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European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, More (Jan. 21-23)

European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, More (Jan. 21-23) article feature image
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Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Barcelona star Memphis Depay.

It was pretty quiet weekend outside of England, with most of La Liga pausing for the Copa del Rey.

However, there was a massive upset on Monday that essentially put the Serie A title race to bed when Spezia won at the death at AC Milan as whopping +900 underdogs.

SPEZIA (+900 ML) BEATS AC MILAN JUST BEFORE THE FINAL WHISTLE 😳

pic.twitter.com/uT15wbhWOf

— Action Network Soccer (@ActionNetSoccer) January 17, 2022

This weekend, there’s really only one huge matchup, which takes place in the Italian top flight as AC Milan hosts Juventus at the San Siro. We have an international break after this weekend’s matches, so this is a big slate of fixtures in Europe’s top five leagues.

With the Africa Cup of Nations in full swing this would be an important moment to say my projections below don’t take into account suspensions or injuries, or players who are currently representing their countries in Africa. That, along with the ever-changing COVID-19 news, makes it very important to stay on top of who’s in or out of the lineups before placing a bet.

If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projections, you can check it all out here.

You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.

Bundesliga Projections

Best Bets

Gladbach vs. Union Berlin

Gladbach Odds +130
Union Berlin Odds +215
Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (-120 / +100)
Day | Time Saturday | 9:30 a.m. ET
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To say the Borussia Mönchengladbach defense has fallen off a cliff would be an understatement, because they’ve been the worst defense in the Bundesliga for the better part of the last two months.

In their last seven matches, the Foals allowed 18.1 expected goals and 20 big scoring chances. That’s almost unheard of for a club of their size and stature. Even their last match against an over-performing Bayer Leverkusen was a completely embarrassing defensive display.

*(graphic via infogol.net)

On the flip side, Union Berlin’s defense has been rock solid all season, conceding only 1.29 NPxG per match. They’ve also allowed the third-fewest big scoring chances, which is big against Gladbach’s offense, which has created the seventh-most big scoring chances.

Now, Union Berlin is without its best striker in Taiwo Awoniyi, who’s currently representing Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations. With that being said, they created four xG in their past two games without him and have generated the fourth-most big scoring chances in the Bundesliga.

So, I am not so sure Gladbach should be a favorite in this contest.

I have this match projected very close to a Pick’em, so I like the price on Union Berlin getting +0.5 on the spread line at -145 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Union Berlin +0.5 (-145)


RB Leipzig vs. Wolfsburg

RB Leipzig Odds -190
Wolfsburg Odds +500
Draw +340
Over/Under 2.5 (-145 / +115)
Day | Time Sunday | 9:30 a.m. ET
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RB Leipzig is an absolute offensive juggernaut right now. The Red Bulls are averaging 2.15 xG per match and have created 13.4 xG in their last five games. In fact, in those five tilts they created 18 big scoring chances, which is insane.

Their defense has been playing better of late, allowing only 4.3 xG in their last four matches, but that was against Arminia Bielefeld, Augsburg, Mainz (who has a player get a red card in the first half) and Stuttgart.

The days of Wolfsburg’s rock-solid defense and low-scoring games are gone. Since Nov. 27, Wolfsburg is allowing on average 2.09 xG per match and has conceded 16 big scoring chances in seven fixtures. So, having to face one of the hottest offenses in the league that has created the second-most big scoring chances is a nightmare road matchup.

Offensively, Wolfsburg hasn’t been that bad. Even in their last match against Hertha Berlin, they drew 0-0, but created 2.10 xG and four big scoring chances. Overall, Wolfsburg is averaging 1.42 xG per game, so this offense isn’t hopeless. And that’s especially the case against an RB Leipzig defense that’s prone to giving up big scoring chances. 

I have 3.24 goals projected for this match, so I like the price of clearing three goals on the alternative total at +120 odds.

Pick: Total Over 3 Goals (+120)


Serie A Projections

Best Bets

Spezia vs. Sampdoria

Spezia Odds +180
Sampdoria Odds +150
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -105)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
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Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

I am not sure why Spezia is a slight home underdog.

Spezia has been one of the most unlucky teams in Italy, but it doesn’t show up in their xGrecord, as they have -19 actual goal differential and xG differential.

However, Spezia have had horrific penalty luck, conceding eight this season, which is by far the most in Italy. Now, their defense is bottom five in every single advanced metric, but Sampdoria is nowhere near deserving of being a favorite. Even if we look at NPxGDiff, Spezia is at -10.91, while Sampdoria is at -11.02, per understat.com.

Sampdoria is a very below average team that deserves to be sitting in 15th place. Their defense has been horrific, ranking 17th in NPxG allowed and 14th in both shots conceded per 90 minutes and big scoring chances yielded. In fact, they’ve allowed 12.8 xG in their last eight matches.

