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.
Eintracht Braunschweig v Hallescher | Saturday 8th December 2018, 13:00
We delve not into the second division of German football, as we normally do, but the third on this occasion.
There is a 3.Bundesliga encounter which effects both the top and bottom of the table which particular takes our attention. Bottom side Braunschweig welcome Hallescher, who sit fifth in the standings, to the Eintracht-Stadion on Saturday afternoon.
It has been a particularly testing period in the recent history of Braunschweig. They had a solitary year in the Bundesliga alongside the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the 2013/14 campaign, but it was only a season. Then after another four seasons in 2.Bundesliga, relegation was confirmed last time out. At this rate, it could be back-to-back relegations as they’re already five-points adrift in 20th spot.
Hallescher, otherwise known as Halle, are hoping to win their first ever promotion into 2.Bundesliga and they’ve given themselves a decent shot as things stand. Just before the halfway point in the season, they’re only four-points behind the league leaders VfL Osnabruck. They’re currently on a particularly profitable run of form, going unbeaten in five, four of which has resulted in victory.
Whilst Halle aren’t necessarily scoring goals for fun, they are especially tough to breakdown at the other end. The teams that face-off this weekend only has a difference of three in terms of goals scored, with Halle edging that particular statistic. However, Halle has the joint-second best defensive record in 3.Bundesliga. Braunschweig, on the flip side, has the worst.
Over the last nine matches for Braunschweig, they have conceded at least twice in eight of those. They’ve conceded four in three of those matches too, so they are very leaky and it is giving them virtually no chance in games. They’ve won just the once this season, which came at home to Jena back in September, and Jena are also in the relegation zone.
Only Karlsruher and Uerdingen have a better away record than Halle does as things stand as well. If the league table was based purely over the last eight in the league, Halle would be top and Braunschweig still at the bottom.
Taking all this into account, we are pleasantly surprised to be receiving quotes of 13/10 (Bet365) on a Hallescher victory. They are the away side and are facing a side that were at a higher level last season, but this time next season, there could easily be two leagues separating these two.
Rijeka v Lokomotiv Zagreb | Saturday 8th December 2018, 14:00
Those of you who love a bit of Croatian football are in for a treat on Saturday as second meets third at the Stadion Rujevica as Rijeka entertain Lokomotiv Moscow. Dinamo Zagreb may be leading the way by a cool nine points, but these two haven’t given up hope of catching the league leaders just yet.
Rijeka has finished in the top two for five seasons running, even winning the league outright back in 2017. Lokomotiv have ended up in fourth or fifth place for five seasons running, but did finish second back in 2013. If the form guide is anything to go by, then there is probably only one winner from this contest at the weekend. However, it is never as easy as that!
Still, this is worth considering if you’re looking to play not just this game, but any game. Instead of focusing purely on the league position as things stand, the form guide presents a true indication of how that team are performing in recent times.
Lokomotiv are without a win in three, yet two have ended in draws. One of those was a narrow defeat to the league leaders and local rivals Dinamo Zagreb, and a home draw to Osijek, who currently sit in fourth. They were on a four-game winning streak in all competitions prior to the last three.
It is tough to ignore the winning run that Rijeka are on at this moment in time. There is a string of W’s on their run of form at present. They’ve lost just the once in their last 11 in all competitions, winning the last six in a row. They’ve not had ‘easy’ games in that period either. They beat Dinamo Zagreb at home and also beat Osijek on the road.
Perhaps what is especially telling is that these two teams actually met only a few days ago. On Tuesday, these met in the quarter-final of the Croatian Cup. Lokomotiv were at home, and led in the match, only to have a man sent off before half-time. Rijeka would net twice fairly early in the second-half and progressed into the last four.
The statistic however which stands out above any is within the head-to-head record. Quite incredibly, Rijeka has won the home meeting between these two on the last 10 occasions. There have even been a 6-0 and 5-0 win in that period, albeit a few seasons ago.
With Rijeka on a high after the win in the cup in midweek and the fact they’ve got the better of this duel quite frequently in recent times, we’ll back them to do so again.
A Rijeka win is nicely priced at 4/5 (BlackType).
Willem II v Heerenveen | Saturday 8th December 2018, 17:30
To end this Saturday segment of World Football, we’re picking a bit of a bigger price for you to get your teeth into. Willem II play Heerenveen in an intriguing Eredivisie battle on Saturday night. I must admit, I think the market has priced this one a little wrong.
When I spotted that these two would be playing at the weekend, I naturally assumed that Heerenveen would be the favourites. Much to my surprise, they are not!
There may only be a point between these two in the table going into Matchday 15 in the Dutch top flight, but over time they have been the better of these two.
Since Willem II returned to the Eredivisie, they have finished 9th, 16th, 13th and then 13th again over the past four seasons. Heerenveen have been far from world beaters at this level, but over the last seven seasons they’ve at least finished in the top half on six occasions.
It has been an especially frustrating campaign for Heerenveen so far, winning only four, the same as Willem II, but they are the sort of side who on any given day can give any opponent a run for their money.
Perhaps the most telling statistic going into this contest revolves around the respective home and away records of these two. Willem II have the second-worst home record, winning just the once, and that was 5-0 versus Heracles back in August. Heerenveen have earned three of their four league victories on the road this season – so much so, only top two PSV and Ajax have a better away record than they do.
Jan Olde Riekerink is in his first season in charge of Heerenveen after previously managing Galatasaray. The one concern for him is that they have seemingly been a little too open. That is a common issue for teams in this league, with so much emphasis placed on attacking play. They scored only two fewer than Feyenoord, but conceded only four less than NAC Breda, who have the worst defensive record with 35.
Willem II secured a very impressive away success at AZ Alkmaar last time out. They will clearly enter this on a high, but they simply have been unable to replicate their form away on their home patch often enough. They too, like Heerenveen, are capable of winning a game like this on any given day. There are many similarities between these two in that respect.
With that being the case, I still think the 11/5 (Bet365) that you can get on a Heerenveen win has to at least be considered. This has been commonly a very, very tight fixture over the years – the most recent scores being 2-0, 2-1, 1-2, 1-0, 2-1, 3-1, 2-2, 1-1, 2-1 and 3-2 over the last 10 head-to-head.
Heerenveen are certainly the value pick on this occasion.