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Club friendlies, EFL Cup, Belgian Cup and Scottish League Previews and Betting Tips
Now that the dust has settled on a truly remarkable World Cup tournament in Qatar, club football is gearing up for a return, with teams preparing with friendlies and some cup football action.
Here is a preview of some of these cup matches and friendlies.
Manchester United vs Burnley
A place in the EFL quarter-finals is at stake for Manchester United and Burnley when they play their round of 16 match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Manchester United came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-2 to reach this stage, while Burnley defeated Crawley Town to get here.
The Red Devils won their last Premier League match thanks to a last-gasp winner by Alejandro Garnacho against Fulham. They also were impressive in their 4-2 win against Aston Villa in the last round of the EFL Cup.
Premier League action returns for Erik Ten Hag’s team on December 27th, but his focus will be on a victory against Burnley for a chance at silverware this season. They are in fifth place on the Premier League table, 3 points behind Tottenham and 11 points off the top of the table.
Ten Hag will want a positive response from his team after they suffered successive losses in their friendly matches against Cadiz and Real Betis.
Burnley are already back in league action; they restarted their Championship campaign with a 3-0 win over QPR on December 11 and followed that with a 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday, December 17.
They are top of the Championship with a six-point cushion over second-placed Sheffield United. They come into this fixture on the back of two EFL Cup wins against Shrewsbury Town and Crawley Town.
Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are definitely out of this game due to their participation in the World Cup final.
Axel Tuanzebe and Diogo Dalot are both questionable, with Dalot battling a hamstring injury he sustained while playing for Portugal at the World Cup.
Jadon Sancho is also unlikely to feature following Ten Hag’s statement about the Englishman’s lack of physical and mental fitness.
Anthony Elanga, Donny van de Beek, Garnacho, and Anthony Martial might potentially make the starting lineup.
Potential Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Malacia; McTominay, Eriksen; Elanga, Van de Beek, Garnacho; Martial
Scott Twine will miss the trip to Old Trafford due to the injury he sustained against Middlesbrough.
Connor Roberts will be suspended from this game after getting sent off in the match against Middlesbrough.
Vincent Kompany will likely shuffle his XI that played in their championship match, with Ashley Barnes possibly leading the attack.
Potential Tottenham starting XI: Peacock-Farrell; Taylor, Harwood-Bellis, Beyer, Maatsen; Cullen, Bastien; Manuel, Brownhill, Churlinov; Barnes
Burnley are the best team in the second tier of English football and will arrive at Old Trafford with tons of self-belief, especially against a much undermanned Manchester United side. Erik ten Hag should still be able to find the XI that will be able to win what could be a tricky tie for the Red Devils.
- Manchester United to win @1.44
- Over 1.5 goals scored @ 1.19
- Both teams to score @ 1.73
- Over 7.5 corners @ 1.15
Charlton vs Brighton
Brighton return to competitive club football with a trip to Charlton Athletic on Wednesday evening. Brighton & Hove Albion have had a decent run in the Premier League and are currently in the top half of the table with 21 points after 14 matches played.
They face a Charlton team without a manager and that are on a three-match losing streak.
Charlton have not won a match in six tries with their last win coming in the last round of the EFL cup against Stevenage.
This poor run of form led to the sacking of manager Ben Garner at the start of December after less than six months in charge. The Addicks are now managed by caretaker manager Anthony Hayes, but have not seen a turnaround in fortunes.
They lost an FA cup replay match against Stockport despite going in front in that match, that combination of defensive frailties and poor attacking has dogged the Addicks this season
Roberto De Zerbi’s team was excellent in a 3-1 win over Arsenal to reach this stage. They are seventh in the Premier League with their last league match ending 2-1 in favour of Aston Villa, however, they had produced two key victories against Chelsea and Wolves in their two previous league matches.
They are back at the stage where they were eliminated in each of the past two years, so they will be keen to go further than the round of 16 this time around.
Terell Thomas and Miles Leaburn should be fully recovered from injury to feature, while goalkeeper Joe Wollacott remains sidelined with a finger injury.
Eoghan O’Connell and Mandela Egbo are also both unavailable, making Anthony Hayes’ challenge even harder.
Potential Charlton starting XI: Maynard-Brewer; Clare, Lavelle, Iniss, Sessegnon; Dobson, Payne, Fraser; Kirk, Aneke, Rak-Sakyi
World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister will be unavailable, however, other members of Brighton’s World Cup contingent like Robert Sanchez, Tariq Lamptey, Leandro Trossard, Kaoru Mitoma and Estupinan could see some action.
