Most of the top leagues in Europe are heading into a winter break, but MTS brings you the pick of the betting action in France, Spain, Italy and England this week.
Who do Bettors Favor?
With many of the top European leagues signing off for a Christmas break, sportsbooks are hoping to capture some last minute action and fans checking out the best online sportsbooks will find some interesting options. Real Madrid are +115 favorites to beat Bilbao in La Liga, while Roma are strongly fancied to overcome Sampdoria. In France, there’s not much between Monaco at +125 and Rennes at +225, while Tottenham are a short price to beat Crystal Palace.
|Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid|
Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid 2021-12-22
The league leaders take on Athletic Bilbao in their final assignment before the Christmas break, but this promises to be a tough fixture for Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side.
Real’s winning streak came to an end against Cadiz last weekend, and while that result was no disaster in itself, given that they have a six-point lead at the top of the table, the bigger picture is the high number of absences from the Real line-up due to COVID19 issues. Factor in suspensions and injuries and they could be without nine key players for this game.
Admittedly, Bilbao have not beaten Los Blancos since 2015 and have lost five of their last six meetings, including consecutive 1-0 defeats, at San Mames last season and at Bernabeu earlier this month. But they are a tough team to beat. Only Real and Sevilla have lost fewer games this season, and their battling qualities were on full display in a 3-2 win over Betis at the weekend, so against weakened opponents, I think Marcelino’s side look good value for a draw here.
Monaco v Rennes, 2021-12-22
The top game in France this week is the top-five clash between Monaco and Rennes that promises to be an entertaining occasion for the neutral.
Monaco have not lived up to expectations for much of this season but they have improved markedly in December, particularly up front, while their solid set-up has enabled them to bring some defensive stability to their efforts.
They have a good record against Rennes, but their opponents, despite having lost two of their last three, are in top goalscoring form, with a goals-for record exceeded only by that of PSG. Their defense is equally strong, and they are particularly effective on the road, where they have won three of their last four and registered three clean sheets.
Monaco are in the better form and have realistic expectations of breaking into the top three before the end of the season, but Rennes are tough opponents and this could be a classic.
Tottenham v Crystal Palace, 2021-12-26
For English soccer fans, Christmas fixtures are one of the highlights of the season so the next round of Premier League fixtures will take place on Boxing Day, including this all-London clash.
Tottenham have been steadily improving under Antonio Conte, and although COVID-19 has thrown a curveball in the Italian’s direction, in the form of missing players, postponed games, and ejection from the Europa Conference, Spurs underlined how much they have improved in recent weeks with an impressive 2-2 draw against in-form Liverpool at the weekend.
Crystal Palace are probably the most improved team in the Premier League this season, and under Patrick Vieira, they are looking like a solid mid-table team with top half ambitions. Still, apart from a shock win at the Etihad, they have been at their best on their home patch and their record away from Selhurst Park is relatively poor, so it makes sense to side with Spurs here.
Roma v Sampdoria, 2021-12-22
Consistency has been a problem for Roma this season, so the weekend’s victory over Atalanta was particularly welcome. Not only did it come against the odds, it also gave them back-to-back victories and the chance of going into the Christmas break on a high.
Jose Mourinho’s side is fifth and six points short of Atalanta in fourth, but if they can build some momentum, a top-four spot is plausible. For that to happen, though, they will need to start showing the trademark Mourinho consistency against weaker teams.
Sampdoria certainly fit that description. Currently 15th in Serie A, they were held to a draw by Spezia last weekend, and aside from a victory in the Derby Della Lanterna (against an equally poor Genoa), there have been few highlights for Sampdoria fans in recent weeks. They have won two of their last three on the road, but this is a tougher assignment and Roma look a solid wager.