Best Bets Across Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 & La Liga (April 29-30)
Picture Alliance/Getty. Pictured: Xabi Alonso.
There’s a massive slate across Europe this weekend with Champions League and Europa League spots on the line across the continent. We have huge matches outside of England like Union Berlin vs Leverkusen, Roma vs AC Milan, and Inter vs Lazio.
If you’d like to see my projections for the Premier League, along with all three European competitions (Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League), you can find them here.
If you’d like to listen to the audio form of this article, I am also part of the Wondergoal Podcast with my co-hosts Michael Leboff and Anthony Dabbundo.
If you’d like to see picks from me for all European leagues, you can follow them in the Action Network App.
Union Berlin vs Bayer Leverkusen
|Union Berlin Odds||+190|
|Bayer Leverkusen Odds||+140|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+100 / -125)|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 9:30 a.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN+|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
Xabi Alonso has completely revolutionized Bayer Leverkusen since his arrival. For the longest time, Leverkusen were a high-pressing, quick transition style team that tended to struggle defensively, which was very evident at the beginning of the season when they were allowing 1.86 npxG per 90 minutes through their first eight matches.
Since he has taken over, Leverkusen are now allowing 0.98 npxG per 90 minutes and they didn’t do it by being a high pressing team, they did it with a compact defensive structure and defending their penalty area at an elite level. Leverkusen are 17th in the Bundesliga in high turnovers and 16th in PPDA. However, they’re fourth in the Bundesliga in final third to penalty box entry conversion rate and fourth in xThreat allowed.
Union Berlin have created the second-fewest xG in the Bundesliga. Their offense is reliant on direct transitional opportunities where they swing in a cross or scoring off of a set piece. They’ve drastically over-performed on set pieces this season, scoring 15 off of 6.33 xG. Leverkusen is preventing the fourth-fewest crosses into their penalty in the Bundesliga.
Alonso was in charge of Leverkusen when these two met in November and it was an absolute rout. Leverkusen won the match 5-0, and Union Berlin were only able to muster 0.3 xG for the match.
I have BTTS – No projected at -137, so I love the value on the current line of +110.
Pick: Both Teams to Score – No (+110)
Inter vs Lazio
|Over/Under||2.5 (+100 / -135)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 6:30 a.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Paramount+|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
By almost every metric, Inter have been a far superior team to Lazio, but somehow Inter find themselves in sixth place in the table, while Lazio are in second.
Inter are the No. 1 offense in Italy, averaging 1.79 npxG per 90 minutes and they’ve actually underperformed as of late. In their last nine matches they’ve created 17 xG, but only scored 12 of them. They play out of a 3-5-2, which allows them to create numerical superiorities in wide areas and create a lot of chances via crosses, which is good against Lazio, who have been very poor at defending them this season.
Inter’s 3-5-2 structure allows them to play five at the back out of possession and it makes it very difficult for teams to create high quality chances against them, as they’re top five in xG allowed and first in big scoring chances allowed.
Lazio are the biggest overperformer across Europe this season. They have somehow amassed a +28 goal differential, but only have a +6.2 xGD. Offensively, they’re 10th in Serie A in npxG, 17th in shots per 90 minutes but third in big scoring chances.
It’s also crazy that for whatever reason, teams can’t finish off their chances against Lazio. Lazio have allowed 21 goals off 33.7 expected this season, but their starting goalkeeper is only a 3.4 post shot xG +/- for the season, so teams have had an incredibly poor finishing run against Lazio.
I have Inter projected at -189, so I love the value on them at -125.
Pick: Inter ML (-125)
Mallorca vs Athletic Bilbao
|Athletic Bilbao Odds||+124|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+170 / -210)|
|Day | Time||Monday | 1 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN+|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
Two of the best low block teams at defending their penalty area will almost certainly set up a very boring match with few high quality chances at each end.
Mallorca are literally the best team in Europe at preventing opposing teams from getting into their penalty area. They have a 20.35% final third to penalty box entry conversion rate allowed, but they do give up a ton of final third entries. However, a lot of the chances that opposing teams create against them are shots from distance. Mallorca’s 5-3-2 structure really allows them to close off the middle of the pitch and defend in wide areas, but like I already mentioned, they basically let their opponents waltz into their final third.
This style of play has translated to them only allowing 0.94 npxG per 90 minutes, which is the sixth-best mark in Spain. However, playing this type of style really hampers Mallorca’s offense given how much possession they are conceding. Mallorca are only averaging 0.80 npxG per 90 minutes, which is the third-worst mark in Spain. They’re also averaging the fewest shots and box entries per 90 minutes of anyone in Spain. They are top 10 in big scoring chances and are almost entirely reliant on direct transitional opportunities to create those high quality chances.
Athletic Bilbao have one of the best defenses in Spain, ranking inside the top five in npxG allowed and conceding the second-fewest big scoring chances.
These two met on opening weekend and played out a 0-0 draw, with Mallorca only creating 0.4 xG for the match.
I know this is a high price, but I have BTTS – No projected at -199, so there is value on the current line of -160.
Pick: Both Teams to Score – No (-160)
Lille vs AC Ajaccio
|AC Ajaccio Odds||+1400|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-155 / +125)|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 11 a.m. ET|
|How To Watch||beIN Sports|
|Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
We’re finally starting to get out first sniff at some “must win” taxed lines and this is one of them without a doubt. Lille are battling Monaco right now for a fourth place finish and a spot in the Europa League, while Ajaccio are going to be relegated to Ligue 2.
However, the story with Ajaccio is one of incredible misfortune time and time again this season. They’re currently sitting with a -36 goal differential, but only have a -8.2 xGD. Both their offense and defense have underperformed, but their defense is actually an above average defense in Ligue 1.
They are only allowing 1.13 npxG per 90 minutes, which is the seventh-best mark in France. Ajaccio set up as the most direct counterattacking team in France, averaging the fewest passes per sequence. They’re incredible at defending their penalty area, allowing the fifth-fewest box entries and the third fewest crosses completed into it. Their 4-4-2 structure allows them to close off the middle of the pitch and force teams to beat them in wide areas.
Lille are one of the hottest teams in Ligue 1, but nobody outside of PSG should be commanding this big of a price against Ajaccio given their underlying metrics.
I only have Lille’s spread projected at -1.12, so I like the value on Ajaccio +2 at -136.
Pick: AC Ajaccio +2 (-136)
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.