There are a whole host of matches from across Europe that catch the eye this weekend, with Saturday's schedule in particular looking extremely exciting. There are top of the table clashes in both Germany and Spain, so it is on those that we focus our attention this week, looking at the likely occurrences and where your money might be well placed.
Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund - Match Preview
With Bayern Munich flying high, having already built up a near-unassailable 10 points lead at the top of the Bundesliga, and 11 points ahead of reigning champions and their next opponents, Borussia Dortmund, this game represents a must win match for the away side if they are to hold on to any hope of retaining their title.
A tough Champions League campaign seems to have taken its toll on Jürgen Klopp's men, who have struggled domestically, and it wasn't until their 11th and 12th games of the season that they finally managed to string consecutive league victories together. They will be hoping that the slip up against Fortuna Dusseldorf in midweek was only a blip and they can get back to winning ways sooner rather than later.
In Bayern they face a side who are playing confidently and have players like Franck Ribery who have the talent to change a game almost single handedly. While he is not quite on the level of Messi or Ronaldo in terms of ability, his importance to his side is arguably equal to theirs and he will be the man to watch, set to strike up an intriguing battle against Dortmund right-back Lukasz Piszscek.
Ribery and Piszczek aside, both teams have a wealth of attacking talent, also with defensive frailties that are exposed when they face better sides. While Bayern do not concede all that many goals, they generally concede against better opposition, while Dortmund have both scored and conceded in each of their last 6 games, putting 4 past Ajax and 2 past Real Madrid in that run, with both of those games away from home. Backing both teams to score at odds of 1.61 thus seems a good bet.
What is more, Dortmund have a fantastic recent record against Bayern, winning each of their last 4 league clashes with them as well as beating them 5-2 in last season's DFB-Pokal Final. Bayern had the better of their German Super Cup meeting in August, but 5 wins in 6 against a side like Bayern still makes for impressive reading.
Add to this the fact that Dortmund have lost only 1 of their last 21 away games in the Bundesliga - a 3-2 loss at Hamburg earlier this season - and odds of 2.00 on the Schwarzgelben to win or draw certainly seem tempting. Granted, Bayern are favourites to win, but with Dortmund's record as good as it is, evens for them to avoid defeat is a great price.
Finally, Dortmund's frontman Robert Lewandowski will carry the main attacking threat for the visitors, and Bayern will most certainly know it. He is in lethal form at present, having bagged 8 of his 13 goals this season in his last 5 appearances and he has also scored in each of the last 3 meetings between Bayern and Borussia, netting a hat-trick in the cup final earlier this year. At a price of 2.50 he would be a good bet to score at any time, but interestingly, he has scored the last goal in each of those last 3 games against Bayern, and he can be backed at 7.00 to score last again this time around.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid - Match Preview
For the first time in a fair while, Atletico are sitting pretty in La Liga, looking down at their rivals Real in the table, with a cushion of 8 points separating them. Real will be desperate to prevent that gap from getting any larger and they can take a huge step towards catching their foes by beating them here.
Recent Madrid derbies have been action packed affairs, with both teams coming flying out of the blocks from the very first whistle. Goals tend to come early on when these sides meet, with a goal scored before the 23rd minute is up in 5 of the last 6 meetings between the sides, and in the only game there was no goal before 23:00, one was netted just over a minute later. Odds of 1.83 for the first goal to be scored inside 23 minutes could be worth a few quid.
With Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly having hit a bit of a rut in terms of goalscoring recently - with 1 goal in his last 6 appearances - he does not represent good value at only 1.40 to score at any time. The goals for the superstar on his opponent's side, Radamel Falcao, have also dried up somewhat, with the Colombian having netted only once in his last 4 games. However, that goal came in his most recent run out, and Diego Simeone, amongst others, will be hoping that his dangerman will hit another run of form now. The striker raises his game in the big matches, and was one of only 2 players (along with Fernando Llorente) to score against both Real Madrid and Barcelona last season. He is being linked with a big money move away from the Calderon, and this match provides another opportunity for him to showcase his skills on the grand stage. You can find odds of 2.37 for Falcao to net at any time and that could be a good punt.
An obvious trend in recent Madrid derbies has been the sheer dominance enjoyed by Real, winning each of the last 8 such games. At home in particular, though, things have not been as plain sailing as that statistic might initially suggest. Atletico have scored in 5 of their last 6 visits to the Bernabeu, and on each of those 5 occasions, they have scored the first goal. In none of those games have the Red-and-Whites gone on to win the match, and in 4 of them Real have fought back so strongly that they have eventually gone on to win. Clearly, Atletico start strongly against their rivals but cannot handle the pressure that Real Madrid put on them in the intense atmosphere at the Bernabeu, and a bet on Real to win from behind once again - at odds of 7.00 - is a good shout for our 'longshot' bet.