Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tippeligaen – Bodo Glimt v Viking Preview (30/10/16)

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Bodo Glimt preview

  • A run of 4 defeats in their last 5 games has left Bodo out of the relegation zone only by virtue of goal difference.
  • They also played in the semi finals of the NM Cup on Wednesday night against Rosenborg, losing that contest 0-2.
  • Bodo haven’t been playing that badly of late just a lot of little things aren’t really going their way.
  • Squad condition has actually been good and they’ve had no major injuries to deal with recently. Unless some guys picked up knocks in midweek, it should be the same again.
  • Bodo have generally had a below par year in front of their own fans, losing six games at Aspmyra Stadion. They have however won 2 of their last 3 here.

Viking preview

  • The Stavanger outfit look destined to finish in midtable and have generally struggled of late, winning just 2 of their last 10 games
  • It’s been a long hard season for Viking both on and off the field. There’s a sense that everyone is looking forward to the winter break when they can regroup.
  • The visitors have had no injuries recently and been keeping a consistent XI. However, they have three suspensions to important players here - Haugen, Mets & Ibrahim.
  • Viking have statistically the third best away record in the league but most of their good form was earlier in the season. In recent times they’ve only won 1 of their last 5 on the road.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • If there ever was a definition of a ‘must win’ game, then this is it for Bodo. This is effectively their last game of the season because they travel to Rosenborg next week which is unlikely to yield any points for them.
  • Considering some of the other fixtures that their rivals have towards the bottom, it’s clear that only three points is going to be enough to give them a good chance of survival.
  • Bodo are odds-on @ around the even money mark. I feel this is fair considering the circumstances. Viking look to have mailed in their season a bit, producing some below par performances of late.
  • The big question is whether or not Bodo have the bottle to deliver in such a big game. This is a team that for most of the season has struggled, hence their low league position.
  • Ultimately, I think their extra desire and motivation should be crucial. With Viking missing three regular starters then I’m willing to back Bodo on this -0.5 handicap. It might get nervy but I suspect they will find a way to prevail.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Bodo Glimt -0.5 @ 2.01

Tippeligaen – Aalesund v Haugesund Preview (30/10/16)

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Aalesund preview

  • The hosts have amazingly won their last six Tippeligaen matches. With a strong finish they might even end up as high as sixth spot.
  • For the majority of the campaign they have been fighting relegation. Now that it’s mission accomplished in beating the drop they might potentially lose focus. But AKF have such great momentum it’s hard to believe the players will lose their intensity.
  • The Aalesund squad has been in pretty good condition recently and once again they look set to have few absences. There’s a settled feeling within the side with consistent XIs.

Haugesund preview

  • FKH bagged a very important win against Bodo last week (2-1) and that victory still gives them a chance of finishing in a medal spot. However, Odd’s shock win at Rosenborg has made life very difficult and they are four points adrift of third.
  • The win last week was their first in six games and in general it’s not been a great period for Haugesund. They’ve missed a lot of chances and failed to make the most of their opportunities. They aren’t quite as clinical as they were earlier in the campaign.
  • Centre back Nemanja Tubic is suspended but everyone else is available. This isn’t necessarily a good thing because the coach has struggled to find his best XI of late with so many options to choose from.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Aalesund have won six in a row, are the major form team in the league, are at home, yet are an underdog with the bookies!
  • I think it’s fair to say that on paper Haugesund are slightly better, but not that much better. The visitors are only favourites because they are supposedly ‘more motivated’
  • Quite how much they believe in finishing in the medal spots I’m not sure though. To make up ground on Brann and Odd won’t be easy.
  • Aalesund can be grabbed 2.04 on a DNB handicap and this is too generous to ignore. They are the form team right now and I’ll take the risk that they don't lose focus or interest.
  • I also like the overs in this match. Aalesund based a lot of their recent success around defence. But now that they have no pressure on their shoulders I expect them to open up and try to entertain their fans in what will be their last home match of the season.
  • This could be a really exciting match with chances at both ends and I’m happy to take both bets in this affair..

