This week our focus stretches across Europe, as we take in a trip to Italy, stopover in Germany and we look at one of the lesser-known Madrid derbies.
Unlucky Number Thirteen?
After being held at home to Torino last Friday, there is no doubt that it was two points dropped for Juventus and after failing to eat into the gap at the top of the Serie A table, it was also opportunity missed for the Old Lady of Turin.
However, if you are someone of a glass half full persuasion, you could at least point to Juventus managing to extend their league unbeaten run to 12 matches and this weekend, they will look to avoid that unlucky 13th fixture.
One that takes them to Empoli and with the hosts currently in the middle of their own streak of results – one that has seen them fail to win any of their last nine Serie A outings, they may be ready to roll out the red carpet on Saturday.
While 1-1 draws have been the order of the week for Juventus, as this was the same outcome during Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Villarreal and with Dusan Vlahoic netting in just the first minute, he will look to be quick out of the blocks in his next outing.
Which means if you think the Serbian will be the first player to find the net at the Carlo Castellani Stadium, you can back Vlahovic to put Juventus ahead at odds of 10/3 with bet365, and at that price, I would be willing him to get the job done.
When looking at the pick of this weekend’s European fixtures, Union Berlin playing host to Mainz 05 is not necessarily the pick of the bunch and if you are looking for a continental football fix, you would have every right to look elsewhere.
However, there is a fair amount riding on this fixture and with both clubs aspiring to play in Europe next season, a win would for either would put them in touching distance of a Thursday night invite from UEFA.
Going into this game, it is Union Berlin who arguably need the win the most and after losing each of their last three outings, they have been leapfrogged by both FC Koln and Mainz 05 in 7th and 8th respectively.
Which means the prospect of European football next time around, is one that beginning to fade and although the task for Urs Fischer’s men has become more difficult in recent weeks, it is by no means impossible either.
Especially as I am a great believer of all bad runs must come to an end at some point and what better time for Union Berlin to return to winning ways than this Saturday. While at odds of 8/5 with bet365, it will look very nice on any weekend accumulator.
The Other Derby
When you think of Madrid derbies, you obviously think of Atletico squaring off with crosstown rivals Real or at a push, it would be plucky Getafe going up against one of the bigger brothers within the city.
However, there is always one entity that is usually forgotten when it comes to derby day discussion in the Spanish capital and that is none other than Rayo Vallecano. A team that plies their trade at the picturesque Estadio de Vallecas.
While it is the Estadio de Vallecas that will play host to Real Madrid on Saturday and although Rayo Vallecano were in the mix for a top-four finish only recently, a wretched run of results has all but paid to that.
A run that has seen Andoni Iraola’s men fail to win any of their last six LaLiga outings and with Los Blancos making the short trip across Madrid at the weekend, there is every chance that six soon becomes seven.
Which means backing the current league leaders to win against Rayo, is hardly going to trouble the bookmakers this weekend. However, backing Real Madrid to win with a -1 handicap just might and with bet365 offering 7/4 on this, this is where some of your smart money should be going.