This Sunday could be the defining day of the Premier League title race. Manchester City travel to Selhurst Park to play the side that beat them 2-1 at the Etihad in January, Crystal Palace, before Liverpool host Chelsea in arguably the home side’s last difficult match of the season. There is a sense the balance of power will shift this weekend, one way or the other.
In mainland Europe Juventus have the chance to wrap up the Serie A title at SPAL 2013, while Sevilla can end Real Betis’s Champions League hopes. Many of the biggest matches this weekend will likely be affected by the crucial matches in the Champions League and Europa League either side of the upcoming league fixtures.
Man Utd v West Ham
Saturday, 13/04/19, 17:30
Manchester United have slowed down significantly over the last few weeks, with Paul Pogba’s tepid performances symbolic of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s lack of assertiveness at the moment; they are much better playing on the counter-attack than in possession, when their tactics look a little flat now the manager bump has worn off.
They’ll have most of the possession this weekend and, following a tiring midweek game against Barcelona, could amble on the ball even more than usual. That offers a rare opportunity to a deep-lying, counter-attacking West Ham team that are good at showing patience before hitting on the break. They were unlucky to lose to Chelsea on Monday night once Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic, and Manuel Lanzini shuffled into a more suitable order. With the system now worked out, West Ham can do damage at Old Trafford.
Back the draw at 4.98
AC Milan v Lazio
Saturday, 13/04/19, 19:30
AC Milan’s place in next season’s Champions League is under serious threat, with five teams separated by just three points in the hunt for fourth following the Rossoneri’s recent collapse. They are on a run of four matches without a Serie A win, making Lazio likely winners at the San Siro on Saturday.
Lazio are particularly strong against the bigger teams because they benefit from sitting deep and defending in numbers, hence their clean sheets in recent wins against AS Roma and Inter Milan. The hosts, lacking confidence, should be easily frustrated into holding aimless possession, opening up an opportunity for the Rome side to inflict further damage on AC Milan.
Back Lazio to win at 2.85
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SPAL 2013 v Juventus
Saturday, 13/04/19, 14:00
Juventus are currently 20 points top of Serie A, which means they can wrap up the title this weekend - with six matches to spare – if they beat 16th place SPAL 2013. That might sound like a forgone conclusion, but sandwiched between two crucial Champions League matches against Ajax it is highly likely Max Allegri will rest the majority of his senior players for this one – giving SPAL a rare opportunity.
The hosts have won each of their last two home Serie A matches, 2-1 and 1-0 against Lazio and Roma respectively. That’s significant: they are on a high at the moment and confident of holding the big clubs at bay, even when forced to retreat into a defensive shell. Juve will probably make the breakthrough eventually, such is the disparity in quality, but it won’t be the thrashing many anticipate.
Back under 2.5 goals at 1.77
Sevilla v Real Betis
Saturday, 13/04/19, 19:45
Two clubs chasing a top four finish this season go head-to-head in Spain on Saturday, but by the final whistle it is unlikely Real Betis – currently seven points off the pace – will still be in the hunt. Sevilla’s home form has been strong this season thanks to one of the best defensive records in the league (15 conceded in 15 games), and they have only conceded one goal in the last four matches in La Liga.
Conversely, Betis’s away record is middling at best. They have collected a mere 18 points from 15 matches on their travels, and it would appear things are only getting worse; Betis couldn’t even beat 19th placed Rayo Vallecano at the end of March, drawing 1-1.
Back Sevilla to win at 1.77
Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Sunday, 14/04/19, 14:05
It was Roy Hodgson’s Palace who famously beat Man City at the Etihad earlier this season thanks to a wonder-strike from Andros Townsend, and with draining Champions League matches against Tottenham Hotspur either side of the match that result could be repeated on Sunday. This is a deceptively tricky fixture for Pep Guardiola’s men.
Palace will sit in a deep 4-4-2 formation, absorbing pressure before sprinting into the spaces behind Fernandinho via Wilfried Zaha, Townsend, and Michy Batshuayi. It is the perfect template to foil City, and one that worked for Palace in January. This could be the day Liverpool take the advantage in the title race.
Back the draw at 5.62
Liverpool v Chelsea
Sunday, 14/04/19, 16:30
The toughest match (on paper) left for Liverpool this season is against Chelsea, although Maurizio Sarri’s team are there for the taking. Liverpool’s propensity to play with caution, and a stodgy midfield three, means a low-scoring and even contest is to be expected – but in the end their front three should have enough firepower.
Mohamed Salah’s goal against Southampton means all three forwards are clicking now, and that spells trouble for an error-prone centre-back partnership of Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz. Emerson looked shaky replacing Fernando Alonso against West Ham, too, further boosting Salah’s chances of making a telling contribution.
