Form Labs Weekender

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PSG v Monaco - Sunday 20:00, BT Sport 1

PSG trail Monaco by three points at the top of Ligue 1 but this is their opportunity to move level and show the rest of the league just how good they are. The Parisians have looked a better outfit since coming back in 2017 as they’ve won six in a row while conceding just one goal. However, Monaco have been matching them stride for stride and also possess a 100% record this year (one cup win via penalties).

PSG have lost just one of their last 49 home games in the league and that was against Monaco last season. They’ve won 38 of those matches and have conceded just three times in the last 13 so a repeat of Monaco’s success here looks unlikely. However, Nice, Marseille and Saint-Etienne all came away with points when they visited this season and those are the three highest ranked sides to travel to the Parc des Princes.

Monaco certainly look capable of scoring here given no side in Europe has found the net more this season. They’ve scored at least three times in 12 of their 21 matches this season and at least four times in eight of the last 14. However, while they won 3-1 when these teams met earlier in the season their games against the other teams near the top have not gone as well. They were beaten 4-0 at Nice, 3-1 at home by Lyon and drew with both Guingamp and Saint-Etienne. Meanwhile, in the previous two campaigns they went W2-D3-L5 at top-six finishers, although they did score in all 10 matches as both teams scored in nine.

The draw is a tempting bet here at 4.0 given PSG have won only one of their seven meetings since Monaco were promoted in 2013/14 but we generally don’t like to put too much weight on head-to-head records. And if we ignore that then PSG’s home record coupled with a comparison of the strengths of the two squads, particularly since Julian Draxler’s arrival this month, suggests that 1.7 is a great price on the home win. So instead we’ll stick to the goals market. Both teams have great potential going forward and while PSG’s defensive record is superb we’ll take them on to an extent by assuming Monaco will score. Both teams to score is a decent price at 1.67 but given both could easily score two or three themselves we’ll back Over 3.0 Goals at 2.08 (if there are exactly three goals stakes are returned).

One man who is likely to benefit from a high scoring game is Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan has 26 goals in 26 appearances across all competitions this season as he’s producing very similar numbers to what Zlatan achieved last term. That includes 11 goals in 11 home starts since September as he’s failed to find the net only twice. At 1.92 anytime goalscorer he’s the standout bet here.

Espanyol v Sevilla - Sunday 15:15, Sky Sports 1

We’ve got two in-form teams meeting here. Sevilla, in particular, have won five in a row to apply some real pressure on the Big Two at the top of the table. However, Espanyol have crept up the table to move into the top half on the back of just two defeats in 13. Those came at neighbours Barcelona and then recently at Valencia when they were significantly disadvantaged by the absence of Pablo Piatti. Only Toni Kroos has more assists in La Liga this season than the Valencia owned winger and they were back to winning ways last week as he scored on their way to a 3-1 win over Granada.

Espanyol have lost only seven home games since the start of last season and three of those were against Real Madrid and Atletico. They don’t necessarily beat the best here but they are hard to beat and since 2014/15 they’ve gone W1-D5-L3 when hosting top-six finishers excluding the Big Two and current top-six non-Big Two sides this term.

Sevilla do have a big head-to-head advantage however, as they’ve won seven of their last eight meetings in the league, and while we don’t like to place too much emphasis on that, such a record could come into play. For a long time Sevilla seemed incapable of winning on the road but they’ve banished those memories with five wins in their last seven away matches. However, they’ve been to all the current bottom-five in that time and with 12 draws in their 29 away games since the start of last season that looks the best value in the match outcome markets at 3.5.

However, our best bet here is in the goals markets. These two combined for 10 between them on the opening weekend as Sevilla won 6-4 and this has the making of another high scorer. Sevilla’s last nine matches have all had at least three goals. Furthermore, their last seven on the road have all had at least three with five having four or more. Both teams have scored in Espanyol’s last five matches and 11 of their last 15 home games when they’ve conceded have had at least three goals – given Sevilla’s recent scoring record we have to fancy that happening. In fact, Over 2.5 Goals at 1.92 might be one of the bets of the weekend.

Weekend Team News Analysis

AFCON has really taken its toll on some of the squads in action over the next three days, so who’s in and who’s out this weekend? Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis capacity we’ve identified the players in Europe’s major leagues who will be most sorely missed by their teams. Get your Form Lab Black subscription today to conduct your own player analysis or see more from our experts.

N.B. Appearances mentioned below relate to starting and completing an hour unless otherwise specified.

Real Madrid v Real Sociedad

Marcelo (LB), Real Madrid

Marcelo has missed 18 games since the start of last season and he’s definitely been missed. They’ve scored almost half a goal less compared to when he’s been playing and they’ve conceded more than half a goal more (up from 0.71 gpg conceded in his 38 appearances to 1.33 without him). As a result their clean sheet figure falls from 42% with him to just 17% without, and they also have other problems with Modric and Bale injured and Ronaldo a doubt.

Real have won their last six at the Bernabeu, but the last five of these have been against sides currently in the bottom-seven and prior to that they’d only edged out Bilbao 2-1 and drawn against Eibar and Villarreal. Indeed, they’ve won only three of their home games all season by more than one goal and each of those came against bottom-four sides, so we’re backing Real Sociedad +2 on the handicap at 2.15

Real Betis v Barcelona

Joaquin (RW), Betis

Betis are missing their captain for this hardest of tests. They’ve picked up only one win, and just five points, from their last 11 games without him. On the opposite side Barcelona are missing Sergio Busquets. However, that’s not a bad thing, as they’ve gone W18-D2-L0 without him since 2014/15 while conceding half as many goals per game as with him and scoring more than 0.7 goals per game more.

While Barca have come unstuck at top-eight sides Villarreal, Sociedad and Celta Vigo, they’ve won their other five road games against the rest of the division, scoring 20 goals in the process and keeping three clean sheets. We’re backing the Catalans to cover the -2 handicap at 2.8.

Nice v Guingamp

Ricardo Pereira (RB), Younes Belhanda (AM) and Jean Michael Seri (CM), Nice

Pereira is a key player both defensively and going forward and in the 14 matches he’s missed since the start of last season they’ve scored just 15 times. Meanwhile, they’ve scored just three times in the last three matches Belhanda has missed and only four in the seven that Seri has been absent for since the start of last season. That’s despite all those seven matches being against relatively weak opposition as they all had fewer than three goals.

Guingamp have managed some impressive away results this term as they’ve drawn at Monaco and won at Lyon. Indeed, despite their struggles last season, they nonetheless managed to win this fixture 0-1. We’re siding with them on the Double Chance at 1.87 to pick up at least a point.

Fancy the three bets above? It's a 10/1 treble that they all come in!

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