As football enthusiasts around the globe gear up for another thrilling weekend, we find ourselves digging into the tactics, stats, and form guides to extract the hidden gems for your betting pleasure.
From the melodious Nordic chants of Allsvenskan in Sweden to the pulsating drumbeats of the MLS in the United States and the passionately fervent roars in Italy's Serie A, we leave no stone unturned in our quest for expert betting advice.
Today, we draw focus to four enthralling fixtures – each with its unique storylines, stakes, and potential surprises. Read on as we dissect the Kalmar vs. Degerfors clash in Sweden, a key MLS matchup featuring Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew, a potentially surprising encounter between Sirius and Goteborg, and a remarkable relegation play-off in the Serie A between Spezia and Verona.
Kalmar v Degerfors
Our only play across the Saturday card sees us make the journey into Scandinavia where there is a Swedish Allsvenskan clash that catches my eye. Kalmar versus Degerfors may not be the most glamorous of contests but I’ve had decent success backing against Degerfors this season, but I potentially fancy them to be a little bit more competitive in this one.
Degerfors have already conceded a whopping 32 goals this season, and we’re only 12 games into the contest. So they’re already shipping an average of 2.67 goals per game, and yet they aren’t in the relegation zone! They sit just outside the drop zone and a trip to face Kalmar is one the bookies expect them to crumble. You’re looking at odds in the region of 1.57 on a home win, which is based upon Degerfors’ bad defensive record, plus Kalmar sit sixth in the table and would be expected to win at home.
However, this Kalmar side are no world-beaters and they aren’t exactly a team to put maximum faith in. A home record of won three, drew one and lost one doesn’t look bad on paper, but they’ve failed to win two of their last three at home when priced 1.91 and 1.67 against Sirius (drew 2-2) and Brommapojkarna (lost 3-1) respectively. If you’re backing the home team, it would assume it is a more a fade on the away side that anything else. Degerfors have played five and lost five away from home. In their defence, they’ve faced the likes of Malmo, Hacken and Hammarby, but losing 6-0 at Goteborg, who sit in the relegation zone, is just inexcusable.
Despite their struggles this season, it will surprise many to know that Degerfors are ranked 6th in Expected Goals (xG), and they are above the league average in that regard. Kalmar are actually positioned ranked bottom of the xG count in the Swedish top-flight, with them scoring roughly five goals more than expected. It is no shock to see Degerfors are high up the Expected Goals Against (xGA) table with them being 4th, but Kalmar are only one place behind in 5th. Yet looking at the league table suggests this is quite a one-sided affair.
It still may well end up that way as Degerfors clearly have some very big defensive vulnerabilities, maybe mentally more than anything. I do think Both Teams to Score is worthy of a play here at 1.95 with Bet365. Degerfors are clearly creating enough chances and are certainly shoddy at the back, whilst Kalmar seemingly have a habit of finding the back of the net without creating many big chances, and defensively they too aren’t as strong as you’d have thought.
Chicago Fire v Columbus Crew
I think we are all glad Major League Soccer (MLS) is up and running. It truly is one of my favourite leagues and from a betting perspective there is always something for us to get stuck into. We have a full card of games this weekend and I have landed my dart on the clash between Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew. This is an all-Eastern Conference match and Chicago Fire find only a Phil Neville-less Inter Miami behind them in the standings. Whereas back-to-back wins has propelling The Crew into a play-off position.
To further compile the misery for The Fire, they were knocked out of the US Open Cup in midweek when suffering a 4-1 home hammering to Houston Dynamo. Furthermore, they’ve already experienced a managerial change last month when dismissing Ezra Hendrickson. Frank Klopas is the interim boss and he did oversee two wins from his first two matches at the helm. However, it is one win in seven afterwards, and consecutive losses suggests the honeymoon period is over for the Greek. Their biggest issue appears to be creating chances as they are ranked second-from-bottom in the overall MLS xG table, with only Charlotte FC deemed worse. However, they have scored three or more goals twice within their last six, and you’d like to think there would be a big reaction after losing in the cup midweek.
Columbus Crew are a classic MLS team in the sense that they are super strong at home, but it can take a big leap of faith to back them on the road. They’ve lost five of their seven away league encounters this season and have let in an average of 2.00 goals per game within that series in the process. Only FC Cincinnati have collected more home points, and where there is such a big shift between home and away form then you have to take note of that.
One interesting fact is that Chicago is one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference yet to lose at home. A won two and drawn six record looks quite bizarre on paper, but when you consider they’ve already faced the likes of Philadelphia Union, FC Cincinnati and New York City in front of their own fans but yet to lose has to count for something.