Back Liverpool to win at 1.61
Update 05/04: Check out the UEFA Champions League odds analyses we put together for the first leg of the 2019 Quarter-Final.
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There are some hugely important matches across Europe this weekend, most notably in Germany and Spain. Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena with just two points separating the clubs at the top end of the table, and given how few points either side drops this really could be the title decider. In Spain, Barcelona host Atletico Madrid with Lionel Messi in incredible form.
In the Premier League Liverpool should be capable of beating Southampton at St. Mary’s, while West Ham United can cause further misery for Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge. Check out our bitcoin sportsbook for updated soccer odds.
Southampton v Liverpool
Friday, 05/04/19, 20:00
Liverpool’s fortunate last-minute win against Tottenham last weekend has given them a huge psychological boost for this one, and with Jurgen Klopp set to return to a 4-2-3-1 formation on Friday – with Adam Lallana providing the creativity they lacked at Anfield – the visitors should win. Liverpool have won every single game they have played in the league this season against teams 12th or lower in the table.
Southampton are in good form, however, winning three of their last four matches thanks to the resurgent form of Stuart Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse. Their pace on the counter-attack will cause some problems, although ultimately Virgil van Dijk and company are just too strong for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Back Liverpool to win at 1.44
Chelsea v West Ham
Monday, 08/04/19, 20:00
Maurizio Sarri’s treatment of Callum Hudson-Odoi over the weekend has proven that the Italian cannot handle managing a team of Chelsea’s calibre, and his days are clearly numbered. Their dreadful performance at Cardiff City last weekend was not masked by their victory, and so West Ham United will feel confident of causing an upset.
The visitors will return to a more securely structured 4-5-1 after the disaster against Everton, allowing them to sit deep, absorb Chelsea’s aimless possession, and break quickly on the counter. The disorganisation in the Chelsea defence makes them vulnerable to the pace of Michail Antonio and Marko Aurnautovic, while Declan Rice will probably get the better of Eden Hazard.
Back West Ham to win at 8.86
Juventus v AC Milan
Saturday, 06/04/19 17:00
These two sides are separated by 22 points in Serie A, while AC Milan had lost their last two league games prior to Tuesday’s match against Udinese. The visitors are defensively solid on the road, however, conceding just 12 times in 14 matches this season; this is likely to be a low-key affair in which Milan attempt to frustrate Juventus.
It might just work. Juve have struggled for goals recently, only scraping past Empoli 1-0 last weekend having been beaten for the first time in Serie A the week before. Their woes are compounded by Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury, and in his absence they have looked a little flat. AC Milan may just hold firm and grind out a result.
Back the draw at 3.71
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Saturday, 06/04/19 19:45
These are rarely high-scoring games, with Atletico’s mean defence and vast experience facing Lionel Messi ensuring they can keep the score down whether home or away. However, Diego Simeone’s side are plodding along in La Liga and look wholly unconvincing, while Barcelona go from strength to strength.
Barca have won their last seven in all competitions, with Messi in particular seemingly clicking into an even higher gear of late; he has 11 goals in his last eight matches in all competitions. Given that Atletico’s clean sheet record has evaporated since Ronaldo’s hat-trick in the Champions League (they lost 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao shortly after), Messi will surely lead his team to victory.
Back Barcelona to win at 1.74
Bayern Munich v Dortmund
Saturday, 06/04/19 17:30
The biggest match in the Bundesliga season is upon us. Borussia Dortmund looked to have completely collapsed over the last two months, only for victory against Wolfsburg on Saturday, coupled with Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw at Freiburg, to leave them two points clear at the top. The pressure is all on Bayern, then, in what should be a thrilling end-to-end tie.
The speed in the Bayern attack, plus their desire to dominate matches on home soil, will clash interestingly with Lucien Favre’s possession football and the raw speed of Jadon Sancho on the wing. The result should be a very open game with plenty of goals, although picking a winner would be a fool’s errand.
Back over 3.25 goals at 1.95
Reims v Lille
Sunday, 07/04/19, 14:00
The two biggest surprise packages of the season go head-to-head on Sunday in a crucial match for the hosts. Lille may already be safely qualified for the Champions League, and incapable of getting close to Paris Saint-Germain, but Reims are just two point short of a Europa League spot. Reims are on a 13 match unbeaten run in Ligue Un, handing them the advantage here.
Lille are slowing down, scoring just five goals in their last six games in competition. Their increasingly static football should be comfortably controlled by the hosts this weekend, allowing Reims to snatch a priceless victory and continue climbing the table.
Back Reims to win at 2.95