Get tips for the best football on Saturday with the Championship play-off semi-finals, La Liga title race and the German Bundesliga…
Brentford v Bournemouth
Saturday May 22, 12:30
Bournemouth hold a slender 1-0 lead in the Championship play-off semi-final as they head to the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday. The Cherries are 1.654/6 to qualify for the final with the hosts outsiders at 2.3611/8.
Key Stat: Brentford boast an impressive W7-D4-L1 record when hosting the Cherries since 2000/01.
Mark O’Haire says: “With a place at Wembley and potential promotion on the line, EFL play-off semi-final second legs produce 0.45 goals per-game more on average than their first leg counterparts as a sense of desperation and urgency creeps into play. Going back to the beginning of 2000, 49% of second leg fixtures have seen Over 2.5 Goals and 56% deliver Both Teams To Score.
“With that in mind, there’s potential to support a goal-heavy game at a nice price on Saturday afternoon with BTTS available at 1.875/6, odds that suggest just a 53% chance of succeeding. Considering the offensive quality on display in West London this weekend, as well as game state surrounding the tie, I’m anticipating a much more end-to-end encounter.
“During the regular season, Brentford bagged in all bar nine of their 46 league outings, including 18 of 23 on home soil. The Bees were only second to champions Norwich in terms of Expected Goals (xG) output with record goalscorer Ivan Toney leading the hosts’ attack.
“Meanwhile, Bournemouth notched in 36 of their 46 fixtures, firing only six blanks on the road, with the Cherries grabbing a goal in eight of 10 tussles with fellow top-six teams.”
Mark’s bet: Back Both Teams To Score at 1.875/6
Werder Bremen v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Saturday 22 May, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
It’s the final day of the season in Germany and third-placed Werder Bremen desperately need three points at home to Monchengladbach who sit eighth in the table.
Key Stat: Werder haven’t won in the Bundesliga since 10 March.
Kevin Hatchard says: Desperation can cause clubs to make strange decisions, but I can’t help feeling that Werder Bremen’s switch between indecision and haste is going to cost them. Sporting director Frank Baumann should have either acted earlier during the club’s nine-match winless run, or he should have stuck with Florian Kohfeldt, the man who led Werder away from automatic relegation on the final day of last season. If Baumann trusted Kohfeldt to win under pressure and avoid the drop on Matchday 34 last season, why fire him this time?
“The solution Baumann has found is to hand the keys to Thomas Schaaf, who won the title with Bremen back in 2004. Schaaf’s record with Werder is outstanding, but it was all a long time ago, and failures at Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover have since blotted his copybook. I’m told that while Schaaf has proven to be an effective leader, he’s not always the most encouraging of bosses, especially with young players. In just a week, can he really get the best out of a dysfunctional team that has lost its confidence?
“If Werder draw or lose and Koln win, Werder are joining their old foes Hamburg in Bundesliga 2., and they’ll suffer their first relegation since 1980. They face a Borussia Mönchengladbach side that can still qualify for the new Conference League, and sporting director Max Eberl has made it clear that’s a target he wants to hit. Coach Marco Rose wants to sign off with a win before heading to Borussia Dortmund, and I think that his players are capable of achieving that against a side that has lost its rhythm, confidence and nerve.”
Sunderland v Lincoln City
Saturday 22nd May, kick-off 15:30
Live on Sky Sports
Sunderland were defeated 2-0 by Lincoln in the first leg and the Black Cats are out to 4.03/1 to qualify for the final. Can they pull off a remarkable comeback at the Stadium of Light. Our previewer is far from convinced that they have it in them.
Key Stat: In four matches between the pair this term it’s all square, although Lincoln have held Sunderland to draws on two occasions at the Stadium Of Light.
Alan Dudman says: “First impressions are that Lincoln are a massive price at 4.47/2. It’s just plain wrong to me. There are of course factors to include; with the suspected onslaught from Sunderland, but have the layers not been watching them for the last three months? Remember, they were not in form prior to Wednesday’s first leg as they had won just two of their previous 10 matches.
“Johnson insists his team are very much in the tie and can score, as he lamented their play in both boxes. His positive message was: “We know we can score as we’ve had goals in us all season.”
“The odds on a home win at 1.9720/21 represent poor value – in fact the poorest value we have seen over the four games thus far. It is certainly a laying price. This has been going on for years with the Black Cats in this division, and of course they are the likeliest winners, but Lincoln were the best team in the division away from with the counter-attacking style with only Hull City achieving the same amount of wins (13).”
Alan’s bet: Back Lincoln to beat Sunderland @ 4.47/2
Valladolid 10.09/1 v Atletico Madrid 1.374/11; The Draw 5.85/1
Saturday 22 May, 17:00
Live on Premier League Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
Atletico Madrid go into the final day of the season as 1.261/4 favourites to win La Liga. Will they get over the line at Valladolid or will Diego Simeone’s men blow it and let rivals Real Madrid 4.57/2 retain the title?
Key Stat: Atletico have won just one of their last five on the road.
“Atletico have already put their fans through extreme levels of stress last weekend and we shouldn’t expect this match to be any different.
“The table toppers were a goal down at home to Osasuna with eight minutes remaining, only for strikes from Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez to secure three vital points.
“With Valladolid still fighting for survival, this could be another nervy match. Back Atletico to lift the title, with an away win and both teams to score at 3.211/5.”
Swansea v Barnsley
Saturday May 22, 18:30
Swansea hold a 1-0 aggregate lead over Barnsley ahead of the Championship play-off semi-final second leg from the Liberty Stadium on Saturday evening. The Swans are 1.351/3 to qualify for the final with Barnsley 3.711/4.
Key Stat: Victory at Oakwell means Swansea have extended their unbeaten streak against Barnsley across all competitions to 17 games (W10-D7-L0), a run of results that stretches back to 1983.
Mark O’Haire says: “Swansea’s matches under Steve Cooper tend to be tight affairs. The hosts have posted Under 2.5 Goals 1.758/11 in nine of their past 13 games, whilst a huge 70% of their overall Championship encounters featured fewer than three goals. The same figure also paid out when City hosted league action at the Liberty Stadium as contests averaged just 1.87 goals.
“Barnsley’s battles provided more entertainment with 39 encounters under Valerien Ismael seeing 2.36 goals per-game on average. Indeed, Monday’s first leg was only the fourth time in 20 recent match-ups in which the Reds had failed to score. With the visitors’ season now on the line, expect the Tykes to pile on the pressure in this second leg showdown.
“EFL play-off semi-final second legs have produced 2.54 goals per-game since 2000 with 49% of fixtures delivering Over 2.5 Goals 2.001/1 and 56% of matches rewarding Both Teams To Score backers 1.865/6. With that in mind, there’s a degree of value found in supporting a repeat of BTTS here, especially with Swansea silencing only four of their last 18 opponents.”
Mark’s bet: Back Both Teams To Score at 1.865/6
Source: Betfair German