Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Liverpool vs. Leicester City
Liverpool are currently unbeaten in 43 home league matches — the longest run of any team in Europe’s top five leagues — and they have won their last 16 Premier League matches. This Saturday, however, they host high-flying opposition who have actually won a Premier League title: Leicester City.
Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has the Foxes in fine form, with six wins in their last seven games. Leicester have the joint-best defense in the league (along with Liverpool, they have conceded only five goals), their midfield is arguably the best in the league (certainly for all teams not named “Manchester City”), and they have one of the league’s most prolific strikers in Jamie Vardy.
The visitors have scored nine goals in their last two matches and will be buoyed by the fact that the equally attack-minded Red Bull Salzburg managed to breach the net at Anfield three times on Wednesday.
The midlands side do not have a strong record at Liverpool, with their last Anfield win coming in May 2000. But they held the Reds to a 1-1 draw in their last visit, on a snowy evening in January. They also beat Liverpool twice in 2017, once in the League Cup and once in the Premier League.
If Leicester are serious about breaking into the top four this season — something that is a genuine possibility — they will look to make a statement of intent here. Given their recent form and record against the Reds, their odds of +700 with POINTSBET seem long. However, it takes a certain brand of boldness to back a Liverpool home loss, so a draw seems like the result to back.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester
Best Bet: Jamie Vardy anytime goalscorer (+235 with FOXBET). Vardy has scored in two of his last three visits to Anfield and has seven league goals against Liverpool to his name.
Inter Milan vs. Juventus
The Derby d’Italia is one of the most heated rivalries in Italian soccer, particularly since the 2005-06 Calciopoli Scandal, when second-place Inter were awarded the Serie A title in place of disqualified Juventus.
To show there is no love lost, on Tuesday Juve appealed to have Inter’s 2006 title taken away. For the 30th time!
The stakes are certainly high ahead of Saturday’s matchup at the San Siro, as the Old Lady have been usurped at the top of the table by Conte’s side, whose 100% record in the league remains intact.
The Nerazzurri are in fine form, but go into this game wounded after giving up a lead at Barcelona midweek. Juve, meanwhile, are undefeated this season and are on a run of four wins in all competitions following their Champions League demolition of Bayer Leverkusen.
It’s rare that Juventus go into a Serie A game with longer odds than their opponent, but the hosts are narrow favorites to open up a five-point gap at the top of the table. And while the Old Lady dominate the derby head-to-head historically, Inter have only lost one of their last four meetings with Juve at the San Siro.
In their most recent meeting in April, Cristiano Ronaldo salvaged a point for the visitors with a 62nd-minute goal. Inter have one of the tightest defenses in Europe this season — they’ve only conceded twice in Serie A — so a Juve side who have already failed to find the net in one road game this season (at Fiorentina) may struggle to stage a similar comeback.
A season-defining upset may be brewing here.
Prediction: Inter 2-0 Juventus
Best Bet: Inter win and under 2.5 goals (+380 with FOXBET). Six of the last eight league meetings between these sides have featured less than 2.5 goals.
Real Madrid vs. Granada
Serie A isn’t the only league that will see the top two teams battle it out this weekend.
Despite their stuttering Champions League start and the poor form of star summer signing Eden Hazard, Real Madrid find themselves at the summit of La Liga. They are closely followed by Granada, who haven’t finished in the top half of the Spanish top flight since 1974.
The fact that both teams are riding high may be a damning indictment of the field right now, but this is a top-of-the-table clash regardless.
Los Blancos may not have impressed in last weekend’s deadlocked Madrid derby — and they were nearly embarrassed by Club Brugge on Wednesday — but they are heavy favorites in this contest. They have won their last eight matches against Granada, often by big scorelines. Last season they put nine unanswered goals past the Andalusian side, and they registered a 13-1 aggregate score against them in the 2014-15 season.
Granada, however, are unlikely to take a pasting like that at the Bernabeu. They have scored in all four road games this season and will look to exploit a backline that has been more vulnerable than Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane would like. A Madrid win by a modest margin appears to be a strong option.
Best Bet: Real Madrid 2-1 Granada
Prediction: Real Madrid win and both teams to score (+170 with 888sport). Real Madrid have scored in their last eight matches against Granada and the visitors have scored 10 goals in their four away games this season.
Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Sunday sees the final round of regular season matches in MLS, where four teams are vying for two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Two of those competing teams, Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes, are facing one another in what effectively may be a playoff for the playoffs.
The Earthquakes sit a single point outside of playoff contention, which is a disappointing situation for a team who were riding high in the West for much of the season. Following a tough loss against Seattle last week, Matías Almeyda’s side have now lost five straight matches, and seven of their last 10.
Portland have also closed out the season poorly, having failed to secure a win in their last five outings. The Timbers have home advantage, but are 2-4-2 in their last eight matches at Providence Park.
A win for either team will ensure playoff soccer, but a draw is only good for San Jose if results fall their way elsewhere. Hence, the Timbers may elect to sit back against a side who have no option but to throw numbers forward, with the aim of securing a draw or exploiting them on the counter.
San Jose schooled The Timbers by a 3-0 scoreline earlier in the season, but a match in the partisan confines of Providence Park is not the scene for them to arrest their poor form. Back Portland to triumph on Decision Day.
Prediction: Portland Timbers 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Best Bet: Timbers to win and over 2.5 total goals (+150 with FOXBET). Three of the last four meetings between these sides has featured over 2.5 goals.
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