Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tippeligaen – Odd v Brann Preview (31/7/16)


Odd preview

The hosts have drifted a bit in the last couple of weeks. A hectic schedule of juggling Tippeligaen & Europa League matches hasn't done them any favours. They were disappointed to get knocked out of Europe after an extra time goal denied them. In the league they lost at Bodo and conceded late against Viking last weekend. As a result, they’re now six points behind Rosenborg although have a chance to make some ground up here with RBK not in action this round. But the condition of their squad isn’t ideal. Some key players are missing because of injury. Left back Thomas Grogaard, midfielder Fredrik Nordkvelle are both definitely out, whilst wingers Bentley and Zekhnini are doubtful. The former is supposedly ‘sick’ but he’s wanted away from the club and this is probably just an excuse. Odd have only lost once at home all year, but this is the most shorthanded they’ve been due to player absences.

Brann preview

On the contrary, Brann come here with a full compliment of players at their disposal, minus midfielder Remi Johansen who wouldn't have started anyway. The last time Brann took to the field was nine days ago and they brilliantly beat Aalesund 6-0 on that occasion. Ok, that was facing a poor side who played very badly on the day, but let's give Brann some credit for their performance too. They are fifth in the table and have enjoyed a very good season. Considering they are a promoted side, then this is a very good achievement. Defensively, they’re one of the best in the Tippeligaen and right now you have to feel like they are riding the crest of a wave. Away performances haven’t been as strong for them in 2016, but their stats are still reasonable enough. A win in this game would only put them one point behind Odd and right in the hunt for a medal position.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I don’t particularly like the feeling around Odd right now. The Bentley transfer saga thing is a bit unsettling and their current injuries don’t help either. I rate Odd, but there’s a chance their season might begin to unravel, or at least enter a mini crisis or sticky spell. Their home record needs to be respected but I think Brann can get at least a point here. There’s no way the hosts should be priced around the 1.75 mark, this is too big. I feel like I should have a go with Brann +0.75 but I’m just generally not a fan of backing away teams with a substantial bet. I will however have a slight nibble of Brann on the nose @ 5.45. This is too big for a team in great form, potentially facing Odd at the right time. I don’t think this’ll be a very open or exciting game, and the goal line between 2.25 and 2.5 reflects that. I could see the visitors keeping things really tight and managing to sneak the odd goal to win it.

Prediction: 0-1
Recommended bet: 0.5 unit: Brann win @ 5.45 (minimum odds acceptable 4.50)

Tippeligaen – Aalesund v Lillestrom Preview (31/7/16)


Aalesund preview

AFK were totally humiliated 6-0 last week away against Brann. It was a terrible performance in which they only registered a single shot all match, that's how poor they were. Aalesund now find themselves second bottom of the table, yet coach Trond Fredriksen somehow keeps his job. If these sort of results continue though, he won't be in the position much longer. Aalesund have generally had a really poor campaign and have only won three times all year. This is perhaps a winnable fixture facing a Lillestrom side who haven't been that great since the summer break. For this match Daniel Gretarsson is suspended, but he’s not much of a loss and wouldn't have started anyway. The rest of the squad is in good condition and have had a nice nine day break ahead of this game. The problem is they simply haven't been playing well enough!

Lillestrom preview

LSK produced their best performance since the summer break, beating Stromsgodset 2-0 last week. They dominated the contest and deserved to win, although it must be said that their opponents were extremely flat and lifeless. Lillestrom have generally been pretty bad in recent weeks, losing some horrible matches and being constantly outplayed. Maybe that win last week can help rebuild their confidence, but until they go on a consistent run then I’d still be a little bit concerned about them. LSK are still hurting from the departure of key striker Fred Friday, but they did at least sign two new players this week. One of them is a striker from the Czech league, Toma Malec. They’ll hope he can add some badly needed ammunition. Injuries are few and far between and crucially they welcomed back key goalkeeper Arnold Origi from injury last week. He always gives a reassuring presence and maybe it was no coincidence they kept a clean sheet.

