Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Earlier this week, Liverpool needed an injury-time winner from Roberto Firmino to advance past CONCACAF champions Monterrey and reach the FIFA Club World Cup Final. The showpiece match, which is theoretically the biggest domestic club game in the world, sees the Reds take on Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo, who earned a 3-1 victory over Asian Champions League winners Al-Hilal in their semifinal.
The only head-to-head between Liverpool and Flamengo is the Intercontinental final from 1981, which the Brazilian side won by a 3-0 scoreline in Tokyo. Despite Liverpool’s six European Cups, they have never triumphed in this competition, or its previous iterations. In fact, the Reds have lost all of their world finals to South American opposition: Independiente defeated them in 1984 and Sao Paolo took the glory from Rafa Benitez’s side in 2005.
The most recent English side to make the final, Chelsea in 2012, were also dismissed by Brazilian opposition in the form of Corinthians.
The European entrant has won the last six editions of the tournament, however, and Jurgen Klopp’s side are the favorites with the bookmakers. Those who watched Flamengo’s triumph in the Copa Libertadores final will have noted their cavalier attitude to defending, which the Reds are likely to expose.
The action from Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium will be shown on Fox at 12.30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Flamengo
Best Bet: If you have faith in Liverpool’s ability to shut out the Brazilians (and you should), then under 2.5 total goals on at +110 on BetMGM is good value. Four of the last seven Club World Cup Finals have featured under 2.5 goals.
The main event in this weekend’s Premier League lineup sees Jose Mourinho face a former employer for the second time this month. With a home victory against Chelsea, the Special One can make it five wins from six at Tottenham — and his side can leapfrog the Blues into the top four.
The signs look good for Tottenham: they have won their last two home meetings against Chelsea, while Mourinho has won 12 of his last 13 home games in all competitions against former sides. The Portuguese has won all three of his matches against Chelsea.
Given Spurs’ impressive league form and Chelsea’s recent decline—they have suffered four league defeats in their last five outings—a home win seems logical. The bookmakers make the Lilywhites narrow favorites, at around +130 with Bet MGM.
Frank Lampard got the better of Mourinho in their previous meeting, however, when his Derby County side dismissed Manchester United from last season’s FA Cup. And the Blues have won both matches against Tottenham in 2019, albeit at Stamford Bridge on both occasions.
Given the relatively balanced head-to-head, the parity of the sides and the shortcomings of both defenses, a score-draw is likely the winning ticket. That outcome is also well priced at +300 on BetMGM.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea
Following a midweek Clasico that proved uneventful on the field — but not in the stands — Real Madrid and Barcelona are tied for points at the top of the Spanish Primera.
Zinedine Zidane will be pleased to be the first-ever Real Madrid manager to go five consecutive games undefeated at the Camp Nou, but he faces a tough task in keeping pace with the Catalans this weekend, as Athletic Bilbao come to the Bernabéu.
El Viejo Clasico (“The Old Classic”) is the second-most played fixture in La Liga’s history and the most-played in the Spanish Cup. Despite their restrictive cantera policy of only using players of Basque origin, Athletic Club are one of only three teams to have never been relegated from the top flight—and they have caused Madrid plenty of issues over the years.
In recent seasons, however, Real Madrid have had the better of the rivalry. The Basques have not won this fixture since 2015 and they haven’t claimed a victory at the Bernabéu since February 2005 — a match in which Zidane played.
Three of the last four meetings between these sides have ended in a draw. Madrid have been held to a point in their last two matches, and the stalemate is excellent value at +425 on BetMGM. However, a narrow win for a Madrid side that will be desperate to keep pace in the title race is a more likely outcome.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-0 Athletic Club
Best Bet: Madrid to win and under 2.5 total goals at +300 on BetMGM.
This weekend sees the final round of Bundesliga matches before the annual winterpause. Bayern Munich’s first half of the season has been tumultuous, with a managerial casualty and a fairly unprecedented four league losses.
With a home victory against Wolfsburg, however, Die Roten can potentially head into the holidays with just a single point separating them and league leaders RB Leipzig. If they win by a greater margin than Borussia Dortmund this weekend, they will be guaranteed to spend Christmas in third place.
Fortunately for the Bavarians, they face another favorable matchup in Wolfsburg, following last weekend’s “gimme” against Werder Bremen. Die Wolfe were trounced 6-0 on their last visit to the Allianz Arena and have taken just one point from the reigning champions in their last 10 meetings.
Wolfsburg are in patchy form, with just one win from their last four league matches, while Bayern have scored 12 times in their last three matches in all competitions. The visitors are priced at an incredibly long +1600 on BetMGM for the win, which demonstrates the mammoth task ahead of them.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-1 Wolfsburg
Best Bet: Bayern to win and both teams to score at +140 on BetMGM. Bayern haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five matches and Wolfsburg have scored in three of their last four meetings with the Bavarian giants.
More from Yahoo Sports: