Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Saturday
A four-match unbeaten streak including three wins on the spin has seen Milan leap into fifth-place in Serie A.
AC Milan v Atalanta, Saturday 7th November 2015, 19.45, BT Sport Europe
The most open title race in Europe now includes the Rossoneri with Sinisa Mihajlovic’s revolution in full swing at the San Siro.
Last week’s hugely impressive 3-1 success at Lazio was by far and away their best performance this term and their 10-point return from a possible 12 has brought the club to within five points of the summit. Having opened their account with just three victories in eight, the tables are turning in Milan’s favour.
Giacomo Bonaventura was the chief architect last weekend but the Rossoneri will be without their leading assist-maker on Saturday. Still, Keisuke Honda’s an able replacement as the hosts look to make it seven wins from eight at the San Siro in Serie A.
That strong record in front of their home fans has remained reasonably consistent despite the rollercoaster past 12 months. Since the start of last season, Milan have managed a decent W13-D5-L6 when welcoming league opposition and look a decent bet to justify their odds as 4/6 favourites when Atalanta visit.
The Nerazzurri have been almost flawless in Bergamo but tend to run into problems on the road. The visitors have lost four of their six away games thus far including their previous three by an aggregate 8-0.
Edy Reja’s team were stuffed 3-0 at previously winless Bologna last time out with Rafael Tolói’s woeful back-pass encapsulating their horrid performances on their travels. Atalanta have W4-D10-L11 away since the start of last season, failing to score on 13 occasions with the guests also losing in 13 of their last 18 visits to top-six teams. Home win.
AC Milan To Win @ 4/6
Malaga v Real Betis, Saturday 7th November 2015, 21.05, Sky Sports 3
Malaga ended their goalscoring woes with convincing back-to-back wins over Real Sociedad (3-1) and Deportivo (2-0) at La Roselada. But Javi Gracia’s troops continue to toil away from the Costa del Sol, as evidenced by their 1-0 loss at Sporting Gijon last time out.
The Anchovies were undone by a superb performance from 19-year-old Alen Halilovic, who guided Sporting to their maiden victory in front of their home supporters since promotion, scoring once and rattling the woodwork twice. That 1-0 reverse made it eight games in 10 this term that Malaga have fired a blank.
Gracia’s been hampered by injuries and key sales and he’ll have been tearing his hair out when hearing the news that talented midfield operator Ignacio Camacho is sidelined yet again. The host have W2-D2-L1 at La Roselada and beaten promoted clubs in 10 of their last 14 at home but would I be backing them at even-money? No.
Real Betis are unbeaten in four away from Seville, winning two of their previous three and finding the back of the net on each occasion. Pepe Mel’s men welcome back Juan Manuel Vargas and Heiko Westermann to their back four and should start evergreen goalscorer Ruben Castro alongside Jorge Molina in attack.
In a trappy affair to call, you can’t really go wrong backing the Draw and Under 2.5 Goals at 3/1.
It’s already proven a winner in 4/10 (40%) of the two clubs accumulated home/away fixtures this season whilst Malaga have seen fewer than three goals in all bar two of their 10 La Liga contests.
Draw and Under 2.5 Goals @ 3/1
Darmstadt v Hamburg, Saturday 7th November 2015, 17.30, BT Sport Europe
Hamburg head coach Bruno Labbadia was understandably frustrated with his side’s 2-1 defeat at home to Hannover last Sunday. The Dinosaur had led and controlled the game for an hour before a collapse in the final third saw HSV finish the fixture pointless.
Getting back on the road might not be quite such a demonic exercise for the Red Shorts. Despite losing nine of their last 13 away Bundesliga fixtures, Hamburg have actually scrambled three wins from their last four on their travels this term. Throw in the visitors’ hugely improved defence – five clean sheets already – and the perennial strugglers warrant a bit of respect.
HSV are missing Aaron Hunt on Saturday evening – a blow given how he’s performed – but they’ll still fancy their chances of piling more Merck Stadion misery on newly-promoted Darmstadt.
Dirk Schuster has no major selection problems but his home side have lost back-to-back games and won just once in six in front of their home supporters. The hosts have failed to net in 241 minutes of Bundesliga action and although they’re compact at the back, will sit deep and aim to frustrate their guests, relying on seldom counter-attacks and set-pieces for goals could well hamper their prospects.
Since Labbadia returned to Hamburg, the Dinosaur have W4-D0-L5 in away league matches and so supporting Hamburg at 20/23 in the Draw No Bet market holds plenty of appeal on Saturday evening.
Hamburg Draw No Bet @ 20/23
*Prices correct at time of publication