World Football: Austrian giants to excel on Sunday

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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 Sunday.

Koln v Kiel | Sunday 31st March 2019, 12:30 | BT Sport 1

We’re very much in the home straight in 2. Bundesliga and there is still a chance that this will be a Bundesliga fixture next season. Koln sit top of the table, ahead of Hamburg by a point, and they also have a game in-hand. With Hamburg and Union Berlin slipping up in recent weeks, this weekend is another chance for Markus Anfang’s men to really stamp their authority on this league.

Kiel however are no pushovers, with their end of season goal being to overturn the five-point gap to third, which would give them a shot in a promotion/relegation play-off. Only nine points separate Koln and Kiel going into the weekend, but who will come out on top?

As is generally the norm this season, you’re looking at odds-on quotes for a Koln victory. That just has to be expected these days, even more so when they’re at home. After all, they’ve won 10 of their last 13 league matches, whilst winning six of their last seven on home soil. They’ve certainly got momentum on the back of four consecutive victories as they go about making an immediate return to the German top-flight.

Kiel impressed in their debut campaign at this level last season when sealing a third place finish. Whilst they lost over two legs to Wolfsburg in the promotion/relegation play-off, it was still a memorable year for the club. Having did such a good job last time around, there is arguably more pressure and expectancy on them, although those from within won’t buy into that.

Kiel very much happy to be underdogs. That won’t necessarily be happy with how inconsistent they’ve been in recent times. Their last six in the league has yielded two wins, two draws and two defeats. They don’t tend to produce too many wins in succession. They won three in a row during November/December, but that is the only occasion they’ve secured back-to-back league triumphs this season.

Anyone with any watching knowledge of this league will think of one thing knowing that it is Koln versus Kiel this weekend, and that is goals! These sides form two of the top three in relation to highest average goals per game. For Koln, it is a joint-league high of 3.80, along with Paderborn. Kiel is slightly lower on 3.40.

The Müngersdorfer Stadion is also the place to be if goals are you thing this season, as Koln league home games average a whopping 4.50. Kiel are also the joint-second highest away scorers at this level as well. It would be a surprise if goals didn’t arrive this weekend.

If this game is open as expected, it should really be suiting the stronger side, and that is Koln. They have the firepower to cause some damage, and Kiel certainly won’t be turning up playing for a point. Whilst we cannot rule out Kiel scoring, especially as 85% of Koln home matches has seen both teams score, we do expect goals.

85% Koln home clashes also has ended over 2.5 goals. Whilst Kiel games range in the 60s in terms of percentages for BTTS paying out. Koln to win and Over 2.5 Goals is our play at 19/20 (Coral).

FC Copenhagen v Esbjerg | Sunday 31st March 2019, 15:00

I must admit, whenever I put these articles together ahead of a weekend of action, I do find myself looking across to see who Copenhagen are playing more often than not!

They are a team that I and most people will tend to enjoy a decent amount of profit from across the season. I guess that is to be expected for an outfit that is top of the table and lost only three league matches all season. Whilst they’re almost always odds-on shots to win, including this game, there are certain markets you can get value on them and have sustained profit levels.

Esbjerg are the visitors to the Telia Parken this weekend as the Danish Superliga has separated into two for this final run of games. Both of these ended in the top six to participate in the Championship Group, with both sides very much having something to play for.

FCK clearly are going for the title and are involved in a right old battle with FC Midtjylland for that honour. Esbjerg will be looking to qualify for the Europa League play-offs at least.

Only three teams have come away from Copenhagen with three points this season, and two of those came from Slavia Prague and Bordeaux in the Europa League. The other was Horsens on the first weekend of the season, so it just highlights how effective Ståle Solbakken’s men are on home soil. Anything less than three points this weekend would be a shock, especially as FCK have won the last eight head-to-head meetings.

