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European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, La Liga & Ligue 1 (Dec. 21-22)

European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, La Liga & Ligue 1 (Dec. 21-22) article feature image
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Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images. Pictured: Standout Jonathan David, right, and his Lille teammates celebrate a goal.

While the Premier League calendar was ravaged by COVID-19 postponements this past weekend, the rest of Europe’s leagues went on as scheduled.

There were some pretty big upsets, with Roma drilling Atalanta in a 4-1 road triumph and Real Madrid being held to 0-0 draw with Cadiz on home soil.

Tammy Abraham took 53 seconds to score!

They all count 😅 pic.twitter.com/6uzGGfh00p

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 18, 2021

This week there are a few huge matches on the midweek card, with Sevilla hosting Barcelona; Athletic Bilbao taking on Real Madrid; and, Monaco battling Rennes in a Ligue 1 clash.

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.

Serie A Projections

Best Bets

Napoli vs. Spezia

Napoli Odds -390
Spezia Odds +1000
Draw +500
Over/Under 3.5 (+120 / -140)
Day | Time Wednesday | 2:45 p.m. ET
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I really don’t see how Spezia creates anything of value in this match. They’re a bottom-six offense, creating only 0.99 NPxG per game, 10.88 shots per 90 minutes and just 14.47 box entries, per fbref.com. They’ll be going up against the No. 1 defense in Italy, which allows just 0.71 NPxG per match.

In fact, Napoli has only allowed their opponents to create more than one xG three times this season in league play and those three occasions were against Inter Milan, Roma and Atalanta.

Now, the Napoli offense has been over-performing this season, recording 34 goals off only 27.1 xG so far. Plus, they’re dealing with some injuries to some of their attacking players. Victor Oshiman is out and Lorenzo Insigne is questionable for Wednesday’s match.

Additionally, Napoli’s games haven’t seen very many high quality chances lately, as there has been just one big scoring chance created in their last five contests. Also in six matches against the top six teams in the Italian top flight, Spezia has created just 3.7 xG overall.

I have the Both Teams To Score (No) line projected at -193 odds, so I love this bet at -110 odds via DraftKings rather than under three goals on the alternative total line. That’s in case Spezia’s defense, which is bottom three in Serie A, implodes in this matchup.

Pick: Both Teams To Score — No (-110)

Roma vs. Sampdoria

Roma Odds -185
Sampdoria Odds +500
Draw +340
Over/Under 2.5 (-145 / +115)
Day | Time Wednesday | 12:30 p.m. ET
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This line is too low for a really good Roma team that has been improving under manager Jose Mourinho. Offensively, Roma is now second in Serie A in NPxG, shots per 90 minutes and big scoring chances behind only Inter. Tammy Abraham is turning into a top-level striker with close to nine xG in 16 appearances.

Defensively, Roma has been getting bette and sit No. 1 in Italy in shots allowed per 90 minutes. Since the embarrassing 3-2 loss to Venezia, Roma has allowed only five xG in their last six games, so Mourhino’s influence is definitely starting to take shape.

The problem is Roma has allowed a lot of big scoring chances, but Sampdoria won’t be able to exploit that considering they’ve created the seventh-fewest big scoring chances in league play.

Sampdoria is a bottom-five team in Serie A, as they’re 15th in NPxG and NPxGA this season. Offensively, they’re underwhelming and bottom eight in every single offensive metric.

So, I love Mourinho’s side to cover -1 at -105 odds and win in a home blowout.

Pick: Roma -1 (-105)


La Liga Projections

Best Bets

Granada vs. Atlético Madrid

Granada Odds +600
Atlético Madrid Odds -180
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (+125 / -140)
Day | Time Wednesday | 1 p.m. ET
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Without a doubt, Granada is the worst defense in Spain. They’re allowing 1.43 NPxG per match, 15.69 shots per 90 minutes and 1.56 big scoring chances per outing, which are all last in the Spanish top flight.

That’s not good when you’re going up against an Atlético Madrid side that has been really good offensively, ranking inside the top five in NPxG, shots per 90 minutes, big scoring chances and box entries, per fbref.com

Granada has been struggling to create chances, with only 17.5 xG in 18 matches. However, they’ve been playing much better as of late, averaging 1.68 xG in their last eight games, which is the fifth most in the league in that span.

39-year-old Jorge Molina becomes the oldest player in LaLiga history to score a hat-trick 🎩 pic.twitter.com/cmjSsVFHa7

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 19, 2021

A lot that can be contributed to manager Roberto Moreno switching to a 4-4-2 formation, which has given them more structure and was the set-up they averaged the most xG/90 minutes last season. However, when playing out of the 4-4-2, Granada has been leaking goals, allowing 1.51xG per 90 minutes.

I know Atlético Madrid has the best defense in Spain, but I do think there’s a good chance Granada gets one the board at home. 

I have 2.58 goals projected for this match, so I like the total over 2.5 goals at +115 odds in this match.

Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+115)

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Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid

Athletic Bilbao Odds +240
Real Madrid Odds +115
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (+105 / -125)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3:30 p.m. ET
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Athletic Bilbao is a highly underrated La Liga team. They might be sitting in ninth place, but they have some of the best underlying metics in the league.

Bilbao plays a style very similar to that of Atlético Madrid, playing out of their 4-4-2 formation to stay compact and organized, and it works. Athletic Bilbao is allowing only 0.79 NPxG per match, which is the second-best mark in La Liga. The main reason for that is because they’ve also allowed the second-fewest big scoring chances, which is huge when facing Real Madrid, which has created the most big scoring chances in Spain.

These teams played three weeks ago in Madrid, with Real walking away with a 1-0 victory. However, the final result was not indicative of who was the better side. Athletic Bilbao won the xG battle by a 2.84-2.15 margin, with 38 touches inside Real Madrid’s penalty area.

(graphic via infogol.net)

Real Madrid is having all sorts of issues defensively this season, ranking 12th in NPxG allowed. The main reason for their issues are because Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos are getting pushed too far up the pitch, leaving a lot of room in the middle for teams to counterattack.

Casamiro is the key who acts as the last line of the midfield, protecting the back line. The problem though for this match is Casamiro has racked up too many yellow cards and is suspended, which leaves Real Madrid vulnerable at the back.

I have 2.77 goals projected for this match, so I like the total clearing 2.5 goals at +105 odds in this showdown.

Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+105)


Ligue 1 Projections

Best Bets

Bordeaux vs. Lille

Bordeaux Odds +290
Lille Odds -110
Draw +275
Over/Under 2.5 (-125 / +105)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
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Going back to the biggest under-performer in France, Lille faces a very below average side in Bordeaux. Lille boasts the second-best defense in Ligue 1, allowing only 0.99 xG per match and conceding the fewest big scoring chances. However, teams are just finishing at an incredibly high rate against them for some reason.

When Lille is playing out of their traditional 4-4-2, they’ve allowed 21 goals off  13.7 xG this season. So, they’re due for a lot of positive regression over the second half of the season.

Bordeaux is a decent offense, ranking 11th in NPxG, eighth in shots per 90 minutes and 10th in big scoring chances, but boy oh boy is their defense bad. 

They’ve allowed the most goals in Ligue 1 this season, with 40 conceded through 18 matches. So, it’s not surprising they’re dead last in NPxG allowed and big scoring chances conceded. Their home form has been terrible as well, putting up a -7.1 xGDiff in nine matches, while Lille is the second-best road team in the league with a +3.2 xGDiff this season.

I have Lille projected at -147, so I love the value on them to grab all three points on the road at -110 odds and will make them my top pick.

Pick: Lille ML (-110)

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