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 

FA Cup Final Preview and Championship Sunday Recap

Manchester City are champions of England again! Their 4th title in 8 seasons and the first back-to-back title since Manchester United did it in 08-09. They had the 2nd most points (98) in a single Premier League season, only behind last year’s total of 100. Let’s go through how it all happened on Sunday.

This Season: 211-168-48 (+15.9 Units)
Championship Sunday: 4-6-1 (-2.5 Units)
(
+15.9 units = $100 bettor has won $1,590 this season)

Liverpool hosted Wolves at Anfield needing a win and a result in Brighton who hosted Manchester City. One point separated them at the start of the day and Liverpool knew that they needed a miracle if they wanted to be champions. All Man City had to do was win. Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown.

1′: Both matches kick off.
17′: Sadio Mane puts Liverpool ahead in the 17th minute, putting Liverpool atop the live standings.
27′: Just 10 minutes later, Man City go behind thanks to a Glenn Murray header. At this point Liverpool sit in the drivers seat as City would need two more goals to win the title. The energy at Anfield was electric with the thought of their first title in almost 30 years.
28′: 1 minute and 20 seconds later, Sergio Aguero responds with a goal to nullify Brighton’s lead.
38′: City start to pick up the pace and score a 2nd before halftime thanks to an Aymeric Laporte header. Liverpool fans at Anfield begin to quiet and the blue side of Manchester takes a massive sigh of relief.
63′: A Riyad Mahrez blast gives City a commanding 3-1 lead as they begin to put one hand on the trophy. Liverpool would need a Brighton miracle comeback in a half hour.
72′: The title is won as Ilkay Gundogan rips a free kick into the top right corner to make the score 4-1. City fans begin to sing Championes.
81′: Liverpool score a consolation goal as Mane grabs his brace. He then becomes level with Salah and Aubameyang with 22 goals for the Golden Boot award.
90′: Manchester City win their 4th Premier League Title.

Credit to Liverpool who had the third best season in Premier League history, their season should never be called a failure no matter how many trophies they win. And they still have arguably the biggest one of all to play for; the Champions League on June 1st. But Man City have now had the two best Premier League seasons back to back and won 14 straight to clinch it this season. They may very well end up being the greatest Premier League team of all time and a lot of that credit deserves to go to Pep Guardiola. They’ve elevated the standard in England and it surely can’t go unnoticed.

Manchester City’s season isn’t completely done either as they have an FA Cup Final with Watford this weekend. I’m here to preview it.

FA Cup Final; Manchester City v. Watford, 12:00 pm EST

To give you a scope of what the FA Cup means to English football, it’s 148 years old (the oldest competition in the world), it includes 736 teams from all around the UK, and up until the last 15-20 years it was the most coveted trophy in all of England. Both teams have a lot at stake as Man City look to be the first ever team to win the domestic treble while Watford will be in their first FA Cup Final in 35 years and if they win they will qualify for the Europa League next season for the first time in 35 years as well.

Manchester City are obviously coming off of the high of winning their second straight league title so I don’t expect them to be as laser focused as they were this past weekend. But I do expect them to be fully fit and healthy as they’ll have a week off and Kevin De Bruyne will be 100% for this match. Some people think they’ll have little motivation but I can guarantee you that Pep, and the rest of the squad, really want to be the first team that wins the domestic treble. They’re trophy hungry and they’ll be taking this Final very seriously.

But as I said earlier, Watford aren’t going to make this easy on City. They’ve done decently well against top clubs and FA Cup history is in their favor. Not only have Man City been susceptible to upsets in the FA Cup, but FA Cup Finals are historically and especially recently very tight. Man City have gone 1-1 in the modern era of the FA Cup Final including a shock loss to Wigan and only a 1-0 win against Stoke City. Adding to that, only once in the last 14 FA Cup Finals has a team won by more than one goal (Arsenal 4-0 against Aston Villa). This is going to be one of the biggest matches in Watford history and I can guarantee you they won’t make this easy for City.

In regard to the total of 3 goals, I like the over in this as well. 5 of the last 7 Finals have had at least three goals, both meetings this season between the two clubs have had 3 goals with an average of 3.5, and over their last five meetings there has been an average of 4.4 goals per match. Both teams like to attack and if you combine their last four matches in the FA Cup, three of them have had at least 3 goals.

