Matchweek 2 Preview

What a great start to the Premier League season we had as Manchester United, Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool all get their wins while Chelsea, Southampton and Watford all underwhelmed. Sheffield got a surprise point away at Bournemouth while Leicester and Wolves drew in what was an a disappointing match. Brighton and Burnley both surprised everyone with 3-0 wins as well and currently sit 4th and 5th respectively.

This Season: 7-2-1 (+5.1 Units)
Matchweek 1: 7-2-1 (+5.1 Units)

We have another great slate of matches this week so let’s build on Matchweek 1.

Saturday, August 17th
7:30 am EST

Burnley @ Arsenal (TV: NBCSN) – Burnley are coming off their great result at home to Southampton where two Ashley Barnes goals guided them to a 3-0 win. Arsenal meanwhile had a somewhat dodgy win at Newcatle, but getting a clean sheet away from home with a ‘B’ squad was big (they had only 1 away clean sheet in 19 matches last season). I expect water to find its level as Arsenal will likely have Ozil and Kolasinac back with the rest of their ‘A’ squad and their return to the Emirates will surely spark some good form. I think Burnley regress to their poor away form from last season and in general and fall to Arsenal handily here. Arsenal -1.5 (-110).

10:00 am EST

Bournemouth @ Aston Villa (TV: CNBC) – Villa Park should be raucous for this one as Aston Villa host Bournemouth in their first home match in the Premier League. Bournemouth are coming off of a disappointing draw at home against Sheffield while Villa lost to Spurs 3-1, but showed some really positive flashes for the first 60 minutes. Bournemouth meanwhile had trouble against a newly promoted team who many believe will finish 20th. I love Villa in this match not just because of the home-field advantage but also because I think their aggressive attack can and will cause Bournemouth some issues. I’ll take Villa on the pickem line even with the juiced price. Aston Villa Pickem (-135).

West Ham @ Brighton – Brighton might have been the story of Matchweek 1 as they went to Watford and beat them 3-0. Yeah three goals is great but I think the fact that they kept the clean sheet is the biggest thing to take away from that game. West Ham aren’t a tall task and their 5-0 loss to City is surely an outlier, as they can surely end up fighting for a top 10 spot this season. I actually think Brighton regress just a bit while West Ham, who are desperate to get their first set of points, will come out of the gate firing. I’ll lean West Ham on the pickem line with the positive price. West Ham Pickem (+105).

Watford @ Everton – Just like West Ham, both of these teams will be desperate for points but for different reasons. Watford, coming off an embarrassing home loss to Brighton, are looking for their first points of the year and to not lay a goose egg after two matches. Everton are looking to build off of a draw at Palace where they had to hold on for the point after a Schneiderlin red card. Everton actually played well enough as they had a 1.22 xG (expected goals) and the majority of chances, but the last 15 minutes they were resorted to seeing out the draw. I’m not going to put my trust in Watford just yet and I’m expecting Everton to get three points here. Everton -0.5 (-135).

Newcastle United @ Norwich City – *checks notes*, ah more teams looking for points. Both of these teams might be fighting each other to survive come April and May and this could end up being a big match for both. Newcastle did not look good against Arsenal and their attack is of big worry to me. Norwich meanwhile actually held their own against Liverpool in that second half and even ended the match with an xG of 0.84, while Newcastle at home only mustered a 0.37 xG. I think Norwich get their first win of the season here against a Newcastle team who might take a while to find their identity. I also love their price at (+115). Norwich City -0.5, (+115).

Liverpool @ Southampton (TV: NBCSN) – I hate trying to predict what managers will do after a short week with travel (especially from Istanbul) but I can’t imagine Klopp plays his full starting XI. It is also being reported that Adrian, the keeper who has come in to replace the injured Alisson, was injured after the penalty shootout in Istanbul. This might now leave third string goalie Andy Lonergan, who has never played a Premier League match, the starting role for this match. Southampton meanwhile are coming off of a big loss at Burnley where their xG and almost all other stats actually outperformed their opponents but they still lost 3-0. That says a lot about their lack of execution but I think they have a lot of value as one-goal underdogs here. They’re home, playing an ill-rested and possibly weakened Liverpool team and they’ll be hungry to prove themselves. I’ll take the home dogs with a positive price. Southampton +1 (+110).

