World Football – Back goals galore in Belgium on Saturday night

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WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) looks to continue his fabulous form with a selection of hand-picked best bets from across the planet on Saturday.

Lechia Gdansk v KS Cracovia | Saturday 10th November 2018, 17:00

Lechia lead the way in the Ekstraklasa 14 matches into the campaign, in what is proving to be another typically competitive campaign in the top-flight of Polish football. They have never won this league before, with their best finish being third-place all the way back in 1956.

Pasiaki however were only three points short of being relegated last season, so the transformation under Piotr Stokowiec, who has been at the helm since March, has been quite a story so far.

Cracovia only sit above Legnica, Gornik Zabrze and Zaglebie Sosnowiec in the league standings, winning only three matches to date. However, they have been enjoying something of an upturn in fortunes in recent weeks. They may have only won three, but two of those came within their three most recent league fixtures.

A 1-0 away win at Korona Kielce, who sit in sixth, was a particular eye-catching outcome for Cracovia. Michał Probierz in the man in charge at present, after surprisingly leaving former club Jagiellonia in 2017, whom he guided to top three finishes in back-to-back seasons.

Just one glance at the table will rightly mean that Lechia are the favourites for this game. They are top of the table after all. Only twice have they suffered defeat all season, both of which came away from home.

They have made their Stadion Energa Gdańsk something of a fortress. They had some struggles playing in front of their own supporters last season, but they have no such issue this time around. They are yet to face any of the bigger sides at this level in that period, but Cracovia don’t fall into that category.

For all that Lechia are proving tough to beat on their own patch, Cracovia, also known as Pasy, don’t enjoy too many of their away ventures. They did win their most recent away match, but that remains their only away victory of the campaign in seven attempts. Only bottom of the table Zaglebie Sosnowiec have earned fewer points on the road.

In recent seasons, Cracovia have had the better record in this respective head-to-head battle. They’ve actually won six of the last nine, but they are facing an opponent in their best moment for some time.

Only Piast Gliwice have a stronger home record than Lechia so far, and they’re averaging 2.33 goals per-game at their stadium base, too. They’ve netted nine goals in their previous three at home alone. They are certainly a prolific team, and being joint-second highest scorers in the division proves that.

Forward Flávio Paixão is responsible for nine of their goals, making him the second-highest scorer in the Polish top-flight as things stand.

The head-to-head record is slightly off-putting, but we cannot push Lechia over on this occasion. They are probably due a win in this meeting anyway. They’ve earned twice as many points at Cracovia at this stage, and also head into this on the back of a superb 1-0 away win at Lech Poznan.

Therefore it is something of a surprise, and a delight, that we can encounter odds-against quotes on a Lechia victory, 24/23 (188BET) to be precise. They should be slight odds-on favourites here.

Lugano v Luzern | Saturday 10th November 2018, 18:00

Lugano played a big part in one of our weekend pieces last weekend as they participated in an exciting 3-2 away defeat in Basel. Both Teams To Score paid off on that occasion and there is every reason to believe the same may apply on this occasion, too.

This is firmly a mid-table clash in the Swiss Super League on Saturday evening. In this 10-team division, it is sixth versus seventh, with Lugano having the narrowest of edges by earning an extra point 13 games into the campaign.

Consistency has been the issue for Lugano so far. It is four wins, four draws and five defeats for Fabio Celestini’s charges. Prior to defeat in Basel, they did win two in a row in league action, both of which came at home. Eleven of their 16 points earned this season have come at their Cornaredo Stadium, with only runaway league leaders Young Boys inflicted defeat upon them here.

Luzern, also known as Die Leuchten, have certainly been up and down, especially in recent times. Early last month, they earned an impressive away win at Young Boys, making them the only side to beat the top of the table side this season. However, they backed that up with a 2-0 home loss to Thun, who are another mid-table outfit at this level.

Luzern would win their next two, both away from home, one being in the cup. However, last weekend, a 5-2 home loss to Zurich further highlighted their lack of consistency; something which seemingly connects them to Saturday opponents Lugano. Luzern are yet to draw a match this season, the only side in the Swiss top flight to do so.

René Weiler, the former Anderlecht boss, is in charge of Luzern these days, and has been since the summer. He saw them come up short against Greek powerhouses Olympiakos in the Europa League qualifiers. They had actually start the league campaign brightly, but a run of defeats soon saw them lose momentum.

