Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Friday

Once the European competitions are done for the week, league football returns on the continent with games across the top divisions in Europe on Friday.

Rayo Vallecano v Espanyol, Friday 23 October 2015 19.30, Sky Sports Red Button
Both Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol made headlines in Spain last weekend with positive words spoken about the two clubs. As predicted, Rayo went to Barcelona and gave the Catalans a taste of their own medicine; Paco Jemez’s men enjoyed more possession, shots and corners at the Camp Nou but still ended up on the end of a 5-2 beating.

Espanyol pocketed a 3-1 success at recently returned La Liga outfit Real Betis with on-loan Real Madrid youngster Marco Asensio laying on all three goals – the first Parakeets player to provide three assists in a single game this century. It means the former Mallorca starlet has created half of their goals and has more assists than anyone in La Liga. Strong.

The two teams lock horns at the atmospheric Vallecas ground in Madrid’s working-class district and Rayo will be hoping to improve upon a largely unremarkable home record since the start of last season (W9-D3-L11). This term it reads just W1-D1-L2 with Betis and Deportivo already leaving the capital with maximum points.

Last weekend’s win for the visitors was a rare victory on the road. Across the same sample, Espanyol have W7-D4-L12 when playing away but their W2-D0-L2 return from this season’s fixtures has given head coach Sergio Gonzalez hope. The travellers certainly offer a smidgen more value at 23/10 quotes compared to their hosts at 6/5.

When looking at Rayo’s results against bottom-half clubs at home under Paco Jemez, there’s plenty of symmetry in their W16-D2-L16 efforts but again Espanyol’s W4-D3-L5 return under Sergio away to the same group suggests this showdown could go either way. So instead, a trip to the goals markets looks the order of the night.

Of those 34 Rayo matches, a huge 23/34 (68%) banked for Over 2.5 Goals backers with 21/34 (62%) also delivering for Both Teams To Score hunters. A massive 14/34 (41%) even featured four or more goals. Espanyol have followed suit with 8/12 (67%) Over 2.5 Goals winners, 5/12 (42%) of Over 3.5 Goals matches and 8/12 (67%) of successful BTTS shouts.

With that in mind, the 5/6 on Over 2.5 Goals looks excellent value in what should be an enthralling encounter between two of La Liga’s lesser lights.

Recommended Bet:
Rayo Vallecano v Espanyol – Over 2.5 Goals @ 5/6

Hoffenheim v Hamburg, Friday 23 October 2015 19.30, BT Sport Extra
Hoffenheim’s short three-match unbeaten spell was ended in an enjoyable 4-2 defeat at Wolfsburg last weekend and so Markus Gisdol’s men continue to languish in the Bundesliga’s bottom-two.

Hoffe’s W1-D3-L5 showing in 2015/16 makes ugly reading and although they’ve already faced Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Leverkusen and the Wolves, there has been points on offer against fellow strugglers Werder Bremen, Stuttgart and Augsburg. As tends to be the case with Friday night’s hosts, goalscoring doesn’t appear to be a problem but keeping them out is an issue.

Gisdol’s troops have leaked at least twice in six of their nine league encounters this season and since the start of last season have kept just four clean sheets in 21 of their Rhein-Neckar-Arena dates (W9-D5-L7). No surprise then that Both Teams To Score has proven a winning formula in 15/21 (71%) of those matches.

Hamburg have looked a different side under Bruno Labbadia’s watch this term (W3-D2-L4).

The Dinosaur are by no means the finished article but at least they’re looking dangerous in the opposition box.

They have also tightened up their woeful backline to shut out opposition in four of those nine fixtures thus far.

The visitors have already won twice on the road (W2-D0-L2) and will fancy their chances of enhancing that return on Friday night. However, four of Hoffenheim’s seven home losses since the start of last season came against top-four clubs and Gisdol’s hosts tend to be tricky opponents in front of their home fans.

A safer ploy would be to take the Over 2.5 Goals option at 7/10 – it’s proven a winner in 13/21 (62%) Rhein-Neckar-Arena games since the start of 2013/14 and in 6/8 (75%) of Hamburg’s road trips since Labbadia returned to the dugout. Taking purely those Hoffenheim home trends, this selection should be closer to 8/13 making it a decent value option.

Recommended Bet:
Hoffenheim v Hamburg – Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/10

Lyon v Toulouse, Friday 23 October 2015 19.30, BT Sport 2
Lyon lost crucial Champions League points at Zenit in midweek and Hubert Fournier’s side must now raise themselves for the return of Ligue 1 action on Friday night. Les Gones were slow starters in St Petersburg and despite showing a glimmer of hope in the second period, were deservedly well beaten.

The absence of Nabil Fekir through injury is hitting the club hard and although Alexandre Lacazette grabbed a goal on Tuesday night, the star man has looked a shadow of himself so far this season. Lyon are already 10 points adrift of table-topping PSG and five points off the top-three.

Last weekend the hosts were held to a 1-1 draw in Monaco but at least the Stade Gerland has proven a happy hunting ground for Les Gones this season. Bar a shock reverse to Rennes, Lyon have W2-D2-L0 to extend their home run in league matches under Fournier’s control to W16-D5-L3.

Terrible travellers Toulouse line up in the away dressing room and are now winless since the opening day of the season.

Angers collected a 2-1 win over Dominique Arribagés men last time out and Les Pitchouns failed to even see off tiny Gazalec in their last away trip.

Toulouse have W4-D2-L18 on their travels since the start of last season and that reads W1-D2-L12 in their past 15 on the road. It’s a woeful return and even an out-of-form Lyon side should be able to get the better of the visitors on Friday.

Boylesports have chalked up the hosts as 4/6 shots but I’ll take the 13/8 on Lyon-Lyon in the HT/FT market – it’s had a 42% hit-rate in Lyon’s home fixtures since 2014/15 and a 50% success rate in Toulouse’s away days during the same spell.

Recommended Bet:
Lyon v Toulouse – Lyon-Lyon half-time/full-time @ 13/8

*Prices correct at time of publication