12:30 pm EST

Tottenham @ Manchester City (TV: NBC) – We get to the match of the weekend with two of the top six’s best squaring off in Manchester. City obviously are the team to catch this season but this would be a great moment for Spurs to gauge where they stand against the league’s best. But one thing that worried me about Spurs this past weekend was their poor start and how they allowed Villa to take it to them for a lot of the first half, at home no less. That won’t fly when playing City who can put multiple goals past you in the first 20 minutes. I think City will be the ones with the statement here at take it to Spurs who will find trouble getting a foothold early on in the match, eventually coming back to bite them with a possible large halftime deficit. Manchester City -1.5 (-105).

Sunday, August 18th
9:00 am EST

Crystal Palace @ Sheffield United (TV: NBCSN) – Sheffield look to build off their impressive draw in their first Premier League home match in twelve years. Palace meanwhile aren’t trying to build off their draw because they probably believe they should have gotten three points this past weekend. Points for Palace are much more of a necessity here than it is for Sheffield and that’s way I’ll take them on the pickem line. Crystal Palace Pickem (+105).

11:30 am EST

Leciester @ Chelsea (TV: NBCSN) – I can’t get a feel on this match at all. On one hand I think Leicester are massively improved and could be a team that top 6 teams should fear, but on the other hand Chelsea just impressed this week in the Super Cup. But then we go back to the concern of travel, rest and possible lineup changes for Chelsea and I’m hesitant to pick them. I also don’t think Leicester are ready to take three points from a team like Chelsea but the Foxes can make it really tough on them. So I’m going to try to pinpoint some value here and nail the draw which has a great price at well over 2/1. DRAW (+260).

Monday, August 19th
3:00 pm EST

Manchester United @ Wolves (TV: NBCSN) – This is a match that could rival City/Spurs for match of the week. Wolves were known top 6 killers last season and in the three times Wolves played United, they had 2 wins and 1 draw. United had a great start to the season with their big 4-0 win over Chelsea but I think they’re due for some sort of regression. Teams coming off of big wins and having to travel to tough opponents tend to find that regression and I think Wolves might be one of the last teams United want to see. Yes, Wolves had a Thursday Europa League qualifier match but they played a lot of reserves, it was at home and it might actually help them prep for this match since they’re getting a lot of their bench/reserve players some quality minutes. I’m taking the home dogs here in Wolves. Wolves +0.5 (-140).

That’s all for this weekend’s Premier League action. All of the marquee matches are at reasonable times (10:00 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm) this weekend so make sure you catch some footy and possibly make your wallet just a bit bigger on Monday morning.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo 

Premier League Championship Sunday Preview

Okay before we get into what will likely be one of the greatest Championship Sundays in a long time, let’s get into what happened on Wednesday night.

Spurs somehow came back needing 3 goals in the second half against Ajax to go to their first ever Champions League Final. They were down 3-0 on aggregate at halftime and a Lucas Moura second half hat trick somehow put them through to the Final with the last goal coming in the final seconds of the match. Unlike Barcelona, Ajax did not break down and allow this to happen as much as Spurs willed their way to this win. Whoever the hell is writing this script is the greatest storyteller ever. It took 35 years for a 3-goal lead to be blown in a Semifinal and then it happened twice in 24 hours. We now have an all-English Champions League Final for the first time in over a decade and only the second time ever. Over the years this sport has proven why the world is obsessed, but this last year/month/week have gone above and beyond. The highlights are below…

Credit: Bleacher Report/Turner Sports

Now we somehow transition to a Championship Sunday in which a Premier League Champion will be crowned between either Liverpool or Man City who are separated by only 1 point atop the table. Liverpool haven’t won the league in almost 30 years while City look to become the first back-to-back champion in a decade. It’s also the first time in 5 years that a champion will be decided on Championship Sunday, adding to the drama of one of the greatest title races ever. In that 2013/2014 season, City topped Liverpool on Championship Sunday. In fact, this will be the third time in the Premier League era that City will have to win on the final day to win a title, winning their previous two. Could that be a good omen for City?

