Juventus were able to continue their unbeaten record in Serie A last weekend, but they were far from convincing in their win at Napoli. The champions claimed a 2-1 victory with just over a third of the possession. They were handed a gift as Lorenzo Insigne missed a penalty, which all but ended the title race in Italy for another campaign. However, can they keep that unbeaten run going in this clash with Udinese?
Juventus do have major concerns ahead of this game, which comes days before their Champions League meeting with Atletico Madrid. The Italian champions are 2-0 down from the first leg in Spain, leaving them with a mountain to climb in Turin next week. Their dream of finally returning the European Cup to Turin rests on that second-leg, so the hosts are set to be distracted.
Udinese come here following back to back wins, which have pulled them away from the drop zone. The Zebrette are now seven points clear of the drop after beating 18th placed Bologna last weekend. They may come here following back to back home wins, but they’ve got a poor record on their travels. With one win and six defeats from 11 trips this term, the away side visit the champions in a vulnerable state.
While Juventus are likely to have an eye elsewhere, they should still cruise through Friday’s game. The hosts have won 23 of 26 league games this term – an incredible start which has left them 16 points clear. At this pace, they’re set to wrap up the title next month. After winning 11 of 13 home games, their relentless pace should continue here. After all, they’re facing a side who have major issues on the road, while Juve can boast six victories across their last seven meetings with the Zebrette.
Prediction: Juve Wins
Atletico Bilbao VS Espanyol
Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol find themselves locked on 33 points heading into this Friday’s clash in La Liga. That leaves them in the middle of the table with work to do in order to ensure another season at this level but also with the European places by no means out of reach. Victory for either side would move them level with Valencia in 7th, which is likely to be enough for Europa League football next term.
Espanyol endured a long and miserable winter but they appear to be turning things around again to some extent. Rubi was starting to come under real pressure but has steadied the ship with 5 unbeaten league games heading into this one. The latest was a 3-1 victory over Valladolid last time out in which their Chinese January signing Wu Lei opened his account. A reported 25 million watched the game between two of La Liga’s least glamorous sides back in China and he has the potential to be a really good addition on and off the pitch.
Athletic won’t be signing anyone from China or indeed anywhere outside of the Basque Country anytime soon. They were beaten 2-0 at Valencia in their most recent game but had been going very well with just 2 defeats in 14 matches under Gaizka Garitano prior to that.
This isn’t a game that promises to deliver many goals and all of the last five meetings have produced under 2.5 in total. Athletic have tightened up considerably since the change in coach and head into this one following four straight home clean sheets. That sequence includes games against Sevilla and Barcelona, 2 of the 3 highest scoring teams in La Liga.
Therefore it’s going to be a real test for Espanyol to break them down. They still have some injuries to their wide players and top scorer Borja Iglesias is out here through suspension which is a major blow. They’ve only won 1 of their 16 away games this season in all competitions and that was against bottom club Huesca so they won’t travel with a great deal of confidence.
Prediction: Over 1.5
Southampton Vs Tottenham
Southampton understandably failed to make headway on their Premier League survival campaign last weekend as they left Old Trafford with no points in the bag, although the 3-2 thriller they were beaten in was undoubtedly an entertaining clash for the neutrals.
This leaves The Saints just two points clear of the relegation zone with nine games left to play in the campaign, and the fact that their brief resurgence has been replaced by a run of one win from six games is a real concern for the St Mary’s Stadium faithful.
One thing that Ralph Hasenhuttl has brought to the table is an increased emphasis on attacking play. The previously goal-shy Southampton have now scored in seven of their last eight Premier League outings, and at home, they haven’t failed to score in any of their last nine outings.
Tottenham have also fallen prey to a spate of poor Premier League results. Their 1-1 draw with Arsenal last weekend made it three games without a win for them, and effectively puts them out of the title race entirely and shunts them down into a very real battle for a top four holding. They are now 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester City and only four points inside the top four.
One thing Mauricio Pocchettino can celebrate is their continental success. They managed a win in Dortmund in midweek to round off a convincing progression to the quarterfinals, so that will undoubtedly be Spurs’ main priority for the remainder of this season.