Jakub Moder is unavailable due to a knee injury which could sideline him till next year.
Potential Brighton starting XI: Steele; Lamptey, Dunk, Colwill, Estupinian; Caicedo, Gilmour; March, Trossard, Mitoma; Welbeck
Despite some hangover from their World Cup exertions, Brighton should have enough firepower to defeat a Charlton team that is in freefall at the moment.
Our Betting picks
- Brighton to win @ 1.33
- Over 1.5 goals @ 1.16
- Over 7.5 corners @ 1.28
- Both teams to score @ 1.86
- Either teams to score two in a row @ 1.37
Celtic vs Livingston
Celtic are looking to build on their recent success as they host Livingston in the Scottish Premiership this Wednesday at Celtic Park.
Celtic comes into this match fresh off a win over Aberdeen, while Livingston has been without a competitive match for more than a month after their meeting with Dundee United last Saturday was postponed.
Celtic sit atop the Scottish league, 9 points clear of Rangers, with 45 points from 16 matches.
They have won 15 of their 16 league matches and have a goal difference of 38 after scoring 51 goals while conceding only 13.
Against Livingston, they will be aiming to maintain their 100 percent record at Celtic Park, where they have won all seven matches played in the Scottish Premiership this season.
Sitting sixth place, Livingston have punched well above their weight and are well placed to achieve European qualification this season
Their defense has been especially stellar this season, conceding only 20 goals this season, the third-best defensive record in the league.
They also have a couple of matches at hand that could prove useful as the season progresses.
Sead Haksabanovic could be back in time for the match against Livingston after missing the game against Aberdeen.
Josip Juranovic is unavailable after playing in Qatar with the Croatian team.
Potential Celtic starting XI: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; McGregor, O’Riley, Hatate; Abada, Jota, Giakoumakis
Defender Tom Parkes is yet to recover from a knee injury and will not be available for the match against Celtic
However, while Jamie Brandon could be fully recovered from the groin injury he sustained, Steven Bradley is ineligible to play for Livinston until January.
Potential Livingston starting XI: George; Devlin, Obileye, Fitzwater, Montano; Kelly, Holt; Kelly, Omeonga, Shinnie; Nouble
While Livingston have been defensively solid this season, they have struggled to put the ball in the net at the other end. That attacking weakness will be exploited by Celtic, who have been invincible at Celtic Park this season.
Our Betting picks
- Celtic to win @ 1.12
- Over 2.5 goals @ 1.35
- Over 8.5 corners @ 1.15
- Over 3.5 bookings @ 1.70
Club Brugge vs St. Truiden
Club Brugge take on Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Cup on Wednesday, hoping to return to winning ways after stuttering in their last matches before the break.
Truiden also suffered a 2-0 loss to Cercle Brugge in their last Belgian Pro League match, but have generally performed much better than expected this season, sitting in tenth place with 27 points from 15 matches.
Club Brugge expected a much better 2022–23 season. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, as they are now fourth in the league table, 13 points behind league leaders Genk.
Club Brugge’s only win in the last four matches before the World Cup break came in the cup against Patro Eisden. This poor run continued into the friendly matches, losing 1-0 against Lille and 2-0 against Excelsior.
St. Truiden is performing better than expected. They earned a respectable 23 points, placing them in the middle of the table. They won five of their previous six games, including two friendly contests (3-0 against RKC Waalwijk and 3-2 against Westerlo).
St. Truiden have also made defensive improvements, in the last seven games, they have only conceded six goals.
Most Club Brugge players that were in action at the World Cup exited at the group phase, so they should be in contention to play against St. Truiden.
Only Noa Lang who played in the quarter-finals could miss the game.
Potential Club Brugge starting XI: Mignolet; Sylla, Mechele, Boyata; Mata, Onyedika, Vanaken, Balanta, Meijer; Jutgla, Larin
Bernd Hollerbach should have a full squad to pick from; only Daniel Schmidt was away from the team for the World Cup.
Potential St. Truiden starting XI: Coppens; Hashioka, Al-Dakhil,Bauer, Janssens, Bocat; Konate, Okazaki, Boya; Hayashi, Bruno
Club Brugge have only one win in six matches and will play a Sint. Truiden team that has lost only once in their last seven matches. While Brugge have the better team on paper, it is hard to back them with the kind of form they are in; however, they have won their last six matches against Sint-Truiden; this could be the moment they turn around their season.