This Season: 207-162-47 (+18.4 Units)
Ajax v. Tottenham: 1-1 (+0.0 Units)
(+18.4 units = $100 bettor has won $1,840 this season)

For context, all matches are played at the same time to ensure that all results occur with integrity (and drama of course). The two big matches which include City and Liverpool will be at the end of my preview.

Championship Sunday
English Premier League
10:00 am EST

Arsenal @ Burnley (TV: MSNBC) – It has to be said that Arsenal made the Europa League Final on Thursday after whooping Valencia 7-3 on aggregate and will be playing Chelsea. They’ll be travelling from Spain for this one and usually I’d take Burnley if there were a lot of points on the board, but Arsenal are still playing for 5th place. I don’t like the spread at all so I decided to put a play on the total. The last time these two played it was 3-1 to Arsenal with the over cashing, six of Burnley’s last seven matches against the top 6 have had at least 3 goals and five of Arsenal’s last six matches have had at least 3 goals. That was enough for me to take the over in a match that should have a lot of chances. Over 3 goals (-110).

Bournemouth @ Crystal Palace (TV: Local NBC Sports Markets) – Palace have not been good at home this season and especially as of late. They’re 19th in the home table, their last home win in the league against someone who hasn’t been relegated came in December (8 matches) and Bournemouth have gone two straight unbeaten away from home. I also like Bournemouth because they match up well against Palace as they play a fast-paced game and can score goals on the break. They haven’t lost to Palace in their last three matches and I think they have a great chance of taking points here. I’ll take Bournemouth as underdogs. Bournemouth (+0.5, +105).

Newcastle @ Fulham (TV: Olympic Channel) – Fulham have been relegated and I called their regression last weekend against Wolves after three straight wins. But they’ll be playing a Newcastle team who have gone 1-4-5 in their last 10 away matches and I really think that Fulham will go out of the Premier League swinging with some points. I’m going to take Fulham on the pickem line at home in their last Premier League match against a Newcastle side who really have nothing else to play for. Fulham (Pick, -115).

Chelsea @ Leicester (TV: CNBC) – Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt in penalties to advance to the Europa League Final where they will play Arsenal in Azerbaijan. But they went the distance, 120 minutes and penalties, while Leicester will have an entire week’s rest and will be home for this match. That alone is a great reason to take the home side as Chelsea are sure to rest some starters while Leicester have no reason but to play their normal starting XI. Chelsea have also already locked in their top 4 spot for next season’s Champions League but Leicester can jump to 8th with a win and Everton loss. I think Leicester will be more focused on closing out their season than Chelsea will be after their big win on Wednesday. I love Leicester at home here. Leicester (Pick, -125).

Cardiff City @ Manchester United (TV: USA) – I’m baffled as to why this spread is so low. Yes United are in complete turmoil with recent results, locker room rifts and pundits calling out the leadership as well as Solskjaer’s job, but United are far better than Cardiff. Yes United have won one of their last eight matches but most of them have been against some of the better teams in Europe (Barcelona, Man City, Chelsea and more). Meanwhile at home against non top 6 teams, United haven’t lost all season long. I expect them to close out their year well against a pretty bad Cardiff side. Manchester United (-1.5, -135).

Huddersfield @ Southampton (Streaming: NBCSports.com) – This one is likely to have goals and for that reason I’m taking the over. Why will it have a lot of goals? Well not only was their first match this season 3-1, but seven of Southampton’s last nine matches have had at least three goals with their last four home games hitting that mark as well. Adding to that, five of the last eight Huddersfield matches have had at least three goals with their previous two away matches having a total of 9 goals. These two teams won’t be doing much defending on Sunday. Over 3 goals (+105).

Everton @ Tottenham (TV: SYFY Channel) – Much like the other English teams who traveled this week in European competition, Spurs will likely not even be thinking about this match. Not only will they have 3-4 less days of rest compared to Everton but Spurs players were celebrating pretty hard after their epic comeback win against Ajax (Danny Rose even had a beer on the field after the game). Their spot in the top four has been guaranteed and I expect Pochettino to sit a lot of the players who played Wednesday night in Amsterdam for precautionary and rest reasons. Everton have also been in great form and scoring lots of goals as they have one loss in their last seven matches beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Not only do I like Everton on the moneyline but I love the over too because of how these teams can score goals and Spurs’ lineup will likely not be ready for the challenge if they do sit a few starters. Over 2.5 goals (-125) and Everton Moneyline (+240).

