Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. As this extraordinary season of soccer continues, Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for its biggest games this weekend …
Friday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Tottenham’s form before the Premier League shutdown was troubling. An unceremonious exit from the Champions League at the hands of RB Leipzig capped a winless run of five defeats in six for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Their return to action comes against a Manchester United team whose form was thoroughly positive before the break — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men won five of their most recent six games, conceding only a single goal.
However, with no fans in North London and no competitive action for either team in over 100 days, the form book may go out of the window here. This is a tantalizing reintroduction to England’s top flight, between two sides who are vying for Champions League qualification.
With a win against his former employer, Mourinho can move within one point of United in fifth (which may be good enough for entry to Europe’s top competition, if Manchester City’s ban is upheld).
Both teams will benefit from the reintroduction of attacking options that were unavailable during the last round of games: Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can return for Spurs, while Paul Pogba and England’s Prime-Minister-in-waiting Marcus Rashford are available for the visitors.
United won the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford back in December thanks to a Rashford brace, and they won their most recent away trip to Tottenham, once again with Rashford providing the winner. However, United failed to win in any of their previous five league visits to Spurs.
Given the availability of attacking options, and the propensity for defensive lapses that the Bundesliga’s return has shown us, this game should have goals. (The fixture has only ended goalless once since January 2011).
The visitors are the favorites at +140 with BetMGM, and a narrow win for Solskjaer’s side seems like a sensible punt.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United
Best Bet: Rashford to score the first goal (+350 at BetMGM). The England star scored first in the last two matches between these teams, and scored United’s first goal in his last two starts.
Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBC
Liverpool need just six more points to guarantee their first league title in 30 years, and they can get half the job done when they cross Stanley Park to face neighbors Everton this Sunday.
Can the Toffees prevent their red rivals from getting their hands on the silverware for a little while longer?
Jurgen Klopp’s side are the overwhelming favorites (at -176 with BetMGM) and will be buoyed by their 5-2 victory in the Merseyside derby back in December. Not only do Everton hold a dismal record in this fixture — they haven’t beaten Liverpool in 22 matches, dating back to 2010 — but they also have potential injury issues in Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott.
Merseyside derbies are often close affairs (four of the last five editions have featured one total goal or less) and Liverpool were in a disappointing run of form before the break (losing to Watford in the league and bowing out of the Champions League).
But an emphatic Reds victory seems to be on the cards, setting up a championship-winning game at Anfield against Crystal Palace next Wednesday.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Liverpool
Best Bet: Gigi Wijnaldum anytime scorer (+650 at BetMGM). The Dutchman might not be a goal machine, but he has scored the opening goal in two of his last three appearances on Merseyside. He also scored in the reverse fixture against Everton this season.
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FS1
With the Bundesliga title decided in Bayern Munich’s favor (again), attention in Germany will turn this weekend to the battle between second-place Borussia Dortmund and third-place RB Leipzig.
With two games left to play, BVB has booked its place in next season’s Champions League, but their momentum stalled midweek with a 2-0 home loss to relegation candidates Mainz. RB Leipzig also stumbled midweek, giving up a 2-0 lead to another relegation-threatened side, Fortuna Dusseldorf, to take just a single point.
Lucien Favre’s side were victorious upon their last visit to Red Bull Arena, but the smart money may be on a draw in this one. Leipzig have drawn their last five home matches in the league, and the reverse fixture at the Westfalenstadion earlier this season was a wild affair that saw the points split evenly.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Best Bet: Both teams to score and the game ends in a tie (+330 with BetMGM). Leipzig’s last five home games have been score draws, and both teams have scored in four of the last five encounters between these sides.
Sevilla vs. Barcelona
Friday, 4 p.m. ET, beIN Sports
Fresh from a routine win over rock-bottom Leganes on Tuesday, Barcelona face a sterner challenge on Friday when they visit Andalusia to face third-place Sevilla.
Julen Lopetegui’s side are on an eight-game undefeated streak, having a perfect record since the restart denied only by a late equalizer at Levante on Monday.
The Blaugrana, however, have looked impressive since the restart (arguably more impressive than their title rivals Real Madrid) and have seemed cohesive despite a significant amount of player rotation between their two matches.
The league leaders also boast an excellent record against Sevilla: They’ve won the last three encounters, scoring exactly four goals on each occasion. They have lost only once to Sevilla in the last 13 years, a 2-1 defeat at the start of the 2015-16 campaign where Lionel Messi was absent.
The Argentine will be available for this match, and now sits on 699 career goals for Barca. He’s scored in each of Barcelona’s last two games — would you bet against him notching number 700 here?
Prediction: Sevilla 1-3 Barcelona
Best Bet: Barcelona to win and both teams to score (+210 with BetMGM). Sevilla have scored in each of their last 21 league matches and have found the net against Barca in 13 of their last 15 encounters.
Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria
Sunday, 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The staggered return of Serie A begins this weekend, but incumbent champions Juventus and their closest challengers Lazio do not get underway until next week. The Calcio highlight of the weekend comes from Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan, who host Sampdoria on Sunday.
Inter have the advantage of a competitive game under their belt since the restart, having held Napoli to a draw in their Coppa Italia second leg bout in Naples last weekend.
The Milanese side also hold a significant advantage in the head-to-head, having won their past four encounters with Samp. The bookmakers also place the visitors as significant underdogs, with steep odds of +775 for the win at Bet MGM.
Sampdoria have registered only a single win at the San Siro against Inter in the past 15 years, which was a comeback 2-1 victory in 2017 courtesy of an 85th-minute winner. Expect no such turnaround from an away side with a questionable defense on this occasion.
Prediction: Inter Milan 4-1
Best Bet: A straight Inter win doesn’t offer much value, so consider over 4.5 total goals at +333 on BetMGM. Inter have scored 14 against Sampdoria in their last five encounters, and the visitors have conceded four goals or more in four of their last seven matches.
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