FC Hermannstadt v Astra | Saturday 20th October 2018, 14:00
FC Hermannstadt have had something of a rollercoaster few seasons. They were only founded in 2015 and have won promotion at the end of every campaign. This has earned them a spot in the top-flight of Romanian football, but this sudden rise does present a fair share of challenges.
Hermannstadt's Municipal Stadium is currently being upgraded to comply with league regulations, meaning they are playing their ‘home games’ in Târgu Mureş, which is roughly two hours away. They did start the campaign brightly, and collected seven points from their first three at home, but form has since dipped and they sit second from bottom.
Astra may have suffered back-to-back defeats but they came versus CFR Cluj and FC Viitorul, who are situated second and fourth respectively, with Astra sitting in a pretty respectable fifth spot 11 games into the campaign.
This was the position Astra ended in last season, narrowly missing out of European qualification. They are only four points behind league leaders FCSB however, and they will be targeting three points this weekend.
As mentioned, form has taken a turn for the worse for the Sibienii hosts, going six without victory in the league. They did earn a creditable away draw at sixth-placed Craiova last turn out, but they were slightly fortunate to earn that outcome.
Seven of their eight points have come at home, but it is three consecutive defeats on their temporary home surface. In their defence, they did come up against the current top three, but Astra certainly class themselves in that bracket as well given they actually won this league as recently as 2016.
Prior to losing two straight games, Astra had won four of their most recent five in all competitions. They’ve only lost once on the road too, being a narrow 1-0 loss to FC Viitorul, who sit directly above them in the standings. Their away record last season was nothing special, but they’ve certainly improved this time around.
Another big factor in favour of Astra here is their strong defensive record. Only eight times has their defence been breached so far, which is the joint-second best in the division.
Hermannstadt may be second from bottom but they only let in three more goals than top of the table FCSB. Scoring goals however is their big issue; netting only nine, which is the joint-worse along with bottom side Voluntari.
Clearly we have to get Astra onside, and we can get odds-against in the process. 5/4 (10bet) is a price that is too good to ignore.
Astra have already won twice on the road so far, coming against Concordia and Dinamo Bucuresti, who are positioned higher than FC Hermannstadt at this stage. Astra are suitable motivated to resume winning ways after back-to-back setbacks and these are the sort of games they need to be winning if they want to earn a second Liga 1 title.
Molde v Sarpsborg | Saturday 20th October 2018, 14:30
Molde and Sarpsborg ended last season in second and third place respectively in the Eliteserien, which earned them qualification into the Europa League. Molde would be knocked out by Zenit, but Sarpsborg made it into the group stage, fighting it out with Besiktas, Genk and Malmo.
It is fair to say those European exploits have had a detrimental effect on their league form, as they are not fighting it out for European qualification and relegation is certainly not out of the question.
Molde are third and still retain an outside chance of the title. Top two Rosenborg and Brann have been dropping points recently, but there is still a seven-point gap to make up. If they are to do so, then a strong run of results is needed. They definitely need three points this weekend, over a Sarpsborg outfit that have gone over two months since picking up a single point in the league.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s home side have won four straight games, including at home to league leaders Rosenborg. The form guide clearly sides with them. It wasn’t that long ago that they suffered back-to-back defeats to Stabaek, in the relegation zone, and promoted Ranheim, so there is some doubt to having maximum faith in them.
Solksjaer likes to play a very offensive brand of football. This is highlighted by the fact that they are the top scorers in the division with 49 goals.
For all of Sarpsborg’s struggles in terms of gaining positive results, they have no such problems scoring goals. Despite sitting 10th in a 16-team league, only Molde and Rosenborg have scored more goals than they have.
We can only get relatively slim odds on Molde claiming victory in this game. That is to be expected, plus Sarpsborg are back in Europa League action next week so could have a certain distraction, but Sarpsborg have only conceded five more goals than Molde, suggesting that this is likely to be quite an open and end-to-end contest.
Also, Molde have only drew four of their 25 matches in the Norwegian top flight this season, whilst for Sarpsborg, managed by Geir Bakke, it is only five stalemates for them. Both clearly like to ‘have a go’.
With that being the case, Both Teams To Score is a market which should certainly attract some interest. Even more so when it pays 4/5 (Bet365). 62% of Molde’s games played at their Aker Stadion venue has witnessed BTTS pay out. The same can be said in a huge 75% of Sarpsborg’s clashes on the road.
In only 8% of Molde’s home matches have they failed to score, whilst it is 17% for Sarpsborg away, which is very positive considering their league standing and poor form.
PSV Eindhoven v Emmen | Saturday 20th October 2018, 17:30
Mark van Bommel is finding this managerial lark rather easy. In his first senior club coaching role, he has overseen eight wins from eight Eredivisie games for PSV Eindhoven. This includes a fine 3-0 success over big rivals Ajax at home a couple of weeks ago. They’ve netted 30 goals in the process, conceding only three.
Clearly PSV are the team to beat this season, which won’t come as a big surprise. They even gave Inter a good game in the Champions League earlier this month, whilst they frustrated Barcelona for long spells in the group game opener too.
Emmen, playing their first ever season in the Dutch top flight, will relish this challenge on Saturday. There is no pressure or real expectancy upon them to gain a positive outcome. They sit in a rather low 14th but they’ve only been heavily beaten twice. That came against Ajax and AZ, who were by far the two strongest opponents they have had so far.
This is not a good sign for them heading to the Philips Stadion at the weekend. This will be the first ever head-to-head between these sides, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that PSV are heavy favourites to win again. Quotes of 1/9 hold no appeal at all, but there will be ways to get Boeren on side.
Next Wednesday, Tottenham are the visitors for PSV to face in their latest Champions League match, but that should not serve as a big distraction to them. Every point is key in the Eredivisie, as although they have a 100% record, they are only five points clear of Ajax and will want to keep the foot firmly on the accelerator.
As mentioned, Emmen have already suffered big losses to Ajax and AZ, and Ajax at least certainly class themselves in the same bracket at PSV. PSV are scoring an average of at least four goals per home game, whereas Emmen, under the stewardship of Dick Lukkien, are conceding an average of at least two per away match.
If those averages are maintained, then at least three goals should be witnessed at the weekend. Odds on Over 2.5 Goals offer no appeal, however.
Something that does offer strong appeal in matches of this nature, when a vastly superior team are at home to a much weaker opponent, is the scoring in both halves market. This is something PSV have achieved in 75% of their league matches so far. However, even those odds aren’t as strong as to be expected, so we’ll precise it a little further.
Knowing that PSV have a 100% record, scoring goals for fun and should win this at a canter, the win both halves avenue has to be explored. PSV will dominate the ball here and have several chances of scoring. 75% of their home games have been won ‘to nil', so Emmen may struggle to have an influence going forward.
PSV to Win Both Halves is priced at 5/6 (Bet Stars). The price for them just to score in both halves is a very weak 4/9, so the fairly sizeable different in prices between these very similar markets is music to our ears.
PSV will win this game baring a huge shock, and they are regularly scoring in both halves, and in a game like this it should be enough for them to win both halves. PSV have scored 20 more goals than Emmen already, whilst only bottom of the table Breda have conceded more than Emmen, who travel knowing a tough night awaits.