I think this match will be very tight and contentious to start before City eventually break the deadlock. But I don’t think Watford will give in or make it easy for City for this entire match. They’ve done that this entire competition and haven’t been bad against the top clubs this season. With the spread at 2 and the over/under at 3, I like the underdogs and the over. I think it’ll either be 2-1 or 3-1, which provides a likely win/push scenario for either bet. Watford (+2, -125) and Over 3 goals (-120).

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

Matchweek 36 Preview

Manchester City showed that they have what it takes to retain their title after surviving the trip across town to Old Trafford, beating United 2-0. Now both City and Liverpool are finally level on matches played with City above them by one point, finally finding some stability after first place has changed hands 28 times this season.

There are three matches left in the Premier League, four left in the Bundesliga, four left in La Liga and five more left in Serie A. The Premier League and the Bundesliga have neck and neck title races, all four leagues have very tight Champions League races, and most leagues have interesting relegation battles all well.

It’s the time of year that clubs can clinch titles, reach the top four and fight for survival which in turn provides us with value across the board. There are a lot of pickems of this week so let’s see if we can pinpoint that value, but first the numbers from this past midweek and overall this season…

This Season’s Record: 197-154-44 (+15.0 Units)
Midweek Matches: 4-1 (+4.4 Units)

Saturday, April 27th
English Premier League
10:00 am EST

Cardiff @ Fulham (TV: NBCSN) – Fulham are already relegated but for Cardiff, this is their best chance at saving their season and staying up in the Premier League. Shockingly enough once Fulham got relegated, they went on a two-match winning streak against Everton and Bournemouth. They’re for sure going down swinging. But they’re facing a desperate Cardiff team who last time out in a similar match a week and a half ago, beat Brighton at Brighton to keep their hopes alive. I think Fulham are due for regression especially since their defense has yet to have back-to-back-to-back clean sheets all year (let alone two in a row before this run) and their offense will likely not be able to make up for those goals conceded. I expect Cardiff to come out swinging and get a point at the minimum, keeping their hopes alive for staying in the Premier League next season. I like them on the pickem line with a positive price. Cardiff (Pick, +110).

Wolves @ Watford – Cue the Spiderman meme.

These two teams who have had almost identical seasons, identical records, similar crests and similar names will be facing off for the right for 7th place on Saturday. We all know how good Wolves have been, especially against the top 6, and it has almost put Watford totally under the radar this year. They’ve gone 6-3-2 at home in their last 11 with their only losses coming against Chelsea and to Arsenal, where they were a man down. Wolves meanwhile haven’t won an away match since the 2nd of February and have had recent struggles against non top 6 teams (oddly enough). I feel much more comfortable taking Watford on the pickem line at home. Watford (Pick, -120).

Bournemouth @ Southampton (TV: CNBC) – Other than their 5-0 win at Brighton (where Brighton were man down for a lot of the match) and their win at Huddersfield, Bournemouth haven’t been good enough lately. Including those wins against those weak opposition they are 2-2-7 in their last 11 and their away record outside of those two wins is 0-4 with a -11 goal differential. Meanwhile Southampton’s recent run hasn’t been nearly as bad, going 3-1 at home in their last four with their only loss coming against Liverpool. In that run of good form at home they beat Spurs and Wolves at home and they even beat Brighton away from home in a massive match for survival. Another reason I like Southampton at home here? They’re not technically safe and three points would all but guarantee their safety this season. Take the Saints. Southampton (-0.5, -110).

12:30 pm EST

Newcastle @ Brighton (NBC) – This. Match. Is. Huge. Brighton are fighting for their lives right now only being three points above Cardiff and a win here with dropped points from Cardiff would almost guarantee their safety. But there’s more to this match for Brighton. Their final two matches after this one are at Arsenal and home to City, two teams who will likely HAVE to win. If they fail to get points here, they’ll leave the door completely open for Cardiff. Adding to that, Brighton have had some inspiring performances this past week grinding to a 1-0 loss at Spurs where they held them for 88 minutes and they drew away to Wolves last weekend. Yes Newcastle have won two straight and their last match away from home, but prior to that away win they hadn’t won away since December which was to Huddersfield. I do wish it was a pickem but I just can’t fade this Brighton team who know they will likely need to win this match if they want to guarantee survival. Brighton (-0.5, +130).

