Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Sunday

It took Lazio a while but finally the capital club appear to be finding their feet in 2015/16.

Lazio v AC Milan, Sunday 1st November 2015, 19.45, BT Sport Europe
Exiting the Champions League at the qualifying stage really hit Stefano Pioli’s team hard and coupled with a long injury list; the Biancocelesti struggled in the early parts of the new campaign.

But Lazio’s weekend success over Torino has kept the club in touch with the leading pack as they made it four wins from six.

There’s still plenty of work to be done if the Eagles are hoping to fly as high as last season’s third-place finish and the bulk of that improvement needs to be done on the road.

The Biancocelesti’s best work has been done at their Stadio Olimpico base and it’s for that reason the hosts look excellent value at even money when Milan arrive in the capital on Sunday night.

Since Pioli took the reigns at Lazio, the Eagles have W17-D1-L6 in front of their adoring home fans and that includes five wins from five in 2015/16 with only one goal against and at least two goals netted on each occasion.

Visitors Milan have lost just three of their last 34 Serie A fixtures against the Romans and whilst back-to-back victories have lifted the Rossoneri up the league standings (neither of which were particularly convincing), the guests continue to toil away from their San Siro base.

Led by former Lazio legend Sinisa Mihajlović and backed by huge investment over the summer, Milan have already been beaten without scoring against high-flying Inter, Fiorentina and Napoli and don’t yet look ready to challenge the league’s elite.

And that aforementioned away record has seen the Italian giants W5-D9-L10 since the start of last season – Milan have managed just three clean sheets during that run of results and Mihajlović’s men will need to be at their very best to shut out a lively Lazio side.

Recommended Bet:
Lazio To Win @ Evens

Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao, Sunday 1st November 2015, 19.30, Sky Sports 3
Real Betis will be pleased with the start they’ve made on their return to La Liga. Pepe Mel’s troops have W3-D3-L3 to nestle into the top-half of the table but intriguingly, they’re one of eight clubs to have earned more points on the road than in front of their home supporters.

Los Verdiblancos took four points off Villarreal and Real Sociedad in the early weeks of the campaign but back-to-back defeats when welcoming Espanyol and Deportivo to the Estadio Benito Villamarin has halted their progress.

It’s also curious to see that Mel’s men have W3-D1-L0 when taking on teams below them in the standings coming into this weekend and W0-D2-L3 when going head-to-head with clubs higher up the league. Sunday night’s opponents Athletic Bilbao are just a point worse off than the Big Greens.

An intriguing battle awaits as the visitors continue to juggle Europa League commitments alongside La Liga. Ernesto Valverde’s travellers made a mediocre start to their campaign but W2-D2-L0 over the past three weeks in all competitions has built confidence and momentum.

However, Les Leones continue to struggle for results when away from their Basque home. In league football, Athletic have accumulated just two points from a possible 12 on the road this term and their W7-D6-L10 efforts since the start of last season just isn’t good enough for a club that ought to be pushing the top-four hard.

With neither side fully justifying support in the Match Odds market, I’m happy to delve into a goals-based bet with Both Teams To Score chalked up at 20/23. It’s proven a winner in five of Betis’ nine games since promotion and the same figure is true of Athletic’s league outings this season.

If we take both teams’ respective home/away results, the BTTS bet has banked in 5/8 (62.5%) of matches including four of their most recent six. At 20/23, a repeat looks more likely than the odds suggest.

Recommended Bet:
Both Teams To Score – Yes @ 20/23

Hamburg v Hannover, Sunday 1st November 2015, 16.30, BT Sport Europe
Hamburg’s impressive rebirth under Bruno Labbadia shows no sign of stopping as the Dinosaur clinched a late 1-0 win at Hoffenheim last Friday night that ultimately saw Markus Gisdol lose his job at the Rhein-Neckar Stadium.

Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored the only goal of a game in which both goalkeepers had performed heroics to keep their side on terms. Rene Adler was once again insurmountable between the sticks for HSV as they racked up a fifth clean sheet from their last seven fixtures.

It’s a far cry from the past few seasons where the Red Shots have been haemorrhaging goals and struggling to keep their heads above water in the battle for Bundesliga survival.

The north German side are now just out of the top-half on goal difference but their W7-D3-L6 return from 16 games since Labbadia retook control should be enough to pierce the top-eight if Sunday’s hosts continue in the same vein.

Hannover make the reasonably short journey for what’s recently been described as the league’s ‘cuddle derby’. Both sets of supporters like each other and have developed a stern friendship over the recent years so fireworks are bound to be kept to a minimum.

But backing Hamburg to pick up maximum points looks the best betting option with 21/20 on offer. Schalke are the only side to win at the Volksparkstadion under Labbadia’s watch (W3-D3-L1) whilst the visitors must overcome a rotten away record.

Michael Frontzeck’s already coming under pressure since taking the role as head coach in the summer with Die Rotten in 15th having lost six of their first 10 matches. Hannover’s W4-D8-L10 road record since the start of last season is also of huge concern, as is their tally of just four clean sheets across the same sample.

Hamburg should have enough to pocket the victory at even money.

Recommended Bet:
Hamburg To Win @ 21/20

*Prices correct at time of publication