Prediction: 3-2

Recommended bets: Both 1 unit Aalesund DNB @ 2.04 & Over 2.75 goals @ 1.81

MLS Playoffs – Seattle Sounders v FC Dallas Preview (30/10/16)

Seattle preview

The Sounders progressed to this round thanks to a late 1-0 win against SKC on Thursday night. Many people would say that this was a fortunate success. SKC had the better of the game, came closest to breaking the deadlock and even had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. But Nelson Valdez struck very late to enable Seattle to progress. The hosts looked nervous in that fixture and perhaps now with less pressure on their shoulders they might produce a better performance. They suddenly go from being a fancied favourite, to an underdog facing the Supporters Shield and US Open Cup champions. Brian Schmetzer’s men are unlikely to make too many changes, although centre back Romain Torres is rated questionable with a hamstring injury. I’d imagine Bad Jones will get the nod if Torres missed out, but he’s another who has been battling injuries of late. Seattle have been keeping a lot of clean sheets at home recently and I dare say they would love to travel to Dallas with another in tact, even if the match ended 0-0.

Dallas preview

So far, FCD have achieved the double this season, winning the Supporters Shield and also the US Open Cup. Whether or not they can now go on and achieve an unprecedented treble remains to be seen. All season long they've been one of the most balanced and consistent outfits, that's what makes them so good. Dallas are such a strong technical team and they have have quality all over the field. One piece of bad news for them is that key playmaker Mauro Diaz is ruled out for the rest of the season due to a torn achilles tendon. He is so vital for them going forwards in a creative sense and will be badly missed. I expect Dallas will lean on their defensive strength in this first leg. They would be happy to go back with a 0-0 in their pocket and I think the priority will be to keep a clean sheet. The likes of Matt Hedges at the back are so solid and dependable and Dallas can make themselves really hard to break down. At the other end of the field they have strong counter attacking ability but I expect them to proceed with caution and not take too many risks.

Conclusion & betting analysis

These two teams met in the playoffs last season at the exact same stage and eventually penalties were needed to separate them. I think both teams will see this first leg as a fixture to ‘set things up’ for the return leg in Frisco. Dallas know they are so strong at home that any sort of draw, or even a narrow defeat would be an acceptable outcome. Seattle meanwhile, could be a little bit flat following an exhausting encounter with SKC just three nights ago. I’m not sure the Sounders will be at their best physically and they themselves would probably be happy to avoid defeat. Unlike teams such as LA Galaxy or Toronto FC this weekend who probably feel that a home leg victory is essential, Seattle would probably take their chances heading into Dallas  level pegging, especially as they could rest fully for a week. Of all the playoff contests this weekend I find this the most difficult to predict. The bet I am suggesting is under 2.5 goals because I think it will be tight and cagey. However, this is easily my least confident pick of the round and I would not recommend staking too heavily here, this could easily be a no bet contest. But I think a 0-0 is possible. If any team did get ahead they would more than likely just try and sit on the advantage by parking the bus.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet 0.5 unit : Under 2.5 goals @ 1.81

MLS Playoffs – Toronto FC v New York City FC Preview (30/10/16)

Toronto FC preview

Finally, after years of trying, the Canadian outfit won a playoff game in midweek beating Philly 3-1. Tronto were impressive and fully deserved their success, possibly should've won by a bigger margin too. But let’s not forget that they faced a Union side who have really struggled recently and who came into the playoffs with much more momentum. This clash against NYCFC and any subsequent opponents will be far more difficult. Manager Greg Vanney gambled by employing a 3-5-2 wingbacks system which worked well for them in their last regular season game against Chicago Fire. I don’t think he’ll change anything here, unless he feels the need for a more solid midfield which would include Will Johnson. Toronto must be feeling really good about themselves and this tie against NYC looks set to be an absolute cracker. TFC have some great attacking players like Giovinco & Altidore and will believe they can outscore any opponent.

