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European Football Tips: Back Pjanic to find the target against Atletico

European Football Tips: Get behind Pjanic to test Oblak this weekend
European Football Tips: Get behind Pjanic to test Oblak this weekend

With the last of this year's international breaks wrapped up, my attentions are re-devoted to the continent's elite footballing action. For this weekends tips, I've put the cynosures of Ligue One, Serie A and La Liga under the microscope and found three enticing angles priced at 7/2, 2/1 and 80/1. 

Andre Belotti's 29th minute booking last week ensured that we've had at least one winner from each of my first three BettingOdds.com articles and at 6/1 it was the chunkiest coup to date. I'm hoping for more of the same this weekend. 

My NAP comes courtesy La Liga's heavyweight clash at the Wanda Metropolitano between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Despite their superior league position, the hosts are priced around a shade under 2/1 with most bookies meaning the implied probability of a home victory is 34%. 

Today's football tips

This may be a consequence of their lengthy list of absentees; Luis Suarez's positive COVID test means he won't be able to reek havoc against his former club, Lucas Torreira is also unavailable for the same reason. Hector Herrera and Sime Vrsaljko have both been ruled out with injuries but Diego Costa could overcome a hamstring issue in time. 

For Barcelona, Sergio Busquets is out with a sprained knee, Miralem Pjanic should replace him at CDM. Lionel Messi is also set to return to the starting XI after being benched in Barca's previous fixture. It's fair to say the Argentinian maestro loves playing Simeone's side; no player has scored more than his 12 goals in the 17 appearances he has made vs Atleti during his compatriots stint as gaffer. 

My longshot - a 79/1 booking treble - commences at 8pm on Friday as the two riches clubs in the land duel in the Billionaires' Playground. PSG have a lot of injuries to contend with for their trip to the South of France will have to make do without Verratti, Draxler, Gueye and Icardi, however Tuchel is confident Neymar will play. Monaco will also be hindered by the absence of their top goalscorer Ben Yedder and first choice keeper Lecomte. 

Fri, 20:00
Monaco v PSG - Neymar, Djibril Sidibe and Sofiane Diop to be carded
  • Neymar has 3 cards in 6 appearances this season. 
  • Sidibe booked on his last start as a right back, averages 1.5 fouls per game. 
  • Diop booked in 1/3 of starts this season, including his most recent appearance.
  • Same bet is just 45/1 with William Hill
Odds correct as of 2020-11-20 16:20 Odds subject to change.

Neymar is expected to start his first Ligue 1 game in nearly a month and I'm hoping for fireworks. He's received two yellows and a red in his six appearances for PSG this season, all off which for arguments. Given the fact that he has been fouled 27 times- an averaged of 5.25 per game in Ligue One- it is no surprise he retaliates. 

His opposite number should be Djibril Sidibe. This season he has averaged 1.5 fouls per game and was booked in his last appearance at right back. Sofiane Diop is expected to play in front of him for Monaco on the right side of midfield. Diop has been booked in a third of the league games he's started in, averaging 1.3 fouls. It's also worth noting in his most recent appearance he was booked. He is as short as 31/20 for a card elsewhere. 

The man with the whistle is Clement Turpin. He's took charge of four Ligue One fixtures this term, awarding ten yellows and three reds. He's already ref'd both these sides this season and booked Diop- Sidibe and Neymar didn't play for their respective sides- brandishing seven yellows and a red. 

Jimmy The Punt's Weekend Tips
Sat, 20:00
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - Miralem Pjanic 1+ SoT
  • Pjanic registered an SoT in 33% of starts this season. 
  • 72% of his shots come from outside the box and Atletico conceded 58% of their shots from range vs Barca over their last four games. 
  • Keen to impress on his La Liga debut
Odds correct as of 2020-11-20 16:20 Odds subject to change.

With Busquets sidelined it looks like Pjanic's first league start is finally nigh. In his four domestic cameos to date, the Bosnian international has averaged 3.91 shots per 90 minutes and during his only substation appearance of note - 45 minutes vs Deportivo Alaves - he registered a shot on target. He has been a regular starter in the Champions League though, where he's averaged 0.7 shots per game and had a SoT the only time he lasted the duration.

Over the last seven seasons, 72% of Pjanic's shots have come from outside the box, which bodes well for this fixture given how Simone is anticipated to set out his stall. It comes as no surprise that 41% of the shots Los Colchoneros have conceded this season have come from outside the box and almost half of the shots they conceded last season (48%) did so as well.

It is also worth noting that 58% of the shots Barca have registered vs Atletico Madrid over the last two seasons came from deep. Therefore, as the statistics show, Simione's set up encourages shots from range which coincidentally is prime Pjanic territory.

At 7/2, the implied probability of this bet landing is 22.2%. However, Pjanic has registered an SoT in four of the 13 appearances he has made for club and country this season, with this bet landing in 33% of the games he's started. Elsewhere, he is priced consistently shorter; Ladbrokes have him at 14/5 and Sky Bet have him at 21/10. 

It is also worth noting that he will be eager to impress. He turned down a more illustrious move to PSG for the allure of playing for the Blaugrana alongside Messi, therefore he will be looking to stamp his authority on this fixture to keep Busquets out of the side.  

Sun, 19:45
Napoli v AC Milan - Fabian Ruiz 1+ SoT
  • Fabian Ruiz should start in a more advanced role
  • He is only 5/4 for an SoT with Ladbrokes
Odds correct as of 2020-11-20 17:15 Odds subject to change.

Averaging 1.3 shots per game, Ruiz has the highest average of any midfielder at Napoli. In his six Serie A  appearances, he has registered six shots- three hit the target- with an SoT landing twice.

The most important thing with this angle though is that due to injuries, Gattuso may be forced to shuffle his deck. This could see the Blues revert back to the 4-3-3 they deployed earlier on in the season and this would mean Ruiz switches from the holding midfielder in a two, to the right side of a midfield field three. In his last start in this system, Ruiz accumulated four shots showing he is granted greater attacking freedom in this role. 

Another interesting thing about Ruiz's price of 2/1 is how it compares to others who operate in a similar role. Zilinski- another Napoli midfielder- has registered just two shots all season but is evens to have an SoT on Sunday. Milan's holding midfielder Kessie has also registered three shots on target this season- one from the spot- yet is also shorter than Ruiz priced at 13/10. It is also worth noting that Ladbrokes have Fabian Ruiz at just 5/4 to register a shot on target. 

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