European Soccer Forecast: Best Bets, Projected Odds for Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga & Ligue 1 Matches (August 20-23)

European Soccer Forecast: Best Bets, Projected Odds for Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga & Ligue 1 Matches (August 20-23) article feature image
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Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images. Pictured: Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Augsburg (+425)? Genoa (+900)? Nantes (+340)? Meet some of our live global underdogs.
  • They are just three of the five longshots our soccer analysts have targeted as part of this weekend's global underdogs.
  • Check out below why our handicappers love their latest picks on this weekly feature.

Bundesliga and La Liga soccer action kicked off this past weekend, with Serie A debuting this coming weekend.

We saw some craziness in the Bundesliga, as Bayern Munich settled for a 1-1 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach in their opener. RB Leipzig suffered a 1-0 road upset at Mainz. Finally, Erling Haaland torched the Frankfurt defense for two goals and two assists in Borussia Dortmund’s 5-2 victory.

Erling Haaland has scored 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga matches. He scored two today.

Marco Reus scored his 100th Bundesliga goal for BVB.

Gio Reyna & Thorgan Hazard were on the score sheet too.

Enjoy the highlights of BVB 5-2 Eintracht Frankfurt | #BVBSGE| pic.twitter.com/Jl2KB141P6

— ⚽🖤💛🔴⚪⚫ (@ElijahKyama) August 14, 2021

Nothing really exciting happened in La Liga, with Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona all grabbing three points.

Serie A will perhaps be one of the more interesting leagues this season, with defending champion Inter Milan recently selling their best player in Romelu Lukaku to Premier League powerhouse Chelsea.

So, will Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus reclaim the title? Or will someone else rise up, thus overtaking them and Inter for the crown in the Italian top flight?

If you’re new to our soccer coverage, I will be providing my projections for every match from the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1, plus Champions League and Europa League action when they kick off in September.

If you’d like to see my Premier League projections, you can read them here. Also, 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

Bochum vs. Mainz

Bochum Odds +160
Mainz Odds +165
Draw +255
Over/Under 2.5 (-130 / +105)
Day | Time Saturday | 9:30 a.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

There isn’t really much we can take from Bochum’s first match against Wolfsburg, because they got a red card in the fourth minute. However, with that being said, teams coming up from Germany’s second division haven’t faired well in their first Bundesliga season.

On average since 2005, promoted teams have seen a 52.3% decrease in scoring and 37.9% increase in goals allowed in their first season in the top flight.

Bochum won the 2.Bundesliga last season, averaging 1.63 expected goals per match and 1.35 xGA per outing. So, if we do some math and reduce their scoring rate by 52.3% and increase the xGA by 37.9%, we get the projected average for the Bundesliga of 0.85 xGF per match and 1.86 xGA per contest.

Mainz is a big-time positive regression team entering the season, especially on offense. They scored 39 goals, but created 48.46 xG during the campaign and only had a -3.74 xGDiff as well.

That said, if we compare Bochum’s projected xGDiff for the season of -33.6, there’s no reason why this match should be a Pick’em. Also, Mainz pulled off a big home upset to open their season in a 1-0 victory against RB Leipzig.

I have Mainz projected at +109 odds and their draw no bet line at -154, so I think there’s plenty of value on their Draw No Bet line of +100 via DraftKings and would play it up to -133 odds.

Pick: Mainz — Draw No Bet (+100)

Greuther Fürth vs. Arminia Bielefeld

Fürth Odds +160
Bielefeld Odds +175
Draw +240
Over/Under 2.5 (+100 / -120)
Day | Time Saturday | 9:30 a.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

Fürth got a rude awakening as to how difficult the top flight of German soccer is on debut, suffering a 5-1 blowout loss at Vfb Stuttgart. However, despite finishing second in 2.Bundesliga last season, by xG they were the best team averaging the most exG for per match (1.88), while allowing the fewest at 1.23 xG during their campaign.

Bielefeld survived a 0-0 draw with Freiburg on opening weekend despite being out-created by a 1.66- 0.65 in the xG category. This isn’t out of the ordinary, because Bielefeld was one of the worst teams in the Bundesliga last season and really lucky to survive relegation. They had a -27.84 xGDiff in 34 matches, which was second worst in the league.

Their issues really were on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they only averaged 0.92 xG per match. Bielefeld also had the second fewest shot-creating actions, third-fewest touches in the opponents’ final third and fewest carries into the final third (per fbref.com) of the pitch.

Defensively, the club is due for a lot of negative regression. Bielefeld only allowed 52 goals, but allowed opponents to create 58.98 xG, which was the second-highest mark in the German top flight. Also, they have the third-lowest squad value of anyone in the Bundesliga, according to transfermarkt.com.

