Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (Saturday 3.15pm)
The first Clasico of the season ended up all square, with our recommendation of Real Madrid +0.75 always looking a strong one despite Barcelona taking the lead early in the second half. Before Suarez’ goal the visitors had actually been the better side, creating the greater quality chances in the first half and deploying a game plan that did a good job of restricting the space for Barca’s attacking weapons. Even without Casemiro, who started the game on the bench as we thought he might, Zidane’s side kept compact and always maintained a threat on the counter.
Madrid had to show supreme resolve to fight back from 1-0 down, though they did also have a few wobbles as they left gaps by going in search of the equaliser. Neymar in particular missed a huge opening, while Messi’s finishing also let him down after a superb through ball by substitute Iniesta. In the end we should have had more conviction in the Under 3.5 goals line, regardless of Casemiro’s inclusion, as it very rarely looked like a game that could explode into life. Real remain the team for the big occasion under Zizou and maintain a six point lead over their rivals.
Recommendation: Real Madrid +0.75
Actual Outcome: +1 (1-1)
Fair Outcome: +1 (1-1)
English Premier League
Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea (Saturday 12.30pm)
We thought this looked like the best Premier League game of the season to date and thankfully it didn’t disappoint, with a superb tactical battle ending in a thrilling win for the visitors after Man City spurned an enormous opportunity to go 2-0 ahead and put the contest to bed. It was refreshing to see two of the big teams able to attack each other with full strength line-ups and after De Bruyne’s huge miss it was Diego Costa who came to the fore, though Chelsea’s right side again deserves some kudos as Willian slotted in brilliantly for the injured Pedro and struck up an instant rapport with Moses.
All-in-all Man City can feel very hard done by with the loss, as was shown by the late red cards for Aguero and Fernandinho that have made Chelsea even stronger title favourites than the result alone would have. Our recommendation of Over 2.5 paid off handsomely, though the full win on the +0.25 handicap was much more questionable and probably should have resulted in a half.
Recommendation: Chelsea +0.25 and Over 2.5
Actual Outcome: +2 (1-3)
Fair Outcome: +1.5 (2-2)
Italian Serie A
Lazio 0-2 Roma (Sunday 2pm)
A surprisingly tight Rome Derby never looked like pulling us in a win on the goals line of 2.75, as Roma’s switch to a 3-5-2 nullified the hosts and meant they never created anything better than a Good Chance (~15% conversion). The visitors scored from a defensive mistake and a hopeful shot from distance, meaning that the Fair Score looked much more like a 0-1 based on the overall opportunity counts.
Before this 64% of Roma’s games had been over the natural goal line, but the preparation time each coach had for such a big fixture meant that the intensity was nullified and it led to a deserved Unders. This is always something worth considering in such a setting, and while we were at pains to note it in the preview perhaps we should have allocated more weight to it ourselves. Still, Lazio being so unproductive was a surprise regardless.
Recommendation: Lazio +0.25 and Over 2.75
Actual Outcome: -2 (0-2)
Fair Outcome: -2 (0-1)
Italian Serie A
Napoli 3-0 Internazionale (Friday 7.45pm)
Our intuition that the handicap on Napoli looked wide proved to be off in actuality, though with a Fair Score of 2-1 we do feel hard done by to come out of this with a negative. Whichever way you slice it a game with this many chances (3 Greats and 5 Very Goods) should have always beaten the goals line of 2.75, though the big surprise was that Inter failed to find the target. A mixture of excellent goalkeeping by Reina and poor finishing ultimately denied them, though it has to be noted that they were forced into chasing after falling 2-0 down within just six minutes. Pioli’s men continue to be far too open at the back, but it’s making for some entertaining games.
Recommendation: Internazionale +0.75 and Over 2.75
Actual Outcome: -0.5 (3-0)
Fair Outcome: 0 (2-1)
Turkish Super Lig
Fenerbahce 0-0 Besiktas (Saturday 4pm)
This was one of those big games that just did not live up to the hype, as Besiktas came to stonewall their hosts and preserve their unbeaten record. They achieved this admirably, but were somewhat fortunate to come away with a 0-0 after Fenerbahce created the more meaningful chances and played with much greater intent. The visitors arguably could have had a couple of red cards in the second half too, though this was very much a contest that verged between 0-0 and 1-0 on the Fair Score. In essence it was very much a -0.5 handicap on the hosts.
Recommendation: Fenerbahce -0.5
Actual Outcome: -1 (0-0)
Fair Outcome: +1 (1-0)
Ones to Watch
Portuguese Primeira Liga
Porto 1-0 Sporting Braga (Saturday 8.30pm)
Things were going smoothly for Braga until Artur Jorge’s 35th minute red card, awarded for the concession of a penalty. However Marafona made a huge save and then the ten man visitors withstood a barrage for well over 60 minutes of play, until deservedly losing 1-0 deep into added time.
Recommendation: Sporting Braga +1.25
Actual Outcome: +0.5 (1-0)
Fair Outcome: -1 (3-0)
English Premier League
Everton 1-1 Manchester United (Sunday 4pm)
Our suggestion of Over 2.25 goals never looked like coming off in a relatively sterile encounter between two unconvincing sides. There was never anything better than a Very Good Chance created and it took a goalkeeper error and a penalty to get us to a half loss in the end.
Recommendation: Over 2.25
Actual Outcome: -0.5 (1-1)
Fair Outcome: -0.5 (1-1)
Scottish Premier League
Rangers 2-1 Aberdeen (Saturday 3pm)
For a long time it looked like this game could go either way, with both sides playing in an open, attacking style that made for a very good watch. In the end the victory went to the team that carved out the better chances and 2-1 looked the Fair Score.
Recommendation: Aberdeen +0.25
Actual Outcome: -1 (2-1)
Fair Outcome: -1 (2-1)
Leeds United 2-0 Aston Villa (Saturday 5.30pm)
We thought that the -0.25 handicap on Leeds and a goals line of 2.25 were nicely pitched by the market, so opted out of this one. In truth it proved to be a solid decision, as a case could be made for numerous Fair Scores – though all have Leeds winning.
Actual Outcome: N/A (2-0)
Fair Outcome: N/A (1-0)
Salzburg 4-1 Rheindorf Altach (Saturday 5.30pm)
Salzburg sent out a timely reminder of their quality by sweeping aside league leaders Altach, crushing the -1.5 handicap. As soon as they took the lead just two minutes in this recommendation was in real danger, and our fears of them being “in the mood” proved to be well founded.
Recommendation: Rheindorf Altach +1.5
Actual Outcome: -1 (4-1)
Fair Outcome: -1 (4-1)
Total Actual Outcome: -2.5
Total Fair Outcome: -2