PSG v Clermont, Saturday 4pm
A packed-out Parce des Princes may not actually get to see much, if anything, of Lionel Messi for what should be his home debut as Mauricio Pochettino has some real problems with his new real-life game of Fantasy Football.
Messi scored a hat-trick for Argentina and Neymar bagged for Brazil in World Cup qualifiers on Thursday night, but then have only about 36 hours from the final whistle before PSG kick-off back over in France.
Angel Di Maria also played for Argentina, and throw in a calf injury for Kylian Mbappe, and Pochettino looks like being without his four world-class forward stars.
751 – Earlier today, Lionel Messi notched the 55th hat-trick of his career, and his seventh for Argentina. In doing so, he surpassed Pelé (77) as the highest scoring South American player in men's internationals (79), whilst also scoring his 750th (and 751st) career goals. Goat? pic.twitter.com/FX8CfBIbJl
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 10, 2021
PSG are still huge favourites to make it five home wins in a row and five straight wins to open up the season — and they’ve had no troubles with promoted sides previously having won the last 15 home fixtures with top-flight newcomers.
Clermont have made a brilliant start to their Ligue 1 campaign though as they’re in third place, unbeaten with two wins and two draws to their name.
You’d be a brave man to back the away side for a monumental upset, but they could at least grab a goal in Paris as they’ve scored in their last six away league games, while PSG have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight home league games.
8/5 on a PSG win but both teams to score looks like the pick of the bets.
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich, Saturday 5.30pm
For all the talk of how great the Bundesliga system is with fan ownership and so on, it does look a touch unfair sometimes and that model has made Bayern Munich a dominant force in Germany that seems to just swallow up any competitors if they get close.
They’ve regularly signed Borussia Dortmund’s best players as they built sides capable of winning the league, and this summer it was the turn of RB Leipzig to suffer after they finished second in the league while Bayern wrapped up a ninth title in a row.
Munich responded by taking manager Julian Nagelsmann, centre half Dayot Upamecano and captain Marcel Sabitzer from Leipzig!
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) September 10, 2021
That means this is not only a case of first versus second from last season and the two big title challengers this season, but also a grudge match of the highest order.
The hosts may need that extra incentive as they’ve had their worst Bundesliga start ever (W1 L2) and have gone six games against Bayern without a win.
Leipzig’s home form in east Germany is solid though with just one defeat in 10, and they hammered Stuttgart 4-0 on home turf in their first game at the Red Bull Arena this season.
This fixture already had a feisty nature without the implications of the trio of former Leipzig employees returning with the big bullies of the Bundesliga, with an average of over four bookings per meeting in the last 10 fixtures with four red cards during that span.
With the crowd on their backs, you wouldn’t be surprised if Upamecano (12/5) or Sabitzer (3/1) found their way into the referee’s notebook in a game of high emotion.
Espanyol v Atletico Madrid, Sunday 1pm
Espanyol are the only side in La Liga who have yet to score so far this season, so the last team they’d like to see arriving in Barcelona to face them would be reigning champions Atletico Madrid.
There has, in fact, been just one goal in Espanyol’s three games so far with two 0-0 draws and a 1-0 defeat hardly making them the entertainers of the Spanish league.
Diego Simeone’s side have been relatively free-flowing in comparison, and in contrast to their usually hard-nosed defensive style, with two of their three games seeing both teams score and their last being an exciting 2-2 draw with Villarreal.
Simeone managing to get himself booked after just 16 minutes of that game shows you that he’s not lost one bit of his intensity — and he almost went through the roof when his side netted a 95th-minute equaliser to pinch a point.
Grizi x Territorio Atleti 🔴⚪ pic.twitter.com/1mHJ6OKtgy
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) September 9, 2021
Atletico have Antoine Griezmann back on loan from Barcelona and he could get back to his old goal-scoring form given Luis Suarez is likely out injured. The Frenchman is 15/8 to score on his return.
Simeone’s side have been having trouble putting away their chances so far, putting in an average of 14 shots on goal per game, so far resulting in one draw and two narrow one-goal wins.
Atleti have had big problems away at Espanyol, with no win and just one goal in three trips, and this tough game should be another with plenty of yellow cards, as there were seven shown in last season’s meeting.
Simeone himself was one of six Atleti received in their last game, while they had five yellows and a red in their only other away trip this season. 6/5 on six bookings or more here is a must.
AC Milan v Lazio, Sunday 5pm
There’s a cracker in Serie A on Sunday evening with AC Milan and Lazio both winning their two games so far and both looking like likely title challengers this season.
Champions Inter have lost Lukaku while Juventus have made a shocking start with a draw and defeat so it looks like being a wide-open contest for the Scudetto.
The Rossoneri led the league until February last season and they again are fast starters — scoring four goals against Cagliari in the first half last time out was indicative of how they played last year when they had a league-best 25 goals scored in the first 30 minutes of matches.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) September 9, 2021
Lazio have never scored nine goals in their opening two games of a Serie A season before now, so it’s a flying start for the Roman side too — who will need to improve on their away form to challenge this term.
Very good at home, Lazio lost eight away games when also trailing at half-time, and they proved that when they got behind early they couldn’t respond on the road.
That’s a theme that continues in meetings between these two clubs, as the team scoring first has won in the last six games between Milan and Lazio. It may be an idea to go on the in-play betting and back whoever scores first here.
Alternatively, Milan are 5/2 to win in the half-time/full-time market and repeat that trend from last season.