Italian Serie A
2:30 pm EST

Juventus @ Inter Milan – This is such a great match even with Juventus closing out their 8th straight title the other day (yeah, I said 8 straight). But this one isn’t as nearly as much about Juventus as it is about Inter, who are a win away from possibly sealing their spot in next season’s Champions League. Juve are likely to rest a few of their starters to due injury and workload including Dyabala, Chiellini, Mandzukic and possibly even Ronaldo. Inter have somewhat survived the gauntlet that has been the last month, going 3-2-1 against teams like Milan, Lazio, Roma and Atalanta who all reside inside the top 6. Unlike Juve they will have no injury concerns and they have been in decent enough form to take on a somewhat shortened Juventus side who may have their minds already set on the offseason. Give me a motivated Inter team on the pickem line at home. Inter Milan (Pick, -130).

Spanish La Liga
2:45 pm EST

Levante @ FC Barcelona (TV: beIN Sports) – I think Vegas is seriously overlooking this line. FC Barcelona can clinch the La Liga title with a win and will therefore give them much more time to focus on their Champions League Semifinal. They sat a few of their main guys last weekend including Messi to make sure they can be fresh to win the league here at home. Yes, Levante is fighting against relegation and Vegas believes that they could make things tough against Barca here but I couldn’t disagree more. Levante won this past weekend at home to Betis but before that they went nine straight without a win. A motivated and fresh Barcelona side with a title on the line at the Camp Nou is one of the scariest things your eyes could ever look upon. They’re 13-3-1 at home this year with a +31 goal differential and they haven’t dropped points there since early February, to Real Madrid. Feed me Barca here. FC Barcelona (-2, +115).

Sunday, April 28th
English Premier League
7:00 am EST

Arsenal @ Leicester (TV: NBCSN) – It’s no secret that Arsenal are atrocious away from home and it was evident in their 3-1 loss to Wolves this past week (they were down 3-0 by halftime). Meanwhile they’ll face a Leicester team whose offense has begun to click with the addition of Rodgers as manager. They’ve had one match without a goal since his appointment and they’ve averaged 2 goals per game in that span. They’ll face an Arsenal team who, like I said, have been horrible away from home and rank 13th in goals conceded away from home. Rest will also be a concern for the gunners, as this will be their second away match in four days and they’ve had a grueling schedule as of late while Leicester will be rested and have had a manageable schedule the last month. I think this is a recipe for disaster for an Arsenal team who could use some points to stay in the top 4 hunt. I think the Foxes can really exploit this pickem line and worst case settle for the draw. Leicester (Pick, -110).

Italian Serie A
9:00 am EST

Genoa @ SPAL – This is a weird one to be picking, I know, but there is some serious value here. SPAL have been on fire and Genoa’s form is seriously slipping. SPAL have gone 5-1 in their last six and 3-0 in their last 3 at home against Roma, Lazio and Juventus and they’ve managed to climb out of the relegation zone. Genoa on the other hand are winless in their last five, haven’t won an away match since January and have only won two away matches all season long. I love SPAL to keep their form rolling against a very below average Genoa team on the pickem line. SPAL (Pick, -125).

Other big matchups to watch:


Schalke @ Borussia Dortmund (Rivierderby), Saturday 9:30 am EST (FS2)
Chelsea @ Manchester United, Sunday 11:30 am EST (NBCSN)

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Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Instagram: @canikickitblog

Midweek Matches and Manchester Derby Preview

We’ve got midweek matches!! I have five picks from the Premier League (including the Manchester Derby), La Liga, German cup semifinal and the Italian cup semifinal. There’s a lot on the line so let’s get right to it.

This Season’s Record: 193-153-44 (+10.6 Units)
Matchweek 35: 5-1 (+4.8 Units)

Tuesday, April 23rd
German DFB Pokal Semifinal
2:45 pm EST

RB Leipzig @ Hamburg (TV: ESPNEWS) – If you read my blog for this past weekend, you’d remember how I was all over Leipzig. Now after their win against Gladbach, they’ve won six straight and eight straight away from home. Their defense is the best in the top division and they love getting results away from home. They’ll be facing a Hamburg team who are currently in the second division, fighting for promotion to the Bundesliga and they have a massive match this upcoming weekend with promotion implications. Their form is beginning to slip though with only one win in their last six which came against another second division side in the quarterfinals of this competition. Hamburg aren’t bad, in fact they were almost a shoe-in to return to the Bundesliga after this season, but they don’t matchup whatsoever to a Leipzig team who are one of the best in the top division. I love Leipzig on the spread here with the possibility of them running away with this against an inferior side. RB Leipzig (-1, -110).

