Can Marseille get their title bid back on track with victory against Lyon? Have Real Madrid and Ronaldo already run their race? And just who is the Bundesliga’s new goalscoring sensation? Louis Massarella answers these questions and more…
Win or bust for Marseille against Lyon
There are ten games to go in Ligue Un and we’re still none the wiser as to which of three teams will win the title. But one thing’s for sure: if Marseille lose at home to Lyon on Sunday, l’OM can probably wave their chances goodbye. The early pace-setters are currently four points behind OL, having scored the same number of goals but conceded nine more. In short, only victory will do.
This weekend’s 6-1 win at Toulouse – their first victory in five – will give Marcelo Bielsa’s team hope that they’ve found top form. And, indeed, even though they’ve stuttered after that flying start, the Stade Velodrome has remained a fortress, the recent loss to Caen being Marseille’s first at home since August. Lyon, too, are much better at home, five of their six Ligue Un defeats coming away. But they too found some form on the road this weekend, hitting five at Montpellier.
While the value seems to be in an away win 3.8514/5, we think that’s unlikely. Look a little closer and this free-scoring duo actually go into their shells a little more against other top teams, so under 2.5 goals is worth a look at 1.981/1.
As for title odds, PSG remain strong favourites at 1.251/4. Given the champions have rarely lived up to that tag this season, Lyon still look great value at 4.03/1.
Wolfsburg’s secret (weapon) is out
Bas Dost has been the name on everyone’s lips in the Bundesliga since the turn of the year. Prolific in the Eredivisie for Heerenveen and on the verge of a Holland call-up, the giant Dutchman has endured a frustrating couple of seasons with Wolfsburg. Suddenly, something has clicked. Dost has banged in 13 goals since the winter break – something he puts down to a lack of partying – making him the hottest striker in Europe.
Playing in an attacking team helps. Wolfsburg have scored 25 goals in all competitions since Christmas, conceding 11 and generally having what seems to be a jolly good time under ex-policeman coach Dieter Hecking. A 1-0 defeat at top four chasing Augsburg this week was bad news for Wolfburg, but perhaps even worse news for struggling Freiburg, who visit the Volkswagen Arena next weekend. The Wolves will be hungry, their in-form striker in particular.
Expect goals, and lots of them. Over 4.5 is 4.47/2.
Turin’s other success story
After finishing seventh in Serie A last season, Torino might have set their sights even higher this time around. But, in fact, having lost top scorer Ciro Immobile and creative fulcrum Alessio Cerci in the close season, they’ve done incredibly well to be in a similar position, especially given their season began in July with Europa League qualifying – a competition they’re still in, by the way.
With an emphasis on attacking football and nurturing young talent, journeyman coach Giampiero Ventura led the Maroons out of Serie B in 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Despite defeat against Udinese this week – Torino’s first in 13 – they’re right in the hunt for a European place again. But with a tough trip to St Petersburg in midweek, the visit of Champions League hopefuls Lazio on Monday should tell us more about how far Turin’s second team have come.
Both teams are pleasing on the eye and both will be desperate not to lose – Lazio, because they’re in with a shout of third place; Torino because their last home defeat came against Lazio in the Coppa Italia in January. A draw, though, is most tempting at 3.185/40.
Barcelona and Messi hit the front
In November, we suggested that Lionel Messi was still a good outside bet at 7.26/1 to top the La Liga goalscoring charts. More than three months later, Messi has drawn level with Cristiano Ronaldo just as Barcelona have overhauled Real Madrid at the top of the table.
While the market can barely separate Messi 1.75/7 and Ronaldo 1.84/5, Barça are now clear favourites 1.75/7 for the title, despite just a point separating the two, something to do with their superior goal difference and a home Clasico in a fortnight’s time, perhaps.
Now’s the time to put your money on Madrid 2.3811/8, then. In theory, they have the easier run-in, and as this title race has proved so far, chasing seems easier than front-running.
Goals the goal in La Liga title race
Sticking with Spain’s big two and both will see this week’s fixtures as an opportunity to improve their goal difference. Barcelona visit this season’s surprise package Eibar, who are now dropping like a stone. The minnows haven’t taken any hidings in losing seven on the bounce, but with confidence low, that could change this week. Take your pick from any number of high-scoring away wins or try over 4.5 goals at 3.9n/a.
Madrid, meanwhile, will be riled by suggestions they are in “freefall” after a draw and a loss in consecutive weeks. Relegation-threatened Levante are likely to bear the brunt at the Bernabeu. Expect Real Madrid to come out all guns blazing. 2-0 at half-time is 5.14/1.