Mark O’Haires European Football Tips – Friday’s Matches

Last Wednesday night Celta Vigo were on top of the world.

Celta Vigo v Getafe, Friday 2 October 2015 (19.30), Sky Sports Red Button
Their 4-1 hammering of Barcelona sent the Galician side second in La Liga and Eduardo Berizzo’s men knew what it was like to be top dogs.

Iago Aspas, Nolito and Fabián Orellana helped the Sky Blues tear Barca apart at Balaídos – it was the Catalans first loss in 16 league matches and first time they had conceded four in La Liga since 2008!

Goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez was outstanding and the aforementioned front three combined to form one of the most exciting, dynamic forward lines in Spain. Berizzo, a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa who he first worked under aged 14 was overjoyed with his side’s display and the Vigo club were flying high.

Celta were brought back down to earth last weekend, mind. A 1-1 draw at Eibar keeps their unbeaten record intact (W4-D2-L0) but does drop the Sky Blues down to fourth. But it’s hard not to assume their high pressing, quick interchanges and slick aggressive passing won’t bear more fruit on Friday.

Since Berizzo took over from Luis Enrique at Balaídos, Celta have a reasonably decent W10-D6-L6 record on home soil. More recently that reads W7-D4-L3 with the defeats coming up against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao last term. In seven of those 14 fixtures, Celta have scored at least twice but in only four they kept their sheets clean.

Getafe secured a 3-0 home victory over Levante last time out but all three goals came in the game’s final 10 minutes, when a goalless draw had looked likely. It was the capital club’s second success but like his predecessors, Fran Escriba is struggling to arrest the Deep Blues dreadful road record.

Looking back at Getafe’s away results since the start of last season, the side from the Madrid suburbs have W4-D2-L16, including seven successive defeats on their travels. In all bar one of those seven losses have the Deep Blues leaked fewer than two goals and 10/22 (45%) of their fixtures ended in defeats by a margin of two goals or more.

Celta have been playing some scintillating stuff this season and I reckon they can overcome the -1 handicap at 13/10 on Friday.

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Celta Vigo v Getafe – Celta Vigo -1 (13/10)

Darmstadt v Mainz, Friday 2 October 2015 (19.30), BT Sport Europe
The Darmstadt tale is incredibly heart-warming. On the cusp of financial oblivion in 2008 as a fourth division club, the Lilies accelerated rise wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood script. Having survived to pay the bills, two years later the club escaped relegation to regional football thanks to the financial problems besetting a rival – with Kickers Offenbach refused a license, Darmstadt were given a stay of execution.

Just one season later and a miracle end-of-season promotion play-off saw the side promoted to the second tier and Dirk Schuster’s men completed the fairytale with a second consecutive promotion and Bundesliga football for the first time in 33 years – all built from a budget of around $7 million.

Last weekend the Lilies went to Dortmund and came away with a point thanks to a 90th minute equaliser through Aytac Sulu. They’d earlier opened the scoring with a sensational counter-attack goal from Marcel Heller to shock the 80,000+ in the Signal Iduna Park.

Back at their cosy Bollenfalltor home, the battle-hardened group will be going all out to make it back-to-back Bundesliga home wins when Mainz arrive on Friday. The hosts might not be the most glamorous but Schuster’s squad is spilling its blood on the pitch and there are no egos. They’re hard-working and carry out the coach’s instructions to a tee.

For all Mainz’s positive progression under Martin Schmidt’s stewardship, they remain a dodgy side to count on when playing away. The Zero-Fivers have W3-D1-L5 on the road under Schmidt and although those losses have come at Leverkusen, Schalke, Bayern Munich, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, I’m not prepared to put my faith in the visitors.

The two clubs will have marked this match down as a potential three-pointer so we should see both looking to go on the attack.

With that in mind, I’m happy to get involved with the 3/4 on Both Teams To Score.

The duo have managed just three clean sheets in 14 Bundesliga games between them this season.

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Darmstadt v Mainz – Both Teams To Score (3/4)

Lille v Montpellier, Friday 2 October 2015 (19.30), BT Sport 2
Herve Renard may have won two African Cup of Nations titles as a head coach but the Lille boss is coming under increasing pressure to turn Les Dogues’ worrying results around. For the most part, Lille have performed admirably this season but a 1-0 home defeat to Nantes on Tuesday night has left the 2011 champions languishing in 16th.

Lucky for Lille (and Renard) then that fellow strugglers Montpellier are the next team in town. A season of consolidation always appeared most likely with Les Dogues losing their standout youngster Adama Traore, their star midfielder Idrissa Gueye, their most potent forward Nolan Roux, their outstanding centre-half Simon Kjaer and the loan spells of Rony Lopes and Divock Origi expire.
With 11 new names drafted in to plug the gaps, Lille have endured a number of false starts. But it’s their less than expansive game plan that’s coming in for criticism. During 2014/15, a huge 24/38 of their Ligue 1 fixtures featured fewer than three goals and intriguingly, 17 of the 29 matches Renard managed in his last spell in Ligue 1 with Sochaux also had Under 2.5 goals. No surprise then that all eight this term have followed suit with all bar producing one or zero goals.

With Lille dull as dishwater, Montpellier are hardly any better. La Paillade were rock bottom before bagging their first win of the season against Lorient in their last encounter – previously they’d taken a solitary point from 21. With Anthony Mounier, Ryad Boudebouz and Lucas Barrios no longer at the club (last season’s source for goals and creativity) it’s perhaps no more than was forecasted.

Looking at Montpellier’s record on the road since the start of last season, Rolland Courbis’ charges have W5-D7-L10. More alarming is their failure to even score in 12/22 (55%) of those matches whilst a huge 17/22 (77%) have delivered for Under 2.5 Goals – that tallies nicely alongside Lille’s 16/23 (70%) following suit in Stade Pierre-Mauroy dates across the same span.

Under 2.5 Goals is just 11/20 but backing ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market is a nice alternative at 4/6. With BTTS banking in just 26.5% of the duos previous home/away games since the start of 2014/15, we should be expecting the both teams not to score bet to come in during 73.5%. of head-to-heads.

In betting terms that percentage probability equates to about a 4/11 play, making our 4/6 a huge value bet.

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Lille v Montpellier – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (4/6)

*Prices correct at time of publication.