Wednesday, April 24th
Italian Coppa Italia Semifinal Leg 2
2:45 pm EST

Lazio @ AC Milan – The first leg was 0-0 in Rome after Milan were able to hold Lazio at bay. These two actually faced off in the league ten days ago and Milan were able to triumph 1-0 at home after dominating them pretty handily on the stat sheet. Milan have been fantastic at home this season going 10-4-3 and not counting their derby ‘home’ match against Inter, they haven’t lost at home since December 22nd. Lazio meanwhile only have one win in their last five and are 1-1-4 in their last six away from home in all competitions. I feel much more confident taking the slightly more in-form and home team on the pickem line here in the second leg. AC Milan (Pick, -115).

English Premier League
2:45 pm EST

Arsenal @ Wolves – Both of these teams have been a bit puzzling this season. Wolves have been giant killers this season going 5-5-5 in all competitions against the top 6 but have had trouble playing the rest of the field. Arsenal meanwhile have been good enough to be in the top four, but have been absolutely dreadful away from home even with their recent win against Watford (Watford were a man down). They rank 9th in the away table and got their first clean sheet away from home only last week. Making matters worse for the Gunners, Wolves have been pretty great at home this year. They rank 8th in the home table and they haven’t lost at home since the first week of January, a run lasting nine matches across all competitions (7-2-0). I love Wolves on the pickem line here. Wolves (Pick, +105).

Manchester Derby
3:00 pm EST

Manchester City @ Manchester United (TV: NBCSN) – The 178th Manchester Derby might be one of the most important matches played between these two in years. Manchester City need a win if they want to go back to the top of the table, as this is the match that they have in hand over Liverpool. Not only will Manchester United be trying to stop them, but they are also fighting for a spot in the top four. After Chelsea lost, United now sit only three points out of that fourth place spot. This line opened at 1.5 for Manchester City but was quickly bought down to 1, as bettors think since this is one of the biggest derbies in England, it will be very tight.

These two come into this match in pretty different shape. City are 17-0-1 in their last 18 matches in all competitions and they have only lost in the league once since the start of 2019 (14 matches). United on the other hand only have two wins in their last eight, at home to West Ham and Watford, and lost to Everton 4-0 at Goodison Park this past weekend. Against the top six, Wolves, Everton and Barcelona in that span (comparable opponents) they are 0-6 with a goal differential of -12. Adding to the bad voodoo for United, they haven’t beaten City at home in the league since 2015 going 0-1-2 in that span. United are also winless in mid-week derbies against City since ’94, going 0-2-3.

I think City obviously have more to play for and are in better shape right now. Even with De Bruyne likely out for the rest of the season, their lineup should be at 100% and they have enough quality players on their roster that depth shouldn’t be an issue. United meanwhile are having trouble finding the right starting XI right now and have been traveling nonstop for the last eleven days, going to Barcelona and Everton. City meanwhile have been home for a week and will only need to travel 4 miles to Old Trafford for this one. I think across the board City match up better, will likely have fresher legs and are in much better form. At 1.5 I might have been hesitant to take City, but there’s no chance I can fade them at -1 here. I think this once could push but I think City’s likelihood for three points are much higher than that of a draw. Manchester City (-1, -130).

Thursday, April 25th
Spanish La Liga
3:30 pm EST

Real Madrid @ Getafe (TV: beIN Sports) – Real Madrid have been one big question mark this season; dropping points to people they normally shouldn’t be, crashing out of the Champions League much earlier than normal, lower-than-usual goal-scoring production and having the 6th most conceded goals. I haven’t liked picking matches they’re in because of their inconsistency but this match definitely intrigued me. Getafe have been one of the darlings of La Liga this season, sitting in third place with the third best defense in the league. They only have one loss in their last twelve matches, are 10-1-5 at home this season and have the third most draws in the league. The draws stat would be worrying for some teams but for someone like Getafe, it shows that they know how to grind out the results they need to. That’s why I think the draw has a ton of value here at +250. Madrid haven’t won either of their last two away matches and Getafe could really use a result here. I think those two things will equal out to a hard-fought draw, much like Madrid’s last away match where they lost to Leganes. I’ll take the draw. Draw (+250).

