European football weekend preview20th May 2018 |
Holsten Kiel vs Wolfsburg (Bundesliga play-off)
Wolfsburg are just 90 minutes away from securing their Bundesliga status for another season following their 3-1 victory over Holsten Kiel in the first leg of the two teams’ relegation play-off last week. The Wolves really should not be in this position; after all, this is a side who finished second in the top flight in 2015 and almost made the semi-finals of the Champions League the following year. Another triumph here would therefore represent success in the loosest of terms, with 2017/18 a disastrous campaign for Wolfsburg regardless of what happens on Monday. Having said that, they should complete the job with another win – consider backing the visitors to emerge victorious at 41/20.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool (Champions League)
It is the biggest event of the European football calendar, with Real Madrid and Liverpool both dreaming of adding another Champions League trophy to their collections ahead of Saturday’s showpiece in Kyiv. Los Blancos have won the competition 12 times in their history, including three of the last four editions, while the Reds have been crowned kings of the continent on five occasions. Jurgen Klopp’s charges head into this match as underdogs but they have shown this season that they are capable of blowing high-quality opponents away on their day, particularly when they start quickly. Liverpool will look to come flying out of the traps here, so perhaps a flutter on the first goal being scored in the opening 10 minutes would be worthwhile at a price of 21/10.
Aston Villa vs Fulham (Championship play-off)
After narrow aggregate victories in their respective play-off semi-finals, Aston Villa and Fulham now find themselves within one win of the Premier League. The Cottagers finished above their upcoming opponents in the regular season and were brilliant in the second half of the campaign, losing only one of their final 23 matches and beating Villa 2-0 along the way. Steve Bruce’s side possess a great deal of experience within the ranks, though – John Terry and Mile Jedinak are two players who will surely rise to the occasion at Wembley – so it could be worth backing the Villans to emerge triumphant in a tight game featuring fewer than 2.5 goals – that bet is available in the sportsbook at 19/4.
Rotherham vs Shrewsbury (League One play-off)
There are few clubs in the Football League who have enjoyed as brilliant a campaign as Shrewsbury Town, who are just one win away from an unlikely promotion to the Championship. Paul Hurst has done a tremendous job this term, guiding his side to within nine points of automatic promotion before successfully negotiating a two-legged play-off semi-final against Charlton Athletic with a minimum of fuss. Rotherham are targeting an immediate return to the second flight following their relegation in 2016/17, but the eight-point gap between these two teams in the regular campaign shows that the Shrews are the stronger of the finalists. Backing Town to win a game featuring fewer than 2.5 goals is my tip at 9/2.
Coventry vs Exeter (League Two play-off)
Exeter suffered play-off heartbreak this time last year, losing 2-1 to Blackpool in the final to miss out on promotion to League One in the worst way possible. They have done a fine job of regrouping and going again in 2017/18, though with Paul Tisdale – now the longest-serving manager in the English professional game following Arsene Wenger’s exit from Arsenal – continuing to thrive at St James Park. Coventry will be tough opponents at Wembley on Monday, and I expect both sides to get on the scoresheet – you can back goals for the Sky Blues and the Grecians at odds of 9/10.