Spurs may have lost their last two away games, but it’s important to remember that they are still a very dangerous side on the road. They have won 11 of their 15 trips away in the league this season, and on Saturday they face a side who have lost three of their last six at home. This is definitely Spurs’ game to lose, although their defensive frailties are haunting them somewhat at the moment.
Prediction: Over 1.5
Manchester City VS Watford
Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend may have been a frustrating match to watch, but eventually, they claimed the three points they deserved and it ended up being a very valuable three points as well. A day later, Liverpool dropped two points in the Merseyside Derby, giving the reigning Premier League champions a one-point lead in the title race.
Now, they come into a clash with Watford looking to extend their five-match winning streak in the league. In those five matches, they have notched 13 goals and beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea as well, so spirits are certainly high at the Etihad Stadium.
Spirits are usually even higher when they’re playing at that ground too. At home Manchester City have won 14 of their 15 Premier League matches, scoring an absurd 50 goals in the process and conceding 11 times.
Watford will be heading to Manchester with a vivid memory of their last trip to the north-west too. The end of February took The Hornets to Anfield where they were quickly demolished 5-0 at the hands of Liverpool, and given Manchester City’s form you wouldn’t rule out a similar scoreline on Saturday.
Javi Gracia’s side isn’t in bad form by any means – They have won three of their last four outings and have only lost twice in the Premier League this year. However, facing off against Manchester City is another prospect entirely, and we’re expecting a convincing win for the hosts here.
It should be a treat for the neutrals as well because both teams have seen their fair share of goals this season. Watford has seen an average of 2.93 goals per away game in the league this season, and their last two trips away along have yielded 11 goals. Four of their last eight trips away have seen at least four goals netted, and they’re facing a Manchester City side who have seen at least four goals in eight of their last 11 home league games.
Prediction: Corner 8.5
Celtic VS Aberdeen
League leaders Celtic will host 3rd-placed Aberdeen at Celtic Park on Saturday as the hosts aim towards extending their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table. After one of their toughest weeks of the season and possibly of recent years, Celtic were able to overcome Brendan Rodgers’ abandonment with ease, as manager Neil Lennon guided the Hoops to 2 consecutive victories against Hearts and Hibs.
These wins were huge for the Glasgow club, as both games were of extreme difficulty. Celtic were heading towards a draw at Tynecastle in Lennon’s first game in charge until Odsonne Édouard, who we think can finish the season as top goalscorer, clinched all 3 points in the last minutes of the game. The Hoops then faced another tough away trip to Easter Road in the Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hibs, which they ultimately won 2-0 thanks to a couple of stunning goals from James Forrest and captain Scott Brown to hand Paul Heckingbottom his first defeat in charge of Celtic.
Celtic’s domestic record in 2019 has been nothing short of perfect. The Glasgow club has won all their games, failing to keep a clean sheet in just 2 games: their last league outing against Hearts and Motherwell the week before that. This fantastic form means that Celtic still sit on top of the Scottish Premiership table with a comfortable 8-point advantage over Rangers.
Aberdeen were able to miraculously recover from their poor start to the season and they now find themselves in 3rd place and fighting with Kilmarnock to remain there as we head into the finals months of the season.
The Dons were still in contention of overtaking Rangers and returning to where they’ve finished over the course of the last 3 seasons, but an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at home to Hamilton pushed them further from the Gers, and the gap between them extended to 8 points. It was only Aberdeen’s 2nd defeat of the year, which has gone quite well so far. Derek McInnes’ side has won 5 games and drawn 4. Of those 4 draws, 2 were in the Scottish Cup against Stenhousemuir and most recently, Rangers.
Prediction: Celtic Wins
Barcelona VS Rayo Vallecano
Barcelona are up against Madrid opposition for the third match running here following back-to-back Clasico wins. The Catalan giants will be revelling in the knowledge that their arch-rivals are now out of the running for silverware this season and Barca will be hungry to hammer home their superiority with another win in La Liga against Rayo Vallecano this Saturday.
