Hiroshima v Kobe | Saturday 5th October 2019, 08:00
Rise and shine on Saturday morning ladies and gentleman as there is a Japanese J-League encounter I think you should pay some attention towards. We’re now entering the final seven-games of the season and whilst Hiroshima and Kobe aren’t really contesting for any major honours, these are two-teams in the top-half.
Hiroshima are a side with more to play for in the sense that they approach this round of fixtures sitting five-points off third position, which would ensure AFC Champions League qualification for next season. That is very much their aim but they’ve hit a slight sticky patch.
Or have they? Well, they are winless in their last five but three of those were cup matches. If we focus on their last ten league matches, they’ve only lost one of those. One area that will have disappointing them is their home record, which is about average for the league. They do however have the best away record, proving why they aren’t ultimately in for a title battle.
Kobe are of course headlined by some stellar names like Iniesta, Vermaelen, Villa and Podolski, but those ageing stars haven’t done enough to contribute towards a title challenge. It looked as if a real relegation battle a few weeks ago was how they’d end the season, but they’ve won back-to-back league games, and won three in a row if we include the cup. They’ve hit some form.
One thing that still hasn’t changed is their inability to keep a clean sheet, or at least not enough of them. They’ve achieved only three clean sheets in their 27 league fixtures this season, but they’ve only failed to score in four. That means both teams to score has paid out in 20/27, which is by far and above any other side in the league.
Hiroshima are certainly more stable defensively. They have 12 clean sheets this season, which is the joint-highest in the division. Only FC Tokyo and Cerezo Osaka, who are both positioned in the top-four, have conceded fewer goals. They’ve scored 34, which is either the same or fewer than three teams situated in the bottom-half.
I think it is pretty obvious where one of our angels for this game is going. We have to get BTTS included given Kobe’s insane numbers, but the odds are quite slim as expected. Therefore, we’ll look to combine Hiroshima Double Chance and Both Teams To Score. This is available at 11/10 (Bet365) on the Bet Builder.
Whilst we’ve touched upon Hiroshima are very strong away, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are terrible at home. They’re just average (W5, D5, L3). The lost three is what interests me the most; they clearly don’t lose many. In fact, they last lost a home league game in May. A few draws has halted any additional draws.
Kobe may have won their last two away, but they seem to go in patches in terms of away day triumphs. They won twice in succession away in March, only to then correspond that with six straight away defeats. They actually won away at league leaders Tokyo in June, but then lost to Shimizu and Shonan, now positioned 10th and 15th respectively.
Genclerbirligi v Galatasaray | Saturday 5th October 2019, 18:00
The Turkish Super Lig presents us with an intriguing battle on the Saturday card, and it involves last season’s title winners Galatasaray, who travel to bottom of the table Genclerbirligi. However, it hasn’t been the blistering title defence that Gala would have hoped for so far. Going into the weekend games, they sit sixth, winning just two of their opening six games.
Genclerbirligi are rooted to the bottom as mentioned, but there is still some hope for them to cause a shock this weekend. They remain winless in the league, but winning their last home game in the cup may afford them the slight confidence boost required to get some more league points on the board.
Why have Galatasaray struggled this time around? Well, they are implementing a few new faces into their roster. The likes of Ryan Babel, Steven Nzonzi, Florin Andone and Mario Lemina are all on the books. Consider that plus the fact they’ve got the Champions League group stage to worry about. They’ve started their UEL campaign with an away draw to Club Brugge and narrow home loss to PSG on Tuesday.
Genclerbirligi are newly-promoted having finished runners-up in the second-tier last season, and it is never an easy transition into a higher level, especially when there is such a difference between the leagues. There has been some bright sparks however, such as an away draw to Trabzonspor; a place where the hosts very rarely lose and are in Europe this season.
Over time this has been a stadium where Galatasaray have had their struggles in. They’ve won on only one of their last six visits, losing 1-0 the last time they travelled back in April 2018. Gala haven’t travelled so spectacularly this season either, losing to Denizlispor, drawing to Yeni Malatyaspor and needing a 98th minute winner to defeat Kayserispor, who had eight-men at the time. Even last season when winning the league, they only beat one of the top-eight in away fixtures.
A bit like our first selection, we’re going to have to double up on the Bet Builder for this one. Galatasaray are odds-on but I don’t like touching them away from home, especially at odds-on. Opponents in Turkey always raise their game against the bigger clubs, even more so at home. Genclerbirligi will give them a game and I don’t think they’ll be disgraced at all.
Galatasaray Double Chance and Both Teams To Score is the play at 11/10 (Bet365). We have to afford Gala some credit as reigning champions and they’re clearly a stronger team that their bottom of the table opponents. Genclerbirligi are good for a goal however as their last five league clashes saw BTTS pay out. Eight of the last 12 H2H also saw each side score.
Also, considering the champions appeared in Europe in midweek, some rotation may be considered which could potentially weaken them below full strength. They do have a good squad at their disposal, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue in one respect, but gelling together so many new faces in a potential banana skin away clash isn’t ideal. That’s why I won’t commit so far as to back Gala to win.