This week we double up the picks since we are being blessed with mid week football. You can never complain about more football, but it does add to the need to gamble. You take that as a good or bad… I am just taking it as an excuse to have YL make us more money.
Valencia v. Athletic Club: VAL +215 <——> ATC +140
History: Athletic Club, formerly known as Bilbao, have a game in hand against Valencia and sit only one point behind them in the table. Bilbao and Valencia are two of the biggest clubs in Spain and are currently struggling in league play. The two teams split their meetings last season and only a total of three goals were scored in the contest last year. Typically a defensive struggle that ends in a draw. Valencia hold control in overall competitions by a slim margin but they are the home side in this contest which makes Vegas giving the edge to Bilbao a little more interesting. Both sides are in terrible form right now with Valencia having only won one of their last five and Bilbao not much better at two of their last five.
Players to Watch: We have a young American to look out for, Yunus Musah, who has started in 10 matches this season and is just 18 years of age. USA fans should be watching this youngster with bright eyes because he is the real deal and provides a lot of dynamic going for but also maintains good defensive responsibility. Bilbao fans, can Inaki Williams find his form? If he can do that then Bilbao should be able to start climbing back up the table to a more suitable position for a club of their prestige.
YL’s Pick: Bilbao Moneyline, Under 2.5
Real Madrid v. Atletico Madrid: RMA +150 <——> ATL +188
History: El Darbi Madrileno, once again we get to find out who the kings of Madrid are for at least one game this season. We all know that Real are THE KINGS of not only Madrid but also La Liga, but this gives Atletico fans the opportunity for bragging rights until the clubs meet again. Atletico are in fine form having won their last seven games in La Liga. Madrid have lost two of their last five games overall and there are rumblings of firings and not renewing contracts that should have a lot of Madrid fans worried. Could this be the end of not only the Zidane era but the Ramos era as well? Head-to-head, however Real has been dominant in this matchup having only suffered one loss in their last six matches against their city rivals. Atletico, who appear to have trouble scoring, have no problem playing some solid defense and are backed by probably the best keeper in the world right now, Jan Oblak. Madrid have had a tough time finding the back of the net as well and having to do it against Oblak makes it all the more difficult…this game could be really exciting or a complete stinker. I personally think it will be exciting.
Players to Watch: Benzema eased his way back into the game last week and Madrid fans should hope this game he shows up in his best form to put a beat down on Atletico. Vinicius only has two goals on the year but has played in ten matches, the man has all the talent in the world and I think he may be able to sneak one past Oblak. Kieran Trippier, we have not seen a freekick goal from this man in a while, who knows? With Real’s luck this year he may just blast one past Courtois. In reality Atletico fans should really hope Llorente shows up in the big game as he typically does for the club. Can Llorente reproduce the magic he had at Anfield last spring and bring it out during this derby match?
YL’s Pick: Real Madrid Moneyline, Over 15.5 Total Shots
Barcelona v. Real Sociedad: BAR -177 <——> RSO +440
History: Sociedad are unbeaten in their last five and have drawn in four consecutive matches and have dropped down to second place, a point below Atletico. La Real are in fine form this season with a good mix of young talent and aging veterans who are reliable. This midweek matchup against Barcelona will be tough for La Real but I believe they have the pieces to be successful in this game. Barcelona have won three of their last five but also suffered two defeats in that time frame. The problem is we just never know which Barcelona will show up; will it be the Messi and the fearful? Or will it be Messi and Company? Koeman really needs to figure out what the hell to do to get Barcelona to play with some consistency. La Real have not beaten Barcelona since the 2016 season, closer to five years ago than to four. Barcelona are favored and are the home team but La Real are absolutely cruising away from home this season having won every away game except against Alaves. This game is sure to be interesting.
Players to Watch: Lionel Messi. It is always about Messi with Barcelona and the question is: Will he be a solution or a problem this week? You can count on a penalty this game, Oyarzabal is clinical from the spot and I do not see that changing anytime soon. Januzaj has definitely fallen off the radar of most fans out there but he is quietly having a very good season and I would not be surprised if he were to have a big impact on the game, whether that be for La Real or for Barcelona.