Conclusion & betting analysis

This is a tricky one to call. Both teams have been playing pretty badly since the summer break, with Alesund especially under a lot of pressure. Usually, when two poor teams face each other then it can lead to an open match, but I’ve got a feeling in this instance both might be a little scared. AFK conceded six goals last week so it’s to be expected the coach has worked on defensive organisation in training. They can’t afford to be so leaky at the back. AFK have had nine days to hear how bad they are from all the media etc and I could see them putting in quite a committed performance, unless the players have lost faith in their coach. I don’t think chances will be at a premium and I don't really see Lillestrom coming here and being positive either. To be honest, a draw would suit them pretty well. I think something like a 1-1 draw, or even a 0-0 is possible. If someone is to win, then I’d give Aalesund a slight edge. But I don’t really know here and I’m quite happy to leave the match alone from a betting point of view.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

Tippeligaen – Bodo Glimt v Tromso Preview (31/7/16)


Bodo Glimt preview

The hosts have really found some form since the summer break, going unbeaten in four matches and picking up 8 points during this period. Prior to that they had a very poor run but this is the sort of side who can get hot quickly, similar to how they did last season. It’s helped that they've had a fairly consistent team selection too, with the striking trio of Jevtovic, Azemi & Olsen all playing much better of late. The Bodo attack has scored 8 goals in 3 games which is a very good return. They probably should've won last week but blew a 2-0 lead at Sogndal. Nevertheless, overall it was a positive performance. Unless there is some sort of hangover from blowing that lead, then all seems pretty rosy in the Bodo Glimt garden. Squad condition is in pretty good condition with few injuries recently.

Tromso preview

The visitors came from 0-2 down to draw against Stabaek last week. They didn't play particularly well for about an hour of that fixture but ended really strongly to earn a point. I think TIL have performed pretty well since the summer break, without really getting the results they deserved. It feels like they should’ve obtained more points. Offensively, they've looked much better and willing to be more positive. Striker Sofiene Moussa is injured for this match after fracturing his hand last weekend. Starting goalkeeper Gudmund Kongshavn will also likely miss the game due to an ongoing knee issue. Tromso have really missed his presence in between the sticks. At the back, key man Simen Wangberg is suspended yet again which means a youngster like Gjesdal or Gundersen will get the nod. Tromso have had squad issues all year with injuries and suspensions and maybe it's gradually starting to wear them down. They’ve been surprisingly good on the road this season and this is their shortest away trip against their local rivals.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Here we have the ‘derby of north Norway’ and for both teams this is one of their biggest games of the season. Bodo won the reverse fixture 2-1, so Tromso will be desperate for revenge. I expect a really passionate and committed performance at both ends of the field and it should be a very interesting game. I will personally side with Bodo and the overs in this affair. I just feel like they are the team who have more momentum and are in the middle of a pretty good run. This team got hot at a similar stage last season and whilst they are in this sort of form, it’s probably best to side with them. I got caught out when backing overs in this fixture last year, with Bodo only winning 1-0 in a tight encounter. But the way both teams have been playing recently surely means there will be plenty of chances. Each offense is firing pretty nicely and unless both get cagey for this derby affair, I think we’ll see end to end football. I personally see both teams scoring, but ultimately at the end of the day I think a home win will be the result. Something like 3-1 or 3-2 could be on the cards. So Bodo -0..25 and over 2.75 goals, both at decent prices will be my picks here.

Prediction: 3-1
Recommended bet 1 unit: Bodo Glimt -0.25 @ 1.92 (minimum odds acceptable 1.80)
Recommended bet: 1 unit: Over 2.75 goals @ 2.02 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)

Tippeligaen – Stromsgodset v Stabaek Preview (31/7/16)


Stromsgodset preview

Godset suffered an extremely disappointing 0-2 defeat away at Lillestrom last weekend. Most side have been walking all over LSK since the summer break, but the team from Drammen put in a stinker of a performance. This was probably the culmination of a hectic schedule in which they played in the Europa League and Tippeligaen simultaneously for a couple of weeks. The players really struggled on the back of extra time and it was probably a contributing factor. Godset are never very good away from home anyway. Here at Marienlyst Stadion they are a formidable beast though. They’ve won their last 8 consecutive fixtures in front of their own fans, scoring many goals in the process. It’s one of the toughest places to visit in Norway.