That’s all for this weekend’s preview!

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo

Matchweek 35 Preview

Wednesday Review:

  • It’s hard to describe how Man City v Spurs went down on Wednesday. There were 4 goals in the first 11 minutes, 5 goals in the first 21 minutes, 2 massive VAR calls and a 93rd minute goal from Sterling to put City through, reversed due to VAR. The drama was unlike anything I’ve seen, the tension was palpable, the Etihad was rocking like I’ve never seen it and the stakes couldn’t have been higher. In the end, Spurs prevailed via the away goals tiebreaker and will now be facing Ajax in the Semifinals. I highly, highly recommend watching the highlights HERE.
  • Liverpool beat Porto 4-1 to advance 6-1 on aggregate. Any chances of Porto advancing were wiped away almost immediately once Mane scored in the 26th minute, giving Liverpool a 3-0 lead on aggregate with the away goal. Liverpool will now play Barcelona in the other Semifinal.

This Season’s Record: 188-152-44 (+5.8 Units)
Tuesday Champions League: 1-1 (-0.1 Units)

This week we only have six picks for your fix (rhymed, I know). There wasn’t a ton of value out there especially with a lot of the big teams coming off of exhausting Champions League and Europa League matches midweek. But let’s see what we can cook up…

Saturday, April 20th
English Premier League
7:30 am EST

Tottenham @ Manchester City (TV: NBCSN) – No, your eyes do not deceive you. These two somehow, someway square off again this weekend in the Premier League with massive implications for both teams AGAIN. City are in the thick of the title race with Liverpool while Spurs are still fighting for a top 4 spot. You honestly can’t write this stuff. I think this match will comes down to three factors; injuries, home field advantage and revenge.

Man City are now left to fight for the Premier League title after losing their Champions League hopes on Wednesday and I can guarantee you that they are pissed. They now get another shot at this Spurs team who will likely be missing a few of their most important players including Sissoko and Kane. A few others rotation players will also likely miss the match including Dier, Winks, Aurier and Lamela. A hobbled Spurs team facing this angered City team at the Etihad again is not good news. The Etihad reached it’s full potential this week and you know City and their fans will be looking for revenge. The combination of this hurting/resting Spurs squad, City getting another crack at them for revenge and the home field advantage has me picking City to run away with it. Manchester City (-1.5, -125).

Italian Serie A
9:00 am EST

Torino @ Genoa – Shockingly, Torino are still in a fight for a European spot in Serie A this year. They’ll face a Genoa team who have won once in eight matches, going 1-3-4 in that span. Torino meanwhile have lost once in their last twelve and have only lost one match this season away from home. They’ve been a really tough team to beat this season and are usually a sure thing to cover or push on the pickem line, especially when they’re fighting for a birth in a European competition. I’ll take the lads from Torino on the against a 15th place Genoa. Torino (Pick, -105).

English Premier League
10:00 am EST

Watford @ Huddersfield – This one seems pretty easy to me here. Huddersfield are long gone and Watford are still fighting for a top 10 finish. Watford are a team who don’t look good away from home on paper, losing their last three, but those matches came against United, City and Liverpool. In fact the last time they’ve lost outright, home or away, to a team outside the top 6 was in December when they lost to Leicester. They have a brilliant record against teams outside of the top 6 this season, going 12-7-3, and they are 4-1-0 against teams currently inside the relegation zone. Even without striker Troy Deeney, I think they’ll find their production via Andre Gray and Deolofeu if he starts. I’ll take them here against a really really bad Huddersfield team. Watford (-0.5, -115).

12:30 pm EST

Southampton @ Newcastle (TV: NBC) – These two teams aren’t technically safe, unless one leaves this match with three points. Newcastle sit 7 points ahead of Cardiff while Southampton sit 5 points above that last relegation place. Naturally this match is a pickem since they’re basically even on paper, but Newcastle have some juice since they’re home and have been in decent home form. Although they lost the last time they were home, Newcastle won their previous five in the league at St. James Park and they haven’t lost to a team outside the top 6 there since December. Newcastle currently ranks higher in Points Per Match (PPM), Goal Differential Rank and in relative Home/Away rank (per Lowe Down Stats). I think this one has the potential to be really close but I trust Newcastle to either draw or win here at home. Newastle United (Pick, -130).