West Ham @ Watford (TV: Golf Channel) – West Ham have been playing well but they’re due for some sort of regression. They’ve now won back-to-back league matches in the league for the first time since December, proving that their consistency has been an issue. One of those wins was away at Spurs but it was their first away win in eight matches with seven of those being losses. Meanwhile Watford have not lost to a team behind them in the current table at home since October. I like Watford to close out their Premier League season with a win, knowing they’ll want to go into their FA Cup Final with City in good form. Watford Moneyline (+120).

Now to the big boy stuff…

Wolves @ Liverpool (TV: NBC) – Wolves have not been an easy outfit for top 6 teams this season and it certainly won’t help Liverpool that they played a grueling match against Barcelona on Tuesday. The last time these two played it was in the FA Cup and Wolves eliminated Liverpool at home. Both teams are in good form and the spread sits at 1.5, which is something I don’t want to bite on especially knowing how Wolves love to make things hard on good teams. Instead, due to how they can make things hard and Liverpool’s likely heavy legs, I’m going to take the under. Only three times in Wolves’ 11 matches against the top 6 has the total finished over 3 and I think it’s unlikely this total will go above that mark here as well. I do think Liverpool will win, which will force City to win, but it won’t be easy for the Reds. Under 3 (-115).

Manchester City @ Brighton (TV: NBCSN) – Man City will have to go to a Brighton team who recently drew at Arsenal, barely lost at Spurs and drew at Wolves. But at home, they haven’t been impressive at all. They’ve gone 1-2-5 in their last eight home matches with their only points coming from a win against Huddersfield and draws against Newcastle and Watford. Against the top 6 at home they’ve gained 4 points in a win against United and a draw against Arsenal. But this City team is the best team in the league and they’re now on a 13-match win streak in the league. They know all they have to do is beat this Brighton team who are now fighting for nothing to win a 2nd straight Premier League title to put their names in the pantheon of the league. I think City score early and run up the score in what will be a coronation for the new kings of the Premier League. Manchester City (-2, -120).

Manchester City will win the Premier League title for the fourth time and the second consecutive season. But kudos will have to go to Liverpool who will end up having the third best season in Premier League history.

Thanks for riding with me this season in the Premier League! I’ll still be writing til the end of the season, covering the other European leagues and European Finals. This summer I will also be previewing every USWNT match this summer for the World Cup, transfer rumors, CONCACAF Gold Cup and more!

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo

Barcelona v. Liverpool Champions League Semifinal, Leg 1

Ajax took down Spurs on Tuesday in pretty convincing fashion. It was clear that Spurs were missing a few key players and that their gameplan wasn’t good enough to stop Ajax’s total football strategy. Pochettino’s press did not work as Ajax consistently beat it by playing out from the back and not turning it over in dangerous areas. Spurs had trouble with Llorente up top as he didn’t provide any pace or threat on the break, allowing Ajax to maintain their shape defensively. Sissoko coming on before halftime did provide a spark for Spurs but the final product up top wasn’t there. Ajax now go back to Amsterdam with a 1-0 aggregate lead and an away goal.

This Season’s Record: 200-159-46 (+13.9 Units)
Tottenham v. Ajax: 2-0 (+3.2 Units)

I nailed both the Ajax spread and moneyline as I win back most of what I lost this last weekend. Let’s see what we can do with the other Semifinal, Barcelona v. Liverpool.

Liverpool @ Barcelona (TV: TNT) – This is obviously the better matchup on paper of the two Semifinals as arguably the two best teams in the world will face off for the right to play in the Final. Let’s break down what both teams will need to win the first leg.

