World Football: Back in-form Belgians to cut loose on Saturday


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.

Malaga v Gimnastic | Saturday 17th November 2018, 15:00

Whilst there is little top-flight action occurring across the globe this weekend because of the international break, it at least allows those lower down their respective pyramids to attract a little more of the attention. This especially applies to clubs playing in the second-tier of their respective nations.

The Spanish Segunda certainly doesn’t stop for internationals and we believe we have chartered a little bit of value for you to potentially nibble on. I may be slightly contradicting myself already as I did recommend a selection in this league for my Sunday piece last week, only to be let down by league leaders Granada failing to beat Numancia at home.

It is definitely a league I personally would not suggest you bet too regularly on, simply because it is unbelievably open. The division is at least beginning to take some kind of shape, but that still won’t hide the minefield that the betting coupon tends to look week-by-week.

Malaga are arguably the biggest team in this league after they were relegated from La Liga at the end of last season. They have begun the campaign in decent fashion, sitting fourth after 13 matches. They have however won only once in their last four in the league, which is a slight blip by their standards. Nevertheless, they’ll expect maximum points on Saturday.

The reason for Malaga’s confidence in one sense is that they entertain Gimnastic, who sit bottom of the table. It is just two victories in their 13 league games so far, and there is little to like about their prospects this weekend on paper.

However, the nature of this league means that Gimnastic do have a chance. It is a league I wouldn’t have too much faith in any odds-on favourites. Granada at the weekend being a good example! Gimnastic will definitely come looking to defend – that is not in doubt. They’ve got the third-worst defensive record and joint-worst offensive record.

Malaga are rightly the favourites for this game, but I won’t be touching them. They’re certainly the stronger of the two and the league table reflects that now, and will do at the end of the season. However, I cannot stress how unpredictable this league is week-to-week. Perhaps nine times out of 10 Malaga win this, but that extra game is still bugging me and is why I’m swerving the 1×2 market.

As mentioned, Gimnastic will come to defend – Malaga will go all-out for victory. This is certainly common in this league, even if the bottom side were at home to the league leaders. Alcorcon and Albacete have the best points total away this season, with only 11. That isn’t great, which further highlights how important home advantage is. Still, shocks can happen.

The tactical aspect of this game is mostly why I am backing Under 2.5 Goals at 8/11 (Betfair). This is a league where the vast majority of matches fail to beat this line. This is a match where we actually get decent odds, albeit odds-on, but much bigger than for your standard game at this level.

Clearly the market expects Malaga to win and score a few goals in the process against the bottom side. However, Malaga will be facing a side purely defensive and will almost certainly have to be patient. Malaga scored 59% of their goals in the second half.

Also, only five of Malaga’s 13 league matches have actually beaten the 2.5 line so far. That might be a surprise considering they are high up the standings. When we focus specifically on their matches played at La Rosaleda, it’s just two from six ending over.

Malaga are unbeaten at home, which suggests that teams will come very much looking to park the bus, especially those lower down the table, such as Gimnastic. Malaga’s scores at home this season read 1-0, 1-0, 3-0, 1-0, 2-1 and 2-0. Whilst the 100% record is impressive, they’ve been mostly tight contests.

Even for Gimnastic away from home, they aren’t necessarily being well-beaten on a consistent basis. They’ve earned draws at Cadiz and Reus Deportiu, and only lost quite narrowly to Gijon, Lugo and Albacete. A 4-0 loss to Las Palmas goes against the grain to a degree. They’ve only scored twice on the road, which further highlights their intention to be very defensive.

The stats do suggest their defence will be penetrated at some stage, but they can certainly make life difficult for Malaga. Malaga’s home matches have only averaged 1.8 goals so far, for Gimnastic away, it is 2.2, with five out of six ending below 2.5 goals.

KV Mechelen v Lommel SK | Saturday 17th November 2018, 19:30

There is still action in Belgian this weekend despite the international break and the Belgian First Division B league leaders KV Mechelen are on show, welcoming Lommel SK to the Achter de Kazerne.

The  hosts were playing their football in the A league of Belgian football last season before suffering relegation. This brought an end to their rather lengthy spell in that league, but as things stand they are heading back at the first attempt.

Mechelen are on an unbelievably run of form. They did start the league campaign in a rather disjointed fashion, which is to be understood considering they were relegated and did seem to be suffering something of a hangover. It was one win from their first six, however, they’ve certainly turned matters around now.

It is nine victories in row, one being in the cup, for the Yellow Reds. Nevertheless, eight league victories in succession have propelled them to the top and they’re looking incredibly tough to beat.

There are only eight teams in the league, so Mechelen have pretty much faced them all within this period. Last time out it was a 2-1 home triumph over St.Gilloise, who sit second in the standings, so confidence couldn’t really be any higher at present.

Wouter Vrancken, a former Lommel SK manager, will be eager to maintain this winning streak when his former club visit on Saturday.

KFC Lommel SK were declared bankrupt in 2003, which lead to Lommel being born. They would then merge with KFC Racing Mol-Wezel, and would then change their name to Lommel United. Then in recent seasons, the name was changed again to Lommel SK, after losing their professional status following relegation.

Lommel won promotion last season and is a club on the up again, but they have certainly been inconsistent this season. It reads five wins, four draws and four defeats for the club. Sitting fifth in an eight-team league may not look too good, but they are only five points off third-place, which may even give them a possible shot of making the Europa League qualifiers.

Lommel, however, currently situated within the relegation group, so dropping back down a league right away wining promotion is still a possibility. It only takes a few wins to quickly jump in this very small league however.

The two sides have already met twice this season when Mechelen ran out convincing 3-0 winners away in Lommel in the most recent fixture. Lommel actually won 2-1 away from home in the opening head-to-head, but it is worth mentioning this was at the start of the campaign when Mechelen were still out of sorts.

In league and cup, it is nine wins in a row for Mechelen. Their scores read as follows: 2-0, 3-1, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0 and 2-1. They haven’t just been winning games but doing so in quite convincing fashion, including against their weekend opponents.

Mechelen have specifically beaten the -1 handicap in eight of those victories, and that is the why we’re going this weekend. Mechelen -1 pays a handy 6/5 (Betway) and has to be worth a little play on Saturday night.

Lommel are the only team to have beat Mechelen at home this season, so the hosts will be just as eager to correct that once and for all in front of their supporters this time around. To their credit, Lommel have quite a solid away record this season, with only Mechelen actually posing a stronger record.

Still, it is tough to ignore the current form of Mechelen, given they have been blowing teams apart in recent weeks. Mechelen are the top scorers in the division and also pose the best defensive record, too.

Best Bets

Malaga v Gimnastic – Under 2.5 Goals (8/11 Betfair)

KV Mechelen v Lommel SK – KV Mechelen -1 handicap (6/5 Betway)

About Author

Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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