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FESIG League Preview – (Premier League top-four race)

Old foes, Arsenal and Manchester United square off at the Emirates stadium in a game that could be pivotal in the top four race in England. Mario Balotelli will face his former team OGC Nice show up at the Orange Velodrome. There is no margin for error for either Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich in the neck-to-neck title race in Germany while Getafe will aim to put fellow contenders at bay in the race for the final Champions League spot in Spain.

Here is our preview of matches across top five European Leagues.

We begin in France;

SAINT-ETIENNE v LILLE OSC – SUN. 10 MAR 2019, 15.00HRS
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Saint Etienne entertain second place Lille to Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with the race for European places on the line. Les Verts sit fifth on the table, one point behind fourth place Marseille but are 11 points off their visitors. Lille are enjoying a remarkable campaign; they are not in a position to contest Ligue 1 title with PSG but they have their destiny in hands in the race for Champions League qualification. Lille will be making a long trip south but they are in good form; four victories and two draws in their last six Ligue 1 matches. Same cannot be said of the host who have managed just two wins in six, with three losses.

VERDICT – Saint Etienne need a victory to close the gap on Lille to eight points but more importantly to put pressure on Marseille who face a tough derby against Nice. Lille will want to ensure the chasing pack starting with Lyon are kept at bay by picking up all three points on their travel. Les Dogues have the better head-to-head against the Sainté. It would be interesting to see how manager Jean-Louis Gasset approaches the game but it is unlikely Lille will lose.

OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE v OGC NICE – SUN. 10 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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Derby du Sud also known as the Derby of the South never fails to disappoint with the passion exhibited by fans and players alike but Sunday’s encounter between Olympique Marseille and OGC Nice has an extra zest with former Nice striker Mario Balotelli lining up for Les Phocéens. Marseille will aim to continue their good run of form in the league when Nice come to town with Rudi Garcia’s men aiming to put pressure on Lyon who occupy the final Champions League spot in France. Nice managed a victory last weekend; their first in three league matches and they will be seeking revenge following at Marseille when they make the 50 minutes flight for Sunday’s engagement.

VERDICT – Mario Balotelli will no doubt be making the headlines this weekend as he faces his former club following last week’s selfie celebration after scoring. The maverick striker will carry the weight of expectation in this derby as Marseille target a league double over Nice. The home team are favorite at the Velodrome considering the visiting team have failed to win any of their last eight away matches.

To Germany;

BAYERN MUNICH v VfL WOLFSBURG – SAT. 09 MAR 2019, 15.30HRS
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Bayern Munich would look to build on their impressive 5-1 victory over Moengladbach last weekend when Wolfsburg come calling at the Allianz Arena. Bruno Labbadia’s team have been performing quite well this campaign. They are on a decent run, unbeaten in the last five Bundesliga matches including three victories to keep their Europa League qualification ambition alive. Depending on the system and personnel Nico Kovac decides to go with, Robert Lewandowski can break the record for the Bundesliga’s outright leading non-German goal scorer if he gets on the scoresheet against one of his favorite opponents. Wolfsburg are in decent form but their poor record against Bayern means the Bavarians are favorites. Bayern have managed to level up points with leaders Borussia Dortmund and will hope to maintain this momentum even with an eye of next week Champions League home game against Liverpool.

VERDICT – Wolfsburg might be in decent form but they have hardly produced the goods against Bayern. There is no extra motivation required for Nico Kovac’s team than to press on and take leadership spot over a stuttering Dortmund. Wolfsburg have taken seven points from their last three away games, including wins at Hertha Berlin and Gladbach. At Bayern, however, Wolfsburg have claimed just two points in 21 Bundesliga visits. Bruno Labbadia has lost 16 of his 18 games against Bayern as a coach, winning just two. This fixture has a Bayern win written all over.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND v VfB STUTTGART – SAT. 09 MAR 2019, 15.30HRS
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Winter champions – Borussia Dortmund look to have ruined all the hard work done in the first half of the season.  They have won only one of their last five league matches and allowed in-form Bayern Munich to move level on points with them at the top of the standings. The Bundesliga title dream isn’t completely over but Lucien Favre’s team has lost its way. Stuttgart got an impressive 5-1 victory over fellow strugglers Hannover 96 but there is still a lot of work to be done in relegation fears are to be extinguished completely at the Mercedes Benz Arena. Is there a better time for Markus Weinzierl team to travel to Dortmund? Die Borrussien will turn to their inspirational skipper Marco Reus to lead the team out of its current rot and refocus in the final stanza in this photo finish title race.

VERDICT – Borussia Dortmund have only won one of their last eight matches in all competitions. During this poor run, they have crashed out of both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League. Stuttgart is the ideal visitor Dortmund would love to host during this period having won five of their last six against Die Schwaben. Stuttgart picked up their first win in nine Bundesliga games with a stunning 5-1 victory over Hannover last weekend. However, they have won only one of their 12 away games in 2018-19, and have the second most porous defence in the league (52 goals conceded). Dortmund’s morale is low but they should be able to edge this game as they regroup for final title push.

To Italy;

CHIEVO v AC MILAN – SAT. 09 MAR 2019, 20.30HRS
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Milan should strengthen their Champions League qualification hope when they travel to Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi in search of a fifth straight league victory and maintain third position on the table ahead of city rival Internazionale. The Flying Donkeys are one of the poorest team in the division with just one victory all season. They are 12 points of safety and have lost four of their last six league matches. Genaro Gattuso has been able to turn his team’s fortune since the turn of the year. The Rossoneri have tighten up things at the back, conceding just thrice in 11 games in all competitions in 2019 and the arrival of Krzysztof Piatek has improved their offensive output.