Stabaek preview

Stabaek have definitely looked much better since Billy McKinlay got sacked and Toni Ordinas took over. They remain unbeaten under Ordinas, although blew a 2-0 lead at Tromso last week. Stabaek played really well for an hour but just couldn't resist the barrage of pressure which came their way in the last 20 mins. Nevertheless, a point up at Tromso is never a bad result and it’s clear the squad is enjoying life much better. There’s more confidence in their ranks and everyone seems comfortable with Ordinas’ tactics. All of their results before he took over definitely need to be ignored. Under his guidance they are more free flowing again and look better going forwards. Important midfielder Kamal Issah is suspended for this encounter which is a bit of a blow. Fellow midfielder Cole Grossman missed last week’s game because of a head injury, so might be doubtful.

Conclusion & betting analysis

There are two bets I like in this game. The first is fairly obvious and Stromsgodset -1. They've won 8 consecutive matches at Marienlyst and if they maintain that run then the worst you'd get out of this bet is a push. I think this’ll be an offensive battle between two teams who are quite positive minded. Godset have been involved in a few lower scoring Tippeligaen matches recently, which is unusual for them. But I put it down to Europa League involvement. Everyone has had a full week of rest now so there shouldn't be any issues. Stabaek should come here and ‘have a go’, Ordinas has declared his intention to win as many matches as possible. Over 3 goals looks a decent bet when you consider the likely offensive nature of the game. I think something like a 3-1, 4-1 or even a 4-2 win for Godset is likely.

Prediction: 3-1
Recommended bet 1 unit: Stromsgodset -1 (asian) @ 1.84 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)
Recommended bet 1 unit:Over 3 goals @ 1.96 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

Tippeligaen – Haugesund v Sogndal Preview (31/7/16)


Haugesund preview

FKH responded to the unfortunate resignation of Mark Dempsey in extremely positive fashion by beating local rivals Viking 4-1. However, the honeymoon for new coach Andrea Roberto didn’t last very long. They went and lost 6-0 at Rosenborg last week, a really awful result facing the champions who even rested some players. It may well prove to be an anomaly and in the long run it doesn't really matter. Most sides lose to Rosenborg so it’s not like they’ll lose much ground up. This is a more manageable fixture and Haugesund remain fifth in the table so the feeling is still good here. Losing 0-6 isn’t nice but it’s quite possible everyone would forget about it quickly. FKH have been playing some nice football this season in a 3-5-2 formation and have yet to suffer defeat in front of their own fans. Left midfielder Alexander Stolas is suspended, but they welcome back the key midfield duo of Kiss and Hajradinovic who were both banned last week.

Sogndal preview

It looked like Sogndal were going to lose their long unbeaten record last week when they fell behind 0-2 against Bodo Glimt. But they managed to come back and rescue a draw, which now extends their stretch to 10 without defeat. It’s quite remarkable that Sogndal have drawn 8 of their 17 games, which is a really high % for the Tippeligaen. They are a good team and manager Eirik Bakke has built a nice atmosphere. Team spirit is strong and everyone is playing with freedom and confidence. Situated well above the relegation zone right now, there's no real pressure on this side. Striker Martin Ramsland is suspended, but he’s hardly been prolific, scoring just twice all year. It means arguably a better player, Mahatma Otoo will get the nod upfront.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Both sides have been involved in some high scoring matches really and over 2.75 (or over 2.5) goals looks like a good bet. Haugesund have been pretty offensive minded all year but their defence can be shaky, as last weekend proved. Perhaps there’s a slight danger the coach will focus on the defensive part of their game in approach to this match, but they are only playing Sogndal and will fancy their chances of victory. The visitors started off life as a low scoring team but have gradually developed their confidence going forwards. I’m surprised the bookies are offering such juicy odds here and I can’t help think this price is based on reputation rather than recent form and style.

