Lens v Chateauroux | Saturday 3rd November 2018, 14:00
Lens are looking to make up for lost time after a disappointing campaign last season. They had the highest budget out of all sides in Ligue 2, so a 14th-place finish was extremely frustrating. That ultimately led to Eric Sikora losing his job, and former Nottingham Forest boss Philippe Montanier has been in the hot-seat since the summer.
Montanier has clearly overseen some progression, with Sang et Or sitting second in the standings 12 matches in. Two wins from five are not the outcomes they’d have liked in recent times, but they’ve still only lost twice in the league all season, so it is definitely more positive than negative overall.
Chateauroux, on the other hand, find themselves at the other end of the Ligue 2 spectrum at this moment in time. They are currently positioned 16th in this 20-team league, managing only two victories in the league all season.
Including cups, this is only extended to three, so La Berri are certainly not used to the winning trend. That wasn’t the case last season, as the only finished five points off the play-off places in their first season back at this level after winning the Championnat National in 2017.
It became apparent from an early stage than Lens were going to compete at the right end of the table this time around. Including a Coupe de la Ligue encounter, Lens started this season winning their first five matches. All of which came along with a clean sheet.
Montanier was known for his rather offensive style during his relatively brief time in Nottingham, but success in this particular French league is based upon a strong defensive foundation. He should know, he is soon closing in on 100 matches managing in Ligue 2.
In their 12 league games so far, Lens conceded only six times. Four of those came when conceding twice in one game, including last time out when going down 2-1 away in Le Havre.
On the flip side, goals are seemingly very short in supply for Chateauroux. They’ve rather frustratingly drew half of their league games so far, which may suggest they don’t necessarily concede that many for a team so low the table.
That is true, third-placed Brest have conceded only three goals more than they have, suggesting their issues come further up the pitch. The numbers back this up, as only nine teams have they hit the back of the net. Two of those did come in their previous match, which was a 2-2 draw with AC Ajaccio.
Chateauroux also aren’t known for being too handy on the road either. We can count on one hand the amount of victories they’ve enjoyed on their travels in this calendar year. Something else they don’t particular enjoy are their ventures to Lens, either.
On their last three trips here they have returned pointless since 2013, losing 2-1, 2-0 and 4-3 on those occasions. Lens are now very much a different team however, and Montanier has certainly built them into promotion contenders that are hard to beat and clinical in attack.
In 80% of Lens’ home games they have won ‘to nil’ this season. Lens in fact have not conceded a single goal in front of their fans in the league. Chateauroux have failed to find the back of the net in 67% of their matches away from home, too.
Lens to win ‘to nil’ is available at 6/5 (888). Lens goalie Jean-Louis Leca has kept more clean sheets than any other at this level 12 matches in, and we firmly expect that to continue. Lens have scored at least twice in six of their previous 10 Ligue 2 home games, so we can confidently expect them to net again here.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Dynamo Kyiv | Saturday 3rd November 2018, 15:00
To most, there is only one fixture in the Ukrainian Premier League which makes people stand up and take notice, and that is Shakhtar Donetsk versus Dynamo Kyiv, who face off this weekend.
It won’t come as a shock to any simpleton to know these are indeed the two most successful Ukrainian sides. The last time the top-flight in the country was won by a side besides these two was in 1992 when Tavriya Simferopol, making them the first ever winners of the Ukrainian Premier League.
Focusing on present days, it is also no shock to see Shakhtar and Dynamo occupying the top two spots in the division as well. Shakhtar have won the league for two years running, and currently enjoy a five-point lead over their rivals 13 matches into the campaign.
Under Paulo Foncesa, Hirnyky have even managed to grow a bit of a reputation on the European scene for being an attractive, attacking team. They would reach the Round of 16 in the Champions League last season, before being knocked out by eventual semi-finalists Roma on away goals.
Shakhtar travel to Manchester City in midweek as they look to hunt down one of the top two spots to progress, but first things first, there is the small matter of Dynamo to worry about.
As expected, all domestic statistics tend to shine Shakhtar in glowing fashion, but the reality is that is their games with Dynamo Kyiv which perhaps holds more value than most. Still, they’ve managed to net 34 goals in those 13 games, and considered the second-highest scorers are third-placed Oleksandriya with 18, it reflects how potent their attack is. Former Dynamo Kyiv striker Junior Moraes is responsible for 10 of those.
