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2019-20 FESIG League Preview – (Serie A kick off edition)

The 2019-20 Italian Serie A football season kicks off this weekend with champions Juventus making a trip east to Stadio Ennio Tardini to face Parma. It is just the third week in the Premier League but we have a top-of-the-table between European champions Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield where the winner can take leadership of the log.  

We begin in France;

RACING STRASBOURG v STADE RENNES – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 16.00HRS
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Rennes come from behind victory over PSG at Roazhon Park saw Les Rennais move joint top with Lyon and Nice at the summit of the table while Strasbourg held Stade de Reims to a 0-0 draw at the Stade Auguste Delaune. Strasbourg are unbeaten in the first two league matches but they are yet to record a win either earning two draws. ‎Thierry Laurey’s team are hoping to progress to the Europa League group phase but will need to over Eintracht Frankfurt in the play-off phase. Julien Stéphan’s team will travel 75 minutes east by air to Stade de la Meinau; they are lucky to have a full week to prepare for the game compared to their host. 

VERDICT – Rennes have made a perfect start to the new season and would be in confident mood having beaten the champions last weekend but will be careful not to underestimate Strasbourg at home. Julien Stéphan’s team won in Strasbourg last season but equally suffered defeats on their previous two visits. The Europa League toil will likely have the home team’s physical abilities later in the game and that’s where Rennes can be dangerous. The away team have the edge and should make it count.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v TOULOUSE – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 20.00HRS
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Thomas Tuchel will demand an immediate response from his team following their unexpected collapse at Rennes and lost the game having gone ahead. PSG host Toulouse at Parc des Princes in the late Sunday kick off and aim rebound quickly against an opponent whom they have dominated at the Parc des Princes in recent years (nine wins in Toulouse’s last ten league visits). Just two years ago, Neymar set the Parc des Princes on fire in his Ligue 1 home debut but that game seem a distance memory right now with the Brazilian looking to move on. Toulouse managed to pull through against Dijon last weekend in front of their fans but Alain Casanova’s men have it all do it with only a handful of supporter expected in the capital.

VERDICT – PSG dominate the head-to-head record, winning 25 of the 38 games played between the two sides. Additionally, PSG dominates recent head to head results, having won the previous four league meetings scoring an average of 2.2 goals per game. Everything on this game indicates a comfortable PSG win and although Toulouse have made a decent start to the new campaign, we believe an away game at the champions is out of reach for Les Violets.

To Germany;

SCHALKE 04 v BAYERN MUNICH – SAT. 24 AUG 2019, 17.30HRS
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Schalke earned a point in David Wagner’s first Bundesliga game in charge coming away from Borussia Mönchengladbach with a respectable 0-0 draw. Nevertheless, the new head coach is well aware that improvements are needed before Bayern come to town. Bayern Munich summer signing Philippe Coutinho could make his Bundesliga debut as Niko Kovac’s men head to Schalke looking for their first win of the new season. The Bavaria giants had a false start, failing to beat Hertha Berlin at home and it was incredibly frustrating for Die Roten fans. The arrival of the Coutinho has got FC Hollywood fans buzzing but it remains to be seen how Kovac will deploy the player described as “Del Piero” by his former manager Jurgen Klopp. Ivan Perisic is also available for selection having missed the opening day game due to a suspension from last season.

VERDICT – Schalke will need to improve on their home form of last season; picking up a paltry 15 points at the Veltins Arena and they are facing the best away side the league last campaign. it has been 10 years since Bayern went the first two games of a Bundesliga season without winning. Bayern have won seven of their last eight Bundesliga games in Schalke, scoring 19 goals and conceding just two. Kovac’s team are favorites, but David Wagner’s team have shown that they are a hardworking side and will fight for points at home.

RB LEIPZIG v EINTRACHT FRANKFURT – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 14.30HRS
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RB Leipzig entertain Eintracht Frankfurt at the Red Bull Arena with the aim of continuity following the excellent start to Julian Nagelsmann era at the club. RBL start to the season shows they mean business and with a host of absentees due to injury, their fans can be excited about the future. Frankfurt also kicked off the campaign with victory. Adi Hütter’s men started the campaign early thanks to UEFA Europa League qualifying commitments and the victory at Hoffenheim stretched the Eagles’ 100 per cent start to the season to six matches in all competitions. Frankfurt will make the trip to Leipzig on the back of a first-leg journey to Strasbourg for European engagement.

VERDICT – Both teams won without conceding on Matchday 1. Both league meetings last season ended in a draw but the home team has the edge for this game. They would be fresher, no midweek game and on back on their performance on the opening weekend, they should secure another victory at home.

To Italy;

PARMA v JUVENTUS – SAT. 24 AUG 2019, 17.00HRS
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Juventus begin the defense of their title away at Parma without new boss Maurizio Sarri who is undergoing treatment for pneumonia. The former Napoli boss era is expected to usher in a new style at Juventus but he will not be present for the start. It is the second season for Parma in the top flight after gaining promotion in 2018; Roberto D’Aversa has added new faces to his team in the summer, with Andrea Adorante at €5m from Inter being their biggest investment. For a team built to counter-attack, the addition of winger Yann Karamoh alongside Gervinho will make the Crociati a dangerous outfit. The champions have strengthened further with the addition of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot, Matthijs de Ligt and the return of Gigi Buffon.

