Every week, we will look across Europe’s top five leagues in search of draws.
I think we can all agree that international breaks suck, right? Last time out , only one of our four picks came through, which just underlines the futility of trying to find value during international week. Thankfully, club football is back to rescue us. Praise be!
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.
RB Leipzig VS Bayern Munich (X at 3.70)
A deep, sorrowful sigh echoed around Munich this week as it was confirmed Robert Lewandowski would miss four weeks of action through injury. The Polish striker has been in irresistible form this term, with 35 goals in 26 matches, and simply has no ready replacement in the squad (please don’t say Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting).
Tough luck for them that, this weekend, they travel to title challengers Leipzig. Julian Nagelsmann’s side is only four points back, has not lost any of their last eight matches in the Bundesliga, and has the league’s most miserly defence. That would be a daunting proposition at any point, let alone now Bayern are without their talismanic striker.
The last three meetings between these two sides have been drawn, and so I’m backing a stalemate here again. You might think Bayern would be sitting ducks without Lewa, but Leipzig are themselves not the most free-scoring, so I have reservations over their ability to properly take advantage and punish their visitors. Plus, they tend to have a bit of a complex against their fellow big sides.
Sassuolo VS Roma (X at 3.85)
Two of Serie A’s most entertaining sides meet on an action-packed Saturday at Reggio Emilia.
Form-wise, neither side is in great nick at the moment. The home side have two wins in their last 11 league games, while Roma have felt the strain of their Europa League exertions, dropping points after every fixture in Europe and losing their last two in Serie A.
The betting odds do seem to indicate the Giallorossi are favoured to nick an away win, but I think that might be a little misguided. Paulo Fonseca’s side has lost over half their games on the road this season, but just as importantly none of their five away wins have come against a side in the top half of the table. Sassuolo certainly will provide a stern test.
However, I would not go so far as to back Roberto De Zerbi’s side either. Only 17th-placed Torino have drawn more on home soil this season, and so I think these two sides will battle to an eventful draw.
Sevilla VS Atletico Madrid (X at 3.05)
Atletico have disappointed us before on this column, so let us see if we can pin them down this time around.
Look, you know what you get from a Diego Simeone side. Well, this season they have tried to be a little more attacking in La Liga, but the general idea remains: stay solid, give nothing away, get ahead, see it out. Rinse and repeat.
In Sevilla, they face a side whose style will hold little fear for them. Atletico has not lost any of their last six meetings, and it is easy to see why: Los Nervionenses attacks in a very calculated, deliberate way with lots of possession and slow build-up. Not ideal for shifting a solid defensive side like Atleti.
Julen Lopetegui’s side are not bad defensively themselves, with their record at the back only bettered by their visitors this weekend. I think that, with so many players involved with their countries during the international break, neither side will quite have the clarity to seize the game, and we will see them both at their boring worst.
Reims VS Rennes (X at 3.15)
France is our final destination in search of draws this weekend.
Rennes were clearly in need of something new, and after a rough start, bringing in Bruno Genesio has proven a wise decision. The former Lyon boss is suited to working with young players, and should do a decent job harnessing Rennes exciting core.
They travel to face Reims this week though, and I think they will trip up there.
The hosts have only lost once in 10 Ligue 1 matches, which sounds impressive until you realize only Nantes have drawn more this season.
Nevertheless, for all that they do not score enough goals, they are tough to break down, and against a Rennes side that is cut from the same parsimonious cloth, it makes sense to expect a low-scoring game, with the points shared.