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 …
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
It’s traditionally the biggest rivalry in English soccer, but Liverpool’s visit to Manchester United tells a story of two teams experiencing very different fortunes right now.
Jurgen Klopp’s side boast a 100% league record and haven’t dropped a point in nearly eight months. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s charges, meanwhile, are off to their worst league start since 1989 and are seeking only their third win on the season.
In many ways, it’s a tale of the importance of a good front office and ownership: Liverpool have an excellent manager, a strong squad and a newly renovated stadium. United play in a venue that has become decrepit, with a mishmash squad formed by a revolving door of managers with different policies and an executive team with no philosophy.
The Red Devils have won only one of their last eight encounters with Liverpool in all competitions: a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in March 2018, which kept United in second place in the table. This weekend, the hosts could fall as low as 17th.
Their fortunes will also be hampered by the absence of David de Gea and Paul Pogba, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Anthony Martial are all racing to be fully fit.
Despite the obvious disparity between the sides, a draw might be an obvious bet (+300 with 888sport), as five of the last seven encounters between the sides have ended in a stalemate — including the last two at Old Trafford.
However, an away win seems much more likely. United have failed to score in their last two outings and haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 10. Liverpool, meanwhile have scored more than twice in 16 of their last 17 league matches.
Liverpool may not have won at Old Trafford in nearly five and a half years, but all signs suggest the European champions will maintain their 100% domestic record this weekend.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Liverpool
Best Bet: Liverpool win and over 2.5 goals (+145 with FOXBET). There have been over 2.5 goals in seven of Liverpool’s last eight league games, and also in two of their last three encounters with United.
Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia
Atleti started strong with wins in the opening three rounds, but have conspired to drop nine points in their last five outings. Their only win in that period came at 18th-placed Mallorca.
Diego Simeone’s side could be overtaken in the league by their weekend opponents Valencia, who are seeking their third consecutive win.
Given Atleti’s form, there is potential for an upset here, and two of their last four encounters have resulted in a draw.
But Valencia have failed to win at Atleti, either at the Wanda Metropolitano or the old Vicente Calderon, since 2011. The hosts have kept a clean sheet in their last five matches in all competitions, while the visitors have conceded nine in their last five league outings.
Atleti will have Alvaro Morata, Diego Costa and Joao Felix at their disposal, so a Simeone-esque narrow win seems to be the order of the day here.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Valencia
Best Bet: Atleti win and under 1.5 goals (+450 with FOXBET). The hosts have only scored seven times in eight league matches this season and their last five games in all competitions have featured a total of four goals.
Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Just four points separate the top eight teams in the Bundesliga, with Borussia Monchengladbach leading the pack coming out of the second international break. On Saturday, the surprise table-toppers head to the Westfalenstadion to face eighth-place Dortmund in the latest Battle of the Borussias.
With a home win, a BVB side that has lost only one of its last 20 matches in all competitions could potentially leap up to second in the table. But Gladbach will be no pushovers. Marco Rose’s side have won four consecutive league matches, scoring eleven times in the process.
The visitors also boast one of the best defenses in the league; only high-flying Wolfsburg have conceded fewer times. They will relish the prospect of visiting a Dortmund side who have drawn four of their last five matches.
Lucien Favre’s side may also have one eye on a midweek Champions League clash with Inter Milan, although Gladbach must also travel to Italy in the coming days to face Roma.
The head-to-head, however, favors the hosts. Dortmund have won their last eight bouts with Gladbach, and scored four or more goals in three of those wins. Gladbach haven’t earned any points at the Westfalenstadion since March 2014.
Given their respective impressive front threes, expect both sides to create plenty of scoring chances. Despite Gladbach’s defensive nous, Dortmund should get the better of this one.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Best Bet: Dortmund win and both teams to score (+150 with FOXBET). Both sides have found the net in five of their last seven encounters.
Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution
LAFC and NYCFC are the bookies’ favorites for MLS Cup, but both get a bye from this weekend’s playoff first round.
Reigning champion Atlanta are third favorites, who benefit from a favorable matchup with New England. You’ll have to cast your mind back a full two weeks to recall the last time these two sides met at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the hosts earned a straightforward 3-1 victory.
Atlanta dropped enough points to cede top spot in the east during the run-in — notably a 4-1 loss at NYCFC last month — but will go into the playoffs on a positive note. New England, meanwhile, boast just a single victory in their last seven outings and haven’t picked up a road win since July.
The Boston side have not beaten Atlanta in any of their five meetings and have lost the last three matchups.
Atlanta have the head-to-head advantage, they will be boosted by a large partisan home crowd and MVP Josef Martinez is injury-free and ready to add to his tally of 27 goals on the season.
Expect both teams to score and ATL to book their place in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Prediction: Atlanta 2-1 New England
Best Bet: Julian Gressel anytime scorer (+205 with POINTSBET). The 2017 Superdraft pick has scored in his last two outings, and also assisted twice in the Decision Day win over New England.
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