YL’s Pick: Barcelona -1, Messi to Score
Inter Milan v. Napoli: INT +105 <——> NAP +240
History: Napoli and Inter are both in very good form right now and are currently separated by one point in the table. A midweek matchup that, should everything stay the same over the weekend, will have major implications heading into Christmas. In the last 26 matchups between these two sides Napoli has the edge over Inter winning eleven times compared to the latter’s eight times. The two sides have also ended this game in a draw seven times. In the last five meetings between these two teams they have split the games at two wins a piece with one draw mixed in for good measure. Napoli are dominant away from home this season winning four out of their five games, but Inter are equally as good at home this season getting points in four of their five games. One thing I can say for certain is that one should anticipate a fair amount of goals based on the sheer attacking strength of each squad. If one team can make fewer mistakes defensively than they will certainly have the edge.
Players to Watch: It is hard to pick players to watch for this game because there are so many great talents on the pitch for both sides. Insigne has had an excellent year thus far and I can see him having a bigger impact on the game than his teammates and is due for a good game against Inter. Inter need a big game from Lukaku and Martinez, both have an excellent scoring record this season and both need to step up big in to cause problems with the Napoli defensive partnership of Koulibaly and Manolas.
YL’s Pick: Napoli Moneyline, Mertens to Score
Manchester United v. Manchester City: MAN +355 <——> MCI -129
History: The two giants from Manchester are in great form right now as both teams have won four out of their last five games in all competitions. City played against two bottom of the table sides and came away with victories whilst the last time out for United was against a resurgent West Ham team but the Reds prevailed. United are absolutely dreadful at Old Trafford this season with only four points through five games and while City have been far from perfect away from the Etihad they have managed to secure eight points from five games away from home this season. It was a clean sweep for United in the Premier League last season with the Reds taking both games against the Baby Blues and United have won three of the last five games against City overall. This game will ultimately come down to one thing, can United actually win at home? The answer right now is no, but they were struggling last season prior to the City game and they managed to pull out an improbable victory. One thing we have seen from City this year is that they are not as invincible as they once were, but I do think that City have a much better defense than United at this point so that should give them the edge.
Players to Watch: United fans should be extremely concerned about the attacking prowess of City and the fact that United’s defense is absolutely dreadful. United need to have a big day out of their $85 million centre back, Harry Maguire, and also need to have De Gea play at the level that United fans know he can. City fans should hope to see their attacking front dominate play and create opportunities for scoring chances. City have so much depth in the attacking positions but no out and out goalscorer with Aguero out of the lineup, should he make his return expect City to come away with a victory. If there is no Aguero in the lineup then Gabriel Jesus really needs to find his scoring boots to help push City on to victory and reclaim Manchester in the color blue.
YL’s Pick: United +1, Over 7 Corners, Bruno 3 Shots
Liverpool v. Tottenham: LIV -150 <——> TOT +360
History: Both teams are in great form over the last five games in all competitions with Tottenham securing points in five games and Liverpool securing points in four of the last five. The game is at Anfield where Liverpool have not lost a league game at Anfield since 2017 and with their victory over Wolves this past weekend that record is currently at 65 games. Tottenham are top of the table this season and Jose Mourinho seems to have his squad believing that they can finish at the top of the table come May. Harry Kane is an absolute animal on the field right now and he is working extremely hard on the defensive side of the ball which led to one analyst’s comments last match against Arsenal “he’s better defensively individually than the entire Arsenal team”, I agree. Tottenham have not lost away from home this season winning four out of five and drawing another. The home record for Liverpool against the away record for Tottenham makes this game interesting enough and to add to it these two sides are fighting for the top spot. Tottenham are playing some inspired football and Liverpool are matching them at every level of the game but for me this will come down to whether or not Liverpool can deal with the tactics of Jose Mourinho. Can Liverpool deal with the constant threat of a counter attack that is absolutely deadly at the moment? On the other side can Tottenham maintain a good enough defensive front to stalwart the front four of Liverpool?
Players to Watch: The partnership of Son and Kane is a problem for any team that plays against Tottenham. These two are clicking as a partnership like we have not seen in the Premier League since Berkamp and Henry. The Liverpool backline will have a lot to deal with in thwarting those two. On the other side of the ball can Tottenham’s defense (boosted by the return of Alderweireld) stymie the connection between Mane, Firmino, Jota, and Salah. I think Tottenham are built to handle that type of pressure but those four are so inventive that it could really cause problems for Spurs.
YL’s Pick: Tottenham Moneyline, Son to Score, Over 22 Shots
Written by: Tyler Bond aka Charlie Tweeder (@tybond16)