Midtjylland v Horsens | Sunday 15th March 2020, 13:00
Last weekend, the Danish Superliga played all of their matches behind-closed-doors due to the coronavirus epidemic that has spread across the globe. This will be the case for the foreseeable future in this league at least.
This likely contributed to Horsens earned a shock 1-0 away win at Copenhagen, which is normally a hostile venue, but Horsens seemed to relish the calm surroundings. Midtjylland won away in Randers, which is never an easy place to go.
Midtjylland winning and Copenhagen losing last weekend has opened up a 12-point gap at the summit and it would now take something quite remarkable for Sunday’s hosts to lose the league from this point, especially with FCK also having Europa League commitments. Still, FCM won’t be taking anything lightly, but it should be their third title in six seasons.
Horsens were on a three-game losing streak in the league prior to winning in Copenhagen last Sunday. It was a result which nobody really saw coming. It was only their third away win of the campaign, and they remain the second-lowest scorers and possess the second-worst defensive record in the division.
The fact they won probably reduces the pressure on Horsens going into this game to the league leaders. Three points from the two hardest away clashes in the league would be an amazing outcome for them. Midtjylland are firing on all cylinders right now though, and nothing is stepping in their way. FCM have won all four fixtures following the winter break, and without conceding.
Midtjylland are also on a rather amazing 11-match winning streak in this head-to-head meeting. Horsens last won in May 2012, whilst September 2006 was the last time they went to Midtjylland and left with all three points.
The hosts are understandably short odds to win here, and I’ll admit the no fans element does put me off getting involved in matches as the fans really do play a big part. Still, Midtjylland are a small club by and large and only get crowds of around 8,000, so it may not affect them so much. They’re on a roll.
Santa Clara v Braga | Sunday 15th March 2020, 15:00
A mid-table finish of 10th last season for Santa Clara represented their best ever season in the top flight of Portuguese football, and that is again the position they occupy with just ten encounters remaining this time around. They’re safe from relegation and won’t be threatening the European spots, so they can attack games as they wish from now on.
Braga are in their usual third or fourth place spot, and being knocked out of the UEFA Europa League means they have no more distractions.
Braga certainly would have wanted that distraction considering they are so often behind Porto and Benfica in this league, but they are at least winning the battle with Sporting CP for third spot as things stand. They therefore need to win the games against the rest of the league to give them the momentum they need for when those big matches come around.
Braga have won both matches since losing to Rangers, so that says everything about their mental state.
Santa Clara are great against the weaker teams in the league. They’ve lost only one of 11 league meetings to teams below them in the table this season. Now, their record against the big four reads four defeats, scoring only one goal in reply. They lost 2-0 in Braga earlier this season, and they now need to raise their game considerably.
Braga have four away defeats to their name, and three come to teams in the bottom half. So, they’ve lost at places like bottom side Aves, but on the flip side they’ve been to both Porto and Benfica and left with three points. They’ve changed manager during the season and they’ve looked a different side since then. They’ve won their last five away in league action, with only Rangers beating them on the road since mid-December.
The slight concern is they’ve slipped up to lesser teams before, so I’ll actually going to swerve any outright market, especially as Santa Clara have nothing to play for and could be dangerous in that regard.
I do however think a much safer play is Braga Over 1.5 Goals at 1/1 (Marathon). They’re the fourth-highest away scorers in the league, and this selection has paid off in 11 of their last 15 away in all competitions. They’re an attack-minded team and always create chances, so for them to score two goals against a team they’re much better than just makes sense, right?