Selected Sunday/Monday Predictions
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle
Aberdeen 1-2 Celtic
Cologne 1-4 Bayern Munich
Juventus 3-0 Brescia
Cagliari 1-1 Napoli
Lazio 2-2 Inter Milan
Atletico Bilbao 1-0 Osasuna
Real Madrid 3-1 Celta Vigo
Lille 1-1 Marseille
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
With the EPL playing out week 2 of their winter break, we will continue down our alternative direction, mixing our EPL predictions with a selection of top European games, along with putting together another mid-season team. After putting together a team for Serié A last weekend, today’s focus will shift to La Liga, before returning to our regular EPL format next weekend.
With the Champions League returning in midweek, it would be common place to proceed with caution when taking teams who have upcoming matches, however, all of today’s teams play next weekend – with the exception of Tottenham – and even when the situation arrises next weekend, I doubt we will see much prioritisation based rotation at this point of the season. Out of the 8 teams slated to play in midweek, 5 have won, 2 have drawn and 1 are yet to play. Valencia’s draw against Atletico isn’t seen as a bad result, however PSG’s result against 19th Amiens certainly was. This was because PSG only started 4 first team players, looking to Tuesday’s game against Dortmund. This is due to the fact that the French title race is predictably over, while in contrast, the likes of Barca, Real, Bayern, Dortmund, Atletico, Tottenham and Juventus, won’t be resting an big names, given the tightness of their leagues- bet it competing or the title or battling to finish in their respective Champions a League positions.
Sunday sees three teams in action, who I not expect to win today, but to eventually wind up as champions. Real Madrid, Bayern and Juve should all finish this weekend top of their respective piles. While this isn’t a bold statement for either Bayern or Real – who both started the weekend top of their leagues – it is for a Juventus team who started it in second place. However, I see Juventus cruising to a straight-forward victory over Brescia, while I see Inter Milan drooping value points at in-form Lazio. It wouldn’t surprise one bit to see Conte’s men drop to third off the back of defeat to Le Aquile.
La Liga Mid-Season Team of the Season
Where would Real Madrid be without Karim Benzema? His amazing resurgence continues, as he continues to be the one player at the Bernabeu to really benefit and step up following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit in summer 2018. Thus far, Benzema has either scored or assisted 19 of Real’s 44 goals this season. However, despite Benzema’s solid form, Real Madrid are largely top of the pile down to their rock-solid defence, who have conceded just 14 in 23. Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal have rarely had a bad season in their careers, but Rafael Varane has definitely looked better than last season, where he was one of many French superstars suffering from a World Cup hangover. Carlos Casemiro completes the Madrid dominance in this team, as this season has seen him push ahead of the pack and emerge as the world’s top holding midfielder.
The Real Madrid quintet are joined by a Real Madrid loanee, as the decision for Martin Odegaard to spend 2019/20 on loan at Real Sociedad has gone very well both for player and club. The Norwegian’s technical ability was well known, but this season has seen him display leadership skills and ability to run a game, while still just 21. The former child prodigy has seemingly come of age. In what is a team full of a remerging talents, nothing can compare to the reemergence and feel good story of one Santi Cazorla, a player who spent over a year out of the game and looked like losing his leg to injury. However, not only has the Spaniard managed to get himself back onto the pitch and playing at the top-level, but he has also delivered world class performances and statistics at the age of 34- notching 8 goals from midfield, along with 5 assists so far this season.