Liverpool come into this one on a 10-match win streak but are in the midst of an epic title race in the Premier League. They have the best defender in the world right now and should have basically everyone healthy and available for this match on Wednesday. Their only worry is whether or not Firmino will be 100% for the match, which he is expected to be. I think this first leg will come down to three factors; Van Dijk on Messi, Liverpool’s outside backs and the need for an away goal or a clean sheet.

Obviously we all can’t wait to watch the best player of all time (if you disagree, please tweet me @nicodegallo and I will gladly put you in your place) face off against the best defender in the world. It will be crucial for VVD to slow down Messi as he’s been in amazing form especially at home recently. If there’s one defender that can do it though it’s Van Dijk as his combination of size, speed and awareness can all thwart Messi’s effectiveness. But one thing to keep an eye out is whether or not Messi will try to drop deep to avoid being constantly marked by VVD. If he can do that and force the Liverpool center backs/defensive midfielders to commit, expect it to open up some passing lanes for Barcelona going forward.

The last two factors are a little bit more simple. Liverpool’s outside backs are two of the best crossers in the world and they can cause Barcelona’s outside backs hell if they’re given space. It’ll be key for Liverpool to constantly be whipping balls in, something that will surely make Barcelona uncomfortable. They’ll also need to grab an away goal in order to get some sort of advantage or chance before coming back home. If they don’t grab an away goal, then they’ll absolutely need to keep a clean sheet. If Liverpool can muster a draw at the Camp Nou then they will certainly be favored to move on to the Final.

The only problem is that stopping Messi, especially at the Camp Nou, is a very difficult thing to do. He leads the world in combined goals and assists and it’s not even close. He also leads the world in combined goals and chances created. Just over the weekend he scored the game-winning goal to seal another La Liga title, proving the notion that he steps up in big matches at home. He even scored two of the three goals in the second leg at home in the last round against United. Another problem is that if Liverpool don’t see the majority of the ball, which is a likely possibility, they’ll have less time to feed the wingbacks going forward. And if they rely on that too much it’ll make their attack too one-dimensional, making Barcelona’s job much easier. It’s also not easy getting past this Barcelona’s defense as they’ve only let up 6 goals in their 10 matches this year including only 2 at home.

Barcelona will also be completely healthy and in form themselves. They haven’t lost since January 23rd and since the start of April they’ve beaten Atletico Madrid and Manchester United twice. They’ve now clinched another La Liga title and can focus completely on these two legs against Liverpool, something that Liverpool doesn’t have the luxury of. Another reason to worry if you’re Liverpool is that Barcelona have won their last 8 home matches with a goal differential of +16 and those matches include those three tough ones I mentioned earlier.

The keys for Barcelona are a little more simple than Liverpool’s. Barca just need to do what they’ve done all season; play their game. If they can just play the way they usually play at home (sustaining possession, feeding Messi to create, and running defenses ragged), they should see this one through. Another thing that Barca have going for them is the fact that they aren’t just Lionel Messi. They have Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and more. If they can find a way to spread the ball, forcing Liverpool to focus on threats outside of Messi, expect that supporting cast to be effective and/or provide Messi some space to receive the ball and be effective himself.

I think that Barcelona are too good, especially at home, to fade in this match. As for the entire two legs, I think it’s split even but in this first leg I think Barcelona will take care of business and win the match. Even if VVD and Liverpool slow down Messi, they’ll have to deal with Barca’s other threats up top and they’ll also have to live with not having the ball for the majority of the match. I think this all plays into Barcelona’s hands and I’m going to pick them as favorites at home. FC Barcelona (-0.5, -110).

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo

Matchweek 34 Preview

Wednesday Recap:

  • Ajax and Juventus drew 1-1 in a match that either team could have won. Both teams passed up scoring chances all match, but a Ronaldo header right before halftime broke the deadlock after Ajax failed to track his run into the box. Ajax then responded with a goal right out of the gate in the second half, catching Juventus sleeping. It’s all up for grabs in the second leg.
  • Barcelona went into Manchester and dominated the first half, scoring a goal only 12 minutes in. The goal was built by a 48-pass build up where every player on the field touched the ball for Barcelona. They kept United at bay for the rest of the match and will be taking their one-goal lead with the away goal advantage back home for the second leg.

