THE boss Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) has trawled through his big book of stats to unearth the best value Anytime Goalscorer from Saturday's football.
Hertha Berlin v Hoffenheim | Saturday 24th November 2018, 14:30
Few Bundesliga sides are as exciting and entertaining to follow than Hoffenheim. Since baby-faced Julian Nagelsmann took charge of the Sinsheim club, Die Kraichgauer have seen their Bundesliga battles average 3.21 goals per-game, with TSG firing blanks in only 7/93 (92%) outings.
Remarkably, Hoffe have hit two or more goals in 19/46 (41%) of their road trips in that sample, even scoring three times or more on 12/46 (26%) occasions, and their forward-thinking approach continues to pay dividends domestically.
Despite juggling Champions League football alongside Bundesliga matters, Hoffe have remained on course for another top-six finish and came into the international break on the back of four successive league triumphs by an aggregate 13-3. Take out top-five opponents and TSG have W6-D0-L1 by an cumulative 20-6.
Only Bayern Munich have attempted more shots than Hoffenheim but no divisional rival has landed more on-target attempts than Die Kraichgauer. Saturday’s visitors fire in over 10 strikes from inside the penalty area on average, whilst generating an Expected Goals from open play figure of 1.53.
On-loan Arsenal ace Reiss Nelson has appeared in a total of just 327 minutes across seven Bundesliga games but he’s already scored six times – one fewer than Robert Lewandowski. The 18-year-old averages 0.61 xG per-game in that sample, firing in 2.81 shots per-90 minutes, 64% of which are on-target.
The England U21 international hasn’t been a regular starter for Hoffenheim but don’t let that concern you as TSG excel after the interval, scoring all bar three of their 24-goal haul in the league in the second-half.
Opponents Hertha Berlin are winless in five (W0-D3-L2) and lost back-to-back games to RB Leipzig and struggling Fortuna Dusseldorf by three-goal margins before the international break. The capital club are facing the most shots and attempts from inside the box, as well as the highest xG from open play figure.
The hosts are also in the midst of a defensive injury crisis with centre-backs Karim Rekik and Niklas Stark, plus left back Maximilian Mittelstadt, unavailable for Saturday’s Olympiastadion encounter.
Reiss Nelson is as big as 5/2 (Bet365) to score.
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona | Saturday 24th November 2018, 19:45 | Eleven Sports
Another side suffering from defensive casualties this weekend is Atletico Madrid.
Los Colchoneros scrambled a last-gasp 3-2 win at home to Athletic Bilbao before the international break when missing centre-halves Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic, as well as left-back Lucas Hernandez, but the goalscorer of that winning goal, Diego Godin, has now been added to the treatment table.
Diego Simeone’s side finished that fixture with Thomas Partey and Saul filling in at centre-back and whomever the Atleti boss decides to fill the void will know they’re in for a tough test. The capital club renowned for their watertight backline have now conceded in three of their past four La Liga matches.
Meanwhile, Atleti haven’t beaten Barcelona or Real Madrid in La Liga since 2014/15 and their record when taking on Barca in league football under Simeone reads W0-D4-L9. What’s more, Lionel Messi has netted 28 goals against Los Colchoneros in all competitions, his second favourite opponent after Sevilla.
The visitors are also a little fragile coming into this contest, although the Blaugrana’s issues are also at the back. So I’m happy to focus our selection upon the Argentinean magician skippering the away side, seeing as he returned to the fold to score twice in the Catalans’ extraordinary 4-3 home loss to Betis.
Barcelona have scored at least three goals in five of their last eight La Liga or Champions League outings and are yet to be silenced this season. The GOAT doesn’t need any introduction but he’s averaging 1.24 goals per-game in the aforementioned competitions, from 0.74 xG per-match.
Messi has scored in eight of his 12 appearances across La Liga and Champions League this term, averaging over five attempts per-game with over 53% finding the target. And what makes this selection extra special? He’s available to back at an odds-against price of 7/5 (Betway) on Saturday night.