Weekend Preview – 09/12/16

Highlights

Italian Serie A
Roma vs. Milan (Monday 8pm)
The biggest game of the weekend comes from Italy, where Roma are fresh off a hugely impressive derby win over Lazio and hosting a revitalised Milan, who are joint-second with them in Serie A. The home side rounded off their Europa League group with a 0-0 draw in Romania on Thursday evening, while the visitors have had eight days to prepare since their late win over Crotone. Team news favours Milan, with Montolivo and Kucka the only absences, while Roma are without Salah, Florenzi and potentially Perotti as well.

A handicap of -1 on the home team seems wide, though it is difficult to argue with a Total Goals line of 3 given the fact that both sides have averaged over this amount in 2016/17 so far. Roma have won 3/5 recent league games, with Milan triumphing in 4/5, though our Fair Form actually has the hosts one point better off during the same period. It is also key to note that Roma have won every home league game this season and have never failed to score in front of their own fans. We are so close to backing the visitors, but even +1 smacks of playing for a push.

Recommendation: N/A

English Premier League
Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday 2.15pm)
Tottenham joined United in the Europa League thanks to their professional 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Jose Mourinho’s men were in Russia on Thursday ensuring their progression from Group A as runners-up. This extra day of rest and no travel is a bonus for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who also welcome back the pivotal Alderweireld to have arguably their strongest eleven available (with some apologies to Lamela). Things also look good for the hosts in terms of team news, with Rooney back from a ban and Smalling the only player currently certain to miss out.

This all adds up to mean a very high quality contest should be on the agenda, but with the line at -0.25 and edging towards -0.5 we feel Tottenham are being harshly judged by the market. In addition to this a Total Goals line of 2.25 is understandable on the averages, but a little too low in the context of this type of fixture. Any sort of early goal should open things up significantly.

Recommendation: Tottenham Hotspur +0.25 and Over 2.25

French Ligue 1
PSG vs. Nice (Sunday 7.45pm)
Having slipped up against Ludogorets on Tuesday to lose top spot in their Champions League group to Arsenal, PSG need to refocus when league leaders Nice visit Paris. Following the dismal 3-0 loss at Montpellier last time out the Champions are having a strange week, with questions remaining over their collective attitude and the ability of Emery to motivate his players. Still, they had won 4/5 before that defeat and were beginning to make ground on the likes of Nice, who continue to move along nicely despite the fact that they have been without Balotelli for weeks.

The mercurial striker is back for this one, however, with centre-back Baysse now their only certain absentee. With Rabiot the only first teamer missing for PSG it seems both sides will be strong, but if 3 goals is pitched about right then the -1.5 handicap on the hosts is eye watering at present.

Recommendation: Nice +1.5

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Benfica vs. Sporting CP (Sunday 6pm)
Neither side enjoyed their Champions League commitments in midweek, with Benfica being beaten to top spot in Group B due to their home loss to Napoli and Sporting being eliminated from Europe altogether when losing to Legia in Poland. Sporting have the better team news in terms of availability, but have had a day less to prepare, while Benfica were also at home and did not face any travel. In a game of this magnitude between the two title favourites our preference is usually to side with the slight underdog, and while the risk feels elevated due to the aforementioned factors we will do the same again here. Jorge Jesus has enjoyed coming back to his old stomping ground and would happily take a draw.

Recommendation: Sporting CP +0.25

English Premier League
Leicester City vs. Manchester City (Saturday 5.30pm)
The Champions are without Schmeichel and Drinkwater again, which is obviously causing them some distress, but the visitors have even bigger team news issues with Aguero, Fernandinho and Otamendi suspended. As Kompany is still injured the only natural centre-back remaining is Stones, which could force Guardiola to use three in defence once more. Taking everything into account we have a lean towards Leicester on a +1 handicap, but the Over 2.75 has more momentum with the team news situation on both sides and with Claudio Ranieri’s side coming in at over the natural Total Goals line in 4/5 recent matches.

Recommendation: Over 2.75

Ones to Watch

Italian Serie A
Torino vs. Juventus (Sunday 2pm)
The Turin Derby is another huge game in Italy this weekend, especially with Torino on the uptick this season and currently sitting seventh. They have only beaten their big rivals once since 1994/95 but might feel emboldened given the Old Lady’s patchy away form, which makes us like the overs.

Recommendation: Over 2.25

German Bundesliga 2
Stuttgart vs. Hannover 96 (Monday 7.15pm)
In pre-season our belief was that Hannover would win Bundesliga 2 with Stuttgart right behind them, which still looks very much on the cards. This is a matchup between the two best sides in the division and naturally the line is -0.25, though you can get the visitors at +0.5.

Recommendation: Hannover 96 +0.5

English Championship
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Leeds United (Friday 7.45pm)
Leeds are resurgent under Garry Monk, beating the handicap in 4/5 recent games and climbing to fourth in the table. Brighton have the chance to go top with a win, however, which explains a wide-looking -0.75 line on the home side. More safety can be found in the goals market.

Recommendation: Over 2

Spanish Primera Division
Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid (Monday 7.45pm)
Both come into this on the back of disappointing 0-0 draws last weekend and having fulfilled their European group stage obligations in midweek, though Villarreal had much more at stake than Atletico. That’s enough for us to edge the visitors at DNB, as this should be their type of game.

Recommendation: Atletico Madrid DNB

Austrian Bundesliga
Sturm Graz vs. Salzburg (Sunday 3.30pm)
It is difficult to oppose Salzburg at the moment, as they are clearly the strongest side in Austria by far and no longer have the distraction of European competition to contend with. Still, 7/10 recent games for these two combined have ended Over 2.5, which looks the most likely outcome.

Recommendation: Over 2.5

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