One issue that does need correcting is Luzern's poor defensive record. Only second from bottom Xamaz have conceded more than they have done. On the flip side, they’ve only scored more goals than bottom two Xamaz and Grasshoppers, but still only two less than Lugano.

Lugano have only conceded three fewer goals than Luzern have done, proving that the Swiss Super League is not a group of teams associated too strongly with clean sheets. Attack is very much the best form of defence for every side. Only the top-flight of football in the United Arab Emirate has a higher percentage for both teams scoring. Just shy of 70% of the Swiss matches so far have beaten the 2.5 line as well.

In a whopping 85% of Lugano’s games have both teams scored. They last kept a clean sheet on 1st September, which remains their only league clean sheet of the campaign.

The same applies to 69% of Luzern’s matches as well. Their last league clean sheet was late-August. Only once have they failed to score in an away match too, which is impressive for a side lower down the standings. Only Young Boys denied Lugano in front of their own supporters, too.

Both Teams To Score is clearly an avenue we can explore, but the prices continue to shorten in Swiss matches, with everyone clocking on to the respective statistics surround this league.

Therefore, Over 2.5 Goals at 4/6 (BetBright) is how we’ll approach this contest.

Based on league stats, there is a 67% chance that this will occur, based upon the two teams’ respective records so far. In their 26 league games combined so far, 19 have ended over 2.5. Matches involving Lugano and Luzern this season have been averaging 3.4 and 3.5 goals respectively.

Eupen v Sint-Truiden | Saturday 10th November 2018, 19:00

Goals are rarely in short supply in the Belgian Juliper League, and this clash between Eupen and Sint-Truiden will be our first of two visits this weekend.

As usual, we’ll set the scene for you entering this match. Eupen have won two of their previous three, giving them the chance to more a little higher in the standings. They were bottom for some time, but now find themselves 10th in this 16-team division.

Sint-Truiden have been having an excellent season, and are currently sitting in the final Championship Group position. Whilst they are indeed having a top campaign, they’re only five points better off than their weekend opponents. This further highlights how tight this league can be, beside the likes of Genk, Club Brugge, Antwerp and Anderlecht in the higher position.

De Kanaries were winless in three, prior to defeating bottom side Zulte-Waregem 2-1 last time out.

Eupen, known as Pandas for the locals, are managed by holding midfielder maestro Claude Makelele. Don’t necessarily think they are going to become defensive masters however, even if he has been in the job for a year now.

In fact, only bottom side Waregem have conceded more than Eupen. Twenty-seven goals conceded compared to only the 16 that Sint-Truiden have shipped is essentially what has separated the two teams this season, to date.

STVV, under the management of Marc Brys, have only lost on three occasions this season. Two of those came last month, but they are still the sort of side we can class as being quite stingy. Only the top three in the league have conceded fewer goals. They’ve only scored 19, and when we consider Mouscron have scored the least with 10, and Genk the most on 39, we can see where they are in that particular pyramid.

For all that Sint-Truiden are tough to beat defensively, it is a slight surprise to see they haven’t earned more than 29% clean sheets this season. It is still one of the better percentages in the league, but a lot of their game is built around being tough to break down.

Eupen have conceded several more goals, but they’ve kept 21% clean sheets. An 8% difference despite conceding 11 more goals. The reason for this is that Eupen started the season losing their first four, the scores being 5-2, 4-1, 3-0 and 3-2, including to bottom side Waregem.

Eupen may have tightened up to a degree since then, but as mentioned, attack is their best form of defence.

70 of the 112 Belgian Juliper League matches this season has ended over the 2.5 goal line – this equates to 62.5%. Another number is that 64.29% of those 112 games has witnessed both teams finding the back of the net. Leagues in the UAE, Switzerland and Hong Kong have higher this figure, but the Belgian league have produced over double the amount of games compared to three of those.

Only four teams in the league can say that at least 10 of their matches have ended Over 2.5 Goals – Eupen is one of those, along with Gent, Waregem and Club Brugge. Although the last two for Eupen failed to do so, their games as a collective are still averaging 3.2.