New York City FC preview

In just their second season in MLS, NYC clinched second spot and will be making their playoff debut. Expectations were high in the big apple for Patrick Vieira this year. I think it’s fair to say he’s delivered in some capacity, but certainly not all. Victory in the MLS Cup would go a long way to satisfying everyone though. Despite this being their debut in the playoffs, NYC can boast wealth of experience. David Villa & Andrea Pirlo have both won World Cups and various other trophies, whilst Frank Lampard needs no second introduction. The key will definitely be how everyone else copes in the heat of battle when the pressure is really on. This tie against TFC feels like it should be a real feast of goals. City will want to score at least once in this first leg and grab that vital away goal. Injury news is favourable ahead of the contest and Lampard should be fit to start.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Surprisingly, Toronto FC are 1.75 favourites here on a -0.5 Asian handicap. I think this is far too short and there’s no way I could go near them at that price. New York City have had a full week of rest, possess some quality stars like David Villa, Pirlo & Lampard and also have the best MLS away record in the regular season. I think the visitors deserve more respect, although I do have a feeling Toronto will edge this contest. The way both teams usually play we should be in for a really exciting match, full of goals. Both managers have talked about the need to defend well, but I’ll believe that when I see it, and the main strength of each outfit is in attack. There should be chances galore and I’m really surprised that an over 3 goal line can be backed as big as evens. This looks a really big price and I can only presume it’s been inflated due to the fact this is a playoff match. Perhaps there might be slightly more chance of a tense encounter but there’s so much attacking quality on show I struggle to see how there isn’t at least three goals in the game. This is a clear over match in my opinion and I have no hesitation in pulling the trigger.

Prediction: 3-2

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 3 goals @ 2.0

MLS Playoffs – LA Galaxy v Colorado Rapids Preview (30/10/16)

LA Galaxy preview

The Galaxy beat off RSL in impressive fashion on Wednesday night (3-1) and are back where they belong in the two legged rounds. Manager Bruce Arena has won this cup on numerous occasions and knows how to get the job done. What was really noticeable about Galaxy in midweek was how much energy and drive they had. Winger Emmanuel Boateng played a blinder, netting two goals but the overall team performance was noticeably good. The Galaxy prevailed without attacker Gyasi Zardes, who is likely out for the season. Steven Gerrard is constantly nursing an injury and it's unclear exactly what sort of state he’s in, whilst Robbie Keane started from the bench. With Alan Gordon netting twice upfront, Arena has a big decision to make whether to stick with him or bring Keane back into the XI. My guess is that the Irishman will start in a game of this magnitude. Galaxy have only lost once at home all season but Colorado have managed to obtain two draws at the StubHub centre which is fairly impressive.

Colorado Rapids preview

The rocky mountain side were terrible last season, finishing bottom of the Western Conference. But they've turned things around in 2016 nearly winning the supporters shield,. In fact, failure to beat Houston last weekend (1-1) cost them a possible chance of claiming that crown. It’s the MLS Cup that everyone wants to win though and Colorado will be very dangerous in the postseason. They are the best defensive team in the whole MLS and there’s an old saying that ‘defence wins championships’ If that is the case, then look no further than the Rapids.  They’ve conceded just 32 goals which is significantly less than any other side, and racked up a whopping 13 clean sheets. Colorado will almost certainly come here playing to their strengths, looking for a 0-0. They know they are so strong at home that a draw here would put them in a very strong position. The Rapids head into the postseason in good condition injury wise. Only midfielder Dillon Serna is ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Experienced US international Jermaine Jones is recently returned and might even be in contention to start, although a bench spot is more likely.

Conclusion & betting analysis

From a personal point of view I hope LA Galaxy knock out Colorado in this round. With the Rapids out of way, two easy over bet winners would likely ensure in the Western Conference final, whoever the Galaxy met. Colorado are simply too boring and negative for my liking. Fair play to them, they are effective right from Tim Howard in goal to Kevin Doyle upfront. They get the job done and have to be respected. But this is now the playoffs when experience really counts. The Galaxy have been here and done it before and can take some confidence into the match after their midweek showing. They have the extra classy individual players who can make a real difference. This has all the makings of a tight match. Colorado will be extremely difficult to break down and even if they go 0-1 behind they will still probably park the bus. I don’t think the Galaxy will win easily, but there should be a goal in them somewhere to take victory. The hosts can be backed at around the 1.90 mark on a -0.5 Asian handicap and this is big enough to tempt me. They know they have to take an advantage with them back to Denver and I dare say if you offered the Rapids a loss by just a one goal margin, they’d take it.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet 1 unit: LA Galaxy -0.5 @ 1.89

MLS Playoffs – Montreal Impact v New York Red Bulls Preview (30/10/16)

Montreal Impact preview

The Canadian outfit surprised everyone in midweek by beating DC United away from home in the knockout round 4-2. Both goals they conceded were consolations and the margin of victory should've been much greater. The Impact employed the perfect gameplan and counter attacked superbly. Key playmaker Ignacio Piatti was at the heart of things pulling the strings as ever. All of the talk prior to the game was that Didier Drogba was again missing in action, but they proved they can cope without him. Matteo Mancosu played a blinder, netting twice and also nailing an assist. There are some reports that Drogba will be fit for this match but at best he would only make the bench. I would find it surprising if coach Mauro Biello disrupted their momentum and should keep an unchanged side. Montreal have only had three days of rest, but they must be buzzing after Thursday night and they have huge amounts of momentum.

