Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Friday

Last Sunday I opposed Hannover for their short trip to Hamburg and despite trailing and being second-best for two-thirds of that fixture, the 96ers managed to pinch maximum points against their friendly neighbours from the north.

Hannover v Hertha Berlin, Friday 6th November 2015, 19.30, BT Sport Europe
A characteristically ill-judged tackle from Emir Spahic in the box gifted Michael Frontzeck’s men a penalty, allowing Hiroshi Kiyotake to equalise on the hour mark before Salif Sane scored a winner soon after. It was Hannover’s third win from four and lifted Die Rotten out of the relegation zone.

However, I remain unmoved in my assumption that Frontzeck’s troops will do well to stay clear of the bottom-three this season. Hannover failed to impress in any of those three recent victories and Friday night’s hosts have fired in fewer on-target shots than all Bundesliga sides bar promoted duo Darmstadt and Ingolstadt.

At the other end, only Mainz and Koln have faced more shots-on-target than the 96ers whilst only four clubs are averaging less possession. The side has managed just two clean sheets this season whilst scoring more than one goal in only three of their 11 fixtures. There’s an overreliance on midfield general Leon Andreasen and creative fulcrum Kiyotake and a season of struggle is likely to loom.

Hannover are sure to best tested by a well-rounded Hertha Berlin side on Friday night. The capital club were stuffed 4-1 by a rejuvenated Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend with head coach Pal Dardai admitting to the press post-match, “the game was too fast for us, we were chasing shadows and hardly had the ball.”

The Berliners have been hampered by injuries in recent weeks, especially at the back. But the Hungarian boss has worked wonders with the Old Lady, transforming the club from relegation candidates into European challengers in the early shades of 2015/16.

All four of Hertha’s defeats this season have come against teams in the top-five and their W9-D7-L10 return from 26 Bundesliga games under Dardai’s watch shows only Hoffenheim and Freiburg from outside the Bundesliga’s best have downed the Berliners.

Salomon Kalou has recovered from a concussion and is ready to start up front for the guests who look more than capable of avoiding defeat. But we won’t get rich backing Hertha in the Double Chance market at 1/2. Instead, I’ll take the 8/11 that this fixture features fewer than three goals.

Since Dardai took on the role with Hertha, 17/26 (65%) of their matches have seen Under 2.5 Goals backers collect, including 10/14 (71%) on the road.

Recommended Bet:
Under 2.5 Goals @ 8/11

Las Palmas v Real Sociedad, Friday 6th November 2015, 19.30, Sky Sports 2
David Moyes was rumoured to have been handed an ultimatum before Real Sociedad’s match at Levante a fortnight ago – lose and be sacked. La Real ran out 4-0 winners and all was rosy in the Scot’s garden once more.

And the San Sebastian club produced one of their best halves of football last weekend when twice taking the lead against La Liga high-flyers Celta Vigo on home soil. But a second-half collapse saw the Galicians snatch a 3-2 win and drop Sociedad back down to 16th, just two points above the relegation zone.

Naturally, the pressure has been cranked up once more on Moyes. Including the back end of last season, La Real have picked up just four wins from their previous 20 and taken only nine points from a possible 30 in 2015/16.

At least the Basques have found their shooting boots, notching six goals in their last two outings.

Despite offering Paco Hererra a new contract before the season start, Las Palmas have decided to ditch their promotion-winning manager. The Yellows handed the reigns to 57-year-old Quique Setien with the new boss possessing no previous experience of La Liga coaching.

The Canary Islanders were unsurprisingly brushed aside at the Bernebeau by Real Madrid last weekend and have now W1-D3-L6. Five of those six points picked up came at their Estadio Gran Canaria base but the home side have failed to even score in four of their five outings in front of their home supporters.

Only Getafe are averaging fewer shots-on-target than Las Palmas whilst only Betis and Sporting Gijon have faced more. They’re two worrying trends coming into this contest against a Sociedad side buoyed by recent positive performances and victories in two of their most recent three away days.

La Real are available at even-money in the Draw No Bet market and are worth supporting on the road against a Las Palmas outfit that have been losing at half-time and full-time in five of their last seven.

Recommended Bet:
Real Sociedad Draw No Bet @ Evens

Angers v Rennes, Friday 6th November 2015, 19.30, BT Sport 2
Angers have been the surprise package of the season so far in Ligue 1, perched in a lofty third-place since winning promotion. Stephane Moulin’s men have built their campaign around an organised and tight defensive system that’s seen the newcomers concede fewer goals than all their league rivals bar table-topping PSG.

Their win-rate has slowed in recent weeks (W1-D2-L1) but they remain a tricky opponent to pass. Moulin was disappointed with the deciding goal conceded at Monaco last weekend, which came from an unusual marking error. But that was only their second league reverse and they’re capable of digging in and grinding out a result.

Draw-specialists Rennes have also seen their strong early form subside and now Les Rouge et Noir have managed a solitary victory in eight. Philippe Montanier adopted a defensive philosophy against a weakened PSG last weekend but were still edged out 1-0 in a match low on quality.

Rennes snapped up Yoann Gourcuff on a free transfer this midweek but the former French international won’t be involved until 2016 as he bids to get fit. And the visitors will be without Paul-Georges Ntep, Mexer, Dimitri Cavaré and Cheikh M’Bengue for Friday’s away day. However, Montanier is likely to recall either Pedro Henrique or Kamil Grosicki to bolster their attacking options.

Rennes are unbeaten on their travels since the opening day whilst Angers have kept clean sheets in their last four as hosts. So this looks like being another nip-and-tuck encounter from France’s top tier and having a small play on the Draw and Under 2.5 Goals at 9/4 looks the best solution.

Angers have delivered fewer than three goals in each of their six home games this season – five of which produced one or zero goals. Meanwhile, seven of Rennes’ last eight have fallen below the line, as have eight of their previous nine away to promoted clubs.

Recommended Bet:
Draw and Under 2.5 Goals @ 9/4

*Prices correct at time of publication