Prediction: 2-2
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.75 goals @ 2.08 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)

France Ligue 2 – Red Star v Auxerre Preview (30/7/16)


Red Star preview

The home side are at full strength for this match and even have the added bonus of midfielder Naim Sliti at their disposal. He’s soon going to be transferred out to Lille but is in the squad today. Whether he’ll play I’m not sure, but he seems quite a loyal type who will be happy to get stuck in if needed. Red Star are back playing matches in Paris this season and they’ll be based at Le Stade Jean Bouin, which is a mostly a rugby stadium right next door to PSG’s ground. This is a far better arrangement than having to drive over 50 miles to Beauvais. It means the core heart of their fans can support them this season. Everyone knows that Red Star are going to be a solid side under Rui Almeida. Even despite the fact they lost some key pieces in defensive areas, they've done their best to find replacements. Red Star haven't lost any friendly matches and looked typically solid against good teams like Lille, Anderlecht & Metz in preseason.

Auxerre preview

It’s all change at Auxerre with a new manager and plenty of arrivals and departures. Viorel Moldovan is at the helm and has promised some attacking football. Maybe this is a bit naive in French football but he was a striker so his natural mindset is likely to be positive. It looks like he’ll try and play with two men upfront where possible. For this match he has bigger concerns in defence though. Two of his new signings are unavailable, and right back Ruben Aguilar is another casualty. Auxerre could be especially vulnerable in wide areas where they’ll be starting two unproven defenders. AJA haven't had a great preseason and a lot of reports suggest this team isn’t really ready and lacks identity. Last weekend they got blown apart by Orleans 4-0. Ok, that was only a friendly but it’s still concerning to lose against a team like that with only a week to go until the first official match.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Friday night was incredibly low scoring in Ligue 2 and most teams just felt each other out. Very few sides were willing to take many risks and we ended up with a staggering five 0-0s! This match is another contender to finish goalless and I don't think we'll see a quick tempo. Temperatures in Paris will be quite high for this mid afternoon clash and a lot of players will struggle in the heat. It’s a well known fact nobody really likes playing at this time of day, the French much prefer evening games. However, in this instance I think that Red Star will find a way to win. They’ll be desperate to pick up 3 points on their return to Paris and right now they seem like being much more prepared than their opponents. You know what you’re going to get from Red Star, solid tactics, strong game management & discipline. Auxerre meanwhile, are more of an enigma and aren't helped by certain absences. I think backing Red Star @ 1.87 on a -0.25 handicap is a pretty safe bet. I’d be surprised if they lost this game and there’s a high chance of them keeping a clean sheet. I think something like 1-0 or 2-0 is likely in this instance.

Prediction: 1-0
Recommended bet 2 units: Red Star -0.25 @ 1.87 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)

France Ligue 2 – Nimes v Laval Preview (29/7/16)


Nimes preview

Nimes did really well to avoid relegation last season, despite starting off the campaign on minus -8 points. Eventually they sailed over the line and easily survived. Their true points tally was well over the 50 point mark and they were one of the best teams in the ligue after the winter break. It’ll be interesting to see how much momentum they carry into this season. I’m not fully sure because a lot of player changes have taken place. Nimes have lost most of their goalscorers, but look to have replaced them relatively well. At the time of writing no official squad list has been published for this match so I’m not fully sure who’s in and who’s out. Important defender Anthony Briancon is rated doubtful though and probably won't play. Les Crocos didn’t play many friendlies and their results weren’t particularly good, but performance wise many fans were positive.

Laval preview

Les Tangos travel here at full strength, minus new attacking midfielder Romain Bayard who is injured. Relatively few changes have taken place at the club during the summer and it looks set to be ‘same old’ Laval! Under the management of Denis Zanko they are an extremely negative side, perhaps the most negative in the entire division. We know how they are going to operate, especially away from home. Their ambition will be to come here and pick up a clean sheet, making themselves hard to break down. Laval were unbeaten in their friendly matches, all of which typically ended in low scoring affairs. Les Tangos certainly aren't a glamorous team and too many draws will ensure they rarely get comfortably above the relegation zone. But love them or hate them, this team has a knack of being really hard to beat.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Here we have a naturally positive team against a very negative one. Nimes have been generally quite attacking under the management of Bernard Blaquart but might find it hard to break down Laval here. In terms of betting I’m very tempted with Nimes -0.25 @ decent odds around the 2.05 mark. Something is holding me back though and I have a nasty suspicion that Laval won't be beaten here. The draw risk might be too high and in the end I’ve decided to refrain from betting. This is the first day of the season and there’s no need to take any unnecessary risks, better opportunities lie elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see if Laval manage to hold out for a clean sheet. Nimes weren’t blanked by many teams at home last year so the visitors might need to score a goal in order to get something. I’m going to predict Nimes 1-0 or 2-0, but I can’t be sure. Laval are an annoying team and if they managed to get their noses in front, they’d protect it like a dog with a bone! Like I said, I was really tempted to back Nimes -0.25, but in this instance I’ll play it safe and just watch.

