World Football: Swiss giants can shine in Sunday grudge game

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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.

Excelsior v Feyenoord | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 11:15 | Free Sports

It could be argued that motivation is in doubt for a club such as Feyenoord. They are quite comfortable in third place, with the top-two seemingly out of reach and those in behind are still a little way short.

That certainly looked the case following a home loss to Sittard, draw away to Den Haag and then away defeat to Zwolle. However, they bounced back to form with an emphatic 6-2 win over Ajax in their previous Eredivisie game and progressed into the next round of the KNVB Beker a few days earlier.

Being up for those sort of games isn’t really up for debate, but it should at least give them real confidence. That’s the angle we’re going down anyway. Also, Giovanni van Bronckhorst is leaving at the end of the season, and these players are effectively playing for their futures. And finally, this is a Rotterdam Derby on Sunday.

Excelsior find themselves firmly in a relegation battle this season. They are only one point and one place outside the bottom three, thanks to defeating bottom side De Graafschap at home in their last outing. Their home record however has been a big concern for quite some time now, even moving into last season. In the whole of 2018, they earned three points on just three occasions at the catchy-named Van Donge & De Roo Stadion.

One team that have had particular problems against is Feyenoord. They’ve won just once in the last 13 head-to-head, with Feyenoord emerging victorious on 12 of those occasions.

Feyenoord can be a little up and down away from home. That is ultimately why they are off the pace in the title race. Only league leaders PSV have a stronger home record, but they’ve earned only 12 points on the road. Dropping points to the likes of De Graafschap, Willem II, Den Haag and Zwolle has proved costly.

However, this is a venue that they do like to travel too, and they’ll be on a real high after smashing six past an Ajax side who have only conceded 18 in the entire season.

Feyenoord are also known for scoring a few goals against this opposition as well. If we just reel off some of the recent scored, then that is proved in emphatic style. 3-0, 5-0, 1-0, 4-0, 4-1, 3-0, 4-2, 3-2, 5-2 and 3-0 have been their victories since 2012. There has been an average of 3.90 goals witnessed in Excelsior’s Eredivisie games so far, and it reads 3.50 for Feyenoord. Excelsior home games average 4.20, and we envisage goals this weekend.

Feyenoord to win and Over 3.5 Goals is available at 29/20 (Coral). No team has conceded more at home than Excelsior and Feyenoord has scored ten goals in their last two, so they’ll look to outscore their weaker opponents.

Akhisarspor v Istanbul Basaksehir | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 13:00

It has been a bit of a disastrous campaign for Akhisarspor. They find themselves bottom of the table, winning only four league matches all season. They won the Turkish Cup last season, and backed that up by winning the Super Cup in pre-season, but that has been as good as it’s got for them. Their venture into European competition proved forgetful, collecting only one point in their Europa League group.

Basaksehir however find themselves on a real crest of a wave. They’ve got a nice six-point cushion at the top of the standings as they look to secure their first-ever league title. They came close in 2016/17, finishing as runners-up to Besiktas. They’re in top form and former Manchester City and Real Madrid man Robinho has been knocking in the goals for fun for them of late.

Basaksehir will fancy their chances of securing another three-point haul at the weekend, although they will remain top of the summit regardless of what happens at Spor Toto Akhisar Stadium on Sunday.

Whilst they are in good form, they are proving more effective than prolific. Although they are the league leaders, they aren’t one to really knock teams for six too often. It is a strong defence, which has only been penetrated ten times so far which is the real reason for their success so far. Five other sides have scored more goals than they’ve done, and they’ve only found the back of the net seven times more than their opponents, despite the clear gap in league position.

Basaksehir have the best away record in the league, although all of those have been winning by either a one or two goal margin. Quite incredibly, their away matches in the league has averaged only 1.90 goals, with only Fenerbahce, who are enduring a terrible season, only experiencing fewer goals on their travels.

Unsurprisingly, the bottom side have a poor defensive record, the second-worst in the Super Lig in fact. They’ve not had much joy in this head-to-head battle of late however, the last four going in favour of Basaksehir. On their last two visits, Basaksehir emerged winners by scores of 2-1 and 2-0. The most popular Basaksehir scoreline this season away from home is a 1-0 win. Akhisarspor’s most popular home score is 1-1, so goals aren’t highly likely.

Basaksehir really should be managing the game to suit here, and the only fear is that if they do score early then they might be a little more free-scoring than usual. However, they’ll be keen to avoid an upset and will just be happy to return home with the points.

Basaksehir to win and Under 3.5 Goals is attractively priced at 7/5 (Betway).

Grasshoppers v Basel | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 15:00

This game is similar to the Excelsior v Feyenoord game in so many ways. It is a bottom against top type of battle, but also a local derby. There is certainly no love lost between Grasshoppers and Basel.

For Basel, they won’t be winning the title this season, despite sitting second in the table. Young Boys are long gone and that 19-point gap won’t be overturned. Basel are actually closer to the bottom of the table than they are the top. Again, this would be motivation in doubt, but the local derby element certainly changes that. Grasshoppers are in a relegation play-off spot as things stand, but a win this weekend could take them out.

A big worry for Grasshoppers, managed by former Bayern Munich midfielder Thorsten Fink, is that they haven’t beaten Basel in their last ten attempts. In fact, the last time they defeated them at home was back in 2014. That might come as a surprise considering these are the two most successful clubs in Swiss Super League history, with Grasshoppers having six more titles to their name, although the last occasion being in 2003.

Besides a bad spell in November/December, Basel are in quick good nick at the moment. The winter break probably came at a decent time for them however, as it has allowed Marcel Koller the chance to really settle and get to know his squad having only been appointed a little earlier in the campaign. He was the man to guide Grasshoppers to that 2003 league title, so that adds a little more needle to this contest.

Grasshoppers have only scored 21 goals all season, the lowest in the league, and only Xamax has conceded more than they’ve done. Basel have actually only conceded one goal fewer and their defensive record is very bad for a side sitting second in the table. They’re normally good for BTTS backers, as incredibly 94% of their league games has seen this pay off.

However, the hat is out the bag with that one and the price for this in any of their matches reflects that. We’ll swerve that, but there is a little value to be had here.

Basel are the team we want to side with here. Clearly they are the stronger of the two at this moment in time and they’ve had the upper hand when squaring off on the pitch for a while now as well. Their defensive record is a little off-putting, but scoring goals isn’t really an issue and that is what’ll probably separate the two on the day.

Every Basel game this season has ended Over 1.5, and the same is said in every Grasshopper home game (89% when including away). We certainly don’t expect Basel to be winning this 1-0.

Basel to win and Over 1.5 Goals is available at 1/1 (Ladbrokes), which adds more value compared to the simple odds-on shout of an away victory.

Best Bets

Excelsior v Feyenoord – Feyenoord to win and Over 3.5 Goals (29/20 Coral)

Akhisarspor v Istanbul Basaksehir – Istanbul Basaksehir to win and Under 3.5 Goals (7/5 Betway)

Grasshoppers v Basel – Basel to win and Over 1.5 Goals (1/1 Ladbrokes)

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