Every week, we will scour Europe’s top five leagues in search of draws.
Let’s face it: we did not have a great weekend with our picks last time out. However, when a team scores a 94th minute winner to mess things up, what really can any predictor do? Some outcomes are just written in the stars.
That need not put us off necessarily. Genoa v Hellas Verona did deliver, thankfully, so if you selected that, hearty congratulations. We go again this weekend, and we’ll aim for a better strike rate.
Please note: at the end of the day, this is a second opinion from a stranger online. So, ultimately, trust your own discretion in selecting which picks to take.
Girondins Bordeaux v Metz (X at 3.05)
Bordeaux is winless in six matches ahead of their weekend engagement with Metz. They are also five places behind their visitors. However, do not let the table (or the form book) fool you: Les Girondins have been the victims of a gang-up between the Ligue 1 fixtures calendar and ill-luck.
They arguably should maximized their numerical advantage against Marseille two games back, and despite going down to 10 men themselves last time out against Nimes, they were much the better side and created the better chances in defeat.
Metz’s points total is split evenly between home and away fixtures, illustrating they are competitive wherever and against whoever. So I think they are priced quite high here at 3.35; they are well capable of getting a result.
However, Bordeaux’s luck has to turn sometime, and so I think backing them to not get rolled over again is worth it.
Newcastle United VS Wolverhampton Wanderers (X at 3.15)
Newcastle got a brief boost from changing their tactical system to beef up midfield, but have lost three of their last five. In fairness, they have had to play Chelsea and Manchester United back-to-back, a daunting hand for any team. Still though, their fans will no doubt start to call for Steve Bruce’s head again if they fail to arrest the slide.
This weekend, they face a Wolves side that has only lost once in six matches. Sure, Wolves still miss Raul Jimenez, but winger Pedro Neto has emerged as a star in his own right this season and is carrying Nuno Espirito Santo’s side in attack.
However, they have also had favourable bounces along the way: they needed enormous slices of good fortune to beat Leeds last week and were outplayed in the first halves of their wins over Arsenal and Southampton.
At the end of the day, this is a meeting between two solid, safety-first sides who boast a maverick or two in attack. Expect a stodgy Premier League affair, with both teams cancelling themselves out.
Villarreal VS Atletico Madrid (X at 3.00)
You know when a pick seems so obvious that you start to wonder if it’s not just the universe setting a trap for you. Well, this is one of those occasions.
Villarreal are the draw masters of Europe’s top five leagues, with over 50% of their La Liga matches ending in stalemates. Only their opponents this weekend – table-topping Atletico Madrid – have lost fewer games, but the inability to flip those draws into wins means Unai Emery’s side is languishing in sixth place, 18 points off the pace at the summit.
Normally, you would back Atletico to win this one. However, their Champions League exertions in midweek, when they lost to Chelsea in Romania, means there is a healthy chance they come into this tired. In addition, Diego Simeone’s men had four points taken off them twice in the space of four days by Levante, and maybe short on confidence as well.
With Villarreal also having Europa League commitments, I think both sides will be much too knackered to land a knockout blow.
Roma VS AC Milan (X at 3.45)
Oof! This is an uncomfortable one, even for me. But let’s examine the stats, shall we?
Roma at Stadio Olimpico this season has been outrageous: the Giallorossi are undefeated in 12, with nine wins at home. That’s the best home record in the league. What’s more, they are one of Serie A’s great entertainers: no team’s matches witness more goals than Roma’s.
On their part, Milan is Serie A’s strongest side on the road. However, they have lost their last two games: away at Spezia and at home in the Derby Milano (Milan Derby). This saw them lose ground in the title race for the first time.
However, that blip should not obscure what has been a stellar season under Stefano Pioli. Although Inter is now four points in front, Milan are very much still in the hunt for the Scudetto.
A loss here would feel terminal though; not only would it allow Inter to create further separation, it would potentially see Juventus close the gap on them to one point with a game in hand.
Europa League commitments will test both team’s resources to the maximum, and so both managers will probably be reasonably content with a point out of this one.