This Season’s Record: 184-154-42 (+8.4 Units)
4/10 UCL Quarterfinals: 3-0 (+4.3) Units)

A great Champions League Quarterfinals for me as I went 4-1 and completely nailed Wednesday predicting both games to a T (is that how you say it? Idk, we’ll carry on). Let’s see what we can get from this weekend.

Saturday, April 13th
German Bundesliga
9:30 am EST

Borussia Mochengladbach @ Hannover – Hannover are currently sitting at the basement of the Bundesliga and are on their way to being relegated. They’ll face a Gladbach team who are fighting for a chance to play in the Champions League next year, as they sit four points out of that final spot. Although they’ve hit a slight blip in form, I just don’t see them dropping points to a Hannover team who have gained points from a match once since mid January (going 1-10 in that span). I think Gladbach’s quality will show and they could honestly run away with this one. Gladbach (-1, -105).

English Premier League
10:00 am EST

Bournemouth @ Brighton – Both teams are in bad form going into this, as Brighton have had three straight losses in all competitions and Bournemouth with two straight. But two of Brighton’s losses came against Chelsea and City while Bournemouth’s came against Leicester and Burnley. Two things stand out to me here with the first being the disparity of Bournemouth’s away results compared to their home results. They stand in 10th in points at home but away from home they’re 16th with a record of 4-0-12, they have the most goals conceded with 37 and have the third worst goal differential.

The other thing that stands out to me is the fact that Brighton still have some work to do relegation-wise. They’re sitting tied for the last safe spot with a game in hand of Southampton and Cardiff, the two teams next to them. A win here would really help their race away from the relegation zone, especially with Cardiff having back-to-back away matches and then they are home to Liverpool. I like Brighton to go out and get a win, just a week shy of holding Man City to a 1-0 win in the FA Cup Semifinal, to all but assure their safety. Brighton (-0.5, +125).

Cardiff @ Burnley (TV: NBCSN) – Much like Brighton, Cardiff could really use a result here to help keep their race for survival alive. The only difference is that they’re going away from home to face a Burnley team who have won two straight against Wolves and Bournemouth. Adding to that, Cardiff have had real trouble this season allowing a large % of shots on target, ranking 5th most in defensive shots on target/shots (Def SoT/Sh) with 36%. Meanwhile Burnley rank 1st in scoring % at 53.7%, a stat which calculates the amount of goals per shot on target. Cardiff allowing a lot of shots this season versus a team who scores the most off of their shots on target does not bode well for a Cardiff team who have trouble scoring themselves, letting in the third most goals in the league this year.Burnley (-0.5, -110).

Everton @ Fulham – This match doesn’t look like a good one for Fulham. They’re already relegated, have lost 13 of their last 14 matches and are facing an Everton team who have won three straight against Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal. According to Lowe Down Stats, they rank last in their Three Factors Ranking, an offensive and defensive combination of shots/96 mins, shots on target/shots and scoring %. Adding even more to that, they rank in last place in goal differential average. The only reason they hung around that long was because of a few good results after a managerial change earlier in the year. I think Everton will breeze through this one with the chance to get back to their usual spot of 7th place. Everton (-0.5, -125).

Italian Serie A
12:00 pm EST

Udinese @ Roma (TV: ESPNEWS) – This line almost feels like a trap with Roma as a one-goal favorite at home. I know Roma haven’t been themselves this season and only have two wins from their last seven, but they’re facing an Udinese team who have been even more below their average this season. Yes, Udinese are fighting for their lives towards the bottom of the table and are undefeated in their last three, but they’ve been beyond poor away from home this season with one win from 14 matches. Against the top clubs in Italy, Udinese have gone 1-1-7 with a -12 goal differential, and away from home have gone 0-1-3 with a -6 goal differential. Roma will also be fighting for something though, being only one points out of the last Champions League spot.

Adding to this, Roma’s home goal-scoring record is first in the league with 2.33 goals per game at the Stadio Olimpico while Udinese’s away goal differential is 16th in the league. I love Roma to win here at home against an Udinese side who haven’t won at the Stadio Olimpico since 2012 and have had a goal differential of -10 over the five games prior to that win. Roma (-1, -130).

