Europe-chasing Fiorentina are up against mid-table Udinese in Serie A and Kevin Hatchard thinks La Viola can take another step towards continental competition.
Kevin says: “Fiorentina no longer have star striker Dusan Vlahovic, who defected to the club’s bete noire Juventus (they still haven’t forgiven the Turin giants for poaching Roberto Baggio), and they have wobbled of late, going out of the Coppa Italia to Juve and then losing in the league at relegation-threatened Salernitana. However, their overall form is good, with six wins in the last ten in Serie A, including a trio of victories in the last four.
“At home, Vincenzo Italiano’s side is a formidable prospect, having won 10 of the last 13 league games at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Only Lazio have beaten them in that spell, and they have overcome Milan and Atalanta.
“Udinese are safe in mid-table and have nothing to play for. Their last two games have seen them lose at home to Salernitana and draw 2-2 at Bologna, and there’s an element of them winding down the campaign. Their away form is poor, with just two wins in the last 15.”
Kevin’s bet: Back Fiorentina -0.5 & -1.0 @ 1.9210/11
Andy Schooler also heads to the Italian top flight for today’s props bet and find a near 11/1 shot…
Andy says: “A price which catches the eye is 15/2 about Duvan Zapata being shown a card. The Atalanta striker is one of those who often looks like he feels the world is against him and he’s not shy about having a grumble to the referee.
“It’s an attitude which has got him into trouble on several occasions this season and he’s now been carded in five of 23 starts (six times in total).
“Here we’ve got one of Italy’s strictest officials in Rosario Abisso, one who is averaging exactly five yellow cards per game, with several examples of dissent being punished among them. He’s also shown four reds across his 11 matches.”
Middlesbrough 1.625/8 v Cardiff 6.611/2, the Draw 4.1
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Middlesbrough can move to within two points of the Championship play-off places with victory over Cardiff on Wednesday night.
Mark O’Haire says: “Middlesbrough and Cardiff have been regular opponents in recent years, meeting in 19 head-to-head league matches since the beginning of the 2009/10 season with the Bluebirds enjoying slight supremacy (W9-D2-L8). At the Riverside Stadium, Boro have only picked up maximum points in four of the nine showdowns during that same sample (W4-D1-L4).
“Middlesbrough were 14th when Chris Wilder took charge in November but have enjoyed an eye-catching revival, collecting the sixth-most Championship points under the new regime (W12-D6-L8). The majority of Boro’s best work has been done on Teesside with the Reds picking up a W8-D1-L4 record when hosting opposition during Wilder’s tenure.
“Cardiff 6.005/1 are already planning for next season with the Welsh outfit marooned in the lower reaches of the bottom-half. The Bluebirds have fallen to four league losses in their last five and have returned W5-D2-L10 from their trips to teams above them in the second-tier table. Only three sides have lost more overall league games than Cardiff’s tally of 22.”
Mark’s bet: Back Middlesbrough and Over 1.5 Goals @ 1.855/6
Liverpool 1.331/3 v Villarreal 12.011/1, the Draw 6.05/1
Live on BT Sport 2
Liverpool are the favourites in the Champions League outright winner market ahead of their semi-final first leg against Villarreal.
Mark O’Haire says: “Liverpool and Villarreal have crossed swords once before in continental competition. The duo faced off in the Europa League semi-finals back in 2015/16 with the Yellow Submarine winning the first leg 1-0 in Spain before suffering a one-sided 3-0 reverse when travelling to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s charges six years ago.
“Liverpool have taken top honours in 19 of their last 23 matches across all competitions (W19-D3-L1), as well as 17 of 21 Anfield encounters going back to the beginning of November. The Reds haven’t lost a match that matters since December at Leicester in the Premier League, and on home turf that record extends back to March 2021.
“Villarreal are reigning Europa League champions and Unai Emery’s men have knocked out European giants Juventus and Bayern Munich en-route to only their second-ever Champions League semi-final. The giant-slayers will set-up in a rigid 4-4-2, prioritising a solid and well-drilled structure with the pace Arnaut Danjuma during counter-attacks.”
Mark’s bet: Back Liverpool and Under 3.5 Goals @ 2.245/4
Villareal tend to keep things tight and Dan Fitch is backing that trend to continue at Anfield on Wednesday night with his Champions League Bet Builder tips…
Dan Fitch says: “There’s not much value in a Liverpool win at 1/4 on the Sportsbook, but such is their form that it seems sensible to start the Bet Builder there. If Liverpool do win it will probably be a pretty narrow victory. Villarreal tend to keep it tight, with only two of their last ten games seeing a maximum of three goals.
“That makes the 1/2 on offer for under 3.5 goals, a sensible addition. Adding ‘No’ to both teams to score in the first-half at 1/6, leaves you with a treble at a price of 2.0521/20.”
Dan’s Bet Builder Tip: Back Liverpool, under 3.5 goals and ‘No’ in both teams to score in first-half @ 2.0521/20
European football expert Andy Brassell provides the lowdown on Unai Emery’s Villareal ahead of their trip to Anfield.
Andy says: “One huge obstacle to Villarreal success on Merseyside comes in the form of news from the treatment room with Gerard Moreno, who scored 30 times last season (including, of course, the opener in the Europa League final against Manchester United), suffering a muscle injury and out of at least this week’s away leg, if not the return too.
“He is not just a goalscorer but somebody who links the whole attack, who reads the game unbelievably well for a forward player and contributed heavily to the wins over Juve and Bayern. To say he will be missed is some understatement.
“It has been suggested in Spain that Emery – knowing there is no direct replacement for Moreno – could elect to place on-loan Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso as a false nine, which would represent an inversion of how they went into the derby with Valencia last Tuesday. In that, Lo Celso played in the space behind a lone Arnaud Danjuma – and it worked a treat as the former Bournemouth star scored twice to win the game for the Yellow Submarine.”
Andy’s bet: Back under 2.5 goals @ 2.3611/8