French Ligue 1
PSG vs. Monaco (Sunday 8pm)
This weekend’s headline game comes from France, where reigning champions PSG host the immense Monaco, who after 20 games of the season are still averaging an incredible 3.05 goals per game. PSG themselves are more than a whole goal behind on 1.95, with the even more surprising number being that Monaco away outscore PSG at home 2.6 to 2.4. All of this sets up a mouth watering contest, with the big question being whether Monaco are the real deal or whether PSG will slap them down with an authoritative performance to draw level with them on 48 points.
Analysing the contest from every angle we see PSG without right-back Aurier but recovering left-back Kurzawa, while Monaco are again at full strength. Our Analyst Fair Form has them both 5/5 for wins at home and away, respectively, meaning it’s a real shock to see Monaco at 1.80 off a +1 handicap, especially when the draw is an excellent result for the visitors. In addition to this there could be some value in a typical pairing with Overs, with 2.75 available at 1.89. We believe the line should be closer to 3, as a goal either way should open things up significantly.
Recommendation: Monaco +1 @ 1.80 and Over 2.75 @ 1.89
German Bundesliga 1
RB Leipzig vs. Hoffenheim (Saturday 2.30pm)
The two surprise packages of this Bundesliga season meet for the second time, following their 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture way back at the end of August. At that point in the campaign not many people would have predicted that they would be second and third in the table come late January, with Hoffenheim still unbeaten after 17 games and Leipzig not having lost at home. With all of this under consideration it’s a little jarring to see a line of -0.75 on the hosts, though the line does hold up quite well under decent scrutiny.
Our Analyst Fair Form in particular pointing to the fact that Leipzig are more consistently deserving of their results than Hoffenheim. Everything else is split evenly, meaning that there is inherent value in backing Hoffenheim (they can be had +1 for 1.73), while the Total Goals line of 2.75 looks perfectly pitched to us, if a tiny bit too high. Whatever the outcome this one should be good viewing and as a result we’ll take a cautious approach.
Recommendation: Hoffenheim +1 @ 1.73
Italian Serie A
Torino vs. Atalanta (Sunday 11.30am)
There have been a lot of fun games for Torino fans this season, with their side averaging 3.4 total goals per game so far. Visitors Atalanta are not especially goal-shy either, with 2.54 seen on the road to date. Naturally the expectation here would be on a line set at around 3, especially with Torino recovering 14-goal top scorer Belotti from suspension. However, the market currently has it pitched at 2.5 pushing 2.25, which looks well off to us.
One word of caution is that key defensive midfielder Kessie is back from the Africa Cup of Nations for the visitors to improve their overall solidity, but even accounting for this the line should be 2.75 at the least. Both teams will fancy their chances of victory, which should mean that the intensity stays high regardless of who scores first. The contest is evenly matched enough to deserve the -0.25 handicap.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 @ 2.01
Spanish Primera Division
Espanyol vs. Sevilla (Sunday 3.15pm)
Sevilla followed-up the late win over Real Madrid with a helter-skelter 3-4 victory away to Osasuna last weekend, further cementing themselves between the big two in Spain. Last season they would not have broken a sweat about this trip, but under Sanchez Flores Espanyol are a very different proposition. We don’t have much love for the 0.25 handicap, although we think it should be 0.5, but we do think the goals is currently off – especially with Nasri back for Sevilla and Vitolo expected to be on the bench. Currently over 2.5 can be bough for 1.95 and we price the game closer to 3.25 before the late team news, which means we have pretty strong conviction here despite the expected cautious approach of the hosts.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 @ 1.95
French Ligue 1
Nice vs. Guingamp (Sunday 2pm)
It was always likely that Nice would drop off, but they are now in a fun of form where they’ve won one in five and are finding goals increasingly hard to come by. Guingamp have lesser expectations but similarly over-performed in the first half of the season, meaning that a standard home line of -0.5 is no real surprise to see here. However, it’s key to note Nice’s volatile team news, with star midfielder Seri, first choice goalkeeper Cardinale, starting centre-back Baysse and the creative Eysseric all 50/50 doubts. If the former two miss out, then we’d take Guingamp +0.5.
Ones to Watch
Italian Serie A
Sampdoria vs. Roma (Sunday 2pm)
There’s no doubt that Roma struggle without Salah and last weekend was another instance of them not being able to beat the handicap with the winger absent. Despite Sampdoria being 16th they have a good home record and will provide a very stern test, despite missing Viviano and Sala again.
Recommendation: Sampdoria +1 @ 1.70
Queens Park Rangers vs. Burton Albion (Saturday 3pm)
Another big relegation battle in the Championship sees QPR priced at -0.5 in front of their own fans, but the team news favours Burton with top scorer Irvine returning and the line looks a little wide based on that. Still, it’s not quite wide enough to consider this as viable.
Celtic vs. Hearts (Sunday 1pm)
The Champions ground out a 1-0 over hardy St. Johnstone in midweek and have a different type of home game to contend with here. Hearts will be a little bit more open, but not enough to warrant being available at +1.75. Celtic are always dangerous, but goals not coming easily.
Recommendation: Hearts +1.75 @ 1.90
German Bundesliga 2
Wurzburger Kickers vs. Eintracht Braunschweig (Saturday 12pm)
German’s second flight returns after winter break, with the pick of the games seeing leaders Braunschweig heading to sixth-placed Wurzburg. This looks a very stern test after a long rest period, with the market pricing DNB but perhaps even underestimating the hosts. Braunschweig are not at all great when away.
Recommendation: Wurzburger Kickers DNB @ 1.99
Greek Super League
Xanthi vs. AEK Athens (Saturday 5.30pm)
Our final stop is Greece, where second-place Xanthi host AEK and have excellent team news with a trio of first choice players returning. They really should be decent favourites based on the fact they are at absolute full strength, but can currently be had at DNB for better than evens.
Recommendation: Xanthi DNB @ 2.01
*Odds accurate at time of writing