2:30 pm EST

Lazio @ AC Milan – Although Milan are three spots above Lazio in the table, recent results should have their fans feeling very nervous about finishing above them this season. Milan haven’t won in their last four matches, losing to Inter, Sampdoria and Juventus while drawing to Udinese at home. Now only three points separate Milan in 4th and Torino in 8th and that last Champions League will be completely up for grabs in this last month and a half. The biggest thing for me in this match is Lazio’s ability to limit opponents away from home, where they have allowed 15 goals and scored 15 goals. I don’t think Milan offer a lot up top to stifle Lazio’s defense, especially as they rank 7th in goals at home this season. I like Lazio on the pickem line with their ability to limit what Milan can do offensively. Lazio (Pick, -105).

Sunday, April 14th
English Premier League
11:30 am EST

Chelsea @ Liverpool (TV: NBCSN) – The last time these two faced off with one fighting for a title, Gerrard slipped and gave Demba Ba a goal which also gave Man City a title in 2014. That obviously won’t happen again, but this is Liverpool’s opportunity to either keep the pressure on City or fall behind and likely go another year without a title. Can they erase those demons and avenge that fateful day? Unluckily for them, Chelsea haven’t lost to Liverpool in all competitions since September of 2016 (five unbeaten). In fact, Liverpool have only won 2 of the last 16 matches against Chelsea. The Blues are starting to create more chances than they were earlier in the season and now rank second in the league in shots per 96 minutes on offense and third on defense. They also have this guy named Eden Hazard who, let’s just say, is pretty fu**ing unbelievable and can change any game in the blink of an eye.

They’ll be facing a Liverpool team who have been great this season at home with the second best home goal differential average. But lately they have started to see some slippage. Yes, they’ve won their last four at home in all comps but they haven’t been that impressive of wins, only covering the spread once in their last four. Adding to that, in their last four matches against the Top 6 and Everton, they are 1-2-1 with a goal differential of 0. I don’t feel comfortable taking Liverpool as one-goal favorites here and I’m instead taking a risk-averse approach with Chelsea, believing they’ll make it more of a closer game. I don’t see Liverpool running away with it. Chelsea (+1, -120).

That’s all for this week’s picks. Don’t forget to subscribe at the bottom of the page and to follow on Twitter and Instagram!!

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Instagram: @canikickitblog

Matchweek 32 Preview

The international break FINALLY ends as we return to club footy for the final stretch of the season. The two title races are heating up as the Premier League will come down to City and Liverpool (Liverpool with a 2 point advantage but City has a game in hand) and in the Bundesliga between Dortmund and Bayern who are tied on points. It’s been a while so let’s see where I stand and how I did the last time out.

This Season’s Record: 168-144-39 (+2.9 Units)
Matchweek 31/FA Cup: 5-2-1 (+2.9 Units)

Due to the fact that we’ll be coming off of an international break and there may be some players resting, some injuries, rust from two weeks off and more, I’m only going to find a few lines across Europe that I like/pop out to me. Let’s see if we can find some value.

Saturday, March 30th
German Bundesliga
10:30 am EST

Wolfsburg @ Borussia Dortmund – Earlier this week I wrote a piece on Dortmund’s chances of the Bundesliga title (LINK HERE) and mentioned how this match could be a trap game for them. Historically at home they have beaten Wolfsburg but not by comfortable margins. They’re also not the only ones fighting for something in this match as Wolfsburg have their sights on their first European birth since ’15-16. Adding to that, Wolfsburg have been more than comfortable away from home, going 7-2-4 and ranking 4th in away points this season. I think that a goal is too big of a spread for this match and I can’t resist taking the underdog. Wolfsburg (+1, +105).

Borussia Mochengaldbach @ Fortuna Dusseldorf – Two egregiously long-named clubs will face off on Saturday morning with a pickem as the spread. Although it’s heavily juiced towards ‘Gladbach, I can’t fade them since their only chance of losing the bet is if they lose outright to a 12th place Dusseldorf team who has been way too inconsistent at home. This Dusseldorf team has had two home wins in this calendar year, both against relegation squads, and they’re coming off of two bad losses before the international break. I don’t see them beating a ‘Gladbach team who hasn’t lost an away match since Dortmund in December. In fact, ‘Gladbach haven’t lost away from home to a team outside of the top four since October. ‘Gladbach (Pick, -130).

