Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund
The title races in the Premier League and Eredivisie may be close, but all eyes will be on Germany this weekend — and a monumental edition of Der Klassiker that could decide this season’s Bundesliga.
Borussia Dortmund heads to Bavaria two points ahead of Bayern Munich in the league table. A loss for Lucien Favre’s side will see the six-time defending champions jump back into the top spot—a position they are unlikely to cede, because, well, they’re Bayern Munich. If BVB wins, they’ll open up a five-point gap with six games left to play.
The stakes couldn’t be higher in this modern rivalry between the haughty Bavarians and the working-class chancers from the industrial heartland.
Bayern comes into this one on the back of a rollercoaster midweek DFB-Pokal match against Heidenheim, in which the second-tier side managed to score four goals (but still lose) at the Allianz Arena. In their previous league game, Niko Kovac’s men were surprisingly held by minnows SC Freibrug.
Dortmund, meanwhile, will be looking for a fourth consecutive win. The league leaders will also be buoyed by their previous matchup with Bayern—a five-goal thriller in November, in which they came back from behind twice to secure a 3-2 win.
However, their away form vs. Bayern is not as strong, having lost their last two visits by an 8-1 aggregate scoreline. Bayern has won seven straight home league matches and kept clean sheets in five of those wins.
BVB’s injury list is also a concern. Christian Pulisic won’t play and Raphael Guerreiro will likely drop to left-back as Abdou Diallo and Achraf Hakimi are both out.
Bayern is the heavy favorite with the bookmakers, but the away team has won three of the last six encounters.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-2 Borussia Dortmund. There will be goals (this fixture hasn’t been goalless since 2007) but there is little to separate these teams right now.
Best Bet: Over 3.5 goals (11/10 with bet365). Six of their last seven meetings have featured over 3.5 goals.
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
The Bundesliga isn’t the only place you’ll find a top-of-the-table clash this weekend: Atletico Madrid can climb within five points of the La Liga summit with a win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
Atleti has won six of its last seven league outings and kept a clean sheet in all of those victories. Diego Simeone’s side will also be encouraged by Barcelona’s midweek outing, where they were trailing 4-2 at Villarreal before Leo Messi and Luis Suarez struck in injury time to salvage a draw.
However, the head-to-head form does not make for such promising reading for Atleti. They’ve beaten the Blaugrana only once in their last 16 meetings, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign where they pipped the Catalan side to the title on the final day. And they haven’t won at the Camp Nou since February 2006.
Gerard Pique and Messi will benefit from midweek rest, and the Argentine’s irrepressible free kick prowess may be the biggest threat to Atleti’s clean sheet aspirations.
Barcelona is undefeated in 18 league matches at home this season and has scored four or more goals in three of the last four matches. However, don’t expect a goalfest in this one — this fixture is typically attritional and defensive, as was the case in the 1-1 draw last November.
Given Barca’s form and the questionable nature of Atleti’s strikers (Diego Costa is an injury doubt and Alvaro Morata is out of form), a narrow Barca win seems to be the ticket.
Prediction: Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Best bet: Under 2.5 goals (4/5 with SkyBet). Six of their last eight meetings have featured under 2.5 goals, and all of the last 12 meetings have featured three or fewer goals.
Juventus vs. AC Milan
With an 18-point lead at the summit of Serie A, Juventus is all but assured of picking up an eighth consecutive scudetto. However, the Old Lady should face one of the sterner tests of its season as Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan visits Turin on Saturday.
Juve is in excellent health, with last month’s visit to Genoa representing its only league loss this season. However, the club enters this weekend with a cloud hanging over its head following the midweek win at Cagliari, where teenage forward Moise Kean suffered racist abuse only for teammate Leonardo Bonucci to abhorrently claim "the blame is 50-50" between the player and the offending fans.
While it’s not known if the controversy has created any kind of internal unrest, Juve’s players will undoubtedly have next week’s Champions League clash with Ajax on their minds. Furthermore, it’s likely that Cristiano Ronaldo will not be rushed back from injury rehabilitation for this one.
As such, there may not be a better time to face the league leaders. It’s an important game for Milan, which has claimed only a single point from its last three outings and finds itself tentatively hanging onto a Champions League berth in fourth place.
Unfortunately for Gattuso’s men, they haven’t beaten Juve away in the league in over eight years. The bookies heavily favor the Bianconeri and it seems likely they will go into their huge Champions League bout on the back of a win against a major domestic rival.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Milan
Best Bet: Juventus to win to nil (6/4 with SkyBet). Milan hasn’t scored in its last three meetings with Juventus.
Manchester City vs. Brighton Hove & Albion
No English team has ever won the quadruple, but it remains a distinct possibility for Manchester City this campaign. The Citizens have been the bookmakers’ favorite in each competition they have entered this season and are just two games away from securing their second FA Cup title of the Abu Dhabi era.
Pep Guardiola’s men have a favorable matchup in Brighton, whom they have comfortably beaten in their last three meetings. However, they have an injury doubt in striker Sergio Aguero, who missed the midweek victory over Cardiff, and something of a crisis at left back. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabian Delph are both injured, while first-choice option Benjamin Mendy has not impressed his manager with his late-night partying. Aymeric Laporte may become a makeshift fullback for this one, a weakness that Chris Hughton’s Seagulls could expose at Wembley.
But Brighton will certainly be the underdog, and was comprehensively torn apart by Chelsea in its midweek fixture. Accordingly, Brighton is a massive 30/1 with Betfair to upset City — insanely long odds for a team playing someone from its own league at a neutral venue.
In recent outings, City has utterly dominated bottom-rung Premier League sides without racking up a huge scoreline. Expect a similarly efficient victory here.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Brighton
Best Bet: Bernardo Silva anytime scorer (5/2 with SkyBet). The Portuguese midfielder has a goal and an assist in each of his last three games. If you back anything this week, back this one!
D.C. United vs. LAFC
It’s the biggest MLS game of the season so far as the leaders of each conference square off at Audi Field. Both sides have only dropped two points this season, both sides come into this one on the back of consecutive 5-0 and 2-1 wins, and both sides would fancy themselves as MLS Cup contenders this season.
LAFC’s other east coast visit this season resulted in a hard-fought draw with NYCFC, with Carlos Vela earning a point with a late penalty. Walker Zimmerman’s dramatic injury-time winner against Real Salt Lake demonstrates that this team has the mettle to snatch points in the dying minutes, the hallmark of any great team. LAFC has also created 65 chances this season, which is 20 more than the next-closest team.
D.C. United, meanwhile, is flying under the stewardship of Wayne Rooney, whose spectacular acute-angle free kick winner at Orlando last week marked his fourth goal in four games.
But this game might be considered an exercise in attack versus defense, as LAFC’s freewheeling forwards will be up against the stingiest defense in the league, which has allowed only one goal.
The home side is the narrow favorite in this one, but this may be the toughest test their backline will face all season. A score draw, much like the clubs’ meeting last season, seems a likely outcome.
Prediction: D.C. United 1-1 LAFC
Best Bet: Over 11.5 corners (2/1 with Unibet). Los Angeles and D.C. are averaging 6.4 and 4.75 corners per game respectively. There’s going to be plenty of set pieces in this one.
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