Over the next few months, Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – will be looking at the best of the weekend’s sporting activity.
This time, our attention turns to the start of the road in Serie A and the Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich are primed for more domestic (and European) glory, as well as the likely US Open contenders at the unforgiving Winged Foot in New York, and the start of the 13th Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Premier League got off to an exciting start last weekend, with promoted Leeds United pushing holders Liverpool all the way in a 4-3 thriller. Mo Salah managed to match Teddy Sheringham’s record by scoring in four successive opening day fixtures, doing so in style with a hat-trick and giving him an early head start in the race for the golden boot, dropping from 8.03 to just 5.02 on the exchange now.
We also saw comebacks in both the Women’s and Men’s US Open finals, with Naomi Osaka coming from a set down to see off Victoria Azarenka and claim her third Grand Slam title. Dominic Thiem, meanwhile, became the first maiden Grand Slam winner since Marin Cilic in 2014 when he came from two sets down against German Sasha Zverev. The Austrian overcame odds of 10/1 in the outright market to become the first non ‘Big Three’ winner in 14 Slam events.
This week, we turn to two of the other big five leagues, with Serie A and Bundesliga kicking off their campaigns. Bayern became the 14th side in history to win the European Treble after their post lockdown heroics seeing them clinch the Bundesliga with relative ease, the DFB Pokal from the jaws of Bayer Leverkusen while they also picked up the Champions League to inflict woe on PSG.
Hansi Flick’s points per game in the league (2.67) is the highest from any manager in Bundesliga history with more than five matches under their belt, bettering Pep Guardiola’s 2.52. His side are now on a run of 21 consecutive victories, and with additions like Leroy Sane to come into the side, 12/1 to repeat that treble this year might be something for traders to keep an eye on.
They’ll kick off their title defence against an out of sorts Schalke side who are looking for their first win in 19 matches across all competitions and their price of 24/1 to stop that rut away at the champions is accurately reflective of their chances.
Borussia Mönchengladbach will be looking to secure top four again this season and with Marco Rose (pictured) at the helm they’ll be confident of seeing off a Leverkusen side who have lost both Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland. Rose has a whopping 80.8% win percentage at home over the last three seasons, and that strength on home soil should give them the edge in that race.
When having a look at the goals market for the opening round of fixtures in Germany, traders will want to be on the right side of the market, especially games involving the promoted teams. There have been ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ in 65% of opening day Bundesliga matches involving promoted teams since 2005/06, compared to just 53% across the rest of the season. It’s 11/8 to see at least three goals in Eintracht Frankfurt v Bielefeld, and a shorter 4/5 for Stuttgart’s return against Freiburg.
Defence has always been the key in Serie A, with 12 of the last 13 Champions holding the best defensive record for that season. Last year bucked the trend, however, as Antonio Conte’s Inter outfit conceded just 36 goals but were pipped at the post by Juventus by a single point.
That suggests this could be the year the title changes hands for the first time in a decade with Inter possessing some serious firepower spearheaded by Romelu Lukaku and as traders normally price up the same odds for first and last scoring. The Belgian marksman, in the games he scored last season (just under 50% strike rate), scored last on nine occasions as opposed to scoring first five times.
We wouldn’t expect them to take an early lead in that challenge however, as they don’t start their new campaign until next weekend, while Juve have won seven of their eight title defending opening matches. Local rivals Milan may struggle, having lost a shocking five of their past eight openers, and while the Old Lady go off at 1/4 at home to Sassuolo, AC might be worth second guessing at 8/15 against Bologna.
Elsewhere, the second major of the golf season sees the world’s best flock to Winged Foot in New York for what promises to be an absolute battle of a weekend. “We’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We’re simply trying to identify them,” said the late Sandy Tatum, former USGA president, after the 1974 US Open here at Winged Foot and if that doesn’t give you an insight as to what to expect this weekend, nothing will.
Sitting at nearly 7,500 yards, this is one of the most challenging par 70 courses to have ever hosted a major. Geoff Ogilvy picked up the 2006 trophy here, and has thanked his work around the greens as his saviour, scrambling for pars on the final four holes while his challengers Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Colin Montgomerie couldn’t manage the same.
A great all round game is required on a course as challenging as this, but scrambling and bogey avoidance in particular will stand you in good stead. Only one player on the tour ranked in the top four for both last season, and that’s American Xander Schauffele. From his 12 major appearances, he has eight top-20 finishes, and five top-six’s. He went off at 14/1 and looked to be the player to beat.
This will no doubt be an unforgiving week, and as was the case in 2006, with all four challengers placed in the top seven after the opening round, we’d expect the winner to come from the first page of the leaderboard on day one. Indeed, each of the last three US Open leaders after the opening day have finished in the top five for the tournament, while three of the last four winners have come from the top eight on the leaderboard after 18 holes, so we’d expect this to be no different.
As it stands, Justin Thomas (4/1) leads the pack at five under, with Patrick Reed (12/1), Thomas Pieters (25/1) and Matthew Wolff (14/1) all tied for second just one shot behind, while the aforementioned Schauffele has shortened to 8/1 and currently sits in T8, three shots off the pace.
And finally, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway this Saturday with a replay of the 2019 final between Mumbai Indians (4/1) and Chennai Super Kings (11/2).
The former won that final by a single run in May last year to become the most successful side in IPL history (4 titles), and as current favourites they’ll want to make that five come November. Interestingly, this year poses a slightly different challenge to previous seasons, with the tournament being played in the UAE behind closed doors due to COVID.
Form Labs is doing an in-depth analysis of every IPL cricket game, so should you want any match previews for blogs then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Stat of the day
Marco Rose has a home record of W42-D7-L3 from his 52 such league matches since the start of the 2017/18 campaign at both Salzburg (2017/18 – 2018/19) and B. M’gladbach (2019/20).
Form Labs delivers bespoke editorial covering a variety of sports to a number of sportsbooks. For further details contact Nick Haynes on [email protected].