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 …
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are undoubtedly the best team in the world right now, and their record of 20 wins from 21 matches represents the best-ever start seen in any of Europe’s top five leagues.
This Sunday, however, they face the only team who have taken points off of them, and their fiercest historical rival: Manchester United.
At Old Trafford in October, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics perfectly nullified Liverpool’s attacking threat, which resulted in a 1-1 draw. More often than not in recent times, the honors have been equally divided between the two sides: six of the last eight meetings have ended in a draw.
It may also concern Liverpool fans that Manchester United are historically their least favorite team — they have been defeated 80 times by the Red Devils, which is more than anyone else.
Despite this historical form, and United’s league win over the Reds in March 2018, a Liverpool win is the most likely outcome.
Solskjaer’s oft-uninspiring side may have earned a reputation for raising their game against bigger sides this season, but January losses to Arsenal and Manchester City have dissipated this trend. Liverpool are 52 games unbeaten at Anfield and have lost only one of their last eight encounters with United.
The hosts are -228 favorites with BetMGM and look set to continue their incredible form for another week.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United
Best Bet: Liverpool to win and under 2.5 total goals at +290 on BetMGM. The Reds have won their last four matches with a clean sheet and under 2.5 goals, and eight of the last 10 meetings between the sides have featured less than 2.5 goals.
Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich
The Bundesliga winterpause is over and Bayern Munich will resume their title defense at the Olympiastadion, where Jurgen Klinsmann’s Hertha Berlin await.
When these teams met on the opening day of the season, a Robert Lewandowski penalty rescued a 2-2 draw for the Bavarians in a lively encounter. Neutral fans will be hoping for similar levels of entertainment, and both sides went into the break on good form.
However, Bayern’s midseason preparations have been less than ideal, with a spate of injuries and a 5-2 loss at Nurnberg in their only friendly match.
Hertha also boast a relatively impressive recent record against Bayern. They have only lost two of their last seven meetings, and were 2-0 victors in their match in Berlin at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Hansi Flick’s side are the overwhelming favorites with the bookmakers (you can get +750 for a Hertha win on BetMGM) and the likes of Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski are expected to be fit enough to make the squad.
But Hertha will be desperate to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone—they are four points clear of the drop — and the possibly unlicensed Klinsmann could quite conceivably take a point from his former team.
Prediction: Hertha Berlin 1-1 Bayern Munich
Best Bet: A score draw at +525 on BetMGM. Four of their last six meetings have ended in a draw and Hertha have scored seven times in their last four home matches against Bayern.
Real Madrid vs. Sevilla
With Barcelona facing Granada at home, Real Madrid will most likely need a win to stay on pace at the top of La Liga this weekend. Their opponents, however, are high-flying Sevilla, who sit just five points behind Los Blancos in fourth spot.
Back in September, Real Madrid narrowly escaped the Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium with a hard-fought 1-0 win. Sevilla had won their prior four home league matches against Real, and have proven to be a consistent adversary for the La Liga giants.
The Andalusian side, however, do not boast such a strong record at the Bernabeu. They have lost all of their last 10 league visits, having not escaped with three points since December 2008. Furthermore, the host almost always gets the better of this fixture: 14 of the last 16 league meetings have been one by the home team.
Despite their patchy home form this season, Real Madrid are favorites here and should manage another narrow win.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-0 Sevilla
Best Bet: Madrid to win and a total of under 2.5 goals at +375 on BetMGM. There have been under 2.5 goals in Sevilla’s last six league games and in three of Madrid’s last four home league games.
Juventus vs. Parma
Juventus are back in their rightful place at the summit of Serie A and will look to protect their lead when they host Parma on Sunday.
Once a continental contender, Parma returned to Serie A last season after being relegated to the fourth tier for declaring bankruptcy in 2015. The Crusaders have shown impressive form and they currently sit just one point below potential European qualification in seventh.
Juve, meanwhile, will look to kick off the second half of the season in the exact same manner as they did the first: with a win over Parma.
These sides have faced each other three times in the post-bankruptcy era, with Parma losing twice at home, but managing a draw at Juventus Stadium last February. That match turned out to be a thriller, as Parma fought back from 3-1 down to earn a draw thanks to a late brace of goals from former Arsenal forward Gervinho.
This game could also feature plenty of goals: Juve haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league in seven outings and Parma have scored in five of their last six away matches, including trips to Inter Milan and Napoli.
Given their strength at home — they are undefeated in 30 home league games — Juventus’ status as overwhelming favorites may make sense (they are -415 at BetMGM).
However, given Parma’s away form and their relatively good record against the Old Lady (they have taken four points from their last four league meetings), an upset draw is very well priced at +500 on BetMGM. Sassuolo managed a score draw in Turin in December and Roberto D'Aversa’s side could earn a similar outcome.
Prediction: Juventus 2-2 Parma
Best Bet: Gervinho anytime scorer at +475 on BetMGM. The Ivorian scored twice on his last visit to Juventus Stadium and has also scored in three of his last four away games.
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