AS well as the Capital One Cup, there’s plenty of cup football taking place from around the continent tonight. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out his two best bets.
St Pauli v Dortmund | Tuesday 19.30 | BT Sport 1
Dortmund will look to put aside their dreadful Bundesliga form to avoid a DFB-Pokal upset at St Pauli tonight. Jurgen Klopp’s men slipped to a fourth consecutive league loss in Saturday’s 1-0 setback at home to Hannover, meaning the Black and Yellows have now been beaten in six of their past nine domestic outings.
With league leaders Bayern Munich already 13 points ahead of BVB, the Pokal could represent Dortmund's best chance of domestic silverware this term. So you can be sure Klopp will be working overtime to avoid an embarrassing second-round exit at the Millerntor Stadion.
The weekend reverse was a carbon copy of most Dortmund defeats this season. They dominated possession, created hatful’s of chances yet committed hara-kiri in defence. It’s those defensive errors that have cost the Bundesliga runners-up this campaign but tonight’s opposition won’t be quite as potent as the top-division forward-lines.
Like Borussia, St Pauli have also struggled for form in 2014/15. The Hamburg-based outfit have managed just three wins from 11 in the second tier and were crushed 4-0 at home to Karlsruher on Saturday. The Buccaneers have suffered five losses in their last eight and failed to trouble the scoresheet in four of those fixtures.
So with the hosts failing to fire in attack, it’s worth noting BVB’s ruthless pedigree for seeing off lower-level teams in the Pokal. In the past four years, Dortmund have conceded just two goals in 12 visits to sides below the Bundesliga in domestic cup action, making the 7/5 (Paddy Power) on an away win to nil the most attractive bet on offer.
Reims v Arles-Avignon | Tuesday 19.00
Stade de Reims are undergoing something of a mini-revival in France. Having started the season with a solitary point from a possible 12 following the departure of coach Hubert Fournier to Lyon, the six-time league champions have won four of their past seven.
New coach Jean-Luc Vasseur appears to have finally made his mark on the fallen giants and their form at the Stade Auguste Delaune deserves respect. PSG were held to score draw on the opening day and bar a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of a rampant Marseille side, Reims have won three of their last four at home, keeping three clean sheets.
Tonight they turn their attention to the Coupe de la Ligue and BetVictor make the home side a 20/21 shot to turn over second division strugglers Arles, which has to be worth a small poke at almost even-money. Reims are without four of the players who started their 1-0 win over Montpellier on Saturday but that hasn’t put me off the price.
The visitors climbed off the bottom of Ligue 2 at the weekend thanks to only their second league victory in 12 this season. It halted a five-match losing streak but what’s more telling is the Lions’ record against top-half teams this season – taking just two points from a possible 18 – and that’s without facing either of the league’s top two.
Arles have lost four of a winless six on the road in Ligue 2 football whilst both wins to their name have been scrappy 1-0 affairs, like Saturday. So I’m going to invest in a home win at 20/21 with BetVictor for this Round of 16 Coupe de la Ligue clash.
St Pauli v Dortmund – Dortmund win ‘to nil' (7/5 Paddy Power)
Reims v Arles-Avignon – Reims to win (20/21 BetVictor)