Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Saturday

Eleven points from 15 lifted Milan into fifth-place ahead of their trip to a rejuvenated Juventus last weekend.

Milan v Sampdoria, Saturday 28th November 2015 19.30, BT Sport Europe
The Rossoneri have eased the pressure on head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic with their confident performances, including a standout 3-1 success at Lazio.

But the seven-time European champions couldn’t continue their hot-streak in Turin. Milan were downed 1-0, the first time in their history the Italian giants had lost five successive games against Juventus.

So Mihajlović’s men will look to regroup and bounce back at the San Siro on Saturday night when Sampdoria visit. The Rossoneri are well fancied by the layers and no bigger than 8/13 to record maximum points. The hosts have won seven of their last 11 when welcoming Serie A opposition and returned strong W13-D6-L6 figures since the start of last season.

Visitors Sampdoria have failed to record a single away win this season, taking three points from a possible 18 outside of the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and been beaten by two goals or more in nine of their last 15 trips to top-half teams. A comfortable home victory then, yes?

Not quite. There’s no way I can confidently claim Milan are a good bet this weekend, especially at the miniscule prices. For starters, only struggling Bologna and Verona have fired in fewer shots-on-target in Serie A than Mihajlović’s Rossoneri.

Secondly, Samp have ditched marmite head coach Walter Zenga and pulled off a real coup by signing up former Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella as his replacement. His first game in the dugout didn’t go to plan – the Blucerchiati went down 1-0 at Udinese and failed to register an attempt on goal after falling behind.

I’m expecting a turnaround in performances sooner than later. Samp’s madcap president Massimo Ferrero declared last December that he wanted Sampdoria to win the Scudetto by 2018 – they’ve done so just once before in their history – and despite working under a restrictive budget, Montella’s the most likely man to bring the club closer towards the top-three.

Just like his time as a successful Azzurri international, Montella’s teams play an attractive possession-based style but he kept the guests in their tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation at Udinese.

He has the tools available to make the XI click into gear – Luis Muriel, Eder and Roberto Soriano offer plenty in attack whilst Fernando’s a forceful presence in midfield.

Milan’s San Siro stats suggest a home win but they’re far too short to entertain at 8/13, especially when you consider their very lame performance data (such as the already mentioned shots-on-target trends). With that in mind, I’m happy to put my faith in Montella’s Samp getting something on Saturday night with the +1 handicap at 13/10 standing out.

Recommended Bet:
Sampdoria +1 handicap @ 13/10

Atletico Madrid v Espanyol, Saturday 28 November 2015 17.15, Sky Sports 2
The well-oiled Atletico Madrid machine continues to rumble on under the radar. In midweek the Mattress Makers strolled to a comfortable 2-0 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League courtesy of a brace from Antoine Griezmann.

The victory made was their sixth in eight (W6-D2-L0) to extend their unbeaten streak to nine – it was also the fourth clean sheet on the spin for Diego Simeone’s side. The capital club are sitting in second in La Liga, four points off the summit but looking as strong as ever ahead of their weekend visit from Espanyol.

Gabi’s suspension means Koke should slot straight into central midfield in what’s expected to be another routine Atleti win. The Mattress Makers have W58-D15-L9 in La Liga home matches in the full seasons since Simeone arrived at the Vicente Calderon, keeping 44/82 (54%) clean sheets. That’s a 71% win ratio built on a supremely strong defensive platform.

Espanyol make the journey from Catalonia without central midfielder Victor Sanchez and although the Parakeets edged out rock bottom Malaga 2-0 last time out, Sergio’s men had W1-D1-L4 previously.

The visitors tend to do their best business on home soil and their road record reads a pretty grim W7-D4-L14 under Sergio.

In 15/25 (60%) they’ve leaked at least two goals and in 9/25 (36%) they’ve conceded three goals or more. However, Espanyol have managed to score themselves on 18/25 (72%) occasions.

Atletico have delivered winning Under 2.5 Goals bets in all bar three of their 12 domestic outings this term but on Saturday, it’s worth avoiding the market as we weigh up Espanyol’s shoddy backline displays alongside their potential to nick a goal. So instead, I’ll happily duck into the Half-Time/Full-Time market.

Of the 82-match sample above on Atletico, 44/82 (54%) have featured Simeone’s charges leading at both half-time and full-time. With Espanyol trailing at the break as well as the conclusion of 11/25 (44%) of their away days since the start of last season, I’ll get the 3/4 on Atletico-Atletico onside.

Recommended Bet:
Atletico Madrid-Atletico Madrid in the HT/FT market @ 3/4

Nantes v Bastia, Saturday 28th November 2015 19.00, BT Sport 2
Nantes represent excellent value at 10/11 to beat Bastia on Saturday night. Recent results and performances have been rather inconsistent for the Canaries in front of their home supporters (W3-D0-L3) but defeats came against PSG, Marseille and also against Rennes when they had two men sent off.

Michel Der Zakarian’s men are always awkward opponents and are supremely organised.

Just four sides have faced fewer shots-on-target and last season the hosts managed W7-D6-L3 when welcoming sides outside the top-three positions, keeping 6/16 clean sheets.

In contrast, Bastia have fired in the fewest on-target efforts across the league and are yet to record a victory on their travels this season (W0-D2-L5). The Corsican team are traditionally terrible travellers in the French top-flight and since returning to Ligue 1 in 2012/13 have been beaten in 37/63 (59%) of games away from the island.

Les Blues have shutout their hosts in only eight of those 63 road trips and come into this clash on the back of an embarrassing home reverse to their Corsican rivals GFC Ajaccio last time out; that loss saw Ghislain Printant’s side slip into the bottom-three for the first time this season.

Nantes are without three of their most trusted midfielders with injuries keeping out Birama Toure, Valentin Rongier and Adrien Thomasson but are more streetwise, shrewd and capable than their guests and should be snapped up at the quotes.

Recommended Bet:
Nantes to win @ 10/11