World Football: Heracles to fall short in the north on Saturday

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WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) continues-off his 2019 travails with two hand-picked best bets from across the continent on Saturday.

Lokomotiv Moscow v Rostov | Saturday 31st August 2019, 14:30

We are approaching the eighth round of fixtures in the Russian Super League and I’m now more than happy to jump onto the betting scene now the league is starting to settle down.

If the first seven games are anything to go by then we’re primed to have an entertaining campaign, as we already have a five-way tie at the top of the standings. Two of those clubs on 14 points meet on Saturday, with Lokomotiv Moscow welcoming Rostov.

Lok. Moscow did endure a frustrating period following their 2004 title triumph, as they had to wait until 2017 to back that up again. A series of mid-table finishes came before their most recent success, and they would finish a runners-up last season, too. They’re very much a club with ambitions towards the top of the division once again, and they’ve started the season positively.

Rostov enjoyed a second place finish in 2016, but finishing in sixth and then 11th last season resembles a steady decline for Valeri Karpin’s men, but they too have started the season well and optimism for an improved showing continues to grow. A positive result from their trip to Moscow on Saturday would further increase that, especially as they’ve already drew with Spartak Moscow, who currently sit in second.

Something to focus on for this particular fixture is how Lok. Moscow are incredibly tough to beat when they’re the home side. In fact, we have to go all the way back to November 2018 when Ural left with a 2-1 win for their most recent home setback. Perhaps a big frustration is that there has been a number of draws including amongst the victories since then, but the fact of the matter is teams find it hard to defeat them.

Rostov aren’t the strongest of travellers either. Whilst they have a won one, drew one and lost one away league record so far, they’ve conceded at least twice in each of them, all to sides likely to be nearer the bottom of the table come the end of the season. They’ve actually only won twice on the road in 2019, both of which contained very late goals.

Rostov have generally been second-best in this particular battle over the years as well. Lok. Moscow are unbeaten in the last eight, winning five of those. In recent memory, Rostov have only twice won away in this game too, the most recent being in October 2015 and the time before that August 2010. Moscow have also scored at least twice in the previous four renewals. They lost only once at home last season, and each of their last four league wins saw them net at least two goals.

I do like the look of Lok. Moscow to win and Over 1.5 Goals. Even more so when a price of 5/4 (Betway) is thrown up.

Groningen v Heracles | Saturday 31st August 2019, 18:45

It has been quite an unfortunate start to the season from Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie. Whilst they have at least one win from their opening three matches, that was followed up with a home loss to Twente and then creditable away draw to AZ Alkmaar. That doesn’t tell the whole story however.

The Twente match was 0-0 at half time after dominating, but would see two players sent off very late in the half. They went on to lose 3-1. They had the better of the AZ match for long spells too, and should’ve won the match, or at the very least scored. It has been a bit of a disruptive period for the club with key players either going or linked with a transfer, but now things can hopefully settle down for Danny Buijs.

Heracles, on the other hand, have been most disappointing in the opening weeks of the new campaign. Two draws and two defeats may have included an encounter with PSV and also a tough assignments versus Vitesse, but three of their four games have been at home, and to not yet record a win isn’t good enough.

The Almelo outfit opened the campaign with a 4-0 setback to Heerenveen; the sort of game they need to be winning to threaten Europe. When you consider Heracles claimed 33 of their 48 league points last season in home fixtures, that shows you how they’ve underperformed in the opening weeks. They beat Ajax and Vitesse at home last season, so they look to have gone backwards.

Groningen have been a little inconsistent for a while now, especially as they’re best league finish since finishing 3rd in 2006 was when ending up in 5th spot in 2014. They ultimately just seem to fall short when trying to break into the next bracket of clubs, but they do certainly fit into the category of ‘on their day’ being a team that can beat most clubs in Dutch football, certainly at home.

Although they lost to Twente first time up at home in controversial circumstances, it is only that game and a narrow loss to Ajax the only occasions in 2019 in which they’ve lost at home. Every other league game at Euroborg saw them record a win, which is quite some record.

We’ve already touched upon how Heracles were mostly reliant on their home form last season for points, and they were most timid on their travels. They were quite simply boom or bust last season, based on the fact they only drew three of 34 regular season league contests. Whilst they earned a shock away draw to Ajax, they lost every other away match to teams in the top half, including 3-0 on their last visit to Groningen.

I can’t really look past Groningen on this occasion, and I am most pleased to see a price of 1/1 (Marathon) available for them to claim three points on Saturday. You’ve got to be quick though! Heracles have not won away at Groningen since March 2011.

Best Bets

Lokomotiv Moscow v Rostov – Lokomotiv Moscow to win and Over 1.5 goals (5/4 Betway)

Groningen v Heracles – Groningen (1/1 Marathon)

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