World Football: Portuguese mismatch presents plenty of Sunday value

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WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) looks to continue his fabulous form with a selection of hand-picked best bets from across the planet on Sunday.

VfL Osnabruck v Braunschweig | Sunday 7th April 2019, 13:00

Osnabruck are going great guns this season, and to enjoy a nine-point lead at the top of the table at this stage of the season and in such a traditionally competitive league such as this is quite something. The job isn’t done yet of course, but with eight matches remaining they look on course to secure promotion into the second tier of German football.

Osnabruck face a Braunschweig side who are normally regulars in that second tier, but were relegated last season, and they’re far from certain to avoid back-to-back relegations. They’ve improved their form of late, but sit only two points above the bottom four.

Osnabruck did make quite heavy weather of beating 10-man Lotte at home in their last outing, eventually scoring late to win 1-0. Getting the job done in circumstances like that is what a team that should win promotion is all about, so they’ll be happy to claim the points. That made it three wins in a row, and five without defeat.

Braunschweig have actually only lost once in their previous 13 league encounters, and even that was only 3-2. They looked relegation certainties at one point, so they’ll actually be glad to be in the position they’re in, even if they did begin the campaign with promotion aspirations. If they can avoid relegation this season, they can very much ‘do a Leicester’ in respects of staying up and then winning the league the following season. They have momentum and clearly aren’t easily beaten right now.

To be honest, this isn’t a game I really want to be getting involved in with regards to the win market. Certainly some will be attracted to see odds-against quotes of the clear league leaders at home to a side ultimately battling relegation. However, both are in great form, and there isn’t that much between the sides 11 against 11 on the pitch.

The goals angle is one I am more than pleased to jump into however. When two form teams go head-to-head, it is not uncommon for the two to cancel one another out. We’re at that stage of the season where every game really means something, and this encounter has consequences at the top and bottom of the table. It is probably more important to Braunschweig given that the hosts have such a lead at the top.

18/31 of Osnabruck and 19/31 of Braunschweig’s league encounters has finished below the 2.50 goal line. Five of Braunschweig’s last seven has done the same, whilst Osnabruck can have some issues breaking down sides towards the bottom of the standings at home.

17/25 (Marathon) on Under 2.5 Goals looks worthy of some interest.

Hammarby v Kalmar | Sunday 7th April 2019, 16:30

We’ve only had one round of games in the Swedish top-flight but there was still lots to be learnt from the opening matches. Having watched Hammarby away to Elfsborg, you get the impression that watching Hammarby this season is going to be quite entertaining. Scoring goals shouldn’t really be an issue for them.

The well-supported club had a real title push last season, before fading away. They’ll look to challenge again once more, but it is perhaps unlikely to expect them to do so. Kalmar lost 2-0 at home to expected strugglers Sirius, so this away assignment on Sunday promises to be a tough encounter.

Something Hammarby made the most of last season was home advantage. They won 10 of their 15 at home in front of their very passionate fans. With Sunday being the curtain raiser to their home campaign this time around, the players will be suitable motivated to put on a bit of a show.

Kalmar are something of a wounded animal after a very poor home loss, so they’ll look to raise their game for the occasion. However, they did not travel too cleverly last season, having failed to win in 10 of their 15 on the road. Both meetings between these two last season actually ended in draws, so that just goes to show Kalmar have the ability to make life tough. Having said that, Hammarby will expect three points.

Low stakes are probably advised on this game given the fact we are indeed only into the second run of games, but there does look to be some value in sticking with the home side. Backing them at odds-on doesn’t offer too much value, but we’re prepared to stick with them alongside another market.

As mentioned, Hammarby should not be struggling for goals this season, and I’m backing them to have a good time of it on Sunday.

Hammarby to win and Over 1.5 Goals is a decent 21/20 (Boylesports) shot all things considered. They don’t strike me as the sort of team who will look to win 1-0. That of course might be the outcome, but I fancy them to strike early enough to make this more of a comfortable afternoon of things.

In half of Kalmar’s last 14 away from home they’ve conceded at least 2+ goals, plus they obviously began the campaign losing 2-0 at home to relatively poor opposition.

Feirense v Benfica | Sunday 7th April 2019, 17:30

Benfica actually head into this encounter on the back of a cup loss to rivals Sporting CP during the week. They led 2-1 from the first leg, but suffered a 1-0 loss on the night to depart the competition at the semi-final stage on the away goals rule.

Whilst that will be very disappointing, winning the league is always the priority in Portugal for the big clubs, especially as they didn’t win any trophy at all last season. Feirense have at least had a full week to prepare for Sunday’s game, but that is perhaps the only thing going in their favour.

Feirense are rock bottom of the standings having won only twice across the season. Second from bottom Chaves are nine points better off than they are, which indicates that realistically it looks as though Feirense are already assigned to life back in the second tier next season.

Nevertheless, they’ll look to cause a scalp or two before they go, and they enter this encounter with Benfica with really nothing to lose. They’ve not won a league match since November.

Whilst the hosts could be forgiven for having plenty to fear this weekend, they’ll take some heart from the fact they only lost 2-1 at home to Porto only last month. All seven head-to-head meetings between these two however has seen Benfica come out on top. Feirense have only scored two goals collectively in that period as well. Unsurprisingly they’re the lowest-scorers in the league now, and Benfica are by far the highest-scorers.

For all that Benfica enter this on the back of a disappointing cup defeat, they’ve not lost a league match since 2nd January. They cannot afford to drop points in this two-way battle with Porto for the title. Porto should win their match this weekend at home to Boavista, and every point is going to be vital in the run-in.

Benfica are rightly the massive odds-on favourites for this encounter, so it again presents the fun challenge of trying to find some value to keep them on side. There is one market I often look towards when matches of this nature are presented, and I’m happy to look towards it once again.

Benfica to Score In Both Halves is a nice 1/1 (William Hill) play that really should be coming in. Benfica have managed to do this in over half of their league encounters so far, and in 64% of their away league contests.

Benfica are scoring just shy of three goals per game, so this really should be a match where they have plenty of joy in from an offensive perspective. They’ll be hurting from the Sporting CP loss, so expect them to start strongly to avoid this being a real banana skin.

Best Bets

VfL Osnabruck v Braunschweig – Under 2.5 Goals (17/25 Marathon)

Hammarby v Kalmar – Hammarby to win and Over 1.5 Goals (21/20 Boylesports)

Feirense v Benfica – Benfica to Score In Both Halves (1/1 William Hill)

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