VERDICT – The hosts have failed to score in their last four games; if you don’t score, you can’t win games. The absence of striker Sergio Pellissier has made Domenico Di Carlo’s job even tougher. Milan won this fixture last season 4-1 and will be primed to repeat same.

INTER MILAN v SPAL 2013 – SUN. 10 MAR 2019, 15.00HRS
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Inter cannot afford any slip up against SPAL on Sunday in the race for Champions League places following last week disappointing defeat to Cagliari. Luciano Spalletti’s team need a positive result in this game ahead of an important week where they face Eintracht Frankfurt in the return of the Europa League Round of 16 and the big showdown – Derby Della Madonnina against city rivals Milan. SPAL are five points clear of the drop zone but are in poor shape, with just no victory in the last five. The Biancazzurri will likely be scrapping to the very end for their top flight status. Leonardo Semplici’s team have earned more points on the road than at home and can draw inspiration from Cagliari’s performance last week in a bid to hurt the Nerazzurri.

VERDICT – Inter are yet to get over the Icardi situation – a distraction for the club but behind the scene talks are ongoing between club and player. Lautaro Martinez has been handed the responsibility to lead the line in Icardi’s absence. SPAL need to watch their back closely in the relegation scrap fight but they are facing a team not at its best and should aim for an upset. A victory for SPAL against Inter is a tall order, they haven’t beaten in the Serie A since 1962. I don’t think history will be rewritten on Sunday.

To Spain;

ATLETICO MADRID v LEGANES – SAT. 09 MAR 2019, 16.15HRS
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Atletico Madrid will be looking to extend their winning run in LaLiga to four games when they host Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano. Los Rojiblancos are equally chasing their fourth consecutive clean sheet in the Spanish top division against a team who struggling on the road though they will only be making a 20-minute bus ride within the same city. Alvaro Morata seem to be settling in nicely and has started to find his scoring touch which is definitely a positive sign for Diego Simeone’s team as he helps Antoine Griezmann with the scoring responsibilities. Visiting Leganes look pretty safe in 11th position, enjoying a decent run at the moment with just one defeat and three victories in their last six LaLiga games.   

VERDICT – Leganes are missing several key players ahead of this trip to Wanda Metropolitano. In addition, they have lost four of their last five away league matches and were crushed 4-0 in this same fixture. With one eye of the second leg of the Champions League tie against Juventus, Diego Simeone might be tempted to rotate his squad but they have sufficient quality to earn all three points and put a bit of pressure of Barcelona.

GETAFE v SD HUESCA – SAT. 09 MAR 2019, 20.45HRS
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Basement club Huesca have found some consistency in the league lately. With just a single defeat in the last six and a victory over Sevilla last weekend, manager Francisco and his team will travel to Coliseum Alfonso Pérez believe they go toe-to-toe with overachieving Getafe. Jose Bordalas team have been the surprised package so far, they sit fourth on the log and are looking to secure European football for next season. In spite of Getafe excellent form, they need to be weary of a desperate team like Huesca who are fighting for their lives in the division. Huesca should provide the poor man’s Getafe with a stern test but the poor’s man Atletico Madrid will find a way to win at home

VERDICT – Getafe are unbeaten in their last five LaLiga matches (3W, 2D), as Jose Bordalas’ side continue to put together an outstanding good campaign so far. More than half of their points haul this season have been picked at home and would be resolute in this game. Huesca have won three of their last five league games but are still bottom of the league and three points from safety. This is likely to be a game of brawns not so much brains and Getafe are likely to prevail.

To England;

CHELSEA v WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS – SUN. 10 MAR 2019, 15.05HRS
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Chelsea will be looking for fifth Premier League home victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge. The Blues are looking for a third successive Premier League victory as they attempt to climb into the top four with two rivals – Arsenal and Manchester United facing each other this weekend. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team returned to winning ways following their win over Cardiff City and will target a league double over Chelsea thereby becoming the first promoted team to do so since Charlton Athletic in 2001. Both teams are in the hunt for European places and a victory will put their ambition on the right track. Sarri’s team look to have recovered from the Wembley incident and are playing quite well at the moment so they should be quite confident at home though Wolves have performed well against the top-six sides.

VERDICT – This is a tricky game for Chelsea; Wolves drew Manchester United and Arsenal and beat Tottenham Hotspur away. The Blues have won three games after the League Cup final defeat and would be looking to even the score after losing at the Molineux in December. Can Wolves get another big result here? It’s unlikely considering Chelsea are playing quite well at the moment. A home win is the likely outcome.  

ARSENAL v MANCHESTER UNITED – SUN. 10 MAR 2019, 17.30HRS
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The feeling among Manchester United fans is that the club has got its own Zinedine Zidane just like Real Madrid. Against the odds, United pulled through a difficult Champions League tie and are in the last eight. Arsenal suffered a disappointing defeat in France to Rennes in the Europa League though they had to play the entire second half with a man down. This fixture was a title decider in the past but this time, it could play a pivotal role in Champions League qualification. Arsenal will hope to leapfrog Manchester United and move into the top four when they host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who lie a place and a point above them. This is a game between a team with a solid home form against a good traveler.

VERDICT – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a perfect away record as Manchester United manager (nine wins from nine). The Red Devils will be full of confidence ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal after beating PSG away from home. The Gunners would be seeking revenge against a team that dumped them out of the FA Cup which was their last home defeat. Home advantage should give Arsenal the edge but United might just be too strong for them. We expect both teams to score on Sunday.

This wraps up our preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in league matches across top five European leagues this weekend. 

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