Prediction: 1-0
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Bourg-en-Bresse v Strasbourg Preview (29/7/16)


Bourg-en-Bresse preview

At the time of writing, a full squad list for Bourg-en-Bresse has yet to be released for today’s game. They’ve had a few niggling injuries of late so it’ll be interesting to see who's in and who's out. Whether or not new signing from Evian Kevin Hoggas is in the squad remains to be seen as well. Against all odds, Bourg-en-Bresse easily stayed up last season despite most people (including me) predicting they finish rock bottom. A positive approach helped them out and they scored a lot of goals, often willing to gamble instead of settling for a draw. This season they welcome nearly a dozen new players so the makeup of the team will change a lot. In a recent press conference the coach talked about being ‘stronger defensively’ but this goes against their natural instincts. Friendly results have been mixed but performances largely praised. The general mood around the club seems quite good.

Strasbourg preview

Les Alsatians are at full strength with the exception of striker Jeremy Blayac & playmaker Dimitri Lienard who aren’t match fit yet. A few other less important attackers are also missing. Considering the new signings that Strasbourg have, its debatable if either of the aforementioned duo would’ve started anyway. The visitors have bolstered their ranks by signing Baptiste Guillaume & Khalid Boutaib upfront, and Vincent Gragnic in attacking midfield. All three of those players will hope to make an instant impact here. Strasbourg based their success last season around defence and were a very boring team. However, ex GFCA coach Thierry Laurey takes over at the helm and he usually likes to employ two strikers upfront. So we could see Les Alsatians have more attacking purpose about them this year, but until they take to the field it remains to be seen. All their friendly matches have been low scoring which suggests their backline will continue to be strong.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I can’t help but feel Bourg-en-Bresse are a little bit disrespected by bookmakers here. They are only very slight favourites on a DNB handicap line when really they should be on a normal -0.25 handicap. Strasbourg could go well this year but they don't really have the right to be so overrated in this match straight away. Having said that, I can’t rule out any outcome here. The visitors are going to be extremely motivated on their return to Ligue 2, especially as they play a team who denied them promotion two years ago. There will definitely be a revenge factor for Les Alsatians in this case and everyone will be giving 110%. I think this match is best watched and left alone betting wise. Bourg-en-Bresse have added nearly a dozen new players and their manager has talked about being more defensively sound, which is in contrast to last year. Of all the matches in this round, this is the one I’m least confident about predicting and nothing would surprise me. I’ll predict a 1-1 draw but something in the back of my head actually tells me one of these teams will sneak a victory, maybe thanks to a late winner.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Valenciennes v Clermont Preview (29/7/16)


Valenciennes preview

The northerners will be missing starting left back Saliou Cisse, along with centre back Emmanuel Ntim. The latter wouldn’t be in the XI anyway, so isn’t really a huge loss. In midfield, an injury to Abdoul Kabore is more of a blow though. As per usual, striker Teddy Butin is on the treatment table. VA recently lost winger Isaac Mbenza to Standard Liege, although it was anticipated he’d be transferred out sooner rather than later. Valenciennes generally had a poor campaign last year but they should be solid enough under Faruk Hadzibegic this term. They drew a massive amount of games at home in the previous season and it’s important they convert some of those into victories this time around. Their friendly results have been mixed and there have been differing reports about performances. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect from them here.

