European football weekend preview19th Apr 2018 |
Manchester United vs Tottenham (FA Cup)
Given that both Manchester United and Tottenham are out of Europe and have virtually secured a top-four finish, the FA Cup is the primary focus for both as the most famous domestic knockout competition in the world reaches its semi-final stage. Spurs will hope that home advantage – they have played all their home matches at Wembley this term – plays a part, with the 2-0 victory over the Red Devils in late January among their best performances in 2017/18. Mourinho will fancy his chances of picking up a positive result on the day, but my leading tip for this one is under 2.5 goals to be scored in total at odds of 4/5.
Sevilla vs Barcelona (Copa del Rey)
Barcelona’s recent elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Roma has cast a shadow over their season, but it is important to remember the Blaugrana have been excellent domestically. Ernesto Valverde’s men have the chance to add the Copa del Rey to the La Liga title they have virtually already sealed; Sevilla can be tricky opponents and will surely raise their game for a final, but I would recommend backing Barcelona with a -1 handicap at 11/10.
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund’s difficult season hit another snag last weekend, with Schalke running out 2-0 winners in the hotly contested Ruhr derby. That result leaves Peter Stoger’s men down in fourth spot – and behind Bayer Leverkusen – although a five-point cushion above fifth-placed Hoffenheim means BVB should still qualify for next season’s edition of the Champions League. Only Bayern Munich have scored more goals in the Bundesliga than these two teams in 2017/18, so consider putting some money on over 3.5 goals at 7/5.
Chelsea vs Southampton (FA Cup)
Chelsea fell two goals behind when they took on Southampton in the Premier League last weekend, but a brace from Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard’s strike turned the game on its head in the second half. That result dealt a major blow to Saints’ hopes of survival, which remains their principal objective despite their presence in the last four of the FA Cup. The Blues should be sufficiently motivated for this clash with a place in the final up for grabs, but Saints have produced more of an attacking threat in recent times so I’d recommend a Chelsea win with both teams to score at 11/5.
West Brom vs Liverpool (Premier League)
Liverpool tightened their grip on a top-four spot last time out with a routine 3-0 triumph over Bournemouth at Anfield. It would be naïve to think Jurgen Klopp’s charges are not already looking ahead to their Champions League semi-final against Roma, but they should still have more than enough quality to overcome West Bromwich Albion regardless of the starting XI chosen by the German. The Baggies have had a wretched season and their low levels of confidence means they are unlikely to spring a surprise in this one – consider backing the Reds to score more than 2.5 goals at 13/10.
Juventus vs Napoli (Serie A)
The Serie A title race was thrown wide open in midweek, when Napoli beat Udinese 4-2 to close the gap at the top to four points after Juventus surprisingly drew 1-1 with Crotone. The duo will go head-to-head in Turin this weekend, and the equation is simple: if they are to win the championship, Napoli surely need to triumph here. I fear Juventus’ superior experience may prove telling, though, so consider backing a draw at odds of 23/10.