German Bundesliga
12:30 pm EST

RB Leipzig @ Borussia Mochengladbach (TV: FS1) – This is a massive game in the Bundesliga as Gladbach are fighting for a European spot and Leipzig are trying to hold on to third place. They are separated by only seven points, but that could be ten or four by the end of this match. Leipzig are firing on all cylinders right now as they’ve won five straight matches and seven straight away from home. Gladbach meanwhile are 2-3-4 in their last nine and haven’t won outright at home in their last five attempts.

Leipzig currently rank 2nd in H/A (home/away) rating while Gladbach rank 6th and they rank 2nd in GD (goal differential) rank while Gladbach rank 8th. Those stats back up the lack of home field advantage Gladbach have, how capable Leipzig are away from home and how Leipzig tend to beat teams comfortably. RB Leipzig (Pick, -135).

Sunday, April 21st
8:30 am EST

Manchester United @ Everton (TV: NBCSN) – United are coming off of a somewhat embarrassing loss at Barcelona this past week and will be facing an Everton team who have been brilliant at home recently. The Blues are undefeated in their last three home matches which came against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool while United’s away form has been abysmal. The Red Devils have lost their last four away matches in all competitions and their form is slowly slipping out of control. In their last seven matches, United are 2-5 and will be coming off of a loss and short rest to face a healthy and rested Everton team at Goodison Park. I’m going to go above the pickem line and take Everton on the moneyline, expecting them to come out and win the game against a sputtering United team. Everton (+205).

I hope everyone enjoys their Easter/Passover weekend! Don’t forget to subscribe via email to get notified when I post my blogs and to follow the Instagram page.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Instagram: @canikickitblog

Wednesday, 4/17 Champions League Quarterfinal Preview

Tuesday Recap:

  • Ajax did it. They went to Juventus and didn’t just win, they absolutely dominated again. They’ve now out-classed Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semifinal and pose a serious threat to win it all. A squad with the average age of 24 and with half the starting lineup born after their last Semifinal in 1997, might be the scariest team in the world right now.
  • Barcelona did what most people thought they would do in crushing United 3-0 at home. Messi’s first goal was an absolute piece of art and so was Coutinho’s for the third. United looked completely helpless and it’s obvious they’ll need a couple years to get back to where they want to be on the European stage.

This Season’s Record: 187-151-44 (+5.9 Units)
Tuesday Champions League: 2-1 (+1.0 Units)

Wednesday, April 17th
3:00 pm EST

Liverpool @ FC Porto – Liverpool have a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the second leg and an away goal would all but seal their ticket to the Semifinals. But going to Portugal and facing this Porto team isn’t necesarilly an easy task. In fact in the Round of 16 this year, Roma had a 2-1 lead after the first leg and lost in the second leg 3-1 after extra time in Porto. But there’s something about this line that makes it really tough to pick a side. With it only being (0.5), part of me wanted to take Porto as home underdogs but picking against this Liverpool team might be a bad idea right now. And on Liverpool’s side, picking the favorite with an already two-goal lead is arguably just as dangerous. But I did find something with the total that I liked.

Looking at the last two Champions League campaigns, I collected some data about over/unders in the second legs. Last season, 6 of the 8 matches went over 2.5 goals in the 2nd leg of the Round of 16, 3 of the 4 matches went over 2.5 goals in the 2nd leg of the Quarterfinals and both 2nd legs of the Semifinals went over 4 goals with an average total of 5. This season, 7 of the 8 2nd legs in the Round of 16 went over 2.5 with an average of 4 total goals and both Quarterfinals on Tuesday went over 2.5. That’s 13 of the last 16 2nd leg knockout matches going over 2.5, a pretty staggering trend.

Why are 2nd legs so high-scoring? Often one, or both teams, have to ditch normal tactics and either go for the win/goals or they have such a big cushion that letting up goals isn’t the end of the world. Another reason is because sometimes a passive approach is taken in the first leg, to ensure that both teams have a good chance in the second. I think these thought processes fit here. Liverpool have a comfortable lead and one away goal would seal it while Porto will surely try to go for it as they were more passive in the first leg, only trying to get that away goal.