English Premier League
11:00 am EST

Bournemouth @ Leicester City – Leicester are starting to play some really good ball right now under new manager Brendan Rodgers. Yes their last two wins came against Fulham and Burnley, but prior to his arrival they went winless in seven with six of those being losses. Also, their win against Burnley came from being a man down for 86 minutes and away from home, showing that they can get it done facing adversity. They’re getting more and more productivity going forward from Vardy, Tielemans and Maddison which is exactly what this team needs if they want to succeed. They’ll face a Bournemouth team who has one win in their last seven (against Huddersfield) and one win away from home in their last nine away league matches (against Huddersfield). I like Leicester at home where they have thrived under Rodgers so far in his tenure. Leicester City (-0.5, -115).

Wolves @ Burnley – I’m shocked they have this one as a pickem considering how Wolves were playing prior to the international break with a draw at Chelsea in the league and a win against United in the FA Cup. Outside of their shocking loss at Huddersfield and their expected loss at City, they’ve been brilliant since the turn of the new year. Burnley meanwhile have lost their last four matches before the break (A. Newcastle, H. Crystal Palace, A. Liverpool, H. Leicester) and have the 17th best home record this season. They even lost to Leicester last matchweek with an extra man for 86 minutes. Wolves are far and away the better team and I’ll never shy away from them on a pickem line especially against a team like Burnley who will have serious trouble against this Wolves team especially in the midfield. Wolves (Pick, -135).

Sunday, March 31st
Spanish La Liga
8:00 am EST

Real Betis @ Rayo Vallecano (beIN Sports) – Rayo Vallecano are in big big trouble as they sit six points below the relegation zone and have lost their last seven matches. They’ll face a Betis team who are not only better than them quality-wise but they’re also coming off of two away wins before the international break. Although they did lose the match before the break to Barcelona, they haven’t lost back-to-back La Liga matches since October and it’s another match where I can’t fade the better team on the pickem line. Real Betis (Pick, -120).

Italian Serie A
9:00 am EST

Napoli @ Roma (ESPNEWS) – The second best match of the weekend brings us to Rome where the city’s namesakes will be taking on second-place Napoli. Roma have had an up and down season and recently have been poor against good opposition. In their last eleven matches against similar-quality opposition (similar on points in the league or Champions League matches), they’ve gone 0-5-6. They’ll be facing a Napoli team who sit in second in Serie A and have been great away from home, going undefeated in their last four in the league away from the Estadio San Paolo. Napoli have also won their last two matches at Roma and I love the value on their Moneyline and pickem here to do it a third time in a row. Napoli (+135), Pick (-130).

English Premier League
11:30 am EST

Tottenham @ Liverpool (NBCSN) – The second best match of the weekend leads us into the best match of the weekend as Spurs travel north to face league leaders Liverpool. This match can really set the tempo for Liverpool’s title chase as this is one of their two matches against top six sides that they will likely need to win if they want to raise their first Premier League trophy in almost three decades. Spurs came into the international break in bad shape with only one win from their last five matches while Liverpool have gone 4-1-0 in that same span. But Liverpool haven’t covered in their last three Premier League matches, showing that their last few wins have come in a tighter margin than expected. With the spread being a goal and since I can’t get a great read on this one due to Liverpool’s recent non-convincing wins and Spurs’ bad form/inconsistency, I’ve decided to make a play on the total. Liverpool’s last three league home matches have averaged 4.6 total goals while Spurs’ last three away matches have averaged 2.7 (a combined average of 3.65). Another reason why I like the over is that often after international breaks, top six clubs who have a lot of players on international duty need some time to get their chemistry back especially in a match that occurs so quickly after they get back to camp. I think this will be a high-scoring match and I’ll take the over at 3 goals even with the likelihood of a push. Over 3 goals (+110).

That’s all for this weekend’s preview! I hope you can get back in the swing of things with club soccer returning and maybe throw some coin on some matches before the Elite Eight starts on Saturday and Sunday.

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Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo

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