World Football: Belgian giants set for tough Sunday test

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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.

Sochaux v Lens | Sunday 17th February 2019. 12:00

The French second-tier is essentially a Friday night league but there is a Sunday afternoon helping this weekend. It features two sides with different agendas this season as Sochaux find themselves battling against relegation and they entertain a Lens side who hold aspirations of playing in Ligue 1 next season.

Whilst there is a big gap between the two in that regard, there is only a two-point difference between the two over the last ten league matches.

Something that will be important to Sochaux avoiding relegation this season is their home record at the Stade Auguste Bonal. Five of their seven victories earned so far has come here, and they’re very much seeking another this weekend. It is realistic to believe that is possible as well.

This used to be a regular head-to-head meeting in Ligue 1, but since the two have begun playing each other at this level, Sochaux has won two of the three at home.

Considering Lens are a team that are looking to win promotion, one thing that they must start to do is become much more consistent. That is essentially their problem at this moment in time. They do have back-to-back clean sheets however, which might be the start of better things to come.

Looking at their record though, it reads only two wins from their previous eight in league and cup. Both of those came at home. Their away record has started to slide; failing to score in any of their last four on the roar.

My initial focus on this game was the clear lack of goals that the two teams produce. Only Paris FC has a smaller goals to game average ratio compared to Sochaux, which stands at 1.90. This is generally quite a low-scoring league anyway, with only team having an average greater than 2.50.

The 2.10 for Lens therefore is actually one of the higher amounts, but it is still low. The odds on Under 2.50 however reflects these numbers, so additional value was located.

Lens are viewed as the favourites to win this game, and looking at the league table that makes sense. However, Sochaux has started to pick up at home, going unbeaten in four, three of which has resulted in three points. They’ve kept three clean sheets in those as well, and we’ve previously touched upon the lack of goals Lens are scoring on the road.

Using the Bet Builder, we’ve found a 6/5 play (Bet365) on Sochaux double chance and Under 3 Goals.

Antwerp v Anderlecht | Sunday 17th February 2019, 17:00

Anderlecht are the most successful team in Belgian football history, but their performances this season suggest that they look well short of that standard. They won’t be extending the 34 league titles they currently have at the end of this season, as just finishing in the top-six is anything but certain at this moment in time.

Making the top six before the league separates at least ensures their participation in the Championship Group, meaning making the Europa League is still a possibility for next season. A trip to Antwerp this weekend will be anything but easy.

Antwerp are having a fine campaign. They find themselves third in the table, some seven points better off than Anderlecht. They last won the top-flight in Belgian football all the way back in 1957, but they won promotion back to this level back in 2017.

Finishing eighth last season was good going, and they’ve clearly built upon that this time around. They’ve made big strides under the management of former Monaco, Sporting CP and Romania boss László Bölöni. They’re excited to welcome Anderlecht to the Bosuilstadion on Sunday.

The market is finding it hard to pick a favourite for this one. As the days go by, Antwerp are gaining more support, but with some there are hard to separate. The reason for that is Anderlecht are a big club in this league and a win here wouldn’t be a shock, regardless of their form.

Antwerp are very much punching above their weight, and whilst they sit higher in the table, they may still adopt underdog like status in this one to give themselves the best chance of victory.

Whilst Antwerp could go off as favourites, there is still some good value on them. However, we won’t be backing them outright considering their home record in recent times. They are very inconsistent on home soil, which is proven by their won five, drew four and lost three record.

On the flip side, Anderlecht are dreadful on the road, which is again proven by their won four and lost eight record. Being massively confident in either side this weekend still comes with doubts.

Since Antwerp have been back in the league, the head-to-head games between these two has ended 0-0, 2-1 and 1-1. On any given day, these two can easily cancel one another out. Anderlecht will certainly play for the win, and that may suit Antwerp more as they can always treat this as an away game in terms of tactics.

Only Genk have a stronger away record than Antwerp. Anderlecht should see more of the ball, but that won’t shock or worry Antwerp in a big way.

For additional value, we’re looking down the goals line for this one as well. 83% of Anderlecht’s away games has seen both teams scoring. The same can be said of 67% of Antwerp’s home clashes. Both teams quite often score, but they clearly struggle for clean sheets as well.

Antwerp double chance and Both Teams To Score is priced 8/5 (Bet365).

Best Bets

Sochaux v Lens – Sochaux double chance and Under 3 Goals (6/5 Bet365)

Antwerp v Anderlecht – Antwerp double chance and Both Teams To Score (8/5 Bet365)

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