Previous Day’s Record: 1-0-2
Welcome to another fútbol Monday here on Best Bets, where we love Zlatan and hate VAR. Really, what the hell is going on? How can a system designed to supposedly impart justice be so questionable and prone to the same conspiracies it was supposed to squash week after week in different parts of the world? This isn’t a 2020 problem. It’s a human bias problem. And a serious one at that.
This week, we stop for a cup of tea in England before we Flamenco the afternoon away in Spain and finish the night witnessing some “jogo bonito” in Brazil.
If you are looking for my Monday Night Football pick, click HERE.
English Premier League
Leeds United (2.50) vs Leicester City (2.80) Draw (3.60)
The EPL is so tight right now that the 13th place team (Crystal Palace) is only three points behind fourth place and just six away from league-leading Liverpool. 12th place Leeds United will attempt to vault into those coveted top four spots when they host 8th place Leicester City, which could go up all the way to second place with a victory.
Leeds is favored by just a smidge in this clash of styles, and the first 20 minutes of the match will be huge. If the home team scores early, then Leicester will be forced to come out of its defensive gameplan and face all kinds of trouble as they betray their defensive mindset. However, if the visitors manage to muddy up the match and entangle Leeds in its web…then the scales tip in their favor.
Leicester is 3-0-0 away from their fan-less abode with blowout wins over West Bromwich and Manchester City as well as a clean 1-0 victory against another heavyweight like Arsenal. Leeds, curiously, is actually better on the road and has not won at Elland Road since Matchday 2.
I like Leicester in this one.
My pick: Leeds 1 – 2 Leicester
Villarreal (1.60) vs Valladolid (6.25) Draw (3.90)
Villarreal is the soccer equivalent of the Tampa Bay Rays. The small market team that rubs elbows with the giants year in and year out. They have finished sixth or better every season except this past one since they came back from the Second Division in 2013, and they are currently sixth with a chance to vault all the way to third place if they take care of business at home today.
On the other hand, Valladolid has taken up comfortable residence in the basement of Spain’s most prestigious league with a 0-3-4 record. A win would actually take them out of the dreaded relegation zone.
Will they get it? I do not think so. Valladolid is 0-1-2 in its last three encounters with Villarreal having scored only once in those 270 minutes, and they have won only once at “El Madrigal” since 2009.
My pick: Villarreal 3 – 1 Valladolid
Palmeiras (2.40) vs Atletico Mineiro (3.00) Draw (3.30)
We have arrived at the halfway point of the most important tournament in the cradle of the world’s biggest stars, and two of its best teams meet in a vital match for the title aspirations of both squads.
Palmeiras is on the outside looking in as it sits in 7th place with 25 points, just five back of Santos for the last Copa Libertadores spot and 10 back of league leader Internacional.
The good news for them is that they have two matches in hand and their most recent contest was a 3-0 win over Fortaleza, but the bad news is that they face their most critical stretch of the season aiming to win at home for the first time since Week 13 with no manager at the moment.
Atletico Mineiro was a well-oiled machine under the tutelage of Jorge Sampaoli until it hit a recent rough stretch of two defeats and two draws in its last five contests. However, they can join Inter and Flamengo atop the standings and with a match in hand if they prevail in hostile territory.
Mineiro is the second highest scoring team in Brazil with 31 goals. Palmeiras has more draws (7) than wins (6).
My pick: Palmeiras 0 – 2 Atletico Mineiro
-- by El Hombre