Friday January 24 2014

Juventus, Man United and Bayern assured of wins

Lazio will be wary of Juventus and Sebastian

Lazio will be wary of Juventus and Sebastian Giovinco AFP PHOTO  

By Mark Ssali


Chelsea vs West Ham
Big Sam is under the cosh as West Ham spiral towards the Championship yet again. And just as he welcomes Andy Carroll and the much needed size upfront, he loses his best performing midfielder Mohammed Diame to injury. Yet Chelsea are getting stronger with each game, especially at home as they eye the title. West Ham will scrap as it is a London derby, but to no avail. Home win

Tottenham vs Man. City
Away to Swansea Tim Sherwood showed that he could switch from the 4-4-2 formation that had left Spurs exposed against Arsenal in the FA Cup, to a tighter setup in midfield. Just as well, with Man City visiting the Lane, because if he were to stick to the open format he would be ripped apart by the league’s most surgical operators. It will be closer, but City will still find a way. Away win

Southampton vs Arsenal
This season, home or away, Arsenal have developed the relentlessness and persistence to put away teams however resilient they might prove to be. In seasons gone by the beautiful football would not be enough for certain outings, and this is potentially one, but the Gunners have added that little bit extra. Southampton are due a result however after some undeserved reversals, and this could be it. Draw

Man United vs Cardiff
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to walk out onto the Old Trafford pitch to a hero’s welcome, and then proceed to prove he is a better tactician than David Moyes with the way he sets up his team. Cardiff will be tough to break down and dangerous on the break and at set pieces, but by sheer will, and due to the likely presence of Juan Mata (playing or not), Man United will just about pull through. Home win

Serie A

Lazio vs Juventus
Lazio is one of just a handful of teams capable of taking something off Juventus on a good day, and playing at home in Rome they will be up for the challenge and will perhaps be desperate to emulate the midweek feat of their cross-town rivals Roma who knocked the Old Lady out of the Coppa Italia with a solitary goal. I don’t see Juve losing two on the bounce though. Away win

Napoli vs Chievo
Napoli have gone off the boil lately, posting some unexpected results at home and on their travels, with the season perhaps taking its toll on their thin squad. There is no better time for Rafa Benitez’s men to return to form than now however, on home turf in Naples. After all, they have a starting eleven that can beat any in the Serie A. Home win

Hellas Verona vs Roma
They might have pulled off a great result in beating the mighty Juventus in the Coppa in midweek, but Roma are going to find this one a different ball game altogether. Hellas Verona are a plucky prospect to say the least, especially at home. There should be some goals whatever the outcome however, and I fancy this as a rare Serie A.


Monchengladbach vs Bayern
Manchester United manager David Moyes will be a focal point in the crowd, his focus apparently on midfielder Patrick Hermann and striker Max Kruse who have brought the good old days back to Monchengladbach. They used to be and still occasionally are Bayern’s bogey side, but the champions have used the winter break well and will be in form. Away win

Dortmund vs Augsburg
Dortmund needed that winter break more than any other, having gone through a rough time with results and injuries towards Christmas. They seem to have recharged their batteries well, and in a midweek friendly in Duisburg they put six past their opponents thanks to Lewandowski, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Schieber. Sounds like the Dortmund we know, so beware Augsburg. ‘Over’


Guingamp vs PSG
Both sides are capable of scoring in this one, the visitors perhaps more than their hosts. Don’t let the Coupe loss to Montpellier fool you, PSG are hot on the trail of another league title and are fast becoming one of the most feared teams in Europe thanks to their firepower. Barring some major offensive collapse from them and to a lesser extent Guingamp, this should produce an ‘Over’

Monaco vs Marseille
This should be a thriller in the Principality, with catchy talent on display centered on the little playmakers Joao Moutinho and Florian Thauvin. Falcao got injured in midweek but other strikers are available for Monaco, as is Andre Pierre Gignac on the other side. Sometimes they turn out to be anticlimaxes, but I feel this will defy the trend and provide us with goals. ‘Over’


Barcelona vs Malaga
They were held to a shock draw away to Levante last weekend, and poor Malaga are in the way of a backlash at the Camp Nou. Barcelona slipped off the rails badly, but they should get their title hunt back on track in some style, with fit-again Lionel Messi leading the charge. ‘Over’

Real Madrid vs Granada
Where Madrid’s star-studded forward line is concerned, there is an evident friendly competition for goals going on. Cristiano Ronaldo is fanatical we know, but Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria also take it more seriously than they might let on, and games like these are testament to it all. ‘

Vallecano vs Atletico Madrid
The intensity with which they approach every game is bound to tire them out physically and mentally, and between now and May Atletico Madrid will definitely look stretched and stressed. It begun to show against Sevilla last weekend and will continue here, although they will eventually manage to get maximum points. Away win

Valencia vs Espanyol
Home win
Sevilla vs Levante
Home win
Sociedad vs Elche
Valladolid vs Villarreal
Away win


Hibernian vs Celtic


ADO Den Haag vs Feyernood
Away win
PSV vs Alkmaar
NAC Breda vs Zwolle
Go Ahead Eagles vs Ajax

Kasimpasa vs Karabukspor
Home win
Trabzonspor vs Besiktas
Away win
Gaziantepspor vs Galatasaray
‘Over’, @markssali on twitter