BATTLE FOR SECOND
Having sufficiently played their way out of contention for the English Premier League title early in the season, Manchester City are now fighting to remain in the Top-4 as they tangle with visiting Chelsea on Saturday in the marquee game of the week.
Man City are a full nine points back of Liverpool for top spot, but trail runners-up Leicester City and Chelsea by just one point – and they're -225 favorites to gain three critical points vs. the Blues (+550). But Chelsea have reeled off six consecutive league victories since a narrow loss to Liverpool and have won five of their first six away games this season.
STOPPING THE BLEEDING
Atalanta's early-season feel-good story is starting to turn for the worse as the 5th-place Italian League side hosts Juventus on Saturday afternoon. Atalanta was once challenging for top spot in the Serie A table but have just one victory from their previous five domestic matches.
They're in for a fight this weekend, installed at +200 against a Juventus club (+120) that has clawed its way back to the top of the standings on the strength of three consecutive victories. That said, Atalanta have momentum on their side coming in, with a win and two draws in the previous three meetings with the eight-time defending league champs.
Four teams are within two points of top spot in the La Liga standings – but only one has a cake matchup this weekend, and it happens to be the odds-on favorite to win the title. Barcelona will look to create a little breathing room between themselves and the rest of the field as they visit last-place Leganes on Saturday.
Barca (-225) are in good position to light up the scoreboard, having tallied a league-high 33 goals through the first 12 games. Leganes (+600) have just seven goals and a -15 differential for the season, but pulled out a 2-1 win the last time Barcelona traveled to Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
NO HASSLING THE HOFF(ENHEIM)
Hoffenheim are the hottest thing going in the German League as they seek their sixth consecutive victory Sunday against visiting Mainz. Hoffenheim (-154) have overcome a slow start to the season, averaging 2.4 goals over the length of their winning streak to surge into fifth place in the Bundesliga table.
They're in good position to keep the streak going against Mainz (+375), who were outscored 11-2 in back-to-back league defeats to RB Leipzig and Union Berlin. Hoffenheim would also like to exact a little revenge after claiming just one point in two matches with Mainz last season.
• Home field hasn't been an advantage in recent meetings between West Ham and Tottenham as they do battle on Saturday. The visiting team has five wins and a draw in the last six encounters, which bodes well for Spurs as they get set to kick off the José Mourinho Era. Look for Tottenham to be fired up for this one and cash in on their -134 odds of victory.
• Bad behavior has been the order of the day when Brighton and Leicester have dueled, as they will Saturday. The teams have combined to rack up an incredible 24 yellow cards in their previous six meetings, with 15 of those courtesy visiting Leicester (who also have two red cards in the past two meetings). We're leaning toward the O4.5 on the yellow card count at +110.
• AC Milan have figured out how to keep Napoli off the scoresheet in recent home meetings, and would love nothing more than to keep that trend going Saturday. Milan have recorded three consecutive clean sheets vs. Napoli at San Siro Stadium, though two of those games ended in scoreless draws. The home clean sheet (+300) and U2.5 (-110) are intriguing plays here.
• Chippy doesn't even begin to descrIbe recent encounters between Sassuolo and Lazio. The teams renew hostilities Sunday at Mapei Stadium - Città del Tricolore, with the teams having combined for 30 yellow cards and a pair of red cards over their previous half-dozen tilts. The O5.5 yellow cards prop looks like a potential steal here at -125.
• It's getting Real in Spanish League action on Saturday, with Real Madrid hosting Real Sociedad in a battle of top-5 La Liga clubs. The teams have had no trouble filling the nets in their recent history, surpassing the 2.5-goal threshold in 13 of their previous 15 encounters. And with both sides ranking in the top-4 in goals league-wide, the O3.5 is in play at +100.
• Celta Vigo have hit a rough patch as they prepare to visit Villarreal on Sunday. Celta Vigo have been losing at half-time and full-time in each of their previous three league matches and have been outscored by a 7-2 margin in those games. Villarreal are a comfortable favorite for Sunday's match, making the home team HT/FT double a strong option at +175.
• Can Freiburg finally end its lengthy scoring drought against Bayer Leverkusen? That's going to be a popular question for bettors as the teams renew acquaintances Saturday at BayArena. Leverkusen have held Freiburg without a goal in each of the previous four meetings between the teams, and should draw interest at +150 to extend the shutout streak this weekend.
• Two of the worst defensive clubs in the German League tangle Sunday when Augsburg and Hertha Berlin square off. The sides rank third-last and sixth-last, respectively, in goals against – and they're no strangers to high-scoring affairs, having averaged five goals in their previous three meetings. Bettors should take a long look at the O3.5 here (+175).