With not many A-list matches to look forward to, there are still some interesting games and leagues ongoing.
A good place to start is from the Ireland Premier Division, then a trip to Wembley and experience the Play-offs final going down, and of course, the big one of the night is the Champions League Final and we close shop in the USA for a game in the MLS.
Different market options have been selected according to critical analyses, and for the sake of your betting slips.
Now, let’s dive into this week’s preview.
HOSTS NEEDS A TURN OF FORM
Both teams have scored in their last three meetings and St Patrick’s Athletic has scored in each of their 13 league games this term. Dundalk has netted in all but two of their 13 matches but have maintained just one clean sheet.
Both of these sides are in poor form going into Friday’s League of Ireland Premier Division clash, and it may pay to swerve the match betting in favour of the goal markets for the action at Richmond Park.
Neither team can be confidently fancied to land the spoils. They both have just one win and five points from their last five starts, and the last three meetings have also finished all square including last month’s reverse fixture at Oriel Park.
That was the third 1-1 draw in succession between the teams which we think is the most likely outcome again here, though we’re keen to back both teams to score for our main selection.
The hosts have netted in each of their 13 league matches this season, while Dundalk has failed to strike just twice they have managed to keep one clean sheet at the other end of the field.
BEES BUZZING WITH CONFIDENCE
It’s the £180 million self-styled ‘richest game in football’ and either Brentford or Swansea City will be celebrating with their share of 10,000 fans at Wembley on Saturday.
The English Championship play-off final is one of the great occasions in the season and while obviously, the lack of fans dilutes the occasions, there will be no less tension in London.
Brentford reached the final after a dramatic comeback against a ten-man Bournemouth side who were leading from the first leg, went ahead in the second leg too before imploding and the Bees will surely take a huge amount of confidence from that win.
Swansea City completed the job by drawing at home to Barnsley after winning away, although they had to endure a nervy last 20 minutes or so at the Liberty Stadium.
Brentford hasn’t been in the top flight since 1947 and carries with them the worst record in English football play-offs failing to win nine times to get a promotion through the system.
Swansea was in the Premier League for seven seasons before being relegated three years ago and will be desperate to return.
Brentford is perhaps surprisingly the clear favourites for this showdown, given how edgy these games can be.
The sides have met twice this season and both games finished in a 1-1 draw. The clubs also met in last season’s play-off at the semi-final stage and the London club won 3-2 on aggregate.
The key clash in this game could be the fascinating encounter between outstanding Swansea City stopper Marc Guehi and Ivan Tonev. Guehi won both Man of the Match awards during their semi-finals against Barnsley and will have to replicate that form to stop Tonev.
It does seem Brentford are too short given their atrocious record in play-offs and the fact they lost last year’s final too. They also had to rely on Bournemouth self-destructing to reach Wembley in the semi-finals.
Brentford went from it from the start against Bournemouth and there could be goals here too.
CITY WANT TO MAKE HISTORY IN PORTUGAL
Manchester City has lost only two of their last 30 Champions League fixtures, Chelsea has lost three of their last four matches.
It’s worthy to note, under 2.5 goals have been scored in 23 of Chelsea’s last 29 fixtures, Chelsea has notched one or fewer goals 15times since Tuchel took the reins.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea stand ready to be crowned kings of the continent ahead of Saturday evening’s Champions League final in Portugal. Although, the Citizens could be worth backing to land club football’s biggest prize ahead of their English counterparts.
UCL final debutants City have never been closer to landing the trophy they have craved the most and while a brace of recent defeats to Chelsea might suggest that Thomas Tuchel holds the key to cracking Pep Guardiola’s tactical riddles, the Blues’ victories in league and cup should have little bearing on Saturday’s showpiece showdown.
Guardiola fielded much-changed City teams in both their FA Cup semi-final and Premier League losses to Chelsea in April and May, though they were still a terribly disguised Sergio Aguero Panenka penalty away from ousting the Blues in the clubs’ most recent skirmish.
With all of their big guns restored to the XI, City should be a more formidable prospect and their impeccable run of 11 wins and one draw from 12 European fixtures this season suggests they are finally ready to achieve Champions League glory.
