Neil’s Tips – ” Good Acca “
FK Rostov vs. Zenit St. Petersburg (20/09/2014)
Kick Off: 11:30
Competition: Russian Premier League
Venue: Olimp-2 Stadium
What a season this has been so far for André Villas-Boas and Zenit St. Petersburg. They are only 7 games into their domestic season and are already sit 6 points clear at the top of the Russian League, having won every one of their games so far amassing 21 points from a possible 21. This kind of form isn’t a fluke, they have not only been beating their opponents but in some cases totally obliterating them, in the seven games they have scored 21 goals, averaging 3 per game (they have also only conceded 4 goals). One of the key cogs in the Zenit machine is the currently red-hot Hulk (green hot?), who after a disappointing world cup campaign has gone on to score 5 in 7 domestically, and is Zenit’s top scorer so far this season. Their opponents FK Rostov reached great heights for a club of their size last campaign, which culminated in a seventh placed league finish as well as the winning of the Russian Cup (which also resulted in them qualifying for the Europa League, but they were expelled due to breaches in financial regulations and were replaced by Spartak Moscow). Zenit should win this game, which will pile further pressure on their rivals to keep the pace.
Prediction: Zenit Win (1-3)
Hamburger vs. Bayern Munich (20/09/2014)
Kick Off: 14:30
Venue: Imtech Arena
Bayern Munich were lucky in midweek to sneak a 1-0 win against Manchester City in the Champions League, they had chances to win the game comfortably but weren’t clinical. The 3-4-3 system Bayern are playing at the moment is still not quite clicking and coach Pep Guardiola in his last league fixture reverted back to a more conventional back four which paid dividends as they ran out comfortable winners, this week will be no different. Bayern, who despite a not so convincing start, sit top of the Bundesliga and look just as up for the fight as last campaign. Their hosts, Hamburg, are woefully under performing (considering their stature in German football), and after only just avoiding relegation last season via a post season play-off they look as if they could be destined for the drop this season; they lost their best player last season in the form of Hakan Çalhanoğlu who left for Bayer Leverkusen and have yet to register a single goal so far this season. If Bayern click they should make mincemeat of their opponents.
Prediction: Bayern Munich Win (0-4)
Norwich vs. Birmingham (20/09/2014)
Kick Off: 15:00
Competition: The Championship
Venue: Carrow Road
Norwich have begun the season well, they are currently second in the league and are only 1 point off the pace. Manager Neil Adams has got them playing good attacking football and the signing of Lewis Grabban over the summer from AFC Bournemouth looks a very astute piece of business, he is second in The Championships scoring charts with 5 goals in his first 7 league fixtures. Birmingham on the other hand have seen their terrible form of last season carry over to this season. They only just staved off relegation last season courtesy of a last minute equaliser on the last game of the season, and to avoid the same scenario or worse they simply have to improve defensively, they have already conceded 12 league goals this season in 7 games. This is a nice fixture for Norwich to pile pressure on league leaders Nottingham Forest.
Prediction: Norwich Win (2-0)
Tottenham vs. WBA (21/09/2014)
Kick Off: 13:30
Competition: English Premier League
Venue: White Hart Lane
The resounding defeat to Liverpool aside, the start of the season has been relatively good for Tottenham. An opening day last minute victory over London rivals West Ham followed by the thrashing of QPR have got Spurs fans dreaming of European football that isn’t the Europa League being played at the lane next season. Last weeks 2-2 draw at Sunderland was a setback but their was more than enough positives in terms of attacking verve to suggest they could be a different animal to last season. No-one typifies this sentiment more than Nacer Chadli, who after a disappointing first season is showing the kind of form that earned him a transfer to Tottenham in the first place. WBA on the other hand have to get better and start picking up points fast, if they don’t they risk getting cut adrift at the bottom end of the league. Tottenham have more than enough for the 3 points.
Prediction: Tottenham Win (3-0)
AS Roma vs. Cagliari (21/09/2014)
Kick Off: 14:00
Competition: Serie A
Venue: Stadio Olimpico
Roma are turning into one of the best teams in Europe. Along with Juventus they are certainly the favourites for the Serie A title this season, and this has been shown in their form where they have won 2 out of 2 so far and haven’t yet conceded. Also in their first game back in Europe for some time they easily brushed CSKA Moscow aside 5-0 in midweek. They currently have the perfect combination of a solid defence and a vibrant, creative attack. A man to watch in the Roma side currently is most definitely Gervinho, who looks like a world beater compared to the timid version of himself Arsenal fans saw. He has already scored in the league and got 2 against CSKA (all from a wide starting berth). Their opponents Cagliari haven’t won in their last 4 away games in all competitions and that won’t change this match day.
Prediction: Roma Win (2-0)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Zorya (21/09/2014)
Kick Off: 15:00
Competition: Ukrainian Premier League
Venue: Arena Lviv
This is the most certain of all the games in this article this weekend. Shakhtar drew away at Bilbao in their opening Champions League game midweek but it is domestically where they have been beating all comers with authority. They have only conceded 1 goal in their opening 6 games and have scored 15 in the process (and up until that Bilbao draw they had won every single game they had played so far this season). Star Shakhtar striker Luiz Adriano hasn’t really got going so far this season, but that should change this weekend as their opponents Zorya don’t have the quality to cope with Shakhtar’s forward line.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk Win (4-1)
FC Porto vs. Boavista (21/09/2014)
Kick Off: 20:15
Competition: Primeira Liga
Venue: Estádio do Dragão
The final game this weekend sees Porto play Boavista, which if you’re a Boavista fan is a fixture you will not be looking forward to. In Porto’s last 5 home games they have won with an aggregate score of 13-0 and frontman Jackson Martinez is in the kind of form that made him the target of so many other European sides over the summer, scoring 5 of their 7 league goals so far this season. Boavista have only scored 1 league goal in 4 games so far and I fear for them in this game if they concede early. FC Porto will win this barring a footballing miracle.
Prediction: FC Porto Win (3-0)
Acca in full
FK Rostov vs. Zenit St. Petersburg (Away Win)
Hamburger vs. Bayern Munich (Away Win)
Norwich vs. Birmingham (Home Win)
Tottenham vs. WBA (Home Win)
AS Roma vs. Cagliari (Home Win)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Zorya (Home Win)
FC Porto vs. Boavista (Home Win)