Clermont preview

The visitors travel here with a squad in healthy condition, minus Farid Boulaya who continues to recover from an ACL injury. Clermont have done well under the guidance of female coach Corinne Diacre in the last two seasons. She’s been pretty attacking with her tactics and the Auvergne side have developed a reputation of being quite entertaining. She’s been fortunate to have some good strikers at her disposal though, and quite how they replace 20+ goal man Famara Diedhiou seems impossible to me. Pre season for Clermont has been alright with some mixed results and performances. I don’t think they’ll do quite as well this year, but they won't regress too much either. Diacre has shown some weaknesses with her away tactics since taking over, and I’m always more cautious of them on the road because of this.

Conclusion & betting analysis

This looks a tricky match to call and could be very close. I think there are question marks surrounding both sides and it’s hard to know which way this’ll go. I don't think this will be a particularly tight game, but at the same time I don't envisage it being hugely open either. It feels like the sort of fixture in which both teams score, but without there being an abundance of goals. Something like a 1-1 outcome seems quite possible to me. In terms of betting, I think Valenciennes are overpriced. They should be favourites on a -0.25 handicap @ about 2.0. But instead bookmakers can’t separate either side on a DNB, offering 1.95 each. I would say there's’ some value to be had on Valenciennes DNB @ this price, but I’m not confident enough to back them. There’s too much risk involved early in the season and no need to get involved when better opportunities lie elsewhere. The goal line is set at 2.0 and this seems fair because it feels like the sort of game in which exactly two goals might be scored.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Troyes v Sochaux Preview (29/7/16)


Troyes preview

The last 12 months have been a really turbulent time for Troyes. After an horrific Ligue 1 season the atmosphere is all doom and gloom. New coach Jean Louis Garcia begins a rebuilding project but summer friendlies haven't been particularly encouraging. Last time out they got easily beaten by Dijon and many fans are worried about their preparations. The new coach has seen loads of players leave the club and nearly a dozen new arrivals. For this game, new centre back Giraudon is suspended, whilst key midfielder Thiago Xavier is injured. As per usual, Troyes have the normal list of casualties on the treatment table as well. The one big surprise is that centre back Mathieu Saunier is in the squad and set to start! There are pretty much question marks all over the field in many places. My feeling is that Troyes will be lacking confidence and it’ll be hard for them to hit the ground running.

Sochaux preview

Les Lionceaux have wingback Pierre Gibaud suspended, whilst talented young centre back Jerome Onguene is given a rest after playing really well for France U19 in their recent European championship win. New striker from Angers Goran Karanovic isn’t deemed match fit yet and isn’t included. These absences won't affect Sochaux much. Onguene is a bright young talent but they've done all of pre season without him so will be suitably prepared. The rest of the squad is in fine condition with no other absences. Sochaux were unbeaten in all of their friendly matches and look to have a really solid team on paper. The last time head coach Albert Cartier had a whole year in charge at this level, he took Metz up to Ligue 1. He’s a strong tactical coach and will make his sides difficult to break down. They had weaknesses in attack last season and will hope the signing of Faneva Andriatsima can help them out upfront.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I think both teams could be heading in different directions this season. Sochaux should be up there in the promotion mixer but I don’t see Troyes doing as well as many imagine. The club has had a really difficult last 12 months and you can sense all isn't right within the camp. There’s a losing mentality here right now and I can see their hangover continuing into the start of the season. This is a very tough opening match against a side who seem really well prepared for the challenges ahead. Sochaux will come here with a strong gameplan and should be highly organised and disciplined. Keeping clean sheets and preventing chances will be their main aim. On the other hand I could see Troyes being tactically all over the place. Pre season reports suggest Jean Louis Garcia's preferred 4-5-1 formation isn't working at the moment. I'd personally say there’s a good chance Sochaux will win the match something like 1-0 or 2-0. Conventional wisdom says you shouldn't back an away team in France unless the value is immense, or you're backing a top side. You could argue the case for both here and I don’t see why Sochaux are such a big underdog. I’ll only have a small bet on the DNB handicap @ 2.35, but I’m quietly confident Sochaux can pick up all three points, or at very worst manage a draw.

Prediction: 0-1
Recommended bet 1 unit: Sochaux DNB @ 2.35 (minimum odds acceptable 2.05)