Pep Guardiola has triumphed in a staggering 14 of his 15 major finals and the highly-decorated coach can become a three-time winner of the Champions League on Saturday.
11 of the last 20 Champions League finals produced over 2.5 goals, though a contest of finer margins is anticipated when Manchester City and Chelsea slug it out for silverware at the Estádio Do Dragão.
Thomas Tuchel has made solid defensive foundations a key part of his Chelsea blueprint since his appointment in January and under 2.5 goals have been scored in 23 of the Blues’ last 29 fixtures as a result.
Man City meanwhile, has kept eight clean sheets in 12 Champions League fixtures this term and with FWA Player of the Year Ruben Dias, a rock at centre-half, alongside the revitalised John Stones, the Citizens’ rearguard should be tough to breach again on Saturday.
ROVERS HOPE TO REDISCOVER RHYTHM
Longford Town failed to win the last five home league games and failed to score in the last four at home.
Shamrock Rovers have won four of the last five away Premier Division matches, rovers have scored more than two goals in only one of 13 league games played this season.
Longford Town looks to avenge their 2-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers earlier this season as the visitors bid to go top of the table with a win.
Having seen their 33-game unbeaten streak come to an end against Dundalk, alarm bells are now starting to ring after Shamrock Rovers’ subsequent loss to Sligo.
The Hoops were knocked off the Premier Division summit and suffered their first home defeat since June 2019 in Monday’s showdown between the top two.
Manager Stephen Bradley was able to find some positives in the manner of Rovers’ 2-1 defeat to Dundalk the previous Friday, but there was little to take heart from at Tallaght Stadium.
Bradley cited injuries for his side’s dismal display that gave the Sligo goalkeeper little to do – including washing his kit for the next match as it remained in pristine condition throughout.
Longford won’t have been earmarking many points from this game a week ago, but may now sense an opportunity to avenge their 2-1 defeat in Dublin earlier this season.
Town pushed Drogheda United hard on Monday but had no answer to the hosts’ prolific forward line.
And this also looks like a mismatch in all areas of the field, including the penalty boxes where Longford lacks a reliable goalscorer. We’ll take the Hoops to get back to winning ways on Saturday with the sort of professional display that was their hallmark until recently.
ATLANTA SEEKING SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON
Atlanta United welcome Nashville to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for an MLS clash where both teams have recorded too many draws this season and Saturday’s match looks set to follow a similar pattern.
A late Josef Martinez penalty salvaged a draw for Atlanta United against Seattle Sounders last time out in the MLS. They fell behind early in the contest and laboured for much of the game before Martinez levelled four minutes from time.
Manager Gabriel Heinze has made Atlanta United hard to beat, although they are still seeking their second win of the season. They have been hampered by too many draws, playing out three in their last four matches.
Since conceding three goals against Philadelphia Union in their opening fixture, Atlanta United has found a way to tighten up at the back.
They have not conceded more than once in each of their last four matches and kept a clean sheet in their previous home fixture.
Randall Leal’s first-half effort was the difference as Nashville earned a 1-0 victory over Austin in their previous MLS fixture. It was another solid defensive display as they restricted the Texas-based club to just one attempt on target in 90 minutes.
It was only the second win of the season for Nashville, who has also been plagued by draws this season. Although they remain one of two unbeaten teams in the Eastern Conference, four of their six matches have ended in stalemates.
Defending is a major part of manager Gary Smith’s style and Nashville is often hard to break down. They travel to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with clean sheets in their last four matches.
Atlanta United has a slight edge with two wins from three previous matches. Nashville has claimed just one win which was a 4-2 victory in the most recent meeting between both teams.
PICK OF 5 GAMES:
ST PATRICKS ATHLETIC VS DUNDALK FC – DRAW OR OVER 2.5 – 1.40
BRENTFORD VS SWANSEA – 1X & UNDER 4.5 – 1.23
MAN CITY VS CHELSEA – 1X & UNDER 4.5 – 1.26
LONGFORD TOWN VS SHAMROCK ROVERS – DRAW OR OVER 2.5 – 1.40
ATLANTA UNITED VS NASHVILLE SC – 1 DNB – 1.60
TOTAL ODDS: 4.86