FFT's betting partner, Bet Butler, offers you a helping hand ahead of the weekend's games in England, Germany and Spain...
The weekend is upon us once more, and, as usual, the clever bods at Bet Butler are here to make sure your coupons aren't busted prematurely.
They've picked out big games from across Europe this weekend, focusing on Liverpool and Manchester City's crunch title tussle at Anfield on Sunday before casting glances in the direction of Bayern Munich up against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening. Sunday morning, meanwhile, sees another Seville derby when Real Betis host arch rivals Sevilla in La Liga.
There's also key insight into the teams missing star men and begging to be taken on in the form of Parma, Lille and Nice. So, quids at the ready...
Liverpool vs Man City (Sun, 1:37pm)
Liverpool are unbeaten in 11 home games against Manchester City in all competitions, but 5 of the last 6 have finished level.
However, the Reds have won 15 of their last 17 home matches, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton all being handed four-goal beatings here in recent weeks. They have now won nine consecutive matches, and a 10th here would put them firmly in control of the title race.
But Man City have lost only 1 of their last 20 matches and are unbeaten in 10 on the road. In the past couple of seasons City have tended to raise their game away to the best teams, with most of their troubles on the road actually coming at bottom-half sides. They’ve won 5 and lost only 2 of their eight trips to top-five finishers in the past two campaigns, and this term, after slipping up at Chelsea early on, they’ve impressively beaten Manchester United and Spurs while drawing at Arsenal in their toughest away matches. Statistically there is little to split the teams and the match outcome markets are best left alone.
Looking at clashes between top-five finishers between 2008/09 and 2012/13, we see that the 70 matches from the start of the season to the end of February averaged 3.06 goals per game. But this drops to 2.67 from March to the end of the season. The number of goalless opening halves in these games increased from 26% to 40% later in the term. However, with both teams’ high-scoring form, we should see goals. Six of Man City’s 8 trips to top-five finishers in the previous two seasons, and 3 of their 4 games at the current top seven this term have seen more goals in the second half than the first, and it’s 2.05 for that to happen again.
Sergio Aguero looks set to return to the City side and, if fully fit, his return is a huge boost to the Citizens. The Argentine has been sublime when fit this season and his return could be the X-factor that separates these sides. He’s only started 15 of their 31 games, but with him they’ve averaged 3.33 goals per game compared to just 2.12 otherwise. Furthermore, he’s scored in 5 of his 7 away starts and his last 2 league starts against Liverpool. At 6.00 Aguero to score first looks good value.
Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (Sat, 5:30pm)
Bayern broke a six-game winless streak against Dortmund when they beat them 3-0 earlier in the season, but since 2008/09 they’ve failed to win the first half in any of their 11 league meetings. Plus, since 2011/12, 4 of the 5 meetings have produced fewer than three goals.
This is likely to be a preview of next month’s German Cup final, and while this may lack the intensity it would have had if the league title was still undecided, Bayern will surely be keen to prove their superiority.
Bayern have won 21 of their last 22 home matches, and even after they won the title early last season they still won their remaining home matches. Dortmund, meanwhile, have kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 15 trips to top-half teams, and have lost 2 of their 3 trips to teams currently in the top six this season. While they beat Real Madrid on Tuesday, Dortmund have struggled for consistency this season and at 1.60 Bayern are great value.
This may be a more open game than recent matches between these teams, with the title already wrapped up and Dortmund safely in a top three spot. Bayern have conceded in 9 of their last 10 matches in all competitions, while both teams have scored in each of Dortmund’s last 10 trips to top-six teams. Seven of Bayern’s last 10 home matches have produced at least four goals, as have 9 of the last 10 home games they’ve conceded in. It’s 2.30 that there are at least four goals on Saturday.
Real Betis vs Sevilla (Sun, 11am)
The last three Seville derbies in the league have all been high-scoring games, with Sevilla scoring 12 times in them (including a 3-3 draw in this fixture last season when they lead 3-0 in the first half before a Betis comeback). They’ve also met recently in the Europa League, where Sevilla went through on penalties after both legs were won 2-0 by the away side. While Betis may take some encouragement from winning the first leg, they were actually dominated in both matches.
Betis look doomed at the foot of the table having lost 8 of their last 12 home matches, including defeats by more than one goal in each of their home games against the four teams above Sevilla.
Sevilla are still chasing the final Champions League spot after winning 7 of their last 8 matches, and 6 of their last 10 away games. Furthermore, while they have far better form than their neighbours, they also have the healthier squad as Betis are missing several players (although not their key players). Sevilla have been the best team in the derby since the start of last season, and at 2.25 are a great price to claim another three points.
If the last few meetings between these teams are anything to go by we should see plenty of goals, and both teams have scored in 13 of Sevilla’s last 15 away matches. Six of Sevilla’s last 9 trips to bottom-half sides seen had at least three goals, as they’ve score two or more goals 6 times. With only Rayo Vallecano having conceded more home goals than Betis this season we’d expect them to repeat that here, and Over 2.5 Goals is worth considering at 1.85.
Marco Parolo (Parma)
Parolo has missed 7 games since the start of last season, and without him Parma have scored just 7 times despite 6 of the matches being played at home. Antonio Cassano and Walter Gargano are also doubtful, meaning Parma could be without their three best players. Bologna desperately need a win and are 3.20 to get one here.
Franck Beria, Pape Souare (Lille)
Both of Lille’s full-backs are suspended for this game. In the 26 matches Beria has missed since the start of last season, Lille have scored 20% fewer goals per game while conceding 20% more. As a result their win rate has gone from 52% with him to just 38% without. Valenciennes are 1.80 on the Asian Handicap +1.0.
Didier Digard (Nice)
Digard is suspended, so once again Nice are without one of their key players. Since the start of last season he’s missed 11 of their 70 games and they’ve scored just 10 goals without him – 30% fewer goals per game than when he’s been playing. 10 of these matches have produced fewer than three goals, while 7 have been goalless at half-time. It’s 1.65 for Under 2.5 Goals this weekend.