Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Sunday
Atletico Madrid have made their worst start to a La Liga season on Diego Simeone’s watch but their 16-point tally from eight games has ensured the Mattress Makers remain just a squeak below league leaders Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid v Valencia, Sunday 25 October 2015 19.30, Sky Sports 5
Simeone’s troops have rightly been criticised for their inability to dominate matches so far this term after an influx of summer signings but slowly and surely Atleti are finding their rhythm. The Argentine boss has a full squad at his disposal for Sunday night’s showdown with Valencia and the hosts will be tough to beat.
Atletico have lost just three of their past 38 home league fixtures and are unbeaten in six when welcoming Los Che including W1-D3-L0 under Simeone’s tutorship. And the Mattress Makers have also allowed their opponents the fewest shots-on-target in La Liga, keeping their defensive base solid.
Valencia have found a bit of form of late themselves – the Bats have bagged four wins from five and found the net in each encounter. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have suffered consecutive La Liga losses on the road at Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao as they continue to toil away from the Mestalla.
It’s also worth noting, Valencia have accumulated their lowest goal tally in a La Liga campaign after eight games since 1997 and managed the fewest goals in the Spanish top tier from open play – just two. With a stingy Atletico side in opposition, it’s difficult to see Los Che getting the rub of the green.
When welcoming top-half opposition that aren’t Barcelona or Real Madrid, Atletico have W23-D6-L2 under Simeone and their 4-0 hammering of Astana in the Champions League this midweek should ensure they’re fresh and ready for action. With only two of their matches in league football featuring three goals or more this term, coupled with Valencia’s lack of penetration in the attacking third, backing Atleti to win and Under 2.5 Goals at 21/10 looks a little on the large side.
Atletico Madrid to win and Under 2.5 Goals @ 21/10
Fiorentina v Roma, Sunday 25 October 2015, 17.00, BT Sport 1
Fiorentina were top of the league before heading to Napoli last weekend, with six wins from seven league games under Paulo Sousa. But a 2-1 defeat to the Partenopei knocked La Viola off top spot. However, Sousa declared he’s eager to return to the summit as soon as possible but first he must overcome a lively Roma side.
This encounter pits together the best home defence against the smartest away attack and so something’s got to give on Sunday evening. My preference is to take a goals-based option with Both Teams To Score standing out at 4/6.
Fiorentina are on a seven-match winning streak at the Franchi – not even conceding in their most recent six – and netting at least twice themselves on six occasions. But their last win over Roma came back in April 2012 (W0-D1-L5) and that’s a concern for punters looking to back the hosts.
But we’re not and the fact Fiorentina have notched in all bar one of their previous 16 in Florence is encouraging, as is Roma’s record of scoring in all bar one of their last 16 Serie A clashes with La Viola. The Giallorossi have already plundered eight goals on the road this term, have scored in their past 19 league fixtures and were involved in a 4-4 at Leverkusen on Tuesday which certainly gives a good thumbs up for a goals angle.
The capital club sit in second and arrive on the back of three wins on the spin, netting at least three goals on each occasion.
Rudi Garcia’s troops have delivered Over 2.5 Goals in each of their previous five Serie A games and delivered BTTS winners in 14/24 (61%) of away trips since the start of last season too.
Both Teams To Score @ 4/6
Borussia Monchengladbach v Schalke, Sunday 25 October 2015 16.30, BT Sport Europe
It was sad to see Lucien Favre leave Borussia Monchengladbach. The Swiss tactician brought the Foals up from rock bottom in the Bundesliga to Champions League participants during his successful spell but a dreadful start to 2015/16 saw the head coach hand in his resignation with Gladbach staring at their worst ever start to a top-flight campaign.
But how things have changed. Andre Schubert was appointed on an interim basis from within and guided the Foals to four wins from four, scoring 14 goals and conceding just four – the four goals against have all come from the penalty spot.
It’s been a superb transformation and Gladbach even held Juventus to a 0-0 draw in Turin on Wednesday night – they’re back in business.
Raffael’s form has certainly helped. The Brazilian has been directly involved in eight of the 14 goals scored under Schubert and Foals fans will be hoping he can work his magic to extend Borussia’s superb home head-to-head record against Schalke on Sunday – Gladbach have won seven of their last eight when hosting the Royal Blues.
The visitors have recorded five victories in their last six Bundesliga outings and only Bayern Munich have accrued more points than Andre Breitenreiter’s men during that same spell. It means the side from Gelsenkirchen have only had more points on the board than their current tally of 19 just twice at this stage in history.
However, Schalke have scored just 12 goals across those nine matches and their lack of goals could prove their undoing at Borussia-Park. Since the start of last season Gladbach have W14-D3-L4 when hosting Bundesliga opposition, notching at least twice on 10 occasions and keeping nine clean sheets.
The Royal Blues have netted two or more goals in just five of their past 21 away fixtures in the league, losing 11. Breitenreiter’s certainly boosted the club but they may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time on Sunday afternoon and Gladbach look decent value at 23/20 to pocket maximum points.
Borussia Monchengladbach to win @ 23/20
*Prices correct at time of publication