Friday February 14 2014

Definite wins for Man City, Barca and Roma

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure (R) vies for the ball against

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure (R) vies for the ball against Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic during the premiership encounter between the two teams at the Etihad last week. Manchester City host Chelsea in an FA Cup tie this weekend. . PHOTO BY AFP  

By Mark Ssali


Juventus vs Chievo
It is a measure of how bad predictions were for me last weekend that I also made a none-call on Juventus of all teams. This is the season in which they have hardly let anybody down, but in retrospect it was close as they led 2-0 and only conceded a last minute equaliser away from home. Maybe I should have gone for the Over then. I am tempted to do so for this one, but let me just settle for the Home win.

Roma vs Sampdoria
They too disappointed with a draw in the Rome derby, especially since they didn’t score yet one would bet on them doing just that any given weekend, but like Juventus I fancy them to make amends this time round. It is not too often this season (except during that expected blip halfway through), that Roma have gone two games without scoring, and yet if they score here they should go on to victory. Home win

AC Milan vs Bologna
There were tears in Naples for Mario Balotelli, as an off-day in front of goal for him turned into a bad day for Milan, but the temperamental striker should return to happier times in the comforts of the San Siro. They were actually pretty decent for 70 odd minutes against Napoli, and even if Clarence Seerdof’s men will not find it easy here, they should find some respite. Home win

Bayern vs Freiburg
One of the big ones that didn’t let me down, Bayern did what others couldn’t do last weekend by actually making what should have been a routine win exactly that. My worries about calling for the ‘Over’ then were well founded too as they could only manage two unanswered goals in this derby. With a big Champions League game coming up in midweek, Pep Guardiola should rest some key players, but the ‘reserves’ will be even more ruthless. ‘Over’

Dortmund vs Frankfurt
They too did not disappoint. In fact they exceeded expectations in light of recent form by obliterating Bremen away from home. One gets tempted to believe they are back to their sharpest and should continue in the same vein with a glut of goals back home this weekend, but they have a thin squad and a better chance in the Champions League than the Bundesliga, and so Jurgen Klopp might tinker. The safe bet is a mere Home win.

Leverkusen vs Schalke
The most even match-up among the heavyweights in the Bundesliga should be a spectacle, even if European duty beckons only a few days later. With the attacking talent on display on either side - such scorers as Steffan Keissling, Heung-Min Son and the fit-again Klaas-Jan Huntelaar among others - what is to stop the goals from slipping through whatever sieve? ‘Over’


PSG vs Valenciennes
They had victory cruelly snatched from them by a late late own goal in the principality last weekend, but PSG should atone for that back in Paris. Champions League football comes calling and coach Laurent Blanc will inevitably have one eye on midweek, but with the depth in his squad there should be few problems even if he chooses to rotate. ‘Over’

Bastia vs Monaco
Unlike PSG, Monaco have no such thoughts and can only concentrate all their efforts on the domestic front, where goals have become a bit of an issue since they lost leading scorer Radamel Falcao for the season. At Bastia the goals getters available should sure be able to find their way to the net of a team that has shipped 35 already, yet that team should contribute something too. The likelihood of an ‘Over’ is encouraging.

Lyon vs Ajaccio
It has been a season of inconsistency for Lyon, but on their day they have the star quality and experience to thrill. Against rock bottom Ajaccio at the Stade de Gerland they can really get to turn it on and stir up memories of the good old days when they dominated Ligue One. Bafetimbi Gomis, Alexandre Lacazette, Clement Grenier, Yoann Gourcuff, Jimmy Briand and company should be irresistible this once. ‘Over


Barcelona vs Vallecano
There is a big one coming up in the Champions League, but with the three-way race for the La Liga title as close as can possibly be there will be no letting up from Barcelona and the other two rivals, or at least there shouldn’t be. The ruthlessness of yester-year only comes intermittently these days, and the fixtures are piling up as Sevilla last weekend was followed by Sociedad in midweek, and Vallecano will be quickly followed by Man City. Still, Home win.

Atletico Madrid vs Valladolid
They have lost three on the bounce, and that foreseeable fatigue factor I have been going on about here for months looks like it has set in. The thin squad is being stretched to the limits too, and in losing to rivals Real in the Copa on Tuesday they didn’t have Thibaut Courtois, David Villa, Felipe Luis and Tiago because of injury. The Champions League return is untimely, but their one-game-at-a-time policy will help here. Home win

Getafe vs Real Madrid
The derbies are coming thick and fast for Real Madrid, and this one is bound to leave them bruised and battered. But they cannot afford to start feeling sorry for themselves, and have got to dig deep and get on with it. Thankfully for them their immediate Champions League chores are relatively easier than those of Barca and Atletico, and they can put their unreserved energies into this one. ‘Over’

Villarreal vs Celta Vigo

Sevilla vs Valencia

Bilbao vs Espanyol
Home win

Malaga vs Sociedad


Man City vs Chelsea
In the long run it is likely to be a mighty disadvantage to Man City that their midweek Premiership game was called off, but just for this weekend it will be of great help that they have a well rested group, especially considering that a date with Barcelona is right around the corner. Chelsea don’t have to juggle too much in regards to the Champions League, and have vast resources anyway, but its advantage City. Home win

Arsenal vs Liverpool
In light of the last two Premier League results, you wonder just how much of a priority the FA Cup is for Arsenal, bearing in mind that there also is the small matter of a meeting with European champions Bayern on the horizon. Wenger must rotate to have fresher legs than Liverpool who travel to London twice this week, but they are highly motivated and have outscored Arsenal all season. ‘Over’

Everton vs Swansea
Everton had their midweek league game called off and will be eager for some action, while Swansea will rely on the buoyant mood brought about by the good start to life after Michael Laudrup. It promises to be old fashioned end-to-end Cup action, and provided they both take some of the numerous chances guaranteed to be created, this should be an ‘Over’.

Celtic vs St Johnstone

PSV vs Almelo

Twente vs Vitesse

Alkmaar vs Utrecht

Ajax vs Heerenveen

NAC Breda vs Feyenoord
Away win

Sporting Lisbon vs Olhanense

Pacos Ferreira vs Benfica
Away win

Gil Vicente vs Porto
Away win

Estoril vs Braga
Away win

Rubin Karzan vs Volga Novgorod
Home win

Spartak Moscow vs Anzhi
Home win

CSKA Moscow vs Zenit

Besiktas vs Bursaspor

Fenerbahce vs Kasimpasa
‘Over’, @markssali on twitter