New York Red Bulls preview

Jesse Marsch’s men enter the playoffs unbeaten in 16 games and are the favourites to progress from the Eastern Conference into the MLS Cup final. It seems that the Red Bulls are the kings of the regular season, but always struggle once the nitty gritty starts. They’ve only ever made it to one MLS cup final, which they lost. I don’t think the two leg format has ever really helped them. The Bulls have always been formidable at home but a negative result here could pile on the pressure ahead of the tie at Red Bull Arena. The big strength of this team is in offensive areas with the likes of Bradley Wright Phillips & Sacha Kljestan. They have a very consistent XI and everyone knows each other well. I’m sure they will be positive in this match and look for at least one away goal. It’s worth noting that most of their victories during this unbeaten run have been at home. Here on the road they’ve only beaten Philly and Vancouver, two sides who have been dreadfully out of form.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Everyone is trying to work out how the Red Bulls can be knocked out of the playoffs. Well, right now everyone starts on a level playing field and this is a two legged tie. Nothing can be won or lost in this first leg, although obviously someone could put themselves in the driving seat. I feel that of all the Eastern Conference sides, Montreal are possibly the most balanced. They lack for star quality, apart from Piatti of course but work really hard together as a unit. They can mix defence with attack pretty well and simply can’t be underestimated. With away goals important in these playoffs, I’m sure the Red Bulls will come here with an attacking gameplan. That’s their style under Jesse Marsch and he is unlikely to deviate from it. All these fixtures between the sides this season have ended in home wins. I personally think we’ll see quite an open game of football and there’s enough attacking talent from both sides for an over 2.5 goals line to cover. The Red Bulls never make life easy for themselves in these playoffs so I have a sneaky suspicion they could end up losing. But it would be too risky taking Montreal on a DNB Asian handicap, even if it’s a tempting price. I anticipate the Montreal Impact ‘North Star Bell’ to be ringing a few times today, so I’ll stick with the over pick.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.88

France Ligue 1 – St Etienne v Monaco Preview (29/10/16)

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St Etienne preview

  • Les Verts shook off a couple of poor performances by beating Caen 2-0 away from home last week. It was a very convincing and professional performance from Christophe Galtier’s men but this will be a tougher test.
  • Injuries have settled down for St Etienne although a couple of starters like Fabien Lemoine (CM) & Romain Hamouma (RW) remain out.
  • Sainte are still unbeaten at home this season and have dominated most encounters. This will be a slightly different test against a higher class team though.

Monaco preview

  • Leonardo Jardim’s side are the highest scorers in the division weighing in with a massive 29 goals so far. In recent weeks they thumped Metz 7-0 and hammered Montpellier 6-2. This won’t be such an easy affair though.
  • Injury news is favourable although key man in the middle Joao Moutinho is rated doubtful and could be rested ahead of an important CL hom match against CSKA Moscow.
  • With the Champions League on the horizon, the coach might be tempted to rotate his team anyway. Monaco tend to do a very good job with this though and their squad is youthful and has plenty of depth who perform well.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • This is a matchup between two of the strongest teams in the division. Both teams could cancel each other out and a draw is perhaps the most likely outcome.
  • Monaco have been involved in a lot of over 2.5 matches this season, which makes Over 2.25 highly tempting here. However, Sainte are likely to sit back against them, giving little space.
  • This sort of fixture is usually quite tight, containing few chances. I don’t expect either side will want to inject too much pace into the encounter.
  • The bookies are struggling to separate each outfit on a DNB line and I can’t either. This isn’t a match I am particularly interested in betting on.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Guingamp v Angers Preview (29/10/16)

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Guingamp preview

  • Back to back victories against big reputation clubs Lille and Lyon should certainly have maintained a strong morale at the club. They are riding as high as fifth in the ligue, much better than anyone anticipated.
  • New coach Antoine Kombouare has instilled a nice vibrant atmosphere inside the club. They are a high energy type side who will run all day and they feel like a ‘busy’ outfit who want to make things happen.
  • Injury and suspension news is again favourable with nobody of significance ruled out. Guingamp have been keeping a very consistent XI this season which has served them well.