I honestly think Liverpool can add a few goals for themselves with how good their front three is and Porto’s offense is very good at home as well. I also think Porto has a real opportunity to make this a game and if they can get the first goal, they’ll force Liverpool to get that coveted away goal to put the tie away. If the game opens up like that early I expect there to be goals and if it doesn’t and Porto throws everything at Liverpool, I expect Liverpool to counter and score goals with their front three. Bottom line; I think the floodgates could open here. Over 2.5 goals (-105).

Tottenham @ Manchester City (TV: TNT) – This is obviously the match of the day as City will look to reverse their one-goal loss in the first leg and Spurs will look to pull a shocker and sneak into their first ever Champions League Semifinal. Both teams have a lot to prove so let’s dive into it.

Spurs will be without Harry Kane, their top goalscorer for the last five years, and they’ll now have to rely on Son, Eriksen, Llorente, Lucas and Alli for their production. But when Kane was out earlier in the year in January, they won five of their seven matches including their first leg against Dortmund in the Round of 16. But let’s put a little context in those matches before we rush to judgement.

Away from home in that span they went 1-2 with their only away win being at now relegated Fulham. Their two losses were to Chelsea and Palace right after that Fulham match, and then they went on to win four straight home matches against Watford, Newcastle, Leicester and Dortmund. A couple things stand out to me there; one being that they didn’t perform well away from home and another being that they couldn’t beat the only top 6 team they played. But it’s not just that they’re poor away from home without Kane, it’s that they’ve been poor with him too. They’re 1-6 in their last seven away from home and this will be their first away match in four matches since they lost to Liverpool 2-1. That doesn’t bode well going into an Etihad Stadium where City have won their last 12 matches with a goal differential of +46, an average win margin of 3.8.

We all know what Man City can do and it’s no secret that this will be very tough for Spurs. Before their loss to Spurs last week, City went 14 straight unbeaten with the most recent eight being wins. Their best players are currently in excellent form with Sterling and De Bruyne on absolute fire as of late and De Bruyne didn’t even get more than 5 minutes last week in the first leg. If they can survive the press that Spurs will likely put on and are able to build from the back, they will 100% be successful in creating the necessary chances in this game. It was the one thing that was missing last week, the link from the back to the forwards, and I think De Bruyne’s addition will be that final link to the forwards.

City should have all of their starters ready to go for this with the likelihood of Delph if he’s even considered such, unlike Spurs who will be without Kane and likely Winks while subs Dier, Lamela and Aurier should miss the match as well. I think City run away with this one starting with an early goal and not looking back. The line, sitting at (1.5), is perfect for this match as City will likely have to win by 2 goals. This is basically me betting on City to advance in the 90 minutes, a very liekly possibility.Man City (-1.5, -110).

That’s all for today’s matches! 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 33 Preview

The international break ends and we get smacked with non-stop soccer for a whole month as there won’t be a single day without a top-five league match until May 6th. That means we’re going to get nonstop midweek fixtures and I can promise you that you won’t see me complaining.

Let’s see how I did over the weekend…

This Season’s Record: 171-147-41 (+2.7 Units)
Matchweek 32: 3-3-2 (-0.2 Units)

QUICK NOTE: I’ve recently started an Instagram account for the Can i Kick It brand. I’ll be posting highlights, key moments, funny videos and everything else in the world of soccer for your educated and uneducated soccer brains. I can promise it’s worth the follow! @canikickitblog on Instagram.

Let’s rock and roll…

Tuesday, April 2nd
Spanish La Liga
1:30 pm EST

Girona @ Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports) – Girona, oddly enough, have been unbelievable away from home this season and somehow have been the worst team in the league at home. Here they find themselves traveling to Atletico Madrid, a team they’ve historically done really well against. Girona have found themselves better off sitting back and absorbing pressure for 75% of the game these last two years, a tactic both of these teams have used successfully over that same span. Girona’s back five forces Atletico to beat them with steady possession in the final third, something they aren’t usually comfortable doing. That might be why these two have drawn the last five meetings. Although I wish this had a bit more of a cushion, I’m going to take Girona and the points especially with the great price it’s being offered at. Girona (+1, +120).

