Hacken v Falkenbergs | Sunday 1st September 2019, 16:30
Hacken have never won the Swedish top-flight title, but they’re in with half a squeak of potentially claiming their maiden crown in this campaign. They will need to put a run together and hope those above drop points, but the reality is that they’re only seven-points off league leaders Djurgarden, who face big rivals and second in the table AIK this weekend.
Hacken therefore know the importance of three points on Sunday, in what is a very winnable home match.
That is because Falkenbergs are the visitors and they only have 16 points to their name this season, so unsurprisingly they’re battling against relegation. They are third from bottom however, but only have three league wins to their name from 21 attempts so far, and all of them came at home. They’re one of only two winless away clubs in the league, conceding 29 goals from ten encounters on the road.
The visitors tend to struggle against the stronger teams in the league, having lost all seven season meetings so far versus the current top-five. That includes when Hacken visited them earlier in the season, which ended in a routine 3-0 win for Andreas Alm’s side.
Whilst Falkenbergs struggle versus the big boys, Hacken love it against weaker opposition. They’ve W11-D1-L0 when facing teams in the bottom-half. Only five teams have managed to score against them in a home fixture, too. When they get it right, Hacken really are a joy to watch, and whilst they have some issues against the very best in the division, they should be taking a team like Falkenbergs to the cleaners.
That is if the recent head-to-head history is anything to go by. Hacken have won the last four renewals, with the last three ending 3-0, 7-0 and 4-1. Quite simply, they are too good for them. A slight concern however is that Falkenbergs have actually won on four of their last five visits to Bravida Arena, but those came between 2008 and 2015.
Hacken are quite rightly small odds to get the win they need this weekend, with Falkenbergs likely to be happy to sit back and play on the break. The ‘to nil’ category has come back to haunt me a few times this season, so I’ll swerve it for now, but at odds of 7/5 I wouldn’t necessarily want to put you off.
Instead, I have found another selection, which is Hacken to score in both halves. This is an even-money shot (William Hill) and it is mainly to do with Falkenbergs poor defensive record than anything.
The guests have conceded in each half in six of their 10 away league matches. Their last four away matches did include a good 1-1 away draw to Goteborg, but also defeats to the tune of 6-2, 4-0 and 5-0. They ship goals and Hacken will be eager to net early to make this a comfortable afternoon to maintain the momentum they’ve built in recent weeks.
Braga v Benfica | Sunday 1st September 2019, 21:00 | FreeSports
Braga against Benfica is always an attractive fixture for anyone with an interest of European or specifically Portuguese football to gander at, and this weekend we are not disappointed. It comes early in this campaign as we’re only into the fourth round of fixtures in the Primeira Liga this weekend.
Although it is sixth versus fourth, Benfica suffered a home loss to big rivals Porto last time out, whilst Braga have lost at Sporting CP and drew at newly promoted Gil Vincente in their last two league meetings. Both therefore have something to prove going into this one.
It is worth considering that Braga are currently negotiating Europa League qualifiers at this time of the season. Therefore, they will be playing on the Thursday before this game. Having an away trip to Spartak Moscow therefore is not ideal preparation for a game versus one of the top teams in Portugal.
Good preparation is needed considering Braga are winless in the last 12 head-to-head meetings, conceding 13 in the last three combined. However, Benfica are in something of a transitional period so it could be a good time to face them.
As touched upon, Benfica are going through a stage of bedding in new faces and having to replace some departed figures, something the top clubs in Portugal are more than used to having to do. Joāo Félix has of course moved on to Atletico Madrid, whilst Raúl de Tomás and Carlos Vinícius have joined for big fees.
Talented youngsters Nuno Tavares and Ferro are likely to get plenty of game time this season too, and could be the names to leave for big fees in the next few seasons. Therefore, Benfica are very much in transition, but them in transition is still better than maybe settled sides in this league.
It could be argued that Benfica will be vulnerable to stronger opponents in the opening weeks of the season, as the setback to Porto perhaps demonstrated. However, Braga having to be involved in Europe does put me off wanting to really get them on side. I do think there is one pretty solid selection we can get our teeth stuck into.
I’m quite pleased to see Both Teams To Score priced at 3/4 (Boylesports) on this occasion. Eight of the last 10 head-to-head renewals has seen each side find the back of the net, including the most recent five in a row.
I don’t see this as a game where both will necessarily want to sit back. Braga will sense there is a chance of an upset, and they’re normally quite strong at home. Braga only failed to score in one home league match last season, whilst Benfica only failed to score in two away.
Hacken v Falkenbergs – Hacken to score in both halves (1/1 William Hill)
Braga v Benfica – Both Teams To Score (3/4 Boylesports)