Weekend Preview 17/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Real Sociedad vs. Villarreal (Sunday 11am)
Sky Sports 2
On a weekend with no Premier League action and a lack of real marquee clashes around Europe, our attention turns to Spain for the most interesting contest. Sociedad host Villarreal on Sunday morning with both teams still in the argument for a surprise Champions League spot, given Atletico’s continuing struggles for form and the possibility of Sevilla falling away after such a strong start to the campaign. At the current time the hosts seem in a much better place than their visitors, although the loss of starting striker Willian Jose to a season-ending injury is obviously not ideal.

In a game between two direct rivals for a European spot it is somewhat ironic that Villarreal’s mood will be low after a crushing 0-4 home loss to Roma in the first leg of their Europa League tie. Being almost certainly out of the competition there should be no real rotation here, meaning Soriano is the only new absence. All-in-all the real test for the visitors here is a psychological one and while they will come out looking to repeat the sort of performance that gave them a 0-0 draw at Sevilla recently, Sociedad should be smelling blood and motivated to win.

Suggestion: Real Sociedad -0.5 @ 1.94

Italian Serie A
Milan vs. Fiorentina (Sunday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 2
Another great game from Serie A is coming our way on Sunday, as floundering Milan host the inconsistent Fiorentina. The hosts are sitting seventh despite a run of form that has seen them win just one of the last five, while Fiorentina are eighth and have taken ten points in that time but have been overachieving versus the Analyst Fair Score. Ultimately this is a battle between two sides that still harbour ambitions of finishing in the European places, though the contest comes between Europa League ties for the visitors.

This is a nice little advantage to Milan, but they are worse off in terms of team news as Romagnoli, Bonaventura, De Sciglio and Montolivo all remain absent. Paletta and Kucka are back to boost defence and midfield, however, while Fiorentina are not totally unscathed themselves due to Bernardeschi’s absence through suspension. This looks incredibly close on paper and we have a liking for the visitors on a plus handicap and the goals, mainly due to Fiorentina going over 83% of the time when away.

Suggestion: Fiorentina +0.25 @ 2.04 and Over 2.5 @ 1.86

German Bundesliga 1
Hertha BSC vs. Bayern Munchen (Saturday 2.30pm)
Bet365
Hertha’s form has started to stutter of late, with their early season promise giving way to something more like what was expected of them ahead of the campaign. Their 2017 schedule has been tough so far, with this game being no exception, as Bayern come in on a real high after demolishing Arsenal in the Champions League. Hertha remain without Weiser, who continues to be missed, while Bayern are still minus Boateng and Ribery.

Although this is a tough trip for Ancelotti’s men they still look attractive at -1 when considering Hertha’s recent run, plus the fact that Bayern have scored in nine of ten away games, winning eight, and are on a run of five in a row. There is no doubt that Dardai’s side are better in Berlin than on the road, but their best chance here looks to be to keep it tight and not risk much.

Suggestion: Bayern Munchen -1 @ 1.78

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Sporting Braga vs. Benfica (Sunday 8.15pm)
BT Sport 3
Our last highlighted stop sees leaders Benfica heading to fourth-placed Braga, with the visitors in great spirits after an excellent 1-0 home win over Dortmund in the first league of their R16 Champions League tie. This is always a very tough place to come but Braga have been limping through the last few months with terrible team news and have begun to find it hard to grind out wins.

Benfica are without key striker Jonas but should still have enough to get the win here, and while under 2.5 is tempting due to the expected defensive approach of the hosts and Benfica’s lack of desire to win by racking up the goals, we can’t quite bring ourselves to suggest it. Feel free to brave it…

Suggestion: Benfica -0.5 @ 1.75

Ones to Watch

English Championship
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Monday 8pm)
Sky Sports 1
Many would have expected this to be a key battle between two automatic promotion contenders at this time of the season. However, Villa have floundered and are back to struggling again following the initial honeymoon under Bruce. They will make it tough, but Newcastle should win it with Gayle back.

Suggestion: Newcastle United -0.75 @ 1.84

Netherlands Eredivisie
Vitesse vs. Ajax (Sunday 1.30pm)
Sky Sports Red Button
Ajax have won their last five matches but this looks a tricky trip, despite the fact that Vitesse could be missing three of their regular back four. Ajax have concerns over Veltman and Sinkgraven, meaning they could have defensive issues of their own, but they look attractive at -0.5 here.

Suggestion: Ajax -0.5 @ 1.75

Netherlands Eredivisie
Twente vs. Heerenveen (Saturday 5.30pm)
Bet365
This should be a very close battle between two evenly matched teams in the Netherlands, with neither having ideal team news. Twente have lost Assaidi and Heerenveen are without St. Juste and Bijker in addition to Schaars, significantly weakening the defence, although Larsson returns to greatly enhance their attacking power.

Suggestion: Over 2.75 @ 1.89

Greek Super League
AEK Athens vs. Olympiakos (Sunday 5.30pm)
Bet365
This looks like a good time for AEK to host rivals Olympiakos, who are in between Europa League ties and have a number of starters side-lined through injury and suspension. AEK themselves still look to be without Galo, Chygrynskiy and Almeida, so do not have it all their own way.

Suggestion: AEK Athens DNB @ 1.88

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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