English Premier League
2:45 pm EST

Fulham @ Watford – It would take a lot for me to bet on Fulham right now. They’re essentially already relegated, they’ve LOST eight straight, only two of those losses came by less than two goals and neither of those two losses were away from home. Watford meanwhile have been winning and losing the games they’re supposed to, showing some sort of consistency. They have had six losses since 12/4 all which came against top six teams. I think this Watford team is good enough to beat anyone outside of the top six at home and I don’t see that sentiment changing here. I’ll take them on a goal spread with a good price. Watford (-1, +110).

Manchester United @ Wolves (NBCSN) – Wolves have won four straight home games coming off of a loss, they beat United last time out before the international break in the FA Cup and are known to be top-six killers. I think United are in for some serious trouble and I also think the international break will have slowed down any sort of momentum they had going into it. United have also lost their last two away matches while Wolves’ home form is picking up as they’ve gone undefeated in the league in their last four home matches (3W and 1D). I like Wolves as home underdogs here with the chance to spoil United’s top four ambitions. Wolves (+0.5, -120).

Wednesday, April 3rd
English Premier League
2:45 pm EST

Brighton @ Chelsea – I absolutely hate betting on or against Chelsea spreads because of their inconsistencies on a matchweek to matchweek basis. But the total did jump out to me. Chelsea’s average total goals scored and conceded for home matches is 2.6 goals per match while Brighton’s average total for away matches is 2.8, giving us an expected total of 2.7. These two teams also seem to love goals when they meet with an average total of 3.25 goals per match the last four times they’ve met. Brighton have also gone over 2.5 goals in nine of their fifteen away matches this season. If all of these reasons don’t convince you to take the over like it did for me then I don’t know what else to tell you. I’m taking the over in a match that could easily have a total of 3 goals. Over 2.5 goals (-130).

Cardiff @ Manchester City – I’ve officially come out of my hiatus in betting on City matches. It’s the team I know best from being City fan for years and I know when it’s time to bet on them and not. I’ve nailed that all season long and I’ve backed off the last few matches due to some uncertainties in the squad and their congestion of fixtures. But City are arguably the best team in the world and they will be facing a very deflated Cardiff side who blew a lead to Chelsea over the weekend, possibly dooming them to relegation. Since 12/30, City have only dropped points once in a fluke loss to Newcastle and are absolutely burning through teams at the moment. They’re finally healthy, having Fernandinho and De Bruyne back in the squad, and they know they need points since Liverpool recently jumped them in the table. Yes this is breaking one of my rules of not betting the favorite on spreads of more than two, but I couldn’t resist. Manchester City (-3, -110).

Italian Serie A
3:00 pm EST

Inter Milan @ Genoa (ESPNEWS) – Inter’s last true away win (not counting their derby win to AC Milan) came almost two months ago against Parma. In fact, they have had only two away wins since the start of November and will be facing a Genoa team who have become a bit dangerous at home this season. Genoa have had one home loss since mid-November with recent wins at home against Lazio and more importantly Juventus, breaking their invincibility run. Also of note is that the home team has won each of the last eleven matches in this matchup, six wins to Inter and five to Genoa. I like Genoa as underdogs in a situation where I think Vegas is overcompensating for Inter’s quality. Genoa (+0.5, -120).

Spanish La Liga
3:30 pm EST

Real Madrid @ Valencia – Valencia are being posed as underdogs at home to a Real Madrid team who I think right now, Valencia are better than. Madrid had serious trouble beating the worst team in the league on Sunday and have gone 4-0-4 (4 wins and 4 losses) in their last eight. Valencia meanwhile haven’t lost in the league since January 5th, a stretch spanning eleven matches and are playing as solid as ever. They’re middle of the table at home this season but they’ve only lost one match (going 4-10-1) at the Mestalla, a place that has given Madrid some trouble over the years. Feed me Valencia as home underdogs in this one. Valencia (+0.5, -130).

That’s all for the matches I like this week. This weekend will be amazing with some huge matches for the title races in the Premier League and the Bundesliga so keep your eye out for that preview on Friday morning.

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE at the bottom of the page and follow on Twitter and Instagram!

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo
Instagram: @canikickitblog

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