Sint-Truiden are actually quite low on the over 2.5 count. It is a straight 50-50 it terms of ending over or under. However, four of their most recent have ended over. Their matches are starting to open up and with both sides believing they can win this Saturday’s game, an open encounter is more than possible.

Perhaps the most defining statistic is regarding Both Teams To Score. BTTS is available at 7/10 (188BET), and we have to get on side with that.

86% of Eupen’s home matches, and 64% of their league contests full stop, have witnessed both teams scoring. The same is said for 71% of SSTV’s clashes on the road.

Eupen have scored every time at home, scoring 2+ in 4/7. Sint-Truiden netted at both Gent and Standard Liege, who sit either side of them in the table.

Zulte-Waregem v Lokeren | Saturday 10th November 2018. 19:00

We’ve already touched upon the various statistics regarding goals in the Belgian Juliper League in the segment above, so feel free to gander through that again should you need refreshing!

A bottom of the table encounter is present upon the league calendar at the weekend, with bottom side Zulte-Waregem entertaining Lokeren, who sit only one point and two places above them 14 matches into the season.

It has been a particularly poor season to date for Waregem, who finished sixth last season and also participated in the Europa League group stages, finishing third in a group containing Nice, Lazio and Vitesse.

Things have certainly gone backwards for Francky Dury. He has been in the job for almost seven years now, making him the longest-serving boss, even including the second-tier of Belgian football. He guided Waregem to the second division title in 2005, whilst also earning two Belgian Cup titles as well.

Twice has he earned the Coach of the Year Award, so Waregem should be in safe hands to guide them out of trouble. So you’d think.

The reality is that they’ve won only twice all season, although their most recent came in their last home game in impression fashion over Standard Liege. A win on Saturday takes them off the foot of the table.

Lokeren is a city based in the north of the country, but they’ve only been heading south in terms of league standings for a while now. Last season they finished in a disappointing 11th. The season before, it was also 11th. This still earned them a spot in Europa League play-offs qualification, but they last played in the group stage of that competition back in 2014/15, beating Hull in a two-legged qualifier along the way.

Lokeren are actually unbeaten in their last three, earning a solid away draw in Anderlecht and then beating Eupen 2-0 at home last time out. Matters are certainly improved under Trond Sollied, who has managed the likes of Club Brugge, Olympiakos, Heerenveen and Rosenborg. He has only been in the job for a few weeks.

A lack of goals is really the main area that Sollied needs to improve upon. They’ve only scored 12, which is only worsened in the league by Mouscron, who have a measly 10.

Sollied has only taken charge of one game since his appointment, which was that 2-0 win, so it is certainly a step in the right direction. Conceding 23 isn’t a huge number at all, but only really compared to Waregem, who have shipped 35.

Lokeren are yet to keep a single clean sheet away from home, but of course this will be the first away match of the Sollied era for Tricolores.

The bottom club unsurprisingly aren’t famed for a strong defensive record. Thirty-five goals against is simply abysmal – they’ve still conceded eight more than Eupen, who have the second-worst defensive record in terms of numbers.

Going forward however they don’t appear to be having any such troubles. Only Genk, Club Brugge, Gent and Anderlecht have scored more than they have, which is impressive considering they’ve been bottom for practically the entire campaign.

We’ll cut to the chase, Both Teams To Score is the way we are going here, just like the first Belgian game we’ve covered. 5/8 (188BET) is a handy little price all things considered.

BTTS have paid off in 71% of Zulte’s home matches, which increases to 79% including them on the road. Now Lokeren might only be witnessing an average of 2.5 goals in their league matches this season, but both teams scoring have happened in all of their away matches. They’ve scored at all the big teams like Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Antwerp and Gent.

Lokeren's scoring run on the road is quite remarkable, as it goes into last season, with the 3-0 loss at Gent back in January being the last time they’ve didn’t score away. They’ve only earned one clean sheet away in this calendar year, too.

Waregem have conceded at least twice in 5/7 this season, failing to score just once. Only once in 2018 have they not scored at home.

Best Bets

Lechia Gdansk v KS Cracovia – Lechia to win (24/23 188BET)

Lugano v Luzern – Over 2.5 Goals (4/6 BetBright)

Eupen v Sint-Truiden – Both Teams To Score (7/10 188BET)

Zulte-Waregem v Lokeren – Both Teams To Score (5/8 188BET)

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