Saint-Étienne v Amiens

Our first and only look on the Saturday card sees us dip into French football and specifically the second tier as Saint-Étienne welcomes Amiens. This Ligue 2 encounter has something of a mid-table feel about it purely looking at the current league standings, but things can change so quickly in this division, and the hosts’ recent form is proof of that.

ASSE suffered relegation last season and are back at this level for the first time since 2004, but it has been anything but plain sailing since then. They began the campaign with a point deduction and stadium ban, meaning they were playing catch-up before a ball had been kicked. After spending practically the first half of the campaign in the relegation zone, there is now life in their season. They returned from the Christmas break with back-to-back victories and now find themselves unbeaten in five, including four wins. Now they’re five points above the drop zone and are hunting down a top-half position.

Amiens find themselves in the top half, some five points better off than their weekend opponents. As is often the case for a team in mid-table, consistency remains their problem. Their last nine league games reads a return of three wins, three draws and three defeats. They’ll certainly not travel in fear considering all bar three of their league wins came versus teams below them in the table, although they did lose the head-to-head meeting earlier in the campaign.

You get the feeling that things have finally managed to settle down for Saint-Étienne this season and their recent form shows that. They are top of the table based across the last five matches, whilst Amiens just aren’t a team to have maximum faith on right now, or indeed ever really. They did win last time out, but haven’t won back-to-back since October. We have to get Saint-Étienne on side, and backing them to win alongside over 1 goal pays 6/5 with Bet365. Only three of their 26 league contests this season failed to contain at least two goals.

Ferencvaros v Puskas Academy

The OTP Bank Liga, or the top flight of Hungarian football to you and me, does have something of a familiar feel to it as we approach the business end of the season. That comes in the form of Ferencvaros sitting top of the standings, and with them possessing a 14-point advantage at the summit, it looks as though a 34th and four consecutive league title looms for FTC.

Whilst they’re unbeaten in in the league since October, three draws across their last four games may suggest they’re somewhat taking their eye off the prize to a degree. In their defence, two of those came to their closest positional rivals in Kecskemeti and Kisvarda, but they set incredibly high standards domestically and boss Stanislav Cherchesov, once Russian national team manager, will be keen they resume winning ways in league action. This game being sandwiched between two big Europa League ties with Bayer Leverkusen however places this as the least important game they’ll be playing this week.

They’ll face a tricky opponent this weekend however in the shape of Puskas Academy, who sit fifth in the table. They remain well in the hunt for a European Conference League qualification spot, sitting just two points behind third place. Back-to-back defeats has derailed their momentum, especially conceding seven goals in those setbacks, with is surprising given their strong defensive record. Motivation is high against Ferencvaros however, with every game virtually being a cup final when facing the top dogs in Hungary. The Bayer Leverkusen games that

Ferencvaros will have to negotiate just can’t be ignored however, and this may be a good time to be playing them possibly or at least catching them off guard.

Still, it is understandable that you’ll find fairly slim odds-on prices on a home victory this Sunday, I do think we can take them on to a degree. It is so easy to think the job is done, especially in one-team leagues such as this. They can’t be at full tilt every game, or at least in all 90 minutes of every game. One thing that is common between Ferencvaros and Puskas Academy is their regularity for finding the back of the net. Both teams can proudly say they’ve only failed to score in three of their 22 league matches this season. With that being the case, you’d expect shorter odds of 4/5 on Both Teams To Score. We therefore have to take advantage of this price from Bet365.

Granada v Ponferradina

We wrap up the weekend action with another trip to a second-tier division and it is Spain on this occasion. Four is the magic number this time around at it presents fourth from top versus fourth from bottom. Granada are very much seeking an immediate return to La Liga after their three campaign stay was ended last season, whilst Ponferradina are underperforming given they’ve finished the last two seasons in 8th position.

Whilst it is very much a battle against relegation for the away team, the hosts find themselves just three points off Las Palmas in top spot, in what is a very congested top portion of the table. It hasn’t been easy for them however, as although they started the season with three straight wins, that was followed up by only two victories in 12. It was during this period that ex-Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was dismissed, and his replacement Paco López has kicked the team back into shape by winning ten of his 15 in charge.

Having missed out on the playoffs in consecutive seasons, expectations had risen for Ponferradina. They changed manager themselves not long after Karanka departed their weekend opposition, but David Gallego hasn’t been able to have a similar kind of impact to who’ll he be facing in the opposing dugout on Sunday. Gallego has brought about two wins in 14, and they’ve failed to score in eight of those.

Almost everything is pointing towards a Granada win here and we just have to get them on side in some shape or form. The last ten game form table has them top of the pile, with Ponferradina third from the bottom. Only four teams have netted fewer times than La Ponfe, whilst Granada are only second to league leaders Las Palmas in clean sheets earned. Granada To Win To Nil is kindly priced at 11/8 with BetVictor, and it is another play that statistically makes complete sense.

European Tips

  • Saint-Étienne v Amiens – Saint-Étienne to Win and Over 1 Goal (6/5)
  • Ferencvaros v Puskas Academy – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Bet365)
  • Granada v Ponferradina – Granada To Win To Nil (11/8 BetVictor)

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