Weekend Preview 21/04/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (Sunday 7.45pm)
Sky Sports 1
Barcelona’s title hopes rely solely on the outcome of this game, with nothing less than a win good enough. Following a humbling midweek in the Champions League they need to show a reaction for their supporters, but with Neymar still suspended and Rafinha again injured they are missing a lot of power in attack. Alternatively Real Madrid are missing power in defence, with Varane and Pepe still on the sidelines, although Bale is expected back in the squad and is currently rated 50/50 to start. If he begins then Real will edge the team news, putting them in the box seat.

However, it’s important to remember that while Zidane’s men played a day before Barcelona in midweek they had to go through extra time to get past Bayern, which always takes a lot out of players. Enrique’s men were able to drop their intensity once they realised there was no fighting back against Juventus, saving themselves for this outing. Our instinct and our model points towards Barcelona on the handicap, but it’s very difficult to trust them in their current psychological state. Instead of this we’ll bank on Real’s ability to keep it tight when a draw suits them nicely.

Suggestion: Under 3.5 @ 1.91

French Ligue 1
Olympique Lyonnais vs. Monaco (Sunday 8.15pm)
BT Sport 1

Monaco continue to keep PSG at arm’s length, but they’ve had to win six in a row to do so and last time out at home to Dijon they were far from convincing. Lyon are still something of an enigma and were involved in yet another game with crowd trouble last week, their game at Bastia being postponed in the second half with the score at 0-0. Having progressed to a Europa League Semi-Final with Manchester United by virtue of penalties in Turkey on Thursday night, it’s safe to say that they probably have less motivation than their hosts here.

The visitors also had a big week in Europe too, dispatching of a psychologically fragile Dortmund 3-1 to win 6-3 on aggregate and move on to a Champions League Semi against Juventus. Monaco didn’t have to go through extra time, were at home and also played a day earlier, meaning they have a number of schedule advantages. In addition to this they also edge the team news with Fabinho back, as only Sidibe is sidelined.

Suggestion: Monaco DNB @ 1.94

Dutch Eredivisie
PSV vs. Ajax (Sunday 3.45pm)
Sky Sports 4
Ajax are still in second, just one point behind leaders Feyenoord, while PSV are six points further back in third. Before their disappointing 1-1 draw in Den Haag last week PSV were almost back in the race, but now even a runners-up spot would be a shock. However, this is a huge opportunity for them to reel in Ajax and to knock their big rivals out of contention at the same time.

The hosts have a preparation advantage over Ajax, who went to extra time with a man less and still managed to advance against Schalke in the Europa League on Thursday night, while the team news looks pretty flat. PSV should be enough of a fly in the ointment to force a draw, but they are narrow favourites here and backing a win seems a little bit of a stretch. A goal line of 3 is perfectly pitched, too.

Suggestion: N/A

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Sporting CP vs. Benfica (Saturday 8.30pm)
BT Sport ESPN
Sporting are not out of the title race yet, though they absolutely have to win here to have any chance of overturning the eight point gap to their visitors. Porto are sandwiched between the two but dropped points at the weekend, meaning Benfica have the finishing line in sight. Sporting have to go for the jugular, while Benfica could happily take a draw but will obviously set out looking for the win, which makes the 2.25 line look on the low side. Both teams look set to be at absolute full strength, which is always good to see, but it makes it almost impossible to split them. However, Jonas is a major doubt for Benfica and if absent the line will move heavily towards Sporting.

Suggestion: Over 2.25 @ 1.93 

English Premier League
AFC Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
Middlesbrough have to start winning, and soon, because they have six games left to overturn a six point deficit to Hull in 17th and now only one game in hand after their loss to Arsenal on Monday night. The defensive ways of the past have to go out of the window because Bournemouth are fragile enough at the back and deep enough in trouble to be got at. They have opened up since Karanka left but scoring goals is still a problem, so we can’t trust them on the handicap, but we do think this will have three goals plus.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 1.94

Ones to Follow

English Premier League
Hull City vs. Watford (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
Watford continue to surprise us this season and are still turning in motivated performances despite being safe. There is a danger they can switch off now they have hit 40 points and that would be a big problem against a Hull side who are much better when playing at home.

Suggestion: Hull City -0.5 @ 1.94

English Premier League
Swansea City vs. Stoke City (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
The new manager bounce has deserted Swansea already, with the club now six league games without a win. Stoke are much better at home than away but are awkward enough and dangerous enough now that Arnautovic and Shaqiri are back on the flanks to take at least a draw here.

Suggestion: Stoke City +0.25 @ 2.04

English Championship
Burton Albion vs. Leeds United (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
Burton took a huge step towards safety with their win on Monday, while Leeds fell out of the play-off places with a loss at home to Wolves. There is a huge amount at stake for both, but a draw would suit Burton better. With that in mind, we’ll back Leeds.

Suggestion: Leeds United DNB @ 1.82

English Championship
Huddersfield Town vs. Fulham (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
This is a gigantic game in terms of the top end of the Championship, with Huddersfield amazingly still in the running for automatic promotion and Fulham now in the play-off spots at the expense of Leeds. When it’s Fulham you back goals; they also have the team news and momentum.

Suggestion: Fulham +0.25 @ 1.94 and Over 2.5 @ 1.89

English Championship
Nottingham Forest vs. Reading (Saturday 3pm)
No TV
Reading are not the team you want to play when you’re on the cusp of falling into the relegation zone, especially on the back of two undeserved defeats over Easter. Forest are this season’s “team who look too good to go down”, while Reading still have some work to do.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 1.84

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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