Ostersunds v Sirius | Saturday 19th October 2019, 15:00
With the international break now firmly to one side for now, domestic top-flight football makes a triumphant return and the Swedish Allsvenskan is arguably one of the most open leagues in world football right now.
Why? Well, the top-four are separated by three-points with only three matches remaining, whilst seven clubs could still be relegated. It is the bottom end of the standings we’re focusing on this weekend.
Ostersunds have made headlines for all of the right reasons over the last few years, most notably under the management of now Brighton & Hove Albion boss Graham Potter. They reached the Europa League and the minnows looked to only be going up. However, this season has most certainly been a struggle and relegation remains a real prospect. They sit two points above the bottom three.
Sirius are still involved in that hunt but they are slightly more comfortable in relation to being five points off the drop zone. It would take a bit of a collapse and sudden improved form from a few sides below them to now be relegated, but they’ll want the points to be sure. Only bottom side AFC Eskilstuna have actually lost more league games than Sirius, who have drew only four times in 27; the lowest of any side in the division.
Without a doubt this is a more important game for Ostersunds. Sundsvall, who sit just below them in the table, take on the bottom side AFC Eskilstuna, so a win combined with a loss for Ostersunds who would them swap places. Third from bottom is actually a relegation play-off position, but that’s still something they’d want to avoid if possible.
Now, Ostersunds actually haven’t won a league game since July, just over three months ago. They’ve lost seven of their last eight league fixtures. Form is clearly an issue. Sirius were on a three-match losing streak before defeating Helsingborg before the international break. They certainly have the form edge but they’re not consistent, having not won back-to-back since the first two encounters of the season.
Now, I may need my head testing but I’m actually going to tip up Ostersunds to win here at 107/100 (Royal Panda). By all known form this appears questionable, but having seen their last few games I do think they may be starting to turn the corner. They made joint-top Djurgarden work very hard to beat them, whilst they more than deserved their away draw at Hacken (6th) last time out, and probably should’ve won.
With Sirius not known for stringing wins together, I do just think Ostersunds need the win here, and fancy them to get it if they can repeat their recent showings in this one versus weaker opposition.
Olympiakos v OFI Crete | Saturday 19th October 2019, 17:30
We have a top-four battle in Greek Super League to look forward to on Saturday evening as league leaders Olympiakos look to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign against a Crete side who are the top scorers in the division. Olympiakos have the strongest defensive record, so something may have to give in this one.
Naturally, Olympiakos are heavy favourites to win as that is generally the case on practically every game for several years now. They’re normally the dominant force at this level on a count of 44 league titles, although AEK and PAOK have won it in the last two campaigns, so former Sporting CP boss Pedro Martins is looking to guide them back to the top.
It was a 13th place finish for Crete last season following promotion out of the second-tier. If the early stages of this campaign is anything to go by then they’ve made some rapid progress to try and break the barrier to the higher echelons in this league, which is filled by the likes of Olympiakos, AEK and PAOK, whilst Xanthi have started the season really well, too.
It is key to remember that Olympiakos are also juggling UEFA Champions League commitments and they entertain Bayern Munich in a few days’ time. They’ve already drew at home to Tottenham and it means they’re unbeaten at home since February when losing a Greek Cup tie to Lamia. Last September was when they last lost a home league fixture and they’re currently on a 12-match home winning league streak.
Crete do not have the best of away records over time, although they have been to Panathinaikos and won earlier in the campaign. OFI have improved in more recent times on the road however on a count of losing one of their last five in the league, continuing on from last season. However, apart from a draw in 2011, they’ve lost on every other visit to Olympiakos in recent memory.
The odds are heavily staked in favour of the hosts but we need to find another way of getting them on side. Olympiakos to win and Under 4 Goals at 1/1 (Bet365) on the Bet Builder will be our selection.
For all that Olympiakos do keep on winning, they are rarely emphatic to the point of ‘hammering’ an opponent. This remains a top-four game for now, so OFI will be no pushovers. Only one of Olympiakos league matches this season finished Over 3.5 Goals. They have a 5-0 win to their name this season, but the rest read 1-0, 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 in the league.
Ostersunds v Sirius – Ostersunds to win (107/100 Royal Panda)
Olympiakos v OFI Crete – Olympiakos to win and Under 4 goals (1/1 Bet365)