I have Fürth projected at -107, so I think there is plenty of value on their Draw No Bet Line of -110 at DraftKings and would play it up to -135 odds.

Pick: Fürth — Draw No Bet (-110)

Serie A Projections

Best Bets

Empoli vs. Lazio

Empoli Odds +380
Lazio Odds -135
Draw +290
Over/Under 2.5 (-140 / +110)
Day | Time Saturday | 2:45 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

Empoli returns to Serie A after spending two seasons in Serie B. They dominated the second division last season, winning the league with 73 points while averaging 2.08 xG per match. The Blues only allowed 1.32 xG per match. They’ve also done some good business this summer bringing over a talented young striker in Patrick Cutrone from Wolves.

Now, Empoli gets to open up their season against a big-time negative regression candidate in Lazio.

Sure, Lazio finished just outside the top four last season, but they only accumulated 57.68 expected points, which was far below their actual point total of 68. They’re also going through a transition period, with long-time manager Simone Inzaghi leaving for Inter Milan.

Maurizio Sarri, who funny enough actually managed Empoli from 2012 to 2015, is back with the club and hasn’t lasted more than one season at his last two stops of Chelsea and Juventus. For years, Lazio played a 3-5-2 formation under Filippo Inzaghi and will now play out of a different formation because it looks like Sarri is going to have them work from a 4-3-1-2 setup.

I only have Lazio projected as a +113 favorite on the road to open the season, so I think there’s some value on Empoli’s spread of +0.5 at +115 odds at DraftKings and would play it down to +102 odds.

Pick: Empoli +0.5 (+115)

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Bologna vs. Salernitana

Bologna Odds -150
Salernitana Odds +290
Draw +400
Over/Under 2.5 (-120 / +110)
Day | Time Sunday | 12:30 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday afternoon via BetMGM.

Bologna is due for some positive regression this season, which will come out of the 4-2-3-1 formation it played a majority of the time last season. When using that style, they were quite prolific offensively, averaging 1.58 xG per 90 minutes.

Offense is going to be the key for the club going into this season, plus it was able to retain it best offensive player in Musa Barrow, who was purchased from Atalanta after spending last season on loan at Bologna.

Barrow is an electric, young talent playing on the left wing, who provides a ton of pace and creativity on the outside. He bagged eight goals and dished out eight assists during the 2020-21 campaign. No doubt, he will be able to give a very poor Salernitana defense a lot of problems in the opener.

Salernitana will be one of the biggest fade teams coming into the season for me, due to the fact in Serie B last season it had a -14.29 xGDiff, which is almost impossible for a team that gained automatic promotion. Also, their top striker from last season — Gennaro Tutino — who was on loan from Napoli, scored 13 of their 46 goals and their next closest goal scorer only scored five, Tutino is not on their squad, and the club hasn’t found a capable replacement.

Also according to transfermarkt.com, their total squad value is $23.93 million, which is not just the lowest in Serie A, but it’s lowest in all of Europe’s top five leagues. 

I have Bologna projected at -241 odds, so I think there’s plenty of value on them to grab all three points at -140 via BetMGM and would play it up to -185 odds.

Pick: Bologna ML (-140)

La Liga Projections

Best Bets

Levante vs. Real Madrid

Levante Odds +420
Real Madrid Odds -165
Draw +320
Over/Under 2.5 (-156 / +128)
Day | Time Sunday | 4 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via FanDuel.

Levante is likely going to be battling relegation once again after a dismal 2020-21 campaign that saw them average only 1.08 xG per match, while also allowing 1.45 xG per contest.

Per fbref.com, their defense allowed the fourth-most shot-creating actions, the third-most touches in their own penalty area and fourth-most carries into the 18-yard area. So, Real Madrid’s prolific offense should be able to live in their final third all match long.

Real Madrid got their campaign off to a fantastic start, cruising to a 4-1 road win over Alaves. The question mark surrounding the club entering the season is in their new center-back pairing of Éder Militão and Nacho Fernandez after long time duo of Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane left the club this summer.

However, Ramos and Varane both missed substantial time during last season’s campaign and combined for only 46 La Liga appearances. However, Militão and Fernandez have a lot of experience playing together and there shouldn’t be a major drop off for a club that only allowed 1.02 xG per match last season.

Real Madrid was also one of the best teams on the road in Spain a season ago, going 12-6-1 with a +12.85 xGDiff. Needless to say, they should have no issues with a bottom-of-the-table side like Levante, who is going to sit back in a very defensive 4-4-2 formation.

I have Real Madrid projected at -210 odds, so I think there’s value on them at the current price of -165 via FanDuel and would play it up to -176 odds.