Ex-Belarus national team boss Alyaksandr Khatskevich is leading the Dynamo Kyiv assault this time around, having been handed the job back in back in June 2017. One thing he has managed to do in that period is enjoy a period of success in this particular head-to-head duel.
Whilst only delivering a Ukrainian Super Cup trophy in that period, that came after beating Shakhtar. He has managed eight matches versus Shakhtar, only losing twice with four ending in victory, including the last three ‘away’ (one being the Super Cup at a neutral venue).
Kyiv aren’t big scorers, netting only 15 in the league so far. They have only conceded five however, giving them the best defensive record in the league. They’ve dropped points in four games compared to the two of Shakhtar, which is why five-points separates them going into the weekend.
Dynamo suffered a shock 1-0 home setback to newly-promoted Lviv in their last league game, before progressing in the Ukrainian Cup in midweek. Therefore, the pressure is on to produce the goods this weekend against their big rivals. They will take heart from their recent fortunes in this respective fixture.
Even when we extend the time scale on this, Kyiv have more than held their own. In their last 13 head-to-head, they actually narrowly lead the way with six victories. They clearly raise their game for the big occasion.
This is also proven by their fortunes in their UEFA Europa League group so far, too. They sit joint-top and unbeaten in a group contained FC Astana, Rennes and Jablonec, who are certainly not world beaters, but are of an improved standard to what they mostly face week-by-week in the Ukrainian league.
Kyiv have lost only once of the past seven head-to-head meetings, and we fancy keeping them onside here. Shakhtar are used to dominating games and having the better of things, and they often have a different type of challenge to overcome when facing off versus Dynamo Kyiv. One which the statistics prove them have some trouble overcoming.
Therefore, Dynamo Kyiv Double Chance being priced at 26/23 (Marathon) is a good way to get involved here. Shakhtar are odds-on to win, and which is some respects that is understandable, the head-to-head record of late is tough to ignore.
Genk v Club Brugge | Saturday 3rd November 2018, 17:00
The Belgian Pro League is always a great card week-by-week and we have another cracker in store on Saturday evening. The current top two, Genk and Club Brugge, meet at the Luminus Arena.
Genk lead the way and are the only unbeaten side remaining in the top tier of Belgian football. Club Brugge, have only suffered one defeat in the league, but have been in something of indifferent form in recent months. Brugge however did resume winning ways last time out when despatching Oostende 4-0 at home with ease.
Genk are very much one of the form teams in Europe and only once since May have they tasted defeat. That came away at the hands of Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08 in their Europa League group meeting last month. One thing is for certain, an entertaining spectacle awaits between these two.
Philippe Clement is quickly approaching a year in charge of the three-time Belgian Pro League victors. They ended last season rather timidly, but clearly he has worked them hard in pre-season to get them right this time around. They progressed through qualification to advance into the Europa League are recently defeated Besiktas 4-2 away from home to give them a great chance of progression into the next stage.
Matters are going exceptionally well domestically too. One thing Genk and Club Brugge have in common is their impressive end product in front of goal. They’re the only two sides in their league to score 30+ goals; Genk netting three more than Brugge’s 35. Only three points separates them as well, and Genk will fancy their chances of the reigning champions.
As mentioned, Club Brugge won their last game 4-0, but they were experiencing some troubles prior to that. Overall, it reads only three wins from their previous 10 in all competitions, but a tough Champions League group containing the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid is included in that.
Progression is Europe continues to fade, meaning they can start to put entire focus on their domestic form, even more so as they are out of the domestic Belgian cup competition as well. Defeating Oostende could be the result to really get their season back on track.
Frustrating draws of late to Waasland-Beveren and St.Truiden could be a thing of the past for now. However, Genk are a side that they tend to struggle to get the better of. That is despite Club Brugge frequently getting the better of their weekend opponents in terms of league standing for several years now.
The first instinct for this game is goals. Both can claim a percentage of over 60% of their league games featuring Over 3.5 Goals. However, when two of the top teams collide it can often become much tighter. We won’t be exploring this specific market for that reason. Of the last six head-to-head, only one has contained Over 3.5 Goals.
Speaking of head-to-head, this is a fixture that is largely dominated by the home team. The last time an away side came off with three points was back in 2014 when Club Brugge claimed a 3-1 win.
