Weekend Preview 24/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (Sunday 3.15pm)
Sky Sports 2
In years past this would have been an enormous occasion at this stage of the season, but neither Atletico nor Barcelona have been at their best in 2016/17 so far. As it is, the game looks more significant for who finishes second rather than who goes on to win the title, but there is still an awful lot at stake. Starting with the team news it appears that both will be nearing full strength, with Godin expected to return to boost Simeone’s men and Oblak also set to reclaim the gloves. Barcelona will welcome back Busquets and Turan, leaving only Mascherano on the sidelines once more.

With not much to separate them there, we turn to the schedule and see that Atletico battled to a 4-2 away win in the Champions League on Tuesday while Barcelona enjoyed a free week, which is a clear edge to the visitors. However, what diminishes this almost completely is the negative atmosphere around the Catalans after the 4-0 defeat to PSG ten days ago. The 2-1 win over Leganes that followed was hardly convincing and we tend to believe these two are on opposing trajectories at the moment, hence we’ll go for the hosts.

Suggestion: Atletico Madrid +0.25 @ 1.82

Italian Serie A
Internazionale vs. Roma (Sunday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 1
It was agony to decide between this game and the Atletico one for our major highlight, as since Pioli arrived at Inter they have become serious contenders for a top three spot. Roma are firmly in their crosshairs but have found form again lately, largely thanks to the return of Salah from injury, which sets this up to be a fantastic encounter. Inter’s upturn has seen them winning five in a row at home lately and four out of the last five overall, while Roma’s away record is not quite so sparkling.

In addition to this Spalletti’s side had to contend with a dead rubber Europa League match with Villarreal on Thursday evening, but they edge the team news with Rudiger returning and Manolas being the only doubt. Inter have captain and top scorer Icardi back for a major attacking boost, but Brozovic still looks unlikely and key centre-back Miranda is suspended. We expect that both sides will show a lot of respect for one another, but feel that the home side can snatch it.

Suggestion: Internazionale DNB @1.87 and Under 3 @ 1.80

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille vs. PSG (Sunday 8pm)
BT Sport 2
The big shame here is that Gomis is still missing for the hosts, with the former Swansea man an absolutely integral part of their attack this season. Other than that Marseille are at full strength with Sakai and Fanni returning to boost the defence, while PSG are also nearing full capacity with Thiago Silva looking more likely to start than not, Kurzawa definitely returning and Di Maria also in serious contention as well.

Emery’s side missed a huge opportunity to narrow the gap to Monaco when only drawing 0-0 with Toulouse last time and they should have benefited from having a free midweek. In addition to this they have the advantage of a cup game with Niort on Wednesday night, while Marseille face a much stiffer test when Monaco come to town. All of this adds up, but probably not enough to see PSG at -0.75. Under 2.75 is tempting.

Suggestion: N/A

Dutch Eredivisie
Feyenoord vs. PSV (Sunday 1.30pm)
Sky Sports 5
You need only look at the league table to see what a huge game this is for the Eredivisie, especially at this late stage of the campaign. Feyenoord lead the table by five points and could eliminate PSV from the title race with victory, while PSV could blow the whole thing wide open if they could escape from De Kuip with all three points. Ajax are in between the two and should beat Heracles at home on Sunday in the game that immediately follows this one, which means a PSV win is definitely the most interesting outcome. Both sides have won five in a row, while a draw suits the hosts more than the visitors but is not ideal for either. We like the leaders.

Suggestion: Feyenoord DNB @ 1.80 

Spanish Primera Division
Villarreal vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7.45pm)
Sky Sports 1
Leaders Real need to dust themselves down after a surprise loss in Valencia midweek and that performance could lead Zidane to turn to Bale for a start, with Villarreal typically very difficult opponents. The hosts only have a concern over Sansone and are otherwise at full strength, as they played a heavily rotated team in the 0-1 win in Rome on Thursday. They’re in the rare position of only having the league to focus on at this stage of the season, so will be fully motivated. This one seems to hinge on the first goal, which means we’ll duck it.

Suggestion: N/A

Ones to Watch

English Premier League
Leicester City vs. Liverpool (Monday 8pm)
Sky Sports 1
Leicester are once again the story of the football world with the decision to sack Claudio Ranieri being met with a mixture of anger and acceptance. They probably won’t have a new manager in place in time for Liverpool’s visit, which means you have to fancy Klopp’s men to win.

Suggestion: Liverpool -0.75 @ 1.80

English Championship
Leeds United vs. Sheffield Wednesday (Saturday 12.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
Realistically neither of these sides are in contention for an automatic promotion spot, but this contest does have some serious implications for the play-off situation with Leeds fifth and Wednesday sixth. The market has Leeds as minor favourites, but this looks like it should be a DNB line to us.

Suggestion: Sheffield Wednesday +0.25 @ 1.82

English Championship
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Reading (Saturday 5.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
Another huge game from England’s second flight sees title challengers Brighton looking to cut Reading out of the automatic promotion race altogether. The visitors have just lost a crucial promotion battle at Huddersfield on Tuesday evening and may be a little jaded after that, which plays nicely into Brighton’s hands.

Suggestion: Brighton & Hove Albion -0.75 @ 1.91

Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Atalanta (Saturday 5pm)
Bet365
Serie A just keeps throwing them up at the moment and this one is second against fifth, with both teams being unbeaten in their last five. What makes it even more interesting is that both are full strength and Napoli have a Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus coming up fast.

Suggestion: Atalanta +1 @ 1.92 

Turkish Super Lig
Galatasaray vs. Besiktas (Monday 5pm)
Bet365
Third host top in Turkey in a game with a rather strange start time and while we would have found it difficult to give the home side a chance before the manager change, they may have some added impetus here. Team news favours Besiktas but the schedule massively benefits Galatasaray.

Suggestion: Galatasaray +0.25 @ 1.81

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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