Ernesto Valverde’s side won twice at the Bernabeu in the space of 72 hours to put them firmly on course for another domestic double. They do still have work to do in both competitions though with Atletico 7 points back in La Liga but in good form. Barca will also have one eye on their Champions League clash with Lyon this coming week and may consider resting players in this match.
They couldn’t really have picked a better game to have on the eve of a big European night. Rayo Vallecano have lost all of their last 5 league games and find themselves in deep relegation trouble again after a brief spell where it looked like they may pull clear of immediate trouble. They suffered a damaging 2-0 home defeat against Girona last time out but fortunately, almost all the sides around them also lost and they are only 2 points shy of safety heading into this match-day.
Any kind of result here would clearly be a bonus but it’s hard to make a case for Rayo getting something from this game. They’ve lost all of their last 12 matches against Barcelona and have been on the end of some absolute batterings at Camp Nou down the years. Defensively they don’t really have enough to keep even a weakened Barca side quiet here. Rayo have conceded 1.73 goals per game on average this season, the 2nd worst record in La Liga.
Barcelona are virtually at full-strength right now and certainly, their first choice eleven is all fit. That may be a source of frustration for the likes of Philippe Coutinho who has been warming the bench of late but he will be hungry to seize his chance if he gets it here. Barcelona have scored 23 more goals than the next highest scorers in La Liga this term and are averaging 3 per game at home so there is plenty of reason to think they could work up a relatively comfortable win here.
Prediction: Barca Wins & O 1.5
Atletico Madrid VS Leganes
The second game this Saturday in La Liga is a derby in the capital as Atletico Madrid take on Leganes. Both sides are in reasonably good form but Atleti are the clear favourites having never dropped points or even conceded a goal against Leganes in the top flight. Diego Simeone’s side needs to ensure that they bag another win here to keep themselves in with a slim chance of winning the title.
They will be relying on several Barcelona slip-ups if that is to happen. However unlike their city rivals, Atletico also still have Champions League dreams and they have a huge 2nd Leg against Juventus in Turin this coming week. Leading 2-0 from the 1st Leg, Atleti have a great chance to progress but Diego Simeone may still opt to rest a few players here with that game in mind.
That may give Leganes a bit more of a sniff but they will need to pull something really special out the bag to get the job done. They weren’t at their best on Monday night but still managed to edge past Levante at home. That made it 10 points from 5 league outings and they are now just 3 points off a possible European place.
Diego Simeone doesn’t tend to rotate quite as much as some coaches on the eve of big games and he does have a fair deal of strength in depth now in any case. Therefore any alterations shouldn’t throw Atleti off their course. They’ve built up some positive momentum with 4 straight wins to nil in all competitions and are very much looking more like the Atleti of old.
They will strongly fancy they can keep another clean sheet here. They’ve done that in a huge 69% of their home league games this season. They also again have the best overall defensive record in the division and should have all the tools necessary to cope with Leganes’ direct approach.
Leganes have built their season around their home form but on their travels, they haven’t convinced. 62% of their road games this term in La Liga have ended in defeat while they failed to score in over half of those games.
Prediction: Atletico Wins
Bayern Munich VS Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich joined Borussia Dortmund on 54 points at the top of the table thanks to a comprehensive 5-1 win at Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. Robert Lewandowski scored twice in that game to move level with Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic at the top of the 18/19 goalscorer chart and he’s now tied as the Bundesliga’s leading foreign scorer too on 195 goals. He should like his chances of breaking the record on Saturday, having put more goals past Wolfsburg, including five in one historic nine-minute spell back in 15/16, than any other club (19 overall).
Wolfsburg continued to make progress towards their European ambitions last weekend. After starting the new year with back-to-back defeats against Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen, the Wolves are now unbeaten in five (W3 D2), with Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen leaving them outside the top six on goals scored alone. Bruno Labbadia’s men don’t have the best head-to-head record against Bayern – which side does? – but do travel to the Allianz Arena in the some of the best forms the side has been in for years.
