Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – SaturdayStats
It’s taken time but AC Milan are finally clicking into gear under Sinisa Mihajlovic.
AC Milan v Torino, Saturday 27 February 2016 19.45, BT Sport Europe
The hot-headed Serbian coach has sculpted a super organised outfit that’s began grinding out results on the road as well as at their San Siro base.
Last weekend the Rossoneri enjoyed a weekend of festivities with Mihajlovic celebrating his 47th birthday and the owner, Silvio Berlusconi, marking 30 years as owner of the club. But the Italian giants were back to business on Monday night, holding Napoli to a deserved 1-1 draw in Naples.
Since being hammered by the Partenopei back in October, Milan have lost just twice in any competition – both times by a single goal. In fact, only Juventus (19) and Napoli (16) have collected more points across the past seven match-days than Milan’s 15 (W4-D3-L0).
Alessio Romagnoli should return to the fold after recovering from a fever and Juraj Kucka’s recovery to full fitness coincides perfectly with Riccardo Montolivo’s suspension as the hosts bid to make it 11 triumphs from 16 at San Siro.
Having not lost in any of their past 16 against Torino, the hosts look a shade overpriced at 4/5.
Fiorentina and city rivals Inter have been accounted for by the Rossoneri on home soil in recent weeks and so Milan should have enough in the tank to see off a mid-table Granata side with just one triumph in seven to their name.
A section of the Bulls support appears to have turned on their veteran manager, Giampiero Ventura, barely a year after he led them to a historic win over Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. A sign was hung at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico last Sunday reading: “The Ad-Ventura is over … Thanks boss.”
And you have to fear for the Torino head coach on Saturday night. The visitors have a shocking record at Serie A’s elite during his tenure. The Granata have returned W0-D3-L18 in their last 21 away days at top-six sides, shipping at least twice in 15 of those 21 matches.
Torino have been trailing at half-time and full-time in 13/21 (62%) of those encounters and so more adventurous punters may prefer to take the 13/8 on Milan-Milan in the Half-Time/Full-Time market but we’ll play it safe and take the straight home win at 4/5.
AC Milan to win @ 4/5
Real Sociedad v Malaga, Saturday 27 February 2016 21.05, Sky Sports 3
Real Sociedad climbed into the top-half of the La Liga table for the first time since the opening fortnight of the 2015/16 campaign thanks to a wonderful 1-0 Basque derby victory at rivals Athletic Bilbao last weekend.
It was La Real’s fourth win on the spin following positive results against Granada, Espanyol and Real Betis, a run that has pushed the club a full 12 points above the relegation zone. In fact, sixth-placed Celta are only five points adrift meaning European qualification isn’t out of the question just yet.
It’s been a slow start but Eusebio Sacristan’s side have found their groove and will be keen to build on a reasonably strong return at their Anoeta home this weekend. Sociedad have bagged 14/31 (45%) home wins since the start of last season with 5/12 (42%) delivered this term.
However, La Real must get by without the services of Aritz Elustondo, Asier Illarramendi and Jonathas through suspension as well as injured top scorer Imanol Agirretxe this weekend. It greatly reduces their appeal despite Malaga appearing unable to transform their resolute displays at their Costa del Sol home to away fixtures.
Javi Gracia’s travellers held Real Madrid at La Roselada last time out but have been beaten in 7/13 (54%) of their road trips this term and 18/32 (56%) since the beginning of 2014/15. Los Boquerones have suffered just one loss in their last five but are without the suspended Ignacio Camacho and Miguel Torres here.
So with the two teams missing key players and neither making particular appeal in the Match Odds market, I’m keen to get involved with a bet opposing goals.
Ticking ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market is offered at 5/6 and judging by the stats, I reckon it should be a good deal shorter.
If we opposed Both Teams To Score in the two teams’ home and away games this season, we’d have bagged 16/25 (64%) winners – if we turned that percentage figure into implied odds, you’d be looking at around a 4/7 shot.
Going back to the start of last season, opposing BTTS would have proven profitable in 35/63 (56%) of fixtures – the equivalent of a 4/5 play. So with Under 2.5 Goals prohibitively short with a strong track record across the two clubs’ trends, take the 5/6 and go against Both Teams To Score.
Both Teams To Score ‘No’ @ 5/6
Reims v Bordeaux, Saturday 27 February 2016 19.00, BT Sport 1
There’s just 11 games left in the Ligue 1 season and Reims will be well aware they must arrest their worryingly poor record at the Stade Auguste-Delaune if they’re to beat the drop.
Last weekend’s 4-1 thumping at PSG’s Parc des Princes was always on the cards but Les Rouge et Blanc were fortunate to remain one point outside of the bottom-three thanks to favourable results elsewhere.
However, the side from the Champagne region of France have been playing below-par for the majority of 2016. A switch from head coach Olivier Guegan to a new 3-5-2 formation has encouraged the side to be more threatening in the opposition box but their more offensive approach has left Stade a little too exposed at the back.
Goalkeeper Johnny Placide has put in a string of outstanding displays between the sticks but their luck ran out a fortnight ago when terrible travellers Bastia departed Reims with maximum points.
With just W1-D4-L5 as hosts since September, Guegan’s group look vulnerable favourites here.
Visiting Bordeaux are just one of eight teams to still have their eyes on grabbing a Champions League spot. Les Girondins have been battling a severe injury-crisis in recent weeks and have recovered well from heavy defeats to Lyon and St-Etienne earlier this month.
Willy Sagnol’s side have W5-D4-L2 in league action since early December and can call upon the services of Diego Contento and Andre Poko again this weekend. But Mathieu Debuchy’s been ruled out and bruising forward Cheikh Diabaté remains a doubt.
The guests have claimed victory at Montpellier and Guingamp during that 11-game spree but since the start of last season, Bordeaux have collected just seven road successes in 32 Ligue 1 fixtures and that’s reason enough to steer away from an angle on the away side.
Instead, goals look a little underrated, to me. During Sagnol’s tenure, Les Girondins have always looked to play front-foot, attacking football. Even during last weekend’s goalless draw with Nice, Bordeaux were the team pressing and pushing and will likely adopt a similar attitude on Saturday night.
Both Teams To Score has been chalked up as a 4/5 chance and that seems generous when viewing the two teams’ fierce BTTS records.
A huge 9/14 (64%) of Reims’ home fixtures have featured goals for both sides and with Bordeaux following suit in 10/13 (77%), there’s implied probability of 63% and equivalent odds close to 8/13 available on both teams notching again this weekend.
The two teams have been torchbearers in the Both Teams To Score column since the start of last season – Reims have delivered winning BTTS bets in 18/33 (55%) of their Stade Auguste Delaune encounters whilst 18/32 (56%) of Bordeaux trips to Ligue 1 homes have also featured goals for both sides.
Both Teams To Score @ 4/5