that Leeds played a cup game with Liverpool in midweek, meaning that the line is DNB instead of -0.25 for the hosts. This and 2.25 goals look fair to us.
Salzburg vs. Rheindorf Altach (Saturday 5.30pm)
Salzburg have been very inconsistent this season but remain the best team in Austria, while Altach are one of the group who have taken advantage of this by climbing to the top of the table. It all depends on the mood of the hosts, but we like the handicap here.
Recommendation: Rheindorf Altach +1.5