Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Friday
Fair play to Werder Bremen – they’re not going to leave the Bundesliga without a fight.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Werder Bremen , Fri 5 Feb 2016 19.30, BT Sport Europe
The River Islanders completed the Hinrunde with a W4-D3-L10 record and sat just a point above the automatic drop zone coming into 2016. Fast-forward a fortnight and although Victor Skrypnyk’s side still occupy 16th position, they’ve moved five points clear of second-from-bottom Hoffenheim.
Trailing to Schalke 1-0 away in their first outing this calendar year, Bremen could and should have been buried by half-time. However, they held on before a Man of the Match performance from 35-year-old captain Clemens Fritz rallied the troops and Werder left Gelsenkirchen with a 3-1 triumph.
That was only their second league success since late October but they displayed their battling qualities again last weekend. Trailing Champions League-chasing Hertha Berlin 3-1, the River Islanders fought back to take a point with a stirring grandstand finish.
Skrypnyk was naturally delighted with his team’s spirit but the head coach seems unable to solve an age-old problem – the dodgy defence.
The guests have kept their sheets clean just once in 27 outings on the road since the start of last season.
So a visit to free-scoring Gladbach will surely raise the pulse amongst Bremen supporters. The hosts have W18-D4-L5 at Borussia Park since the beginning of 2014/15, notching at least twice on 14/27 (52%) occasions. And 11 of those 18 victories have been secured by at least a two-goal margin.
A timid display at Mainz last Friday night saw Andre Schubert’s men beaten for the third time in four league outings as they slid from third to sixth. But the Foals’ home comforts have kept them on the straight and narrow.
Dortmund, on the opening round of 2016 fixtures, were only the second side to leave Gladbach without a loss since mid-September. And so I’d expect the hosts to bounce back to winning ways this weekend.
But I won’t rule out Bremen grabbing a goal on Friday night. Skrypnyk’s side have only fired blanks in 4/27 (15%) away matches since the start of last season with 19 (70%) of those outings featuring at least three goals and a crazy 22/27 (81%) delivering for Both Teams To Score backers.
The home win and BTTS is a chunky 19/10 and has proven a successful formula in five of Gladbach’s six home successes this season.
B Monchengladbach to win & BTTS @ 19/10
Malaga v Getafe, Fri 5 Feb 2016 19.30, Sky Sports 5
It’s amazing to think Malaga are a top-half team in La Liga now. The Anchovies began 2015/16 by failing to score in 10 of their first 12 matches and bagged just two victories in that time (W2-D3-L6).
But Javi Gracia’s charges have taken 18 points from their next 10 games (W5-D3-L2) with their only league losses coming at Sevilla and at home to Barcelona. Impressive turnaround, eh?
Against Barca two weeks ago, Malaga were fantastic and unfortunate to lose. The media were quite rightly scathing over the Catalans’ performance but big love to the Anchovies – they pressed, harried and made life very uncomfortable for the European champions; only sloppy finishing denied the side a point.
Last weekend Gracia’s group returned to winning ways when dispatching a tidy Eibar side 2-1 and they head back to La Roselada on Friday night eager to move to within touching distance of the European qualification positions.
When viewing Malaga’s performance data, it’s easy to see why they’re now returning to a top-half position.
Looking at their record at La Roselada, only four sides have fired in more shots-on-target with Atletico Madrid the only side to concede fewer.
Looking at Malaga’s shots-on-target ratio as hosts – their share of the total shots-on-target – their 66% figure is only bettered by Real Madrid. The data is suggesting the Anchovies are a more dominant side at home than Barcelona, Sevilla, Atletico, Villarreal and Athletic – and that’s despite seven of their home matches coming against top-10 rivals.
Getafe make the journey south and whilst they’ve made undoubted inroads under the canny stewardship of Fran Escriba, the capital club still look unable to hold their own outside of Madrid (W1-D2-L7).
Since the start of last season the Deep Blues have lost 20/29 (69%) of their away days and failed to even find the back of the net in 12 of those encounters.
This term Getafe have managed a pathetic 24 efforts on-target in 10 away matches and their 27% share of the total shots-on-target on their travels is the second worst figure in the section.
The home win is 4/6 and, even at that price, there’s a dollop of value in Malaga.
Malaga to win @ 4/6