Our Betting picks
- Club Brugge to win @ 1.54
- Both teams to score @ 1.75
- Over 1.5 goals @ 1.23
- Over 7.5 corners @ 1.16
Tottenham vs Nice
Tottenham Hotspur play their final friendly before the Premier League returns when they host Ligue 1 outfit Nice on Wednesday at the London Stadium.
Spurs thrashed Motherwell in their last winter friendly match, while Nice lost 3-0 to Atalanta on Friday.
Prior to the World Cup, Anthonio Conte’s side had only three wins in their previous eight competitive matches, beating Leads 4-3 in their most recent Premier League match to finish fourth at the break.
They have been dealing with injuries to key attacking players and must have been relieved to see Dejan Kulusevski and Bryan Gil score against Motherwell.
Lucien Favre’s side went on a run of seven unbeaten matches to move up to ninth in the Ligue 1 table.
They were ruthless in their friendly against Standard Liege, scoring four goals without reply, but succumbed to losses against Girona and Atalanta.
While those losses were in friendlies, Lucien Favre will want a reaction before they resume Ligue 1 acton against Lens later this month
Spurs’ injury list is quite lengthy; Richarlison, Ben Davies and Rodrigo Bentancur return from the World Cup with minor injuries, while Ryan Sessengnon is expected to be out for a long time.
Emerson Royal, Lucas Moura, Clement Lenglet and Fraser Forster are also carrying knocks that saw them miss the match against Motherwell.
Some of the players who were in Qatar, like Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Pape Sarr, and Eric Dier, could be returning soon, while Cristian Romero and Hugo Lloris will need an extended break after playing in the World Cup final.
Potential Club Brugge starting XI: Austin; Tanganga, Sanchez, Lenglet; Spence, Skipp, White, Bissouma, Doherty; Kulusevski, Gil
Kasper Schmiechel was back in action for Nice against Atalanta after taking part in Denmark’s World Cup campaign.
Goalkeeper Marcin Bulka is out with a shoulder injury, while Aaron Ramsey will likely be rested for the match.
Potential St. Truiden starting XI: Schmeichel; Atal, Todibo, Dante, Bard; Boudaoui, Thuram, Rosario, Brahimi; Pepe, Laborde
While it is unlikely Tottenham’s big guns of Son, Kane, and Richarlison will take part in Wednesday’s match, Anthonio Conte will still have the stronger side going into this match.
Both teams need a rigorous test as they prepare to get back to domestic football action, Tottenham have the advantage of playing at home and should be able to get a morale-boosting win as they look ahead to their clash against Brentford on the 26th of December
Our Betting picks
PSG vs Quevilly
Paris Saint-Germain prepare to continue their Ligue 1 dominance with a friendly against Quevilly at the Centre d’entrainement Ooredoo on Wednesday.
Since losing 3-1 against Real Madrid in the Champions League in February, PSG have not lost in any competition.
They beat Auxerre 5 goals to nil in their last Ligue 1 match before the break and were 2-1 winners over Paris FC in their previous friendly.
Fabien Mercadal’s Quevilly have won four games, drawn six, and lost five so far in Ligue 2, and their 18 points puts them in 13th place.
They have recently improved their away form after going four games without a win away from home, and they are currently unbeaten in their last five league contests outside Quevilly.
With a significant number of PSG players taking part in the World Cup, Christophe Galtier has been able to give his reserve players a chance and is likely to do so against Quevilly.
Danilo Pereira and Nuno Mendes are both injured. Danilo has a broken rib, while Mendes is sidelined with a thigh injury.
Potential PSG starting XI:
Rico; Mukiele, Ramos, Bitshiabu, Bernat; Ruiz, Verratti, Soler; Ekitike, Gharbi, Housni
Fabien Mercadal is unlikely to change the side that drew 1-1 with Stade Laval.
Potential Quevilly starting XI: Lemaitre; Pendant, Cissokho, Ben Youssef, Sissoko; Pierret; Camara, Gbelle, Sangare, Soumare; Mafouta
Paris Saint-Germain have steamrolled opponents in their path and will likely be comfortable winners against a Ligue 2 side that has struggled in the second tier of French football.
/ 10 months ago
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