Angers preview

  • The visitors have only lost 1 of their last 7 games and have steadily progressed up the table since their terrible start.
  • Angers are a well balanced side who are only affected by injuries to long term casualties. They have no suspensions and are likely to stick with the same XI which has served them well recently.
  • Their usual away tactics are to sit back and wait for counter attacking opportunities. They have shown good defensive solidity in outings at Bordeaux, Bastia and to some extent Monaco even though they lost.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • I rate both teams fairly highly and both are also in good form. It could be hard to separate either of them and a draw is maybe most likely.
  • Guingamp are priced in between a DNB & -0.25 handicap line which is somewhat tempting. They have won 3 out of 4 at home this season and played some good stuff here.
  • The goal line is 2.0 and could be grabbed as big as 1.98. This is another tempter because this match could potentially open up a bit. However, statistically both sides tend to have a lot of under games, perhaps due to a lack of finishing or poor decision making in the final third.
  • So in this instance I’d say it’s best to swerve the match in what looks a difficult contest all round to predict.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Bastia v Dijon Preview (29/10/16)

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Bastia preview

  • Bastia have lost their last three consecutive games. They are usually strong on their island home but did recently lose 1-2 against Angers here.
  • Squad condition is mostly good, with only longer term absences affecting them.
  • As per usual, Bastia have struggled going forwards, both creating and scoring chances. Big centre forward Enzo Crivelli returns from a four match suspension should give them more of a presence upfront.

Dijon preview

  • Veteran centre back Cedric Varrault is still suspended, whilst fellow experienced player Florent Balmont is injured. Right back Vincent Rufli remains on the sidelines as well.
  • Dijon have been going well recently, unbeaten in four games and looking much more solid compared to normal. They are usually quite open at the back but deserved a clean sheet against St Etienne (1-1), then shut lout Lorient during a 1-0 win.
  • Their away form isn’t great though, losing 3 out of 4 games and only scoring two goals in the process.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Bastia is never an easy place to visit, but Dijon will be in a confident mood after good recent results. I expect them to continue this recent style of sitting back and making themselves harder to break down.
  • Bastia matches are known for being boring and low scoring. The pitch here at Le Stade Furiani is often difficult to play on and opportunities could be few and far between.
  • One goal either way could decide matters but overall I don’t see a goal here. This match really feels like a draw to me and I have no interest in betting.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Nancy v Caen Preview (29/10/16)

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Nancy preview

  • The Lorraine outfit are joint bottom of the table and have scored the least amount of goals of anyone in Ligue 1. They did however rescue a draw against Bordeaux last week and actually beat Caen 4-2 in the cup on Wednesday night.
  • Nancy have been totally the opposite to the team that was so free flowing and high scoring in Ligue 2. It seems they have totally lost that identity, but perhaps coach Pablo Correa will target this match as an ideal chance to regain their mojo.
  • Injury news is relatively favourable with only strikers Hadji and Koura ruled out, but neither have been in great form anyway.

Caen preview

  • The Normandy outfit have lost 5 of their last 7 games and are currently inside the relegation zone.
  • Their away record is especially poor having lost 4 out of 5 games and only scoring three goals in the process.
  • Their offense could struggle without leading playmaker Julien Feret around. Right winger Karamoh is also on the treatment table along with left back Imorou.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • You feel like it’s now or never for Nancy. This is a match they desperately need to win against a fellow rival in poor form. They claimed first blood in the cup encounter midweek although this is a different challenge.
  • Caen’s offense concerns me at the moment but they also look vulnerable at the back. We saw how open they became after St Etienne got ahead against them last week.
  • Nancy are a decent enough price on a -0.25 handicap. It’s vital they get the job done here and perhaps with a win under their belts, albeit in the cup it might give them the confidence to go out there and perform.
  • I’m also happy to take an over 2 goal line. Statistically, both sides have struggled to score goals at times this season but often in matches like this, when both fancy their chances then goals will materialise. Nancy should revert back to their old ways here and a potential shootout could develop.

Prediction: 3-1

Recommended bets both 1 unit: Nancy -0.25 @ 1.90 & Over 2 goals @ 1.83