Club Brugge v Charleroi | Sunday 20th January 2019, 13:30
The Belgian top-flight resumes following a winter break this weekend, and reigning champions Club Brugge will be looking to continue where they left off in 2018. They ended the year with back-to-back victories, one of which was a 5-1 home triumph over third in the table Antwerp.
Ivan Leko’s side still have a seven-point gap to overcome to league leaders Genk, so it’s important they don’t drop points, especially at home.
As for Charleroi, they find themselves bang in md-table, sitting 8th in this 16-team league. They ended last year with back-to-back defeats, but they did enjoy a decent run of form prior to that. Historically this isn’t a game they have had too much joy in, although they did win the earlier season meeting at home back in November.
Long-serving boss Felice Mazzu will be hoping to guide the club to a top-six finish, which would ensure them a spot in the Championship Group, before the league separates.
We’ve already touched upon the fact that Charleroi, known as The Zebras, don’t tend to enjoy their trips to the Jan Breydel Stadium. You only need to look through the list of games between these two at this venue to understand the sheer dominance which they’ve had. Charleroi last earned victory here back in 2008, since then they’ve returned 13 times, losing on 11 of those occasions.
Home surroundings is a huge comfort to Club Brugge. Leko’s side have the best home record in the division. Charleroi on the other hand have earned just the two victories on the road in 10 attempts so far. These were versus Lokeren and Eupen, who are below them in the table.
Brugge are all about goals, netting 48 times so far, something only bettered by top of the table Genk, and only by one. However, Charleroi are no slouches themselves when it comes to scoring, especially on the road, which does come as a surprise considering their poor record away from the Stade du Pays de Charleroi.
In fact, Charleroi are on a seven-match scoring run on the road. This includes trips to the likes of Anderlecht and Gent. However, they’ve conceded in all of those matches as well. When on their travels, games tend to be that little more open. Their away matches in the league average 3.20 goals.
On the flip side, Club Brugge have scored in their last ten at home as well. This season full stop, only Dortmund and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League has prevented them from scoring in front of their own supporters.
Brugge have witnessed both teams scoring in 62% of their matches, 60% at home as well. This suggests that attack is very much their best form of defence. Charleroi’s numbers are even greater, with 71% overall finishing in BTTS. Focusing purely on their clashes away from home, it is a whopping 90%.
With that being the case, and Club Brugge clearly being the stronger of the two teams, we’ll back Club Brugge to win and Both Teams To Score at 39/19 (188BET).
Emmen v PSV Eindhoven | Sunday 20th January 2019, 13:30
PSV Eindhoven boss Mark van Bommel has decided against adding to his squad across the winter break, only allowing one cover defender to depart. He is well within his rights to do so considering how impressive they were in the opening half of the campaign in the Eredivisie.
PSV do however only hold a two-point lead over Ajax, and they know if they ever drop points in any game, there is a big chance that Ajax will overtake them. The pressure is therefore on the visitors here, who have won 16/17 so far, with only Feyenoord to defeat them.
That record looks rather perilous when FC Emmen take them on this weekend. Whilst they are playing their football at the same level, the two clubs really are streets apart on so many levels.
Emmen’s Oude Meerdijk ground will cram in just under 9,000 supporters for Sunday’s big clash, which represents only the second ever meeting between these two. The earlier season meeting saw PSV dismantle Emmen 6-0, in front of 34,200 supporters.
Emmen to their credit are doing OK in their maiden voyage into the Eredivisie. They’ve only won four times, but they find themselves outside the relegation zone, which is ultimately their end of season aim. Under the management of Dick Lukkien, Emmen have at least managed to be competitive in most of the games they’ve played.
PSV, Ajax and AZ are the only sides to really have dished out a beating to Emmen this season. However, we cannot ignore the fact PSV were one of those sides, and whilst it was 6-0 earlier in the season, it could have been more.
This game is very much a free hit for Emmen. Expectation will be low, and they will be the super underdog and all underdogs on Sunday. They have everything to gain. PSV however will be used to this being the case, as every opponent looks to raise their game against them. Given the wealth of talent at their disposal, it could be another big win this weekend.
However, PSV have been made to work hard away from home in more recent times. Feyenoord defeated them, whilst lowly Breda and Groningen made them work very hard for three points. PSV will get games like that over the season however, and their quality should tell come full time on this occasion, once again.
PSV are averaging exactly 3.00 goals per game away from home so far. Whilst Emmen are conceding exactly 2.00 at home in the league as well. Everything points towards PSV, unsurprisingly.
Emmen has only failed to score once at home this season, and that’s mostly against run-of-the-mill teams at this level. This suggests that they will be prepared to have a go to a degree here. That can only play into PSV’s hands, who can say only Barcelona has prevented them from scoring on the road both domestically and on the European stage this season.
Also, PSV are particularly handy at netting in either half. 76% of the team they have scored in each half, proving they are quick out the blocks and are able to kill teams off in the second period as well.
Emmen don’t necessarily concede in each half that often, but they’re going to be under immense pressure in this game. PSV to score in both halves pays 8/11 (William Hill).
Ajax v Heerenveen | Sunday 20th January 2019, 15:45
Ajax have been one of the form teams in the world for a while now, yet they’ve still not quite been able to overcome PSV at the league summit just yet. The gap however is now down to two points entering the second half of the season, having had the winter break to recharge their batteries.
Ajax may have lost centre back Maximilian Wöber to Sevilla, but Lisandro Magallán from Boca Juniors to fill that void, spending a cool £8m or so in the process. Ajax last lost a game back in September, when being defeated 3-0 by rivals PSV, and that remains their only defeat of the campaign, which includes the Champions League.
It might surprise you to know that this weekend’s game features two of the top three highest-scorers in the Eredivisie. Ajax in unsurprisingly one of those, but Heerenveen sit proudly in third, with PSV sandwiching the two. However, there is still a 24 goal difference between the two!
Heerenveen haven’t been the most consistent of sides this season, which is reflected by their 10th place standing after 17 games of action. They’ve actually only won five times in the league, three of which came last month, just before the winter break.
Ajax are going to win this game, baring a big, big winter break hangover. It is a fixture, like many others in this league, that they have dominated for quite some time. Consider that second place is a bad season for Ajax, and that’ll reflect their level of control, along with PSV, in the Dutch top flight.
Ajax have won the last 10 meetings head-to-head, both home and away. In 2009, Heerenveen departed the Johan Cruyff Arena with a memorable 1-0 success; their last victory over the four-time European Cup winners. The last four between these two has seen Ajax win 4-0, 4-1, 4-0 and 5-1.
These two actually meet again in midweek in a domestic cup tie, and Ajax might want to get the job done early in order to then concentrate on that competition. PSV have been knocked out of that one, so Ajax know they are the team to beat in that tournament.
Quite often this season, normally before Champions League games, Ajax get the job done in the first half and then ease off in the second period. They still score more in the second period on average, but ahead of midweek games to come then I’d imagine it won’t be as emphatic.
Ajax have conceded only twice at home this season, whilst they’re averaging exactly 4.00 goals on average at home as well. We’ll chance Ajax being at it right from the off here following the winter resumption.
Ajax -1 first half handicap is nicely priced at 5/4 (Ladbrokes).
Club Brugge v Charleroi – Club Brugge to win and Both Teams To Score (39/19 188BET)
Emmen v PSV Eindhoven – PSV Eindhoven to score in both halves (8/11 William Hill)
Ajax v Heerenveen – Ajax -1 first-half handicap (5/4 Ladbrokes)