European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, Ligue 1, More (Oct. 1-3)

European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, Ligue 1, More (Oct. 1-3) article feature image
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SSC Napoli via Getty Images. Pictured: Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne.

While the Champions League and Europa League gets all of the shine this week, things are starting to heat up in the title races across Europe even though we’re not even a quarter of a way into the season.

Top🖐teams in Europe's top 6️⃣ leagues!

Which team has surprised you the most? pic.twitter.com/B2q41d9yya

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 27, 2021

While all of the eyeballs will be on Liverpool vs. Manchester City in Sunday’s Premier League action, there are plenty of other huge clashes across the other major four leagues with Atlético Madrid hosting Barcelona; Atalanta taking on AC Milan; and, Wolfsburg battling Borussia Mönchengladbach.

These are the final games before teams head into the international break, but it will also be the seventh match in the last three weeks for some teams. That said, it might be a good idea to check lineups and injuries 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

Köln vs. Greuther Fürth

Köln Odds -210
Greuther Fürth Odds +550
Draw +370
Over/Under 3.5 (+130 / -165)
Day | Time Friday | 2:30 p.m. ET
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This is going to be an ugly one, but I think Köln is way overvalued in this spot.

Köln has been much improved from last season with a +0.03 xGDiff through their first six matches, but if we go back to the 2020-21 campaign, they needed a second relegation miracle just to stay in the German top flight.

The reason they struggled so much is because they couldn’t get anything going offensively, averaging 1.17 xG per match. They also were in the bottom five of the league in post-shot xG and shot-creating actions, per fbref.com.

Köln also sold two of their best players — center back Sebastiaan Buranow and left midfielder Ismail Jakobs — so, I have a hard time seeing how they’re going to sustain their current success.

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Listen, there aren’t a lot of positives for Greuther Fürth right now, as they’re currently sitting in last place with just one point from their first six matches, but they’ve been a little unlucky defensively.

Fürth has allowed 16 goals so far on 11.69 xG and only 11.80 post-shot xG as well. So, they’re not as bad as they’ve shown this season.

I only have Köln projected at -113, so I think there’s some value on Greuther Fürth’s spread of +1 at +110 via DraftKings and would play it up to -125 odds.

Pick: Greuther Fürth +1 (+110)

Arminia Bielefeld vs. Leverkusen

Arminia Bielefeld Odds +390
Leverkusen Odds -140
Draw +290
Over/Under 2.5 (-135 / +110)
Day | Time Sunday | 1:30 p.m. ET
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This is a battle of the two most overrated teams in Germany, and it’s honestly hard to understate how lucky both of them have been up until this point.

Arminia Bielefeld should have been relegated last season, as they had the second-worst xGDiff in the Bundesliga, but somehow found a way to stay up. This season, it has been more of the same as they’ve been out-created by a 10.92-4.94 on xG through their first six matches.

Their offensive struggles are nothing new either, because last season they had the second-lowest xG per match (0.92) in the highest scoring league among Europe’s top five leagues.

Last season, Bayer Leverkusen’s offense wasn’t up to par with the rest of the German first division, averaging only 1.39 xG per match. This season, it has been more of the same, but they’ve ran incredibly lucky up until this point.

Leverkusen scored 16 goals through their first four outings, but have created just 8.39 xG so far. That said, they’re due for some big-time negative regression.

Also, Leverkusen had a Europa League match Thursday against Celtic in Scotland, so they could have some tired legs or be rotating their squad for their trip to Arminia Bielefeld.

I only have 2.39 goals projected for this match, so I think there’s some value on the total under 2.5 goals at +110 on DraftKings and would play it to +105 odds.

Pick: Total Under 2.5 Goals (+110)


Serie A Projections

Best Bets

Bologna vs. Lazio

Bologna Odds +235
Lazio Odds +115
Draw +265
Over/Under 2.5 (-160 / +130)
Day | Time Sunday | 6:30 a.m. ET
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Bologna has pretty average this season, with their -1.3 xGDiff through six matches. They have also been a little bit unlucky defensively, allowing 14 goals off 10.40 xG thus far.

Since the start of last season, Bologna’s offense has been above average in Serie A, ranking in the top half of the league in shot-creating actions, touches inside the opponents’ final third, and touches in the penalty area. 

However, this is more of a fade on Lazio. They were dreadful on the road last season, picking up 26 of a possible 57 points with a -0.79 xGDiff. Sure, they won their first two matches against bottom-of-the-table sides in Empoli and Spezia by a combined 9-2 score line, but their last four matches they’ve been poor, putting up a -2.49 xGDiff.

In fact, in their last two road matches against AC Milan and Torino, they only created a total of 0.46 non-penalty expected goals.

Lazio also has a Europa League match against Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday, so this will be their seventh match in 21 days. That said, there could be some squad rotation or weary legs for this contest.

I have Bologna projected at +189, so I think there is some value on them to grab all three points at ripe +235 on DraftKings in this spot.

Pick: Bologna ML (+235)

Fiorentina vs. Napoli

Fiorentina Odds +320
Napoli Odds -105
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-130 / +105)
Day | Time Sunday | 12 p.m. ET
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Fiorentina has run really hot to start the season, picking up 12 points from their first six matches. However, that streak is bound to come to an end soon.