And the visitors shouldn’t be without their chances either. Keeper Manuel Neuer isn’t quite the same impenetrable wall of years gone by. He and keeper Sven Ulreich in his absence have kept a clean sheet in just one of Bayern’s last seven Bundesliga games, and when looking back further over the season as a whole, Bayern have actually only managed to keep out their opponents in around a quarter of their home matches. Wolfsburg’s scoring record on the road has been particularly strong in recent weeks too – the Wolves have scored in each of their last nine Bundesliga away days, six of which have seen them find the back of the net multiple times.
Prediction: 12 & Over 1.5
RB Leipzig VS Augsburg
RB Leipzig might have been lacking their usual punch over the past few weeks but they are homing in on a return to the UEFA Champions League. Ralf Rangnick’s followed up their 1-1 draw at home to the ever tough Hoffenheim with a comfortable 1-0 win in Nurnberg last weekend, meaning they’re unbeaten in seven across all competitions going into Saturday’s game against Augsburg (W5 D2). Such a run has seen Leipzig moved up to third in the rankings above Borussia Monchengladbach, with a five-point lead ahead of 5th place Frankfurt.
Augsburg had lost won just 1 of their last 14 Bundesliga outings before causing the upset of the weekend with a much-needed 2-1 win at home to league leaders Dortmund. Whether, like after their triumph over Mainz a few weeks back, this will prove nothing but a brief moment of respite for coach Manuel Baum is to be seen but these three points did give Augsburg a two-point cushion above the relegation zone. Another tough challenge awaits them this weekend though and leading goalscorer Finnbogason still remains a doubt.
After a look at the stats, backing this to be a low scoring game looks a good option. Leipzig themselves have been without Timo Werner on and off in 2019 due to illness and even with him among their ranks their strength this season has been in their defence – Leipzig have conceded a league-low 20 goals this term. With just three goals conceded since the turn of the year, it will be very tough to see a goal from an Augsburg side who have scored just three in their last six on the road (D1 L5). Leipzig themselves aren’t in their best scoring form either though, with just one goal in their last three at the Red Bull Arena.
Augsburg’s “high-scoring” away matches have largely been down to their poor defensive form – in fact, the Bavarians have conceded multiple goals in each of their last four league matches on the road – but whether Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen can exploit that without partner in crime Timo Werner is another question – he’s yet to score when Werner isn’t on the pitch. Uncertainties around the fitness of two key forwards make this a more unpredictable encounter, but with Leipzig one of the strongest sides at home and Augsburg one of the weakest travelling sides in the division, we like the hosts for a tidy win.
Prediction: 1X & U 4.5
PSV VS NAC Breda
PSV currently hold a five-point lead over Ajax at the top of the Eredivisie table, but their arch rivals do have a game in hand. Saturday’s hosts picked up a comfortable three points away at Excelsior last weekend, while the bottom of the table Breda were stuffed 4-1 by Vitesse. The visitors are in a poor run of form and now sit five points behind second from bottom De Graafschap and eight points off safety, with their chances of escaping the drop disappearing by the week.
A goal in each half from Bergwijn proved enough for PSV to claim all three points against Excelsior, with the visitors controlling the game with 56% of the overall possession and fourteen shots during the ninety minutes compared to the four their hosts managed. The only disappointment from that game was the yellow card Lozano picked up which means the Mexican will miss Saturday’s game. Breda took the lead in Arnhem through Korte in the twenty-ninth minute, but it proved a false dawn for the visitors as they conceded four goals and had Klomp sent-off in the second half as Vitesse strolled to a 4-1 victory.
The recent results and performances of both sides and their head to head record over the last few seasons all point towards the possibility of a big win for PSV this weekend and the likelihood of a clean sheet for the hosts. PSV have won their last six matches against Breda, with over 4.5 goals have been scored in three of their last five encounters. The hosts are unbeaten in their last six Eredivisie matches, while Breda have lost four of their last six in the league and over 4.5 goals have been scored in two of the visitors last three matches, both ending in defeat. Breda have failed to score in four of their last five games and go up against a defence that has only conceded sixteen goals in the Eredivisie so far this season.
Prediction: PSV Wins & O 1.5
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