Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Saturday
Will the real Serie A title favourites please stand up? I repeat, will the real Serie A title favourites please stand up? Yeah, we’re gonna have a problem here…
Inter Milan v Roma, Saturday 31 October 2015 (19.45), BT Sport Europe
We’re 10 matchdays down in the Italian top tier and you could easily make a case for six different sides clinching the Scudetto come May. The peninsula’s finest has hands down been the best league to follow across Europe so far this season and Saturday night’s duel between Inter and Roma promises to be another cracker.
Inter had started the season in very positive fashion. Roberto Mancini’s side won their opening five matches before losing 4-1 at home to Fiorentina. Stalemates with Sampdoria, Juventus and Palermo followed before the Nerazzurri returned to winning ways at Bologna in midweek.
The hosts remain in touch with the leading pack but despite their fast start to the campaign, Mancini’s men never looked the real deal. Moments of genius, defensive clangers and last-minute winners have all contributed to their points total and although they performed admirably against Juve, a visit from Roma is bound to test their credentials further.
The Giallorossi are the current Serie A pacesetters and put three goals past Udinese on Wednesday without breaking sweat to extend their winning domestic streak to five. That three-pointer also took the Wolves’ goal tally to 25 in 10 league matches – only once in their history have Roma notched more at this stage of the season. Strong.
Gervinho and Mo Salah have been the chief architects in the attacking third as the Giallorossi have netted in each of their previous 24 outings but Rudi Garcia’s visitors continue to be caught out regularly at the back. The capital club have kept a solitary clean sheet and that came against a Frosinone team that was still finding its feet at the start of September.
The two teams operate with vastly contrasting styles and philosophies but it’s Roma who look the more likely to pocket the points on Saturday. The travellers have recorded W12-D7-L5 on the road since the start of last season and their away return against top-six sides reads a very reasonable W3-D2-L1.
In contrast, Inter have W7-D6-L5 at the San Siro since Mancini arrived in town and when entertaining similar standard sides that record slips to W2-D1-L3. Fiorentina exposed Inter’s failings and I’d expect the slick Roma side to execute a fearsome counter-attacking approach that could well cause their hosts plenty of headaches. With that in mind, the 4/5 on Roma in the Draw No Bet looks well worth an interest.
Elsewhere, the Wolves have seen seven of their previous nine games feature at least three goals and four of the last five head-to-head meetings have also finished with Over 2.5 Goals. Throw in Roma’s 15/24 (63%) success rate on the road when backing Both Teams To Score selections and a goal-filled game should be on the cards.
Another BTTS winner can be snapped up at 4/6.
Inter Milan v Roma – Roma draw no bet (4/5)
Inter Milan v Roma – Both Teams To Score (4/6)
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Saturday 31 October 2015 (17.30), BT Sport 2
There’ll be no beating around the bush here – this fixture should feature goals. Wolfsburg’s home clash with Leverkusen is without doubt the most eagerly-anticipated contest in Bundesliga this weekend for that very reason – this head-to-head rarely lets fans down when it comes to the goal haul.
The last nine meetings between the two ‘plastic’ and privately funded clubs have featured winning Both Teams To Score bets whilst the previous four showdowns have thrown up a huge 22 goals.
Wolfsburg have delivered 15/22 (68%) of Over 2.5 Goals winners from their Volkswagen Arena games since the start of last season with 14 of those matches also seeing both teams score. Meanwhile, Leverkusen have featured in 12/22 (55%) away games that produced at least three goals across the same sample.
Immediately the likelihood for another goal-filled encounter looks to have a strong case and Boylesports have quoted Over 2.5 Goals at 7/10.
It’s a little skinny but there’s still more than enough value in the price to recommend a play for Saturday evening’s fixture.
There’s also a decent case to support Dieter Hecking’s hosts at 5/6 in the Draw No Bet market. The Wolves were taken to the cleaners by Bayern Munich in their midweek DFB Pokal clash but that was only their third home reverse in 39. In the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg’s home record reads W20-D7-L0 since March 2014!
There’s no doubting Leverkusen’s tag as a tactically shrewd side under Roger Schmidt’s tutelage but Die Werkself have fallen to defeats in each of their last three against the Wolves and their recent five-match unbeaten spell has included plenty of concerning schoolboy defending; Roma and Stuttgart stuck seven goals past Bayer in the past fortnight alone.
The travellers have managed just two away wins in eight – at struggling Werder Bremen and Hannover – and so siding with Wolfsburg in the Draw No Bet market looks a sensible solution at a tidy price.
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen – Over 2.5 Goals (7/10)
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen – Wolfsburg draw no bet (5/6)
Getafe v Barcelona, Saturday 31 October 2015 (19.30), Sky Sports 2
It’s no major surprise to see La Liga headed by the two giants of the league. But what’s arguably been most eye-opening is the defending champions’ lack of clean sheets.
Since being crowned European champions last May, Barcelona have been struggling for defensive stability and have now conceded goals in 12 of their 15 fixtures across all competitions this term.
Eibar, Rayo Vallecano, Las Palmas and Levante have all found a way through the brittle backline of the Bluagrana with five sides even notching at least twice against Luis Enrique’s men. And now the Catalans will be without Javier Mascherano through suspension.
Still, Barcelona have W7-D0-L2 in league action as they bid to defend their La Liga title and this weekend they head to the capital for a clash with Getafe. Of course, the Bluagrana will be expected to pick up three points (they’ve done so in 25/30 La Liga matches now) and the odds suggest they will do convincingly.
But for the time being, we should assume Barcelona’s poor defensive record continues this weekend…
and that opens up a play on a visitors win with Both Teams To Score combining for a bulbous offering of 15/8.
Getafe are just starting to settle under new head coach Fran Escriba and have claimed three successive victories ‘to nil’ on home soil. But right-back Carlos Vigaray is missing due to suspension, weakening their defensive solidity for this Coliseum clash.
When welcoming La Liga opposition, the Deep Blues have netted themselves in all bar two of their most recent 13 and they’ll fancy their chances of breaching the porous Barca backline, even if they’re unlikely to ruffle too many feathers.
Getafe v Barcelona – Barcelona to win and Both Teams To Score (15/8)
*Prices correct at time of publication.