Lechia Gdansk v Piast Gliwice | Saturday 20th April 2019, 14:30
We have a top-three clash in the Polish Ekstraklasa on Saturday as league leaders Lechia look to bounce back from defeat last weekend as Piast come to town, as the Championship Group (top eight) gets underway.
Lechia might have lost 4-2 away at Cracovia last time out, but that was only their fourth setback of the entire campaign. However, that now means they are only top of the table on goal difference ahead of reigning champions Legia, so the pressure is on.
Or is it? Whilst they’ve been top of the table for some time, the expectation in this league is for Legia to come in first. That is often the case, so it could be argued they’re the ones under the most pressure. Lechia, on the other hand, have never won this league, with third place back in the 1950’s being their best ever finish. This might be their best chance of ever winning the title, so a win this weekend is a must.
That is easier said than done however against a Piast side who defeated Korona 4-0 at home last Saturday. However, it would be fair to say that a strong home record is by and large a large contributing factor to their strong season to date. They’ve got double the amount of points at home as they do on the road, losing only once on home soil so far.
Whilst they’ve won two of their last four away matches, you then have to go all the way back to June, in the first few weeks of the season, for the last time they’ve won on their travels. They’ve only earned two clean sheets away as well, so if there is a time to catch them cold, it is away from Stadion Piast.
For all that Piast aren’t the strongest when not the home side, Lechia are a side that pretty much define home advantage. They haven’t lost in front of their own supporters all season. In fact, they’ve only dropped points on four occasions, the rest have been wins.
The Stadion Energa Gdańsk therefore is a destination that all opponents generally don’t enjoy having to go to this season. Even over time this hasn’t been a good place for Piast to go. They’ve lost on five of their last six visits, and that was when Lechia weren’t anything like the sort of side they are in the current campaign.
A small worry is that Lechia have failed to win on two of the three occasions following a defeat the match before. However, motivation couldn’t really be any higher as they look to crown off the best season in the history of this football club. Piast are in top form, but Lechia have a bigger agenda, such as making the Champions League group stages.
Lechia are who we’re siding with this weekend, but two form sides are facing off and it could be quite a tight affair as a consequence. Only 33% of Lechia’s matches has beat the 2.50 goal line. They’ve got the best defensive record in the division, but only the joint-fifth highest scoring record, proving that they generally manage games very efficiently. Five of the last six H2H meetings has ended under’s, as well.
Therefore, Lechia to win and Under 2.5 Goals looks a handy 16/5 (Betway) selection.
Feirense v Braga | Saturday 20th April 2019, 18:00
Relegation could be confirmed for Feirense this weekend if they lose and results go against them elsewhere. The reality however is that it would now take a minor miracle for them not to drop into the second tier for next season. Still, they do look to raise their game and try to impress against the bigger sides, especially at home. Braga therefore is another chance for them to cause a shock this weekend.
Braga have seen their title challenge come to an end, but finishing ahead of Sporting CP to make third remains a possibility, and is very much their aim before the campaign comes to a close.
Braga have had it tough in recent times. February was a particularly damaging month, which saw them lose three in a row, two of those being Porto and Sporting. They also went three without victory a couple of weeks ago, which saw them knocked out of the cup by Porto, lose to the same opponents again in the league and Moreirense defeat them away from home.
However, Braga have since bounced back, as expected, with a 3-0 home success over relegation-threatened Tondela. They face another side towards the bottom this Saturday. The team at the very bottom in fact, and anything less than three points would be a major shock.
Having said that, Feirense perhaps aren’t as heavily beaten as some might suggest. Yes, they sit bottom of the table and by a mammoth ten-points, but they do generally make a fist of things, especially on home soil. They actually started the campaign losing just one of their first 10 at home in both league and cup.
The hosts are winless in their previous 14 at home now, but they’ve gave teams a game in that period. Porto only scrambled a 2-1 win, Sporting 3-1, plus they scored against Benfica as well. They can cause a scare, but the difference now is relegation is almost a certainty, so motivation could be a bit of an issue.
It could be argued motivation in the Braga camp won’t be sky high. I mean, how much do they want to finish third? They’ll definitely finish third or fourth, but either position will give them Europa League qualification, with only the top-two getting Champions League spots.
Still, Braga are one of those sides that does like to play their football and put on a bit of a show, especially against the weaker opposition. Braga have lost only six games this season, four of which came against the powerhouses Benfica, Porto and Sporting. That means the lowest-positioned team in the table they’ve lost to is Belenenses, who sit in seventh.
Of the 14 matches they’ve played against current bottom half opposition, they’ve won 13, drawing once. Feirense have won only twice all season, although one was impressively away from home to Guimaraes.
Although Feirense have only failed to score in four home matches this season, I can see Braga being one to deny them on this occasion. Braga have gone away from home to the five sides directly above Feirense in the table, won them all, and not conceded a goal.
I like the look of Braga to win ‘to nil’, which is available at 6/5 (Unibet).