Weekend Preview 19/05/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Liverpool vs. Middlesbrough (Sunday 3pm)
Sky Sports 1
With Chelsea champions and all of the issues at the bottom taken care of, all that we’re left with on the final day of the Premier League is the race for the top four. Liverpool currently occupy fourth spot, sitting one point ahead of Arsenal in fifth, and know that any sort of win against Middlesbrough will see them entering Europe’s premier club competition next season. They have made it very difficult for themselves, but they should get over the line against a poor Boro side.

The visitors will come and look to make it a nervy afternoon for Klopp’s men, playing the only way they really know how, but they’ve lost their motivation since being confirmed relegated and probably won’t have enough in the tank to hold out. Following a resounding 0-4 win at West Ham in their last outing the hosts will have plenty of confidence and look nicely suited to their new diamond shape. We can’t see anything other than a solid home win, but would love the handicap to be tighter.

Suggestion: Liverpool -2.25 @ 1.80 and Over 3.25 @ 1.92

English Premier League
Watford vs. Manchester City (Sunday 3pm)
Sky Sports 2
Watford would be very high up on a list of teams to choose to play on final day when needing any kind of positive result to guarantee Champions League football next season. This would be especially true of a Watford who have just announced that their manager is leaving at the end of the season, yet again. Although Guardiola would naturally prefer to be at home, this won’t faze him with the form his players are in.

The hosts again have serious issues at the back with Cathcart, Kabasele and Kaboul injured, while Prodl is suspended, but City come with an almost fully fit squad and can name the same sort of team that made short work of West Brom in midweek. We think going for the visitors to win by two clear goals is a relative no brainer as the pressure of the situation is the only significant thing going against them. Even before Mazzarri’s departure was announced Watford were one of the quickest sides to give up when things started going against them.

Suggestion: Man City -1.75 @ 1.99

English Premier League
Arsenal vs. Everton (Sunday 3pm)
No TV
Given that we have gone for both Liverpool and Man City to beat their handicaps, it’s safe to say that we don’t think Arsenal can end up taking a Champions League spot this season. Although we have to give them huge credit for taking it to the final day and making so much of their games in hand, our pre-season prediction of a fifth-placed finish still looks very good. To get ahead of Man City they need a tidy win and for City to lose at Watford, while they essentially still need to win and hope for Liverpool to slip up at home to Middlesbrough due to their poorer goal difference and goals scored.

This all seems highly unlikely to us and while the prospect of a play-off for the final Champions League spot is hugely appealing as a one-off spectacle, the 1-1 draw here and 0-2 win for Middlesbrough that is needed for that scenario is naturally a massive long shot. We think Arsenal will win, but the handicap is pitched just about right.

Suggestion: N/A

Spanish Primera Division
Malaga vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7pm)
Sky Sports 1
We were quietly hoping for a Real wobble on Wednesday night, but at a Celta side who downed tools long ago it was never really likely to happen. As such the title race goes to the final day, but the balance is tilted very firmly in the favour of Ronaldo and company. They need just a solitary point to guarantee the title and while Malaga have hit great form to end the season, it would be a massive shock if that didn’t come to pass. Malaga are managed by Michel, who has significant ties to the Bernabeu, while two of their strongest back four are also absent. Zidane has everyone bar Carvajal and Bale available, making an unchanged side from their midweek romp very likely.

Suggestion: Real Madrid -1.75 @ 1.81

Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona vs. Eibar (Sunday 7pm)
Sky Go
This should be a procession for Barcelona, but it may not matter because if Real manage to take a point or three then they cannot prevent the title from ending up in Zidane’s hands. The hosts welcome back Pique and Roberto, leaving just Mascherano on the sidelines, while an Eibar side who have not scored in five out of their last size matches are completely full strength. Seeing the market at 4.5 total goals and with a -3.25 handicap on the home side is no surprise at all, with Barca racking up wins of 7-1, 3-0, 4-1 and 4-1 in their last four outings after scoring 3 in the Bernabeu. Eibar are good opponents for them, but even the expected huge win won’t be enough.

Suggestion: Barcelona -3.25 @ 1.98 

German Bundesliga 1
Hamburger SV vs. Wolfsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport 3
This is basically a relegation shootout, with Hamburg in need of a win to escape the play-off spot at the foot of the Bundesliga table. Wolfsburg are just two points ahead of them and interestingly will not necessarily be doomed if they lose narrowly and Augsburg go down hard at Hoffenheim. There is so much at play and a lot could come down to who handles the pressure better. If Wolfsburg go ahead then Hamburg have no choice but to go all out, while the same works the other way too. It will start cagily, but we can see goals.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 2.04

Ones to Follow

German Bundesliga 1
Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport Extra
Augsburg are not out of the woods yet despite the two teams directly below them playing each other at the same time. If they lose heavily and Hamburg win narrowly, then they will be relegated. Hoffenheim are still fully motivated because they can usurp Dortmund and finish third for automatic entry to the Champions League, but even though goal difference could be a factor it is very unlikely to play a part on Saturday afternoon.

Suggestion: Under 3.5 @ 1.93

German Bundesliga 1
Borussia Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport Extra
Dortmund left the door ajar for Hoffenheim to sneak into third again last weekend, drawing 1-1 with relegation-threatened Augsburg. They are facing less motivated opponents here, thankfully for Tuchel, which means that it’s difficult to see anything other than a home win. Bremen still have an outside chance of a Europa League spot but the market gives them little chance of achieving it, setting the money line handicap at -2.25. We’ll nudge that down one.

Suggestion: Borussia Dortmund -2 @ 1.80

Italian Serie A
Chievo vs. Roma (Saturday 5pm)
BT Sport 3
There isn’t as much going on in Italy as there is in Germany, but the title race is not officially done yet and there is still a question over who takes the second automatic Champions League spot. Roma got a huge win over Juventus last time out and should get another victory to apply some pressure to Allegri’s men, moving within a point. Even without Dzeko they should be worth a couple of goals here.

Suggestion: Roma -1.75 @ 1.81

Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Fiorentina (Saturday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 2
Napoli have the strongest form of the top three heading into the final two weekends and should relish the chance to get after a Fiorentina team missing three first choice players, two of whom have significant importance defensively. The hosts are again completely healthy and look so dangerous at the moment that they are impossible to go against, especially given that their motivation to take the final automatic Champions League spot will still be high.

Suggestion: Napoli -1.75 @ 1.94

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille vs. Bastia (Saturday 8pm)
BT Sport 3
The title is decided, but there are still issues to be resolved at the top and bottom of the table. Marseille and Bordeaux are going head-to-head for the final guaranteed Europa League spot, drawing 1-1 in the wine country last week, so Marseille have to win to be sure of taking it. Bastia have to take something to stand any chance of surviving, with a draw potentially enough to end in the relegation play-off spot.

Suggestion: Over 3 @ 1.83

French Ligue 1
Lorient vs. Bordeaux (Saturday 8pm)
Bet365
The only way Lorient can hope to finish outside of the relegation spots is by taking something, although their chances are hampered greatly with Ciani, Marveaux and top scorer Moukandjo all being ruled out. Bordeaux are only missing Pallois and will also go in search of victory, due to needing three points to take the last guaranteed Europa League place. Bordeaux are tough to beat and we think they’ll be the calmer of the two.

Suggestion: Bordeaux 0.25 @ 1.80

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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