Mark O’Haire’s European Footy Tips – Sunday’s Matches
Sunday sees more action across Europe’s elite leagues, with the Milan derby the pick of the bunch.
Inter Milan v AC Milan, Sunday 13th September 2015 (19.45), BT Sport 2
Only Madrid is home to more European Cups than Milan and with both Inter and AC out of continental action for the first time in 60 years, the clubs have splashed the cash in a bid to return to their former glories. Milan’s two Serie A clubs have spent €186.6 million between them – the most they’ve spent in a summer since 2001 – and with 65,000 tickets sold by last weekend for Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina, the city expects.
Inter have begun their campaign with back-to-back wins over Atalanta and Carpi but Roberto Mancini’s men needed last minute Stevan Jovetic goals in both matches to secure a maximum points haul. It’s only the second occasion in 12 previous Serie A campaigns that the Nerazzurri have started with successive league wins and they’ve looked both disciplined and organised.
When adopting ‘home’ advantage in the Milan derby, the blue side of the city have W7-D2-L1 and judging by the opening two rounds of action, do look the more likely winners. But I’m a little perturbed by the sheer number of new faces Inter are looking to slot into the side; I’m not overly convinced they’re close to their best yet and a low-scoring stalemate is my preference.
Milan bounced back from an opening day defeat at Fiorentina to see off Empoli but the Rossoneri stuttered in that encounter and still appear to resemble a bunch of high-paid individuals rather than a team of grafters pulling in the same direction. I’m sure Sinisa Mihajlovic will alter that outlook in the coming months but for now, it’s a worry.
Mihajlovic, an Inter legend, has worked closely with Mancini in the early days of his coaching career and tends to set his sides up cautiously. At Sampdoria, his side boasted the league’s fifth best backline record but early indicators suggest he’s work to do with the Rossoneri.
Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano combined to clinch the Empoli victory and so far the red side of Milan have mustered a pitiful four attempts on target in Serie A – fewer than any other. Having been beaten in 10 of their previous 14 trips to top-six sides, the omens are certainly against AC but the comforts of the San Siro should aid their chances.
Inter have only W5-D5-L4 in 14 Serie A games under Mancini’s watch as hosts with exactly half of those outings featuring fewer than three goals. It’s another feather in the cap for a match shy on goals. Neither side has scored more than one goal in the last six league derby matches with the most recent seven proving profitable for Under 2.5 Goals backers.
Three of the past six Milan derbies ended all square – four of those failed to even break the Over 1.5 Goals barrier and in the past seven seasons, this fixture has seen just 11 goals in total, while the second meeting has produced only 17 goals.
Under 2.5 Goals is backable at 3/4 but we’ll also have a play on the Draw and Under 2.5 Goals at a hunky 29/10.
Inter Milan v AC Milan – Under 2.5 Goals (3/4)
Inter Milan v AC Milan – Draw and Under 2.5 Goals (29/10)
Hoffenheim v Werder Bremen, Sunday 13th September 2015 (14.30), BT Sport Europe
Hold on to your hats – Hoffenheim against Werder Bremen should keep goal-hungry punters busy. I’m expecting a torrent of goalmouth action from Sunday’s Bundesliga showdown with Over 3.5 Goals at 6/4 looking handy.
A point return from three games certainly wasn’t what the doctor ordered for hosts Hoffe but Markus Gisdol’s men were handed tough opening ties against Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. A stalemate at Darmstadt before the international break was frustrating but they battled excellently against the league’s leading lights.
But rather than risk finding an angle to back Hoffenheim, the trends in our favour for a high-scoring encounter just cannot be ignored. Since Gisdol arrived at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, a huge 29/38 (76%) of matches have featured three goals or more with 17/38 (45%) also clearing the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. The home side have scored in all bar three of those fixtures whilst keeping their sheets clean on only eight occasions.
Opponents Werder Bremen have made up for a sloppy loss to Schalke on week one and improved in each game. Last time out they bettered Gladbach 2-1 with Aron Johannsson showing encouraging signs since making the move; a partnership with Anthony Ujah should encourage the River Islanders.
Viktor Skrypnyk received plenty of plaudits for his work in saving Bremen last season and he’s transformed the River Islanders into a much more menacing outfit too. And goals have flowed under his tutorship – 7/13 (54%) road trips have rewarded Over 2.5 Goals punters with four or more goals being seen in five of those 13 outings.
Want more? The past 14 Bundesliga battles between these two sides have produced a whopping 51 goals – that’s an average of 3.6 goals-per-game.
I’ll bank on a repeat this weekend.
Hoffenheim v Werder Bremen – Over 3.5 Goals (6/4)
Malaga v Eibar, Sunday 13th September 2015 (19.30), Sky Sports 4
Malaga fans are getting a little sick and tired. Since the Qatari cash cow came into the club they’ve enjoyed a memorable rise to the Champions League knockout stages. But the owners have tightened the purse strings significantly in recent years and now the Anchovies best players are being cherry-picked each summer.
It’s left supporters frustrated and head coach Javi Gracia working overtime to find a solution. He’s a highly-rated boss but you have to feel for him; his hands are tied and his playing pool continues to dwindle. Central midfielder Sergi Darder was the latest to leave and so with Ignacio Camacho still sidelined, Malaga will be without their two impressive midfield mystros from previous seasons when Eibar arrive at La Roselada.
Returning striker Roque Santa Cruz is injured as well as Weligton, leaving the Costa del Sol side short on quality and numbers. It’s not an ideal situation for Gracia who’s now seen his team win just once in 13 La Liga outings (W1-D4-L8). Worryingly, the Anchovies have conceded in 12 of those fixtures and also failed to record maximum points in their most recent six encounters in front of their home supporters – their worst run since October 2010.
In contrast, Eibar have started life in rampant form. Granada and Basque rivals Athletic have both been beaten and Jose Luis Mendilibar’s men have rightly earned plenty of plaudits for their cavalier approach. The squad is a shadow of last season and Los Armeros supporters are understandably confident they can come away from La Roselada with their unbeaten record intact.
I tend to agree too.
Eibar can be backed at 21/20 in the Double Chance market, which makes plenty of appeal.
With Malaga struggling for success and players, the minnows can take advantage by avoiding defeat at odds-against quotes.
Malaga v Eibar – Eibar double chance (21/20)
*Prices correct at time of publication.