Esbjerg don’t necessarily travel too well either. They have one of the worse away records at this level – 24 of their 38 points came from home fixtures and they’ve not won an away league encounter since October. They’re winless in their last seven on the road in all competitions, which included a 3-0 loss to Copenhagen during the regular season schedule. Whilst they’ve won two of their last three (both at home), it would take a mammoth effort for them to depart Copenhagen with anything on Sunday.

Copenhagen are the highest-scorers in the division and also have the best defensive record. They’ve scored over double the amount of goals that Esbjerg has achieved, too. When Copenhagen do win, they generally do so with a degree of comfort, especially at home. Their last four home wins have read 3-1, 2-0, 6-1 and 3-0. Esbjerg have lost their last four in the league away as we said, and they’ve scored one and conceded 10 in that period.

The one market I find we get a lot of joy out of when backing FCK this season in them scoring in each half, again, especially at home. They’ve netted in each 45 minute segment in 77% of their home encounters. That is a number too good to ignore and backing it in every home game would see you return a decent profit across the season.

I’m happy to stick with that again, especially with Esbjerg looking vulnerable on the road. Copenhagen to Score In Both Halves is an attractive 19/20 (William Hill) shot.

Salzburg v Austria Vienna | Sunday 31st March 2019, 16:00

Salzburg were knocked out of the Europa League after losing 4-3 on aggregate to Napoli over two legs, which is certainly no disgrace. That is a competition they had some joy in during recent seasons, and whilst they’ll be disappointed to be out, there is still lots to play for.

As usual, they’re involved in a title challenge in the Austrian Bundesliga, especially now the league has separated and the Championship Group gets in full swing. In-form LASK Linz are now only four points behind them, so it is key they maintain winning ways this weekend.

Austria Vienna might be playing in the Championship Group but they haven’t won the Austrian top-flight since 2013. Their recent form is anything like champions as well, as they’ve lost four of their last five in league and cup since returning following the winter break.

It is also fair to say that they heavily rely on home advantage. Only bottom of the table Innsbruck have fewer away points this season. They’ve won only three away games, all versus sides participating in the Relegation Group.

This has also been a one-sided fixture for quite a number of years now. Salzburg will generally have the upper hand over most sides given they regularly dominate this league, but that is of no comfort to Austria Vienna. They’ve won just one in the last 19 meetings believe it or not, and that came only last year and by a 4-0 score as well.

Making the journey to the Red Bull Arena however is another matter. They’ve only won on one of their last 18 visits, with was 3-2 back in September 2014. Salzburg have won 12 of those 18 to further reflect their superiority.

As usual, Salzburg are odds-on to record success this weekend and many have the same weekly debate in how to get sides like Salzburg on side, whilst trying to locate some value. I did some in the section above with Copenhagen and I believe I’ve found a little gem to be on for Sunday’s encounter in Wals-Siezenheim.

Lots is said about how impressive Salzburg are in attack, and of course they are. However, they’re especially strong defensively and extremely difficult to penetrate. Salzburg have a 41% clean sheet record in the league this season. However, the figure to really nail my selection this weekend is that Austria Vienna have failed to score in a huge 64% of their away encounters. They really don’t travel well do they!

Sometimes the issue for Salzburg is they can find games too easy and sometimes switch off. However, with the rules as they are it now means they only have a four-point lead at the top, so they can’t afford to take this too lightly.

Getting 1/1 (888) on Salzburg to win ‘To Nil’, based on the numbers we’ve mentioned above, does appear too good to turn down.

Austria Vienna has failed to score on their last four visits to this stadium, whilst Salzburg whilst in nine of the last 13 home meetings in this H2H they’ve scored a minimum of three goals. They really should be winning at a canter once again.

Best Bets

Koln v Kiel – Koln to win and Over 2.5 Goals (19/20 Coral)

FC Copenhagen v Esbjerg – FC Copenhagen to Score In Both Halves (19/20 William Hill)

Salzburg v Austria Vienna – Salzburg to win ‘To Nil’ (1/1 888)

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