Heracles v Groningen | Sunday 21st October 2018, 13:30
It has been an impressive start to season from Heracles. They sit fourth in the Eredivisie standings eight matches in, surpassing the likes of Vitesse and AZ.
A common theme for Heracles' games, as has been the case for a while now, is goals. Only PSV, Ajax and Heerenveen have scored more than the 19 they have achieved so far, but only bottom of the table Breda have conceded more.
Attack is certainly the best form of defence for Heraclieden. A victory this weekend could potentially see them move level on points with Ajax.
As for Groningen, it has been an almighty struggle so far. Former player Danny Buijs was handed the job over the summer but has found it tough to stamp his authority so far. They’ve amassed only four points from a possible 24, leaving them second from bottom.
Groningen have netted a very poor four goals in that period, although they actually have a slightly defensive record compared to Heracles. Still, 12 points and 12 teams separates them heading into this round of fixtures, which makes Heracles the rightful favourites.
Without a doubt, the main reason for Heracles’ strong start to the campaign is their home record. They have very much made their Polman Stadion base a fortress, a venue that even the best Dutch football has to offer can struggle in. This is one of the grounds which has artificial turf in place, which is perhaps one big advantage in their favour.
It is four wins from four in front of their own fans in this particular season, scoring 13 goals in those contests. Heracles scoring an average of 3.25 goals at home is simply blowing the opposition apart. The same may happen to Groningen this weekend.
However, whilst Groningen are clearly finding it hard at this moment, they’ve only really been dealt one big beating this season. That came on the opening day when losing 5-1 to Vitesse. Ajax have also beat them 3-0 away, but that was to be expected. Although the ‘Pride of the North’ face a stiff task this weekend by all accounts, they have proved to be relatively stubborn all things considered.
It is very tough to ignore how Heracles play however, and this brand of football is very quintessentially Dutch. All their focus is on how they attack, and whilst they may sometimes come unstuck against the stronger sides, against weaker opposition, or out of form outfits at least, they should have some joy. To their credit, AZ Alkmaar are one of the sides they have beaten at home already.
This however has been a tough place to go for Groningen in recent times. They’ve suffered defeat in three of their last four visits, and the form guide suggests that will only continue on Sunday.
Every Heracles home game has beaten the 2.5 line. Half of their games overall have even beaten the 4.5 line. Goals are on the agenda this weekend, and Groningen may even fancy their chances of pinching a goal on the break possibly.
With Heracles scoring 3.25 goals on average at home, and Groningen conceded 2.25 on average away, Over 2.5 Goals should come in if the form guide is correct. Therefore, a Heracles win and Over 2.5 Goals pays an attractive 6/4 (Betway) and is a good way to squeeze out some value.
Djurgarden v AIK Stockholm | Sunday 21st October 2018, 14:00
At one stage earlier in the season, it looked as though Djurgarden would really threaten the top spots in the Swedish Allsvenskan. However, after suffering defeat in the Europa League play-offs to Ukrainian outfit Mariupol, they domestic form has taken a bit of a nose dive.
Eighth in the table is anything but disastrous, but it is firmly mid-table and they very much have nothing to play for entering the final five matches of the current campaign. But one thing they would love to do is to put a pent in AIK’s title challenge; their biggest rival.
This match is known as Tvillingderbyt to locals; the Derby of the Twins, given how both were founded in Stockholm within a few weeks of one another. Nevertheless, if the league table and form guide is anything to go by, then AIK should continue their amazing run of form.
Only once have AIK suffered defeat this season, and are potentially only a few more wins away from lifting the league title for the first time since 2009.
A strong defence has been the bedrock to AIK’s success, letting in only 14 goals over the 25 games so far. They are no slouches in front of goal either, as you’d expect for a side in control of the league crown destiny. Only Hacken and Hammarby have scored more than they have.
The Tele2 Arena has been a good hunting ground for AIK in recent times. They’ve won on their last two visits across the city, and four of the last six.
There is also the bad home form of Djurgarden at this moment in time to take into account. They last tasted success in front of their fans all the way back in late July when defeating Hacken 2-1. That makes it only win in their last eight at home in all competitions, losing three of the past four, including a 1-0 loss to Brommapojkarna, who are in the bottom three.
Whilst motivation will be high to improve that against a big rival, that is easier said than done, and AIK are clearly the best Swedish team this season. Djurgarden seem to reserve their best football for playing away from home, where they have the fourth best record in the top flight.
AIK are just simply a very effective team under the guidance of Rikard Norling, under whom the club won promotion out of the second tier back in 2005. He also won the league title when manager of Malmo in 2013, so he knows what it takes to win the biggest honour in Swedish football as well.
60% of AIK's matches has seen them earn a clean sheet, whilst they’ve only failed to score in 8% of their clashes as well. Eight of Djurgarden’s home matches have failed to beat the 2.5 goal line, but AIK thrive when things get tight. Nine of AIK’s away games have been below 2.5.
We could go down the 2.5 route, as derby games can often be close affairs. However, five of the last eight head-to-head with Djurgarden at home have beaten this, so we’d rather steer clear of that.
Therefore, we’ll play it relatively safe and go for the straight AIK win, which pays 1/1 (Betway). It won’t be often to get AIK at a price like this considering they are fairly comfortable at the top of the table. Only the local derby element has increased their price compared to if this was two teams meeting without the history attached.
