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Inter Milan v AC Milan - Saturday 11:30

Seven games to go and 10 and 12 points from the Champions League positions respectively, it’s been another miserable season for Milan and Inter. There have been signs along the way that both could turn the corner but it hasn’t quite happened and it looks set to be a fourth consecutive season without either in the top three. As it stands Milan are in the final European spot, although how much appeal a position in the Europa League qualifiers has is hard to say. Nevertheless, bragging rights are very much up for grabs here and finishing above their neighbours would at least give some level of redemption to their seasons.

Inter were the form team in the league up until a few weeks ago. They thrashed high-flying Atalanta 7-1 a month ago but since taking the lead at Torino in their next game things have gone horribly wrong. They eventually drew that match in Turin 2-2 before costly defeats against Sampdoria and Crotone. That means they’ve now gone six games without a clean sheet having conceded just three times in their 10 matches prior to that. Injuries and suspensions aren’t to blame either, as it’s looked more like a lack of focus and effort as their top-three hopes have drifted away.

Inter’s last six games have all seen at least three goals as they are still a threat going forward even if the defending has become increasingly lax. Furthermore, 10 of their last 12 home matches have landed for Over 2.5 backers. The first derby also saw goals; finishing 2-2 as Ivan Perisic equalised late in injury time. That is in contrast to most recent matches between these sides as eight of the previous 10 had fewer than three goals and six had fewer than two.

Milan have lost just one of their last nine matches – and that was at Juventus – as they’ve come through a tough spell prior to that. While Inter have spent heavily to try and renovate their team Milan have brought through some excellent youngsters. They lack the firepower of their neighbours as they’ve scored more than once in just four of their last 16 matches, but they have proven hard to break down as only Juve and Roma have better defensive records this season. Last season all six of their trips to the teams that finished above them ended with fewer than three goals and this term four of their six trips to the current top nine have also ended as ‘unders’ matches. Generally they’ve suffered more than Inter with injuries this season but while Montolivo and Bonaventura are out for the season they don’t have many other major worries right now.

Half the last eight derbies have finished all-square, as have five of Milan’s last 11 trips to top-half teams, and on current form Inter look too short at 2.2. The goals markets also look to be paying too much attention to Inter’s ‘overs’ trends and given we expect them to show greater intensity in their defensive workrate throughout the XI we’d prefer to side with Milan’s trends and back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.3. We’ll also back the draw at 3.6 and take a small punt on the 1-1 correct score at 8.0 to land the jackpot.

Weekend Team News Analysis

Sunderland v West Ham
Mark Noble (CM)

West Ham have lost seven of the nine matches Noble’s missed since the start of last season as they’ve conceded 2.22 goals per game. That includes recent defeats against Hull, Leicester and Bournemouth.

Sunderland have had a tough run of fixtures at home as they’ve hosted four top-half sides in their last five at the Stadium of Light, but they’ve fared pretty well against the lesser teams as they’re W3-D1-L1 in their last five at home to sides outside the top-nine, including victories over Watford, Leicester and Hull. We’re backing the Black Cats at 3.3

Leverkusen v Bayern
Wendell (LB), Karim Bellarabi (RW), Javier Hernandez (FW) and Jonathan Tah (CB)

With their best player, Calhanoglu, already suspended Leverkusen are now missing several other key players. The 11 matches Hernandez has missed this term have brought just five points and three of those were against a terrible Darmstadt side. They’ve scored just 1.09 gpg in those matches compared to 1.76 gpg with the Mexican. Bellarabi’s return after the winter break gave Leverkusen an initial boost but he’s sidelined again and since the start of last season they’ve lost as many matches as they’ve won when he’s been out (W10-D3-L10). That’s three key attackers out and they’re also missing two important defenders in Tah and Wendell.

Leverkusen are a mixed W5-D4-L5 at home this term, with two of those defeats against top-three sides Leipzig and Hoffenheim as they conceded three times in both those losses, while they also conceded three in defeat to Gladbach. Bayern have won seven of their last nine on the road, keeping a clean sheet in three of their last five. They’ve conceded only two goals in their last seven at home and away and with their attacking players all in good form, we’re backing them to cover the -1 handicap at 2.75

Leipzig v Freiburg
Vincenzo Grifo (LW) and Max Philipp (FW)

Grifo has seven assists this season – as many as Freiburg’s next two leading contributors combined. He’s also taken their most shots this season, with his 54 attempts from outside the box 18 more than anyone else in the whole league. The two matches he’s missed this term have both finished 1-1 and Freiburg are also averaging 19% fewer goals per game when Philipp has been missing this season.

Leipzig have won 11 of 14 home matches as only once have they conceded more than a single goal. Freiburg have lost only one of their last eight away matches but they have lost all five trips to the current top eight this term while scoring just three goals. We’re backing Leipzig to win to nil at 2.45

Put our three selections above into a treble and you can get a juicy 20/1!!

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