Fiorentina has had a lot of penalty luck on their side, as three of their nine goals have come from the penalty spot and they’ve only created 5.1 non-penalty expected goals, which is 18th in the Italian top flight. They’re also 15th in shot-creating actions, so they’re going to have a lot of trouble creating anything against the best defense in Italy.

Napoli might the best team in Europe so far, winning their first six matches by a 16-2 combined scoreline. They’ve been incredible defensively, as they lead Serie A with 3.3 xGA and 3.1 post-shot xGA, so the chances they’re allowing are not even high quality. They’ve also allowed the fewest touches in their own penalty area by a mile, so I don’t know how Fiorentina is going to create anything against them.

Offensively, Napoli has been flying high as well, as they’re top two in Serie A in xG, shot-creating actions, touches in the opponents’ final third and carries into the opponents’ penalty area, per fbref.com.

The reason for that is Napoli switched to a 4-3-3 formation under new manager Luciano Spalletti, which has seen fantastic results considering they have a +8.57 xGDiff and average  2.17 xG per 90 minutes when using it.

I have Napoli projected at -134, so I think there’s value on them at -110 on DraftKings and would play it up to -105 odds.

Pick: Napoli ML (-105)


La Liga Projections

Best Bets

Cadiz vs. Valencia

Cadiz Odds +225
Valencia Odds +140
Draw +215
Over/Under 2.5 (+130 / -165)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
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I’ll be honest. This one isn’t going to be pretty, but there’s no reason why Valencia should be this big of a favorite.

Cadiz has had relatively good start, picking up six points in their first seven matches. That’s especially good given how brutal their schedule has been, having to play Barcelona, Real Betis and Real Sociedad so far. They’re middle of the road in a lot of offensive categories, but actual have more post-shot xG than Atlético Madrid this season.

Cadiz usually plays out of a very defensive 4-4-2 formation, but they haven’t been very effective, allowing 1.54 xG per 90 minutes this season. However, Valencia’s offense hasn’t been effective at all dating back to last season.

During their previous campaign, the club struggled to find reliable strikers up top, as Carlos Soler was its top goal scorer with 11 goals from the midfield.

Also, Valencia allowed 1.47 xG per match last season. That was the fourth-highest mark in La Liga, which was quite pathetic considering how defensive that formation is in the first place.

In fact, it allowed the most shot-creating actions of any team in Spain during the 2020-21 campaign. Their offense is due for some negative regression as well, because they’ve only created 6.3 non-penalty expected goals through their first seven matches, but have scored nine non-penalty goals. 

I actually have Cadiz projected as the favorite, so I think we have value on them at home via their Draw No Bet line at +130 odds and would play it down to +100 odds.

Pick: Cadiz — Draw No Bet (+130)


Ligue 1 Projections

Best Bets

Lens vs. Reims

Lens Odds -115
Reims Odds +350
Draw +255
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 / -135)
Day | Time Friday | 3 p.m. ET
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The “fade Stade de Reims” train makes a stop in Lens for Friday’s matchup.

Lens has built off a fantastic 2020-21 campaign where they had a +9.97 xGDiff. Now, this season, they’re currently sitting in second place in the table with a +5.56 xGDiff through their first eight matches.

Their offense has been electric this season, as they’re third in xG behind Paris Saint-Germain and Nice. They also have the most post-shot xG (14.8) in Ligue 1 so far.

Despite drawing with Reims twice last season, Lens completely dominated both matches, winning the xG battle by a 4.79-1.48 margin. By the way, one of those matches was a 4-4 draw and Reims scored their goals off of 0.85 xG.

I feel like I’m a broken record at this point writing about how overrated Reims was last season, so if you want to see for yourself, go to understat.com. Things have continued that way this season, with Reims just 15th in xG; 15th in post-shot xG; 14th in touches inside the opponents’ final third; and, 14th in carries into the penalty area. 

I have Lens projected at -189, so I love them at -115 and would play it up to -160 odds as my top selection.

Pick: Lens ML (-115)

Montpellier vs. Strasbourg

Montpellier Odds +145
Strasbourg Odds +190
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-140 / +115)
Day | Time Saturday | 11 a.m. ET
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This is going to be a a chaotic match between two of the worst defenses in the French top flight.

Montpellier and Strasbourg are in the bottom five of the league in post-shot xG allowed, shot-creating actions allowed, touches inside their own penalty area and carries into their own penalty area.

That isn’t that big of a surprise considering Montpellier allowed the second-most xG a season ago and Strasbourg sold their top center back — Mohamed Simakan — during this previous transfer window.

Montpellier was one of the biggest over teams on game totals a season ago as well, as their matches averaged 3.16 xG and 63% of their games had three or more goals scored. This season, Montpellier’s first eight fixtures have seen a total of 30 goals, while Strasbourg’s matches have been a bit chaotic as well, averaging 3.04 xG so far.

I have 3.16 goals projected for this game, so I think there’s value on the total over 3 goals at +115 odds on DraftKings and would play it down to +105 odds.

Pick: Total Over 3 Goals (+115)

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