VERDICT – Juve have played Parma in the opening match of the new season three times and won all of them in 1990-91, 2011-12 and 2012-13. The Old Lady won this same fixture last season and are primed to repeat it. Sarri’s team isn’t renowned for defensive solidity and that gives Parma a chance to hurt their visitors. Both teams should score; Juventus to get all three points. 

FIORENTINA v NAPOLI – SAT. 24 AUG 2019, 19.45HRS
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With new owners on board, Fiorentina will want to start the new campaign on a fresh page. A revamped squad buzzing with real enthusiasm is up against one of the league’s strongest in Napoli. The arrival of Franck Ribery in Tuscany underlines the ambition of the new owners but like every new project, it requires time before the whole puzzle fits in. There wasn’t much of a title challenge from Napoli last season and Carlo Ancelotti will want to avoid the pitfalls of last season where they dropped silly points. The new central defense partnership at Napoli looks the strongest on paper in the league and they will be tested at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

VERDICT – The last time Napoli visit Fiorentina on opening day was in 2010 and they left with a single point. Fiorentina should get better as the season progresses but the visit of Napoli on Saturday will be too soon for any upset. Napoli are strong enough to start the new campaign with a victory in Florence.

To Spain;

LEGANES v ATLETICO MADRID – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 18.00HRS
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Leganes welcome Atletico Madrid to the Butarque in the first Madrid derby of the season. Los Pepineros suffered a home defeat to LaLiga new boys Osasuna last weekend and will aim to bounce back in the derby. Atletico make the short trip with the intention of making it two wins in two matches having overcome Getafe at the Wanda Metropolitano in the opening round. Diego Simeone’s team has some new faces but their performance last weekend remains the same as would be expected for El Cholo’s troops. Record signing Joao Felix showed glimpses of his quality and he would be expected to produce similar performance across town.

VERDICT – Leganes are tough to beat at home. None of the top three sides were able to secure a victory at Burtaque, Atleti only managed a draw. Mauricio Pellegrino’s team hasn’t lost a league match at home to their more illustrious neighbors in three seasons since they got promoted to the Primera Division. Atletico are favorites but this is a potential tricky game where the visitors could get stung.

BARCELONA v REAL BETIS – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 20.00HRS
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Ernesto Valverde’s team fell to a wonder goal at San Mames last weekend in the closing moment of the game and will be looking to get their LaLiga season off the ground when they host Real Betis. The cheering news from Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper is that Leo Messi is going to be involved after returning to training. Rubi’s era at Benito Villamarin got off to a wrong start; the Verdiblancos played their opening league match with a man down for over 80 minutes and also lost to Valladolid at home. The task of putting points on board gets tougher in week two; the Andalusia club travel to the Camp Nou to face a Barcelona that are desperate for a victory as well.

VERDICT – Barcelona have an excellent record against Real Betis, winning 10 of the last 12 meetings between the sides. However, the away team beat Barca 4-3 at the Nou Camp last season. With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele sidelined due to injury and Philippe Coutinho shipped out on loan, the pressure is on new signing Antoine Griezmann to get rolling already. Betis may fancy their chances of nicking a result with Barcelona missing so many forwards. Don’t bet against Barcelona losing at home, it is a rarely happens.

To England;

LIVERPOOL v ARSENAL – SAT. 24 AUG 2019, 17.30HRS
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Liverpool host Arsenal in the top-of-the-table clash at Anfield on Saturday evening as both sides are the only two to have won their opening fixtures. The Reds are unbeaten in their last eight matches against Arsenal in all competitions (4W, 4D). For the Gunners, they are looking to win their first three matches of a top-flight season for the ninth time in their history and for the first time since 2004/05. Liverpool were fortunate to win at St. Marys last weekend while Arsenal’s positive start to the campaign was evident in their performance at home against Burnley. Either side can go top of the table, seize leadership of the Premier League with a victory in Merseyside.

VERDICT – Both teams looked shaky at the back in their performances last weekend and improvement would be required going forward. The Gunners have quality in midfield and attack, they should hurt Liverpool. However, Jurgen Klopp has faced Arsenal seven times without losing in the Premier League, his joint-best unbeaten record in the competition. It is unlikely that would change this weekend. We expect goals from both teams; over 2.5 goals is anticipated.

BOURNEMOUTH v MANCHESTER CITY – SUN. 25 AUG 2019, 14.00HRS
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Bournemouth are looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season after beating Aston Villa last weekend. Manchester City, who are also on four points, are hoping to return to winning ways after being held to a draw by Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad. Eddie Howe’s team is very competitive at home and will look to make life difficult for the champions at the Vitality Stadium. For a perfectionist Pep, City cannot afford to drop points after last weekend VAR intervention. The Citizens dominated the game but struggled to put the game to bed and that’s an area for improvement for the Catalan coach. 

VERDICT – Manchester City did a league double over Bournemouth for the fourth season in a row since the Cherries have been promoted. The last two have been narrow margin victories but City has kept their 100 % record against the South Coast club. Bournemouth do not concede a lot of goals at against the big sides and they don’t score a lot either. Eddie Howe’s troops will give a good fight but most times, quality prevails and City have that in abundance.

This wraps up our FESIG preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in all matches available in the French, German, Italian, Spanish and English leagues for the weekend.

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