FC Goa v Kerala Blasters | Saturday 25th January 2020, 14:00
This is the first time I’ve jumped at the chance to include the Indian Super League in my World Football articles, and it has been a long time coming. I’ll admit that this league has become something of a guilty pleasure, and the fact it is a one-game per day league means you can pretty much watch it all.
FC Goa are a team that is always involved around the top of proceedings and that is no different this time around. They have the prospect of going top of the table with a win on Saturday, and they’re enjoying a three-match home winning run, so have every chance of being able to do so. However, they’re lost two of their last three overall, so do have something of a point to prove.
Under their Spanish Head Coach Sergio Lobera, a former Barcelona assistant manager, Goa has become a team that is quite pleasing on the eye. Going forward they’re arguably the best in the division, and going into this round of fixtures they’re the top scorers on 25 goals. They’re shipped 16 though, so expect an open game.
Kerala Blasters are looking to bounce back having finished second from bottom last season. That is no problem in the sense that there is no relegation, but they’re only third from bottom as things stand now, so they need to get more consistent. They’ve won two of their last three however, including away at league leaders ATK, so they travel not without hope.
Kerala have had quite an English influence over the years, and can boost former managers such as David James, Peter Taylor and Steve Coppell. The likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown, Michael Chopra and Stephen Bywater have also been on the books before, but no Englishman is on the roster anymore. A bit like Goa, they can score, but they do concede, although only two more than Goa.
Eelco Schattorie is the boss these days and he made a decent impression when managing North East United last season, so was a sensible appointment. He brought with him veteran striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who along with Goa front man Coro, is one of the top attackers in the India. He has seven of their 18 goals so far, so expect him to have a role to play.
Goa are short odds to win this one and that is understandable on the league table front. They’re also unbeaten in the last five head-to-head encounters, winning four of those. As mentioned, Goa play openly and I expect them to concede, especially they’ve only four clean sheets this season, and Kerala only has two.
Both Teams To Score is an attractive 17/20 (Betway) proposition and it will be our play. Of 26 games combined between both clubs this season, 16 has seen BTTS pay out. This will be open and end-to-end, plus with the two best strikers in the league on the pitch, I’m quite happy to lean down this route.
Pisa v Juve Stabia | Saturday 25th January 2020, 14:00
We’re over the halfway stage in the Italian Serie B and almost every team has something to play for. In the case of many, there are possible promotion aspirations and relegation fears at the forefront, with many separated by only a couple of points. Both Pisa and Juve Stabia fit into that category, which makes this quite an interesting match-up this weekend.
Pisa find themselves only two points above the relegation play-off spots, whilst only three points behind the last occupied promotion play-off position. This again highlights how compact this division really is!
Teams always go on runs, good and bad, and Pisa find themselves without a win in four. They have drew their last two however; away to league leaders Benevento last time out and at home to Frosinone, who is that mentioned team in the last promotion play-off spot, so we can’t say Pisa are in freefall or anything to that nature.
It is three without a win at home however, although they did win the three in succession prior to this. They just strike me as one of those sides who will be one extreme or the other, which is why they’re quite inconsistent and in a rough mid-table position. There is however one consistent and rather interesting factor about them, and I’ll get on that later on.
Before that we’ll focus on Juve Stabia, who are actually one of the form outfits in the second-tier of Italian football. They’re five without defeat, winning four of those. That included at an epic 3-2 away win at Chievo, a game in which they were 2-0 behind at half time. They’re without a doubt on their best run of results for a long while now, especially as they opened their league campaign without a win in six.
Three clean sheets in their last four is a big reason for their upturn of late, although it is worth mentioning all of those shutouts came in home games. They’re actually without an away clean sheet since September, and have conceded at least two in five of their seven on the road afterwards. Very, very few teams in this league have a good away record, and I’m always keen to fade teams on the road in this league for that very reason.
Pisa however are below Juve Stabia in the table and aren’t in the best of form in comparison, but there is still a way to get Pisa on our side on this occasion. It is quite amazing to see Pisa’s first half record this season. If we were to add up all the first half records of every Serie B team, they would actually be third. Whilst their second half record places them 18/20, so they seemingly have a real go in the first 45 before dropping off.
A price of Pisa First Half at 2/1 (Coral) therefore is far, far too good to refuse. Our case is strengthened quite considerably knowing that Juve Stabia’s first half record this season purely in away games places them in 19th, scoring only one first half away goal in nine attempts. Pisa are favourites to win the game outright but this game is worth a watch for 45-minutes at least, as the hosts really should come firing out of the blocks.