Pick: Real Madrid ML (-165)

Ligue 1 Projections

Best Bets

Monaco vs. Lens

Monaco Odds -135
Lens Odds +370
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (-128 / +106)
Day | Time Saturday |  11 a.m. ET
How To Watch beIN Sports
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

Monaco has gotten off to a really rough start to the season. They drew their first match of the season in a 1-1 home tie against Nantes, then followed that with a 1-0 road loss at Lorient this past weekend. To make matters worse, they lost a Champions League home qualifier Tuesday to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk by a 1-0 scoreline, putting them in massive danger of missing out on the tournament this season.

The area that’s been a problem for Monaco so far this season has been their offense. They’ve created a total of 2.75 xG through their first two matches, which is a tick below their per match average last season of 1.85 xG per outing. Honestly, Monaco was quite poor against the top seven teams in France (Lens finished in seventh place), only going 4-2-6 against them. However, those 12 matches were on average low scoring, with only 2.40 total xG per contest.

Typically, Lens lines up up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, which is a setup that has been made famous by manager Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. They’re very effective when playing out of it, accumulating a +0.47 xGDiff per 90 minutes and their defense was incredibly solid in it as well, allowing just 1.12 xG per 90 minutes.

I only have 2.28 goals projected for this game between two of the best Ligue 1 defenses last season, so I think there’s some value on the total under 2.5 goals at +106 odds via FanDuel, but I’d only play it down to +102 odds.

Pick: Under 2.5 Goals (+106)

Bordeaux vs. Angers

Bordeaux Odds +185
Angers Odds +155
Draw +235
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 /-135)
Day | Time Sunday |  9 a.m. ET
How To Watch beIN Sports
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

This line is overreaction city after two weeks of the season. In case you didn’t know, Angers is at the top of the Ligue 1 table after beating Strasbourg, 2-0, on the road and Lyon, 3-0, at home. On the other hands, Bordeaux lost to newly promoted side Clearmont Foot, 2-0, at home on opening weekend and drew Marseille in a 2-2 road stalemate last Sunday.

Angers and Bordeaux finished almost dead even with each other in the table, but Bordeaux was slightly the better side based on xGDiff and xP categories.

Bordeaux is also going to improve as the season goes along, as they brought in experienced manager Vladimir Petkovic, whom you might recognize from the European Championships this summer.

Petkovic was in charge of Switzerland, guiding them to the quarterfinal round. The Swiss nearly beat Spain on penalties before exiting the tournament. He was only appointed on July 28, so the first match against Clearmont Foot almost has to be thrown out the window, considering he’d been the manager less than 10 days before their opener.

Both Angers and Bordeaux have done no significant business in the transfer market, so for clubs that were pretty much dead even on xGDiff and xP, there’s no reason, with the home-field advantage that Angers should slightly favored.

I have Bordeaux projected at +136 odds and their Draw No Bet line at -134 odds, so I think there’s plenty of value on their number of +105 at DraftKings and would play it up to -115 odds.

Pick: Bordeaux — Draw No Bet (+105)

Metz vs. Reims

Metz Odds +135
Reims Odds +260
Draw +195
Over/Under 2.5 (+130 / -160)
Day | Time Sunday |  9 a.m. ET
How To Watch beIN Sports
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.

Reims is one the biggest regression teams for the 2021-22 season, due to the discrepancy between their actual and expected results. On paper, Reims finished in 14th place with a -8 goal differential, but had the second-fewest xG and the second-most xGA. Honestly, they really should have been relegated.

A lot of that discrepancy came on the road, where they averaged 0.95 xGF per match and allowed 1.78 xG per game, which was far worse than their actual goal differential of -3 on the season. In fact, their first two matches were a perfect encapsulation of their entire 2020-21 campaign. They had a scoreless road tie with Nice and drew Montpellier in a 3-3 shootout, but were-out created by a 3.05-1.36 xG margin.

Reims also lost striker Boulye Dia, who was their entire offense with his 14 goals. Dia, who also created 13.29 of their 33.23 xG a campaign ago, is now with Spanish outfit Villarreal. Reims doesn’t have a capable replacement for him, so there’s going to be a massive offensive regression for them.

Metz had one of their best seasons in the top flight last season, finishing in 10th place. What’s even more impressive is they did that while dealing with a ton of injuries during the second half. One of their best wingers — Opa Nguette — and one of their best strikers — Ibrahima Niane — missed most of the second half of the season, which really took a toll.

Over the first 19 matches of the season, Metz had a +0.69 xGDiff during play. Yet, in the final 19 games with two of their main attackers injured, that number was -6.92 in the category.

I have Metz projected at -122 odds, so I think there’s a ton of value on them at +135 at DraftKings and would play it down to +100 odds.

Pick: Metz ML (+135)

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