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 …
Tottenham vs. Manchester City
The weekend’s Premier League headliner is a meeting between two teams whose seasons aren’t going quite as planned.
Manchester City are drifting in Liverpool’s wake and battling Leicester for second place in the league, while Tottenham find themselves six points outside the top four, with a manager whom few fans would have picked to lead their side at the start of the campaign.
During the window, Spurs have seen Christian Eriksen depart and Steven Bergwijn arrive, but there remains a lack of firepower in the attack due to Harry Kane’s injury layoff.
CIty, meanwhile, have some defensive frailties as Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho fight for fitness, while Aymeric Laporte gingerly makes his way back into the squad.
In spite of City’s shortcomings, they are heavy favorites with the bookmakers (-200 with BetMGM) due in part to Tottenham’s poor form. A win against lowly Norwich last week represents their only victory in their last five league games.
Furthermore, City have also won their last two away trips to Spurs in the league. Pep Guardiola boasts a superior record against Jose Mourinho, having won 11 and lost only five of their 22 total meetings.
Tottenham came back from behind twice to hold City to a 2-2 draw at the Etihad earlier this season, but that was a very different Tottenham side. Given City’s defensive issues, there’s a good chance the hosts will find the net (even with their depleted attacking line), but the smart money is on an away win.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Manchester City
Best Bet: Manchester City to win and both teams to score (+160 on BetMGM). City have kept only two clean sheets in their last seven league outings and have conceded six goals in their last four meetings with Tottenham.
Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
Saturday’s Madrid derby brings together two sides in very different form. Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up to climb to the summit of La Liga last weekend, and Zinedine Zidane’s side remain undefeated in all competitions since mid-October.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, have only scored a single goal in their last four outings in all competitions, a period during which they were unceremoniously dumped out of the Copa del Rey by second-tier side Cultural Leonesa.
Diego Simeone’s men sit outside the top four on goal difference — and there is plenty of pressure on the Argentine right now.
A goalless draw is priced at +650 on BetMGM, which seems like remarkably good value, given the amount of times the Madrid Derby has ended in a stalemate recently. Three of the last five meetings have ended 0-0, and their most recent clash in the Spanish Super Cup was goalless until Los Blancos claimed the title on penalties.
Madrid derbies tend to be cagey affairs, but they can also be unbridled goalfests, such as the 7-3 friendly in the International Champions Cup last summer, and Atleti’s 4-2 win in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup.
This match may land somewhere in the middle, with a narrow win for the hosts. Zidane’s side are in good scoring form (they have scored a combined five goals against top four opponents Sevilla and Getafe in 2020 already) and their neighbors are struggling to find the net. An injury to star forward Joao Felix and the potential return to fitness of Sergio Ramos suggests Atleti’s goalscoring woes will continue.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Best Bet: Real Madrid to win and under 2.5 total goals (+290 with BetMGM). There have been under 2.5 goals in five of the last six Madrid derbies in the league, and also in 15 of Atleti's last 18 league games.
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
It’s hard to believe, but on Matchday 20 in the Bundesliga, we have a top-of-the-table clash that doesn’t involve Bayern Munich!
League leaders RB Leipzig slipped up at Eintracht Frankfurt last week, but can stay atop the pile with what would be their sixth consecutive home league win this weekend. However, third-place opponents Borussia Monchengladbach can leapfrog the East Germans to the summit if they take three points.
Leipzig, who are looking to stay at the top of the league for the ninth consecutive matchday, are heavy favorites at -189 on BetMGM. They have never been beaten by Gladbach and have won each of the last four encounters.
The Foals are capable of an upset and rarely look defeated — they’ve taken 12 points from games in which they’ve fallen behind this season — but RB Leipzig are a force to be reckoned with at home, and should return to winning ways.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 3-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Best Bet: Timo Werner to score first (+275 on BetMGM). The prolific German striker has scored 20 goals in 19 games this season and bagged a hat trick against Gladbach earlier this season.
Ajax vs. PSV Eindhoven
Those looking to get the most out of an ESPN+ subscription would do well to tune into the latest edition of De Topper on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. ET.
The Dutch rivalry doesn’t quite carry the same cache as De Klassieker (between Ajax and Feyenoord) but it is typically a more heavyweight encounter.
Ajax are currently enjoying a three-point lead atop the table, while PSV are 11 points behind in fifth. The visitors are also in poor form, with no wins in their last five outings, including an elimination to lower division side NAC Breda in the Dutch Cup.
The Amsterdammers, however, are also in curious form, having lost three of their last five league games.
Given the form book, this match could go either way, but home advantage is huge. The away team hasn’t won any of the last seven meetings and Ajax have won their last two encounters with PSV at the Amsterdam Arena by a 6-1 aggregate scoreline.
This one ended in a draw earlier this season, but Ajax should have the edge this weekend.
Prediction: Ajax 2-1 PSV
Best Bet: Ajax to win and both teams to score (+150 on BetMGM). Ajax have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight league games, while PSV have only failed to score in one of their last 11 games.
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