The Gambrinus Liga is back.
Well it was back last week but somebody forgot to tell the strikers as goals were at a premium, that was, until the top two sides weighed in with a few. Hopefully round 18 can provide us with more entertainment and a few winners to boost the Svijany fund. Here are my thought’s on Friday’s games.
Vysočina Jihlava v Slovan Liberec
At the beginning of the season everyone would have this down as an away win but Liberec are a shadow of the team that won the league last season and Jihlava have surprised everyone with their stubbornness and organisation. However, I anticipate the hosts, who have lost top scorer Stanislav Tecl to Viktoria Plzen, to have a tough second half of the season as they face LAT – Life After Tecl.
In the blue corner: Liberec looked like a beaten boxer clinging onto the ropes at the end of Autumn, three consecutive defeats, two of which were 3-0 hammerings by Teplice and Dukla, left them battered and bruised and closer to the relegation zone than the European places.
But the return of Jiří Štajner to the side has given them fresh impetuous, they won the derby 1-0 against Jablonec last weekend and they can kick on from here – it was their first win of the season over one of the top sides. However, their away record this season is pathetic, they haven’t won away since Aug 26 and it’s putting me off backing Liberec at odds of 11/8.
Jihlava were never prolific scorers even when they had the 10 goal hit man Tecl. Last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Hradec Kralove just confirms their impotency in front of goal, they have now failed to score in four of the last five games. Instead of backing a Liberec win I would rather play it safe and back under 2.5 goals at 4/5.
Selection: Under 2.5 goals 4/5
České Budějovice v Sparta Praha
Friday”s final game is a mismatch between České Budějovice and Sparta. All known form points to an away win, it’s hard to state a case for the home side here. Really hard. Sparta are nicely tuned up after a double header with Chelsea and smashing four past Slovacko at the weekend. České Budějovice, on the other hand, have only picked 5 points out of 33 when facing teams in the top 10. They tend to save their best work for those teams around them.
Nevertheless, the odds of 1/2 on a Sparta victory do little to inspire me. The lottery players or České Budějovice fans among us may be tempted to back the home side at 6/1 to pull off a shock but I would not advise it.
The upheaval of the January transfer window has created a few interesting subplots at Sparta. The arrival of David Lafata being one of them. He failed to score in last weeks 4-0 win over Slovacko, in fact it wasn’t until the introduction of Leonard Kweuke that Sparta looked menacing and too add insult too injury Roman Bednář, who had only been on the pitch a minute after replacing Lafata, scored to seal the win – leaving Lafata with nothing to show.
Nevertheless, the 31 year old striker is a natural born goal scorer and it should just be a matter of time before it clicks for him at Sparta. He scored both goals in Jablonec’s 2-1 win over České Budějovice earlier this season and he looks good value to score against the hosts again – odds of 4/1 to score the first goal and 11/10 to score anytime. Fill your boots.
Selection: David Lafata to score the first goal at 4/1 (or to score anytime at 11/10)