AIK are certainly the better team as things stand and they need the points much more.
Goztepe v Besiktas | Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:00
Last season, Goztepe returned to the Turkish Super Lig for the first time since 2003, and they impressed. A sixth-place finish was beyond their wildest expectations, especially as the big four of Fenerbahce, Basaksehir, Galatasaray and Besiktas filled up the European places.
Bayram Bektas was appointed to the managerial job this summer, and he has overseen four wins and four defeats from their opening eight games. Three of those defeats came away from home. They only lost four times at home all last season, so picking up points at Doganlar Stadium is of great importance.
They welcome Besiktas this weekend, who sit third and only three points off the top of the table, but there is still some frustration around the camp around their start to the campaign.
Every time Besiktas fail to win, questions are asked. One win in their last four in all competitions is never good enough but their very high standards, and manager Senol Guneş is more than aware of that. It is therefore important they resume winning ways this weekend, although Goztepe are no pushovers.
Besiktas, also known as BJK, will take heart from the fact they did the double over Goztepe last season, winning 5-1 at home and 3-1 away. However, Besiktas have lost the likes of Fabri, Dusko Tosic, Cenk Tosun, Anderson Talisca and Alvaro Negredo from the squad that competed last season.
Summer signing Loris Karius is yet to improve the rather shaky reputation he developed from his time with Liverpool either.
All teams outside of the big four love it when facing these sort of sides, especially at home. Goztepe can only have just over 12,000 fans in attendance, but they will produce a raucous atmosphere on Sunday night. Therefore, there are some reasons to oppose Besiktas this weekend.
I simply can’t find it in me to back them at odds-on away from home, especially as they’ve drew three of their four on their travels so far. Goztepe have already beaten Fenerbahce so far in front of their supporters, and whilst they have not been themselves this season it was still an excellent outcome for Goz Goz.
Having said that, Besiktas have scored in every league game so far, and even including Europa League games they only haven’t scored on one occasion. Clearly they remain a goal threat, and we’ve already touched upon Goztepe playing at home, with them being among the goals very regularly too. Since their return to the top flight, they’ve only failed to score at home on three occasions.
Taking these into account, we cannot ignore the prospects of Both Teams To Score this weekend. This is available at 5/7 (188Bet).
Besiktas shall certainly play to win but there is a slight vulnerability to them playing away from home. Only 11 times since the start of 2017 in all competitions have Besiktas kept a clean sheet away from home, which is the best part of two years.
Legia Waraw v Wisla Krakow | Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:00
Second meets third in the Polish Ekstraklasa this weekend. The league itself is very tightly packed, with only five points separating the top half of the table after 11 matches of competitive action.
Naturally when most people think of Polish football, then Legia Waraw are one of the teams most will be associated with. That is understandable however, as they’ve won the top-flight for three seasons running, and they were triumphant in 2013 and 2014 as well.
Legia do normally start campaigns sluggishly, until they are often knocked out of European qualifications, then allowing them to fully concentrate on the league. Trnava knocked them out of Champions League qualification in July, whilst Dudelange from Luxembourg ended their Europa League involvement the following month.
However, since a shock 4-1 home loss to Plock on 26th August, Legia are unbeaten and are very much starting to turn the corner.
Wisla had lost back-to-back matches before defeating Cracovia prior to the international break. They were five points short of European qualification last season, and former defender Maciej Stolarczyk has been hired to try and help them go one better. They did win four in a row earlier in the campaign, so they are showing some positive signs this time around.
A strong defence has been a big part of Wisla’s rise to second in the standings. Only 10 times has their defence been beaten, giving them the best defensive record at this moment in time. They travel to Warsaw this weekend very much looking to earn a positive outcome, and that is not beyond the realms of probability.
In fact, they won 2-0 on their most recent visit last season. In all competitions, Legia have only won three at home so far, one being against Irish side Cork City in Champions League qualification. Therefore, from nine at home, it is three wins, two draws and four defeats.
Whilst lots is made of their very passionate support, it is not intimidating the opposition this season if results are anything to go by.
Ricardo Sa Pinto is the latest man to be given the managerial hot-seat this season. He did a great job in Belgium with Standard Liege last season and has been set the task of making it four titles in a row for the 13-time league winners. Even taking into account Legia’s home form from last season, they do not keep many clean sheets at all.
Since the start of 2017, they have only kept 14 clean sheets at home. For a side that has dominated Polish football in their recent history, Legia are surprisingly not much of a solid outfit. Scoring goals has never really been an issue, and clearly as long as they win, that is all they are concerned with.
Wisla will travel with confidence, especially as they already been to Lech Poznan this season, another intimidating atmosphere, and beaten then 5-2. The White Star can only say Legia have scored more goals away from home than them this season, and given how Legia clearly are not at their best playing at home this season, they could be vulnerable.
Wisla Double Chance is priced at 23/20 (Bet365). Legia’s home form makes ranks them 11th out of all the sides in the league, whilst only Jagiellonia have conceded fewer than Wisla on their travels.
Wisla have been known to raise their game in matches of this nature, whereas Legia are still not massively convincing. Of Legia’s 10 victories in all competitions this season, seven have been by a one-goal margin, and they haven’t come up against too many of the stronger quality of opposition yet.