4/7 Recap: Congratulations to Bayern Munich on winning the Bundesliga. Even though you took care of business against Augsburg, Schalke crapping their pants against Hamburg would have done the trick anyway. Conceding three to a team with twenty total goals up to that point isn’t a good look. Speaking of teams not looking good at the moment, what happened to Manchester City? “The greatest Premier League team of all-time” can’t get out of their own way now? I’ve seen some strange things this season. But Manchester City salting away a two-goal lead at home may take the cake. And to do so to Paul Pogba, who was offered to Pep by his agent in January, and Chris F’n Smalling is salt in the wounds. For the sake of my picks and my psyche, I hope City lays a similar egg this Tuesday against Liverpool.
But those picks are at a future time, let’s talk about teams running out of time in the present. We go to Serie A and La Liga for two picks with clubs hoping that they can make up ground today.
My Picks: Schalke 2 Hamburg 0 (Schalke -0.5 goals [-110])
Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0 (Man City -0.5 goals [-135])
Actual Results: Hamburg 3 Schalke 2
Manchester United 3 Manchester City 2
4/6 Results (There was a little mixup on my part yesterday)
My Picks: Paris Saint-Germain 3 Saint-Etienne 1 (PSG -1.5 [-110], Edinson Cavani scores [-170])
Deportivo La Coruna 1 Malaga 0 (Depor -0.5 goals [EVEN])
Actual Results: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Saint-Etienne 1 (Cavani Doesn’t Score)
Deportivo La Coruna 3 Malaga 2
So we’ll start off in Spain with Valencia trying to get their highest finish in La Liga since 2011-12.
SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISION
Espanyol @ Valencia (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports en Español, beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV, iGol)
Valencia has had a rough go of it these past two years. After finishing in the final Champions League place in 2014-15, they’ve posted back to back 12th place finishes. They went through six managerial changes, including caretaker stints, before bringing in Villarreal’s Marcelino this past winter. The change has been immediate and Los Che is back on the brink of Champions League football again.
While their top four spot is fairly secure as they are 13 points clear of Real Betis before today’s match, Valencia wants to break the triad at the top of the Spanish table. The past five years have seen some amalgamation of Atletico, Real, and Barca at the top. Valencia wants their spot back in that hierarchy.
To do so means winning games like today against Espanyol. The Barcelona-based club has kept themselves safe this year by grinding out results. It isn’t the prettiest football, but when you have limited resources in the shadow of FC Barcelona, you keep yourself in the top flight however you can. Six of their twelve draws have come in their past nine matches, one of those against Barca. But Espanyol can spring an upset as well, having beat Real Madrid in that run as well.
The fanboy in me wants to take Valencia in this one, but every statistic I read points me to a draw. Valencia will know if a point is good enough as the Madrid Derby will be over before they kick off. The impetus to not lose will outweigh the strive for victory.
PREDICTION: Valencia 1 Espanyol 1 (Espanyol +1 goals [-105])
ITALIAN SERIE A
Sassuolo @ AC Milan (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports USA, Rai Italia America, fuboTV, iGol)
While Valencia has European qualification locked up, AC Milan need some help. The Rossoneri had a brilliant start to 2018, but have since slipped up a bit widening the gap between them and 5th placed Lazio. It has also allowed Fiorentina, Sampdoria, and Atalanta to catch up to them. I know the Europa League isn’t the Champions League, but with Milan’s massive wage bill, and debts, missing out on Europe entirely would certainly fall under the second half of this classic Gennaro Gattuso line.
It’s been over two years since Sassuolo has beaten Milan, but that isn’t to say they haven’t been in each game. They blew a 3-1 advantage at the end of 2016. Two card laden shutouts have followed. So if form serves me correctly this should be an ugly game. Also, Sassuolo is probably going to let in at least one goal. The Neroverdi haven’t kept a clean sheet in six straight matches.
I think Milan has a couple goals in them, but the solid spread (per Bovada) is, as I’ve said a million times, troubling. I say they win, push the spread, and hit the total goal under. I was tempted to take a red card flier in this one as well, but sadly Bovada hasn’t provided such a prop.
PREDICTION: AC Milan 1 Sassuolo 0 (Under 2.5 total goals [EVEN])
If you have any games you’d like me to pick over the week, you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!