Spezia is a decent pressing team, ranking ninth in pressures per 90 minutes and sixth in pressure success rate, while Sampdoria is the worst team in Italy against pressure, per fbref.com

So, given the fact that Spezia is at home, where they’ve been much better than on the road considering they have a -15 xGDiff away from home, this is a good spot for them to get a result. 

I have Spezia projected at +126, so I really like their Draw No Bet line at +105 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Spezia — Draw No Bet (+105)

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Empoli vs. Roma

Empoli Odds +320
Roma Odds -125
Draw +310
Over/Under 3.5 (+120 / -145)
Day | Time Sunday | 12 p.m. ET
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This is a good spot for Roma to pick up three points before the international break against an Empoli team that has really over-performed this season.

Empoli has been really bad defensively lately, allowing nine xG in their past four matches. That’s nothing new to Empoli, though, because its defense has been horrendous, ranking 18th in NPxG allowed, 19th in shots per 90 minutes conceded and 18th in big scoring chances yielded. In fact, they’ve only held their opponents under one xG three times all season.

Now enters one of the hottest and prolific offenses in Italy. Roma is averaging a whopping 1.52 NPxG per match, which is the third-best mark in Italy. They’ve been red hot as of late as well, creating 9.3 xG in their last six games.

The Roma defense has been improving to a typical Jose Mourinho type side, staying very compact and structured at the back. It’s shows in their underlying metrics, as they’re allowing 0.97 xG per match since Nov. 21 this season.

I have Roma projected at -152, so I like the value on them to grab all three points at -125 odds.

Pick: Roma ML (-125)


La Liga Projections

Best Bets

Alavés vs. Barcelona

Alavés Odds +500
Barcelona Odds -185
Draw +340
Over/Under 2.5 (-125 / +105)
Day | Time Sunday | 3 p.m. ET
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Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Once again, I’m going to try and buy low on Barcelona, who is finally healthy coming into this match. Barcelona has been drastically underperforming this season, as they have a +8 actual goal differential, but a +13.1 xGDiff so far.

They’ve also been really improving under new manager Xavi. Barcelona is averaging 1.89 xG per match and allowed only 0.91 xG per game in his eight La Liga matches in charge.

Now, they get to add Ferran Torres, who made his debut in the Super Cup against Real Madrid, and Pedri who has only made two appearances.

Ferran Torres' first goal for Barcelona is an absolute GOLAZO 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jBjPlq0ytn

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 20, 2022

This is a fantastic matchup and chance for Barcelona to flex their muscles against a really bad Alavés team. Alavés will be on short rest after getting pasted by Real Betis, 4-0, on Tuesday and have been one of the worst La Liga teams over the past few months. They’re winless in their last nine matches and have been out-created by a 14.8-7.4 margin in the xG category.

There are so many advantages for Barcelona, but let’s start with their pressing. Barcelona is the best at it in Spain, ranking first in PPDA and pressure success rate, while Alavés is terrible versus pressure, ranking 17th Offensive PPDA, per understat.com. Alavés is pathetic at creating big scoring chances, as they only have 14 on the season, while Barcelona has created 40 thus far.

Defensively, Alavés allows 13.7 shots per 90 minutes and 13.5 box entries per 90 minutes, which is bottom three in Spain. As for Barcelona, the club is third in both of those categories, per fbref.com. So, this is another perfect spot to try and buy low on Barcelona against an inferior opponent. 

I have Barcelona’s spread projected at -1.27, so I love them at -1 on the spread line at -105 odds.

Pick: Barcelona -1 (-105)


Ligue 1 Projections

Best Bets

Bordeaux vs. Strasbourg

Bordeaux Odds +290
Strasbourg Odds -105
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-140 / +115)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
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Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Did you know Watford and Bordeaux are the only two teams in Europe’s top five leagues yet to keep a clean sheet this season? It makes sense for Bordeaux, because their defense is pitiful.

Bordeaux is allowing 1.93 xG per match and has conceded 50 goals this season. I mean Rennes just hung six goals on them this past weekend, so things have gone from bad to worse for one of France’s more famous clubs. Now, they get to face a really good Strasbourg offense averaging 1.48 NPxG per match that has created the most big scoring chances in the league.

*(graphic via infogol.net)

These teams met Dec. 1 and Strasbourg absolutely trashed Bordeaux in a 5-2 rout. They led 3.17-1.28 in the xG category, created four big scoring chances plus a penalty, 41 touches in the penalty area and 44 progressive passes.

Strasbourg has been in dominant form since that beatdown, winning three of their last four matches in the French top flight and out-created their opponents by a 9.5-3.2 xG margin. So, this is another great spot for them to beat up on an inferior opponent. 

I have Strasbourg projected at -127, so I like the price on them at -105 odds and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Strasbourg ML (-105)

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