Every week, we will look across Europe’s top five leagues in search of draws.
Last weekend, we got two of our picks right. Leipzig could not keep it tight, even against a Lewandowski-less Bayern, and Atletico was disappointing away at Sevilla. Can we say Diego Simeone’s side is banished from this column then? Ah, let’s not make it personal.
Remember: every tip contained here is a second opinion from a complete stranger online. Ultimately, trust your discretion in selecting which picks to go with.
Eintracht Frankfurt VS Wolfsburg (X at 3.50)
Our first port of call this week is Germany, where two teams who are flying high in the Bundesliga square off.
Both these sides have almost sealed Champions League qualification for next season, so this is a high-class encounter.
There was something really impressive about the manner in which Frankfurt ground out the win last weekend against Borussia Dortmund.
Sure, Adi Hutter’s side was under the cosh for large portions, but they restricted the hosts very well in the second half especially, and created better chances themselves.
Wolfsburg’s lofty standing in third is predicated on the league’s best defence. On the attacking front, only Bayer Leverkusen have scored fewer in the top six, which gives you something of an idea regarding how they play.
I think these two sides will cancel each other out as long as Die Wolfe (The Wolves) miserly defence can keep out Frankfurt’s in-form attackers especially Andre Silva.
Saint-Etienne VS Bordeaux (X at 3.00)
The form book does not make for pleasant reading for either of these sides and in a way, that makes them attractive picks. Saint-Etienne has won only two of their last six matches, while Les Girondins have won just one. Grim stuff.
In truth, it would have made sense to lean toward the hosts on this one if they did not have such an abysmal record at home: only three Ligue 1 wins from 15 on their own patch.
They simply do not have enough bite upfront to really prise teams open and seem to relish playing away more. For their part, Bordeaux is far from outstanding travellers themselves, but they have at least gotten something on close to half of their trips away from home.
Two teams in poor form; one side poor at home, the other not good enough away to punish them; two low-scoring teams – his whole situation just screams ‘draw’ to me.
West Ham VS Leicester City (X at 3.35)
Is anyone impressed with what West Ham are doing this season? Because I certainly am.
Somehow, the Hammers are sitting in fourth spot, ahead of Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool. If David Moyes gets a nomination for Manager of the Year (which he totally should), he’d be my pick for the gong.
They host the other upstart side inside the top four this weekend. Leicester City are themselves enjoying a fine Premier League campaign, and have done a better job adapting to the losses of Harvey Barnes and James Maddison than many thought they would. Who could have guessed it would be as easy as unleashing a certain “Seniorman” in attack, eh?
When these two sides met earlier in the season, the Hammers ran away from the King Power Stadium 3-0 winners. This time, I think Leicester will pay them a bit more respect, and preserve their strong record on the road in the league by keeping it tight at the back.
Celta Vigo VS Sevilla (X at 3.35)
The narrative of Sevilla being poor on the road has been upended this season. Sure, they are still stronger at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, but they have won 50% of their matches away from home so far, which is eminently respectable. The cornerstone: a stingy defence.
Julen Lopetegui’s side blew the La Liga title race wide open last weekend, and will travel to Balaidos brimming with confidence. Celta’s form can often hinge on the availability or otherwise of talismanic striker Iago Aspas: last time out, he scored one and assisted twice in a 3-1 win over Alaves.
Nevertheless, manager Chucho Caudet has made them fun again, and now they’re firmly planted in mid-table, they can afford to go toe-to-toe with anyone.
I’ve picked this one partly on my gut, but if you need any further convincing, consider the fact the Galician side has drawn more games than they have actually won this season. Sevilla do not bag a lot on their travels anyway, and Celta is no pushovers, so I’m voting for the stalemate here.