Brondby v Sonderjyske & Esbjerg v Midtjylland
This Thursday saw an opportunity for most UK viewers to get their first glimpse of a Midtjylland side who followers of this column know I rate very highly. An excellent 1-1 draw against a Southampton side most pundits and bookmakers rated at 1.5 goal underdogs, gives the Danes a tremendous chance to qualify next week. Midtjylland return to Denmark on Sunday for a trip to Esbjerg.
Esbjerg clocked up their first win of the season against fellow languishers Nordsjaelland. In a pretty grim affair, much less lacking in quality and incident than the 2-1 score line suggests, Esbjerg have Lasse Rise to thank for a thunderbolt out of the blue for the win.
Esbjerg must be fearing a visit from the reigning champions. They have struggled with possession and attempts all season, and defeats against much weaker opposition including the likes of Sonderjylland (a 4-0 thumping at home) and Viborg reflects how much of a battle this season is for them.
On relative 2014 form, this looks like a decent match up, probably with Midtylland in as slight favourites, but factoring in how poor Esbjerg have held the ball all season long, the tremendous dominance Midtylland have shown all season, their defensive organisation (1 goals conceded in 5 fixtures), Midtylland had to be clear 1 goal favourites for me.
A price of 2.25 for Midtylland giving up a 0.5 goal start is just far too tempting so take Jess Thorups men to get the job done on Sunday.
The 2nd previewed game for the weekend takes place when Brondby host Sondjyrlland. Brondy have been a mess at the start of this season. Last season’s 3rd place finishers started the campaign with 3 defeats, all to teams with weaker squads before logging their first point a fortnight ago in a strange 3-3 draw a fortnight ago, with all goals in the second half. However the transformation from those timid efforts to last week’s 4-0 drubbing of Viborg, away from home, was vast.
Brondby controlled possession, and took their chances in a performance which was much more like the solid unit we were used to seeing in 2014.
Sonderjylland pose an interesting challenge. Only just staying up last season, Sonderjylland have only faced defeat against the big 2 of Copenhagen and Midtjylland this season. Against non big 2 teams, have racked up 9 goals without conceding in the process.
The gut reaction to look for value in the away side is quickly tempered upon deeper inspection where 2 of the 3 wins were set up by defensive howlers, and against some of the worst teams in the league. In all 3 wins the possession stats and attempts reflect that the score line hasn’t accurately portrayed the true balance of the games, and were much closer than the score sheet suggests.
Expect Brondby to dominate with between 58-60% possession and have double the scoring opportunities. 2.05 for Brondby in the -0.5 market could look very big come Sunday night.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Midtjylland -0.5 at 2.25
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Brondby -0.5 at 2.05
Prices correct at time of writing.
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