Four years ago may not seem that long ago, but these two often meet given the smaller numbers in the Belgian league. That means the last 14 head-to-head games has seen the away team win on zero occasions. Ten of which were won by the home side.
Club Brugge are having some struggles on the road of late anyway. They haven’t won any of their previous four in all competitions, conceding at least twice in them all. Granted, one was a trip to Atletico Madrid and one was a 3-1 loss to big rivals to Standard Liege, who he was class in the same quality bracket as both Genk and Club Brugge.
Also, Genk are simply unbeaten at home right now. They last suffered defeat in 90 minutes in front of their fans when Gent beat them 2-1 in March. They’ve won their last nine in succession at home too.
Therefore, Genk are who we are going to side with here. To add a little more value, we’ll add Over 1.5 Goals as well – 92% of each teams’ games have beaten this line – so get involved in Genk to win and Over 1.5 Goals at 7/5 (Coral).
Ajax v Willem II | Saturday 3rd November 2018, 19:45
It is perhaps testament to PSV Eindhoven that they currently enjoy a five-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie from Ajax. That it because Ajax are in terrific form right now, including in their Champions League group.
It was actually PSV who last beat Ajax by a 3-0 in September, but since then they are unbeaten. It isn’t as if Ajax have had plenty of bankers since then either, this includes an away draw at Bayern Munich, whilst defeated Benfica and also big rivals Feyenoord.
The Amsterdammers have only conceded four goals in the league all season, the same as league leaders PSV. Erik ten Hag has his side playing close to their maximum right now. Unsurprisingly, they are massive favourites to continue that winning trend when Willem II come to town.
A slight word of warning to blindly backing Ajax here is that Willem II have at least scored in four of the last five head-to-head meetings. This included a memorable 2-1 away success in Ajax back in 2016.
However, it has been a tough campaign Adrie Koster’s side. They are only one point above the bottom three and have not won in the league since late August. Their only two victories since then have come in the KNVB Beker, including 5-0 in midweek. They fielded close to a full strength side to progress past lower league Spakenburg, whilst Ajax had the luxury of resting most of their regular starters.
Ajax however will perhaps have one eye on their Champions League trip to Benfica in midweek. Willem II are a good team to face however based on recent form. Tricolores don’t travel well, winning only twice in the league in the calendar year.
The last time Ajax conceded a goal was versus Bayern. Since then, it is five games, five wins and five clean sheets. It’s also 16 goals in the process, which won’t come as any major surprise.
They’ve especially made their Johan Cruyff Arena something of a fortress as well. Besides a frustrating draw earlier in the campaign to Heracles, around the time they were negotiating Champions League qualifiers, they’ve won every match in front of their fans. Only Heracles and Dynamo Kyiv have netted against them in that period too, so for all of their offensive quality, they are pretty stringent at the back too.
This has been a regular fixture for a number of years now. It is simply a match that Ajax dominate. Besides the shock win for Willem II back in 2016, we have to go all the way back to 2001 to the last time they had returned from Amsterdam with anything.
Ajax of course do have Europe to consider, but recently that hasn’t been affecting them. Prior to their last five in the Champions League, they’ve won the five matches before that one. Those scores read 1-0, 5-0, 3-0, 2-0 and 4-0.
Tipping Ajax to win any game in the Eredivisie is not especially expert as they win vastly more than they lose. However, there is a good way to get them on board this weekend. Willem II will be more tired having fielded a strong side in a midweek cup game.
Ajax are still hunting down PSV, so cannot afford to take this lightly. The Willem II win of 2016 is still in the memory of certain players and they’ll be eager to maintain their recent run of perfect results.
Ajax with a -2 handicap pays 4/5 (Betfair) and it is a market they are regularly beating. Their last home league games have ended 3-0, 5-0, 3-0 and 5-0.
Willem II conceded twice away to Breda in a 2-2 draw in their previous match on the road – Breda sit second from bottom. In their last 11 visits to Ajax, Willem II have conceded a combined total of 45 – that is an average of just over 4.
Ajax are scoring 3.40 on average per home game, whilst Willem II concede 2.80 away. They’ve already faced PSV away this season, losing 6-1. They also conceded four at Sittard, who are currently level on points with Willem II just above the relegation zone, so take Ajax to cover a -2 handicap at 4/5 (Betfair).