4/18 Recap: I left work at halftime of yesterday’s Serie A games.  I was feeling pretty good as I headed home.  Juventus was up 1-0 and making a surefire bid for a second.  Udinese was level with Napoli and giving them all they could handle.  The lone update I checked while in traffic even saw Udinese pull ahead.  But those pairs of second 45’s killed me in the end.  Napoli scored three unanswered to push that bet and Crotone got an improbable equalizer.  The results were great for Napoli, horrible for me.  I drowned my sorrows in mead and FIFA where the canned commentary of the legendary Martin Tyler shed some wisdom.  You don’t win the game at halftime.  So true.  But hopefully, that isn’t true for today’s picks where I try something new: first half props.

4/18 Results:
My Picks: Napoli 1 Udinese 0 (Udinese +2 goals [EVEN])
                 Juventus 2 Crotone 0 (Juventus -1.5 goals [+105])
Actual Results: Napoli 4 Udinese 2
                            Juventus 1 Crotone 1

My first crack at first half props sees another first here on Picks From Across The Pond.  I’ll be making my first selection from the Dutch Eredivisie.  But first, let’s get some midweek Premier League action out of the way.

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Chelsea @ Burnley (2:45 PM ET/NBC Sports Network, UNIVERSO, fuboTV, SiriusXM FC 157)

http://gty.im/830742182

There are few things in this world I want more than for Burnley to pip Arsenal for the final Europa League place.  While they may qualify anyway after an FA Cup champion is crowned, to see them crack the top six would be spectacular.  And with the form they are in, they may just do it.

Burnley is unbeaten in six games, the last five of those being wins.  The duo of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are terrorizing backlines on a weekly basis.  Each has scored over half their season’s goals in this recent run (Wood 5 of 9, Barnes 4 of 7).

But while Burnley should be the story in this one, it is the chaos of their blue-shirted opponents drawing all the attention.  Antonio Conte is surely dead man walking as Chelsea boss.  The deposed champions are fifth despite playing some of the most inconsistent football among England’s elite.  You honestly don’t know what Chelsea is going to show up on a given day.  Home or away, there is nothing as a bettor to hang your hat on.

That is why I felt this was the perfect game to dip my toes into the first half prop pool.  Chelsea is a  slow starting outfit.  Burnley has in-form goal scorers.  I’ll take Burnley +0.5 goals at the half (per Bovada) and let the craziness ensue in the second 45.

PREDICTION: Burnley 1 Chelsea 1 (Burnley +0.5 at half [-200])

DUTCH EREDIVISIE
VVV Venlo @ Ajax (2:45 PM ET/Not Aired In The US (World Listings Here))

http://gty.im/839827516

Ajax may have fallen way short of the Eredivisie title this season, but they are still fighting for Champions League qualification over the Dutch season’s final few weeks.  To round up matchweek 32, they take on one of the most fun to say teams in Europe, VVV Venlo.

PSV clinched the title this past week by wiping the floor with an Ajax side that finished with nine men on the pitch.  It was a bitter end to a futile chase, as the Amsterdam club, despite good form, just couldn’t gain any ground on their rivals.  The loss was Ajax’s first league defeat in a month.  But now the storied Lancieri must turn their attention to the fight below them rather than the one above.

Teams have shown in recent years that the Europa League is no longer the European death sentence it used to be.  That carrot of automatic Champions League qualification for winning the competition has added to its allure.  But most clubs still want to be in Champions League first without having to take that extra step.

By beating VVV Venlo today, a team that hasn’t taken a point off them since 2011, it’ll put five points between them and third place AZ Alkmaar.  Venlo has nothing to play for with safety guaranteed already.  I like Ajax to get a couple goals before the interval and cover the one goal spread (per Bovada).

PREDICTION: Ajax 3 VVV Venlo 0 (Ajax -1 First Half [-130])

If you have any picks you’d like to see made, 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!