New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC | Saturday 8th May 2021, 18:00 | Sky Sports
For the second week in succession, I’m taking in a New York Red Bulls game and I believe this is a bit of a situational play which can work in our advantage. Fresh on the back of their first win of the season under the stewardship of Gerhard Struber, NYRB welcomes 2017 MLS Cup winners Toronto FC to Red Bull Arena, a side who have gone through some changes of their own in recent times.
The Canadian club saw long-serving Greg Vanney exit the hot-seat in the off-season having been in the job since August 2014 and taking in 250 games. He was the most successful boss in their history, and Chris Armas is the man tasked with trying to bring back the glory days. To add further spice to this weekend’s game, Armas was in charge with the Red Bulls prior to giving former Barnsley boss Struber the role.
As mentioned, NYRB got their first victory of the campaign under their belts when defeating Chicago Fire 2-0 at home last weekend. I always thought it would take some time before we saw the best of them, and after showcasing glimpses and committing basic errors in their first two, they’ll be hoping to now produce some more consistent showings. That is easier said than done in MLS however, a league where anyone really can beat anyone.
Toronto have endured a tough schedule in recent times and that could potentially work against them going into this weekend. During the week they went away to Mexican side Cruz Azul as they looked to keep their CONCACAAF Champions League prospects alive, but a 1-0 defeat combined with 3-1 first leg setback has ended such hopes of winning that crown for the first time.
So having spent the best part of ten hours on a plane only a few days ago, and having to make another flight for this one in the US, we can expect some tired legs in the Toronto camp. It could very well be the case that they have to make a few rotations to try and freshen up the side, and given how the first few weeks of the season has really been all about their exploits away from MLS, it ultimately could mean a weaker XI.
All focus can now turn towards league matters, and having conceded six goals in their opening two games (a draw and defeat) it clearly highlights some defensive issues. NYRB produced a shutout last time out and that’ll only serve as a massive confidence boost. They are an all-energy side, and anyone who saw Barnsley play under Struber will know exactly what I mean.
Taking on a tired opponent should play well into the hands of Saturday’s home team. Odds of 11/10 (VBet) on a NYRB triumph could look very generous come full time.
Young Boys v Basel | Saturday 8th May 2021, 19:30
A few weeks ago, Young Boys secured their 15th Swiss Super League title, making it four seasons in a row being top dogs in this ten-team league. They have been ultra-dominant from the first whistle in the first game once again, and no team has even come close to challenging them.
When most think of football in Switzerland, then Basel is the often suggested team, but they are firmly second in the pecking order and it looks as though it’ll be that way for a long time to come.
Young Boys’ ease towards the title can be highlighted by the fact they currently enjoy a 25point lead at the top of the standings, with Basel in second. Basel have 47 points, which is level on points from third-place Servette, meaning that Saturday is ultimately a more important game for them, even more so with a handful of clubs sitting on 43 and 42 points outside the European qualification spots.
Bottom side Sion have 31 points, meaning Basel are actually closing to the bottom than top in terms of points, despite sitting in second!
It was only a second league loss of the season when Servette defeated Young Boys last weekend, but this was their third game after officially sealing the title, and boss Gerardo Seoane used it as an opportunity to rotate his squad, possibly to try things out or maybe just to ensure they are perfectly ready for this clash with Basel, which is a game against their natural rival and one they’ll be eager to win, despite it ultimately not meaning anything league table wise for them.
They have won the league four seasons running, and therefore they have enjoyed the head-to-head success for quite a while now. Basel have only won three of the last 20 against this opposition, and have very firmly been put in their place. They are winless on their last ten visits to this stadium, losing eight.
Basel have struggled on the road full stop over the last few months, winning just once in eight on their travels in league and cup, including five losses. Since the start of this season, only Servette in the league has left with all three points away to Young Boys, whilst Ajax and Roma also beat them here in the UEFA Europa League. It is clearly something of a fortress.
Young Boys won’t be partying in the build-up to this one, as they know it is ultimately the big game in Switzerland between the two best teams. The fans will want a win here, and they very, very rarely lose back-to-back. Goals naturally follow them, and Basel too. Basel’s league games are averaging over 3.00 goals, whilst only three times since the start of 2010 have they failed to score on this ground when visiting.
Young Boys to Win and Both Teams To Score offers decent value at 2/1 (Bet365), especially when we put it against a home win and over 2.5 goals, which is around 5/4.
New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC – New York Red Bulls (11/10 VBet)
Young Boys v Basel – Young Boys to Win & Both Teams To Score (2/1 Bet365)