Goals does look the obvious play here and the angle we have selected should give us a good run for our money. 10Bet have given 2.00 on Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals and there is good reason to back this selection. Both teams have seen at least ten of their 16 MLS fixtures this season contain BTTS, whilst both teams are experiencing an average above 2.50 goals in their respective league matches, too. It is a winnable match for both and you’d like to think both will have a go, which should make for an open contest.
Sirius v Goteborg
We make no apologies for making a second trip to Sweden in the column as Sirius versus Goteborg is just a match we can’t ignore! Winning has been hard to come by for both outfits in their respective opening 11 games of the season, with both currently positioned inside the bottom-five places. The big difference recently is that Sirius has achieved back-to-back wins to seemingly get their season up-and-running. This has seen them leapfrog Goteborg in the standings, who sit in the Relegation/Promotion Play-Off spot as things stand.
Sirius are a team that has largely flirted with relegation in recent seasons but they’ve always managed to keep their head above water. Across the last five seasons they have finished between 10th and 13th, and with them currently sitting 12th you could argue they are performing to their usual expectations. The same however can’t be said of Goteborg, who have enjoyed three top-eight finishes over the past four campaigns. They have changed manager however, so they’ll be hoping that will bring about some improvement. Jens Berthel Askou takes charge of his first game this weekend.
Askou left his job at AC Horsens to take this gig, and during his time at the Danish club their matches involved an average of 2.88 goals per game. On the xG numbers this season, Goteborg are actually placed 7th in the league, so they are creating but certainly not taking enough of their chances. Also, only seven teams have a stronger xGA figure, and yet they are placed where they are in the table. It could be a case of fine details will get the best out of this team. The new manager will want to lay down a marker and this is a very winnable game this weekend.
Sirius have the fifth-best xG numbers in the league, which also goes against their league table standing. This shows that they too have something going forward, and despite this effectively being a bottom of the table clash, it is one where goals would not be out of the question. Three of their last four at home has featured a minimum of three goals, whilst the last two for Goteborg on the road has as well. As mentioned, both should play to win this game, as why wouldn’t they? Goteborg have a new man to impress, whilst Sirius are on a two-match winning run.
Over 2.5 Goals will give us a good run at 1.91 with SBK.
Spezia v Verona
We have quite a remarkable game taking place in the Italian Serie A this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly! The league did finish last weekend when all teams played their respective 38 games, but Spezia and Verona could not be separated, and as such a Relegation Play-Off will take place. It is the first time in 18 years that this has happened in the league after they ended the campaign on the same points and goal difference. This match shall take place at a neutral ground, with Mapei Stadium the home of Sassuolo being chosen.
Spezia was all set to confirm survival on the final day of the season when drawing away at Roma, but a 91st minute Paulo Dybala secured a win for Jose Mourinho’s side and effectively seal this unique play-off. Verona went down 3-1 away to Milan, so it is all to play for on Sunday in what should be an occasion fuelled with tension and nerves. With that being the case, you could argue backing against goals, but we’ll come onto our play a little further down. We’ll just set the scene a little more.
Both of these teams have the rather bad combination of struggling to score goals and finding it even tougher keeping them out the other end. This is a bottom-three encounter based on goals scored in Serie A and also a bottom-six match based upon number of goals conceded. Furthermore, we have the xG and xGA numbers to provide more context. Verona are bottom in terms of xG numbers in the league, with Spezia only slightly better four spaces higher. It is however the XGA numbers which are the most interest. Verona are actually below the league average on the xGA count, albeit only just. Spezia are roughly 13 goals higher than their opponents, which may afford Verona a slight edge this weekend.
The two regular season head-to-head meetings were also very close affairs. The last clash in March ended 0-0, whilst earlier in the campaign Spezia earned a narrow 2-1 away success, in a match where six yellow cards were dished out. A red card was also handed in the March game, and combine that with the fact this is an all-or-nothing game this weekend then I suspect the referee could have a very busy evening. This match is also a top-three battle if we’re to take into account the number of fouls conceded, and the same can be said for amount of yellow cards received.
This match screams cards more than anything else. I’m willing to risk Over 5.5 Cards at 2.05 with Grosvenor. There is clearly no love lost between these two, and it is essentially two rather dirty teams playing in the biggest game of their lives. Cards is the name of the game!
Kalmar v Degerfors – Both Teams to Score (1.95 Bet365)
Chicago Fire v Columbus Crew – Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals (2.00 10Bet)
Sirius v Goteborg – Over 2.5 Goals (1.91 SBK)
Spezia v Verona – Over 5.5 Cards (2.05 Grosvenor)