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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Back Iberian Wolves to hunt down Rangers

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Diogo Jota of Wolves
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QPR v Wolves
The Portuguese dream Wolves fans were sold at the start of the season looks well placed to come to fruition and their inspirational Iberians could carry them to another victory at Loftus Road.

Opponents QPR are the archetypal English Sky Bet Championship outfit under passionate boss Ian Holloway but maybe the second tier is changing and becoming at extension of the Premier League as the so-called foreign fancy dans are beginning to rule the roost.

Wolves have looked the most talented team in the division and odds-against quotes for these kind of trips could soon be a thing of the past as Wanderers make the most of their money in the second season backed by Far East investors.

With super agent Jorge Mendes pulling the strings Molineux has started to look more like Madeira with coach Nuno backed up by massive talents Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota.

Neves is the midfield playmaker and Jota has scored seven times in 14 appearances, while there are plenty of other Portuguese options with Ivan Cavaleiro or Helder Costa in the front three.

Their two defeats this season have come against fellow highflyers Cardiff and Sheffield United with Neil Warnock using every trick in the book to unsettle Wanderers, while Conor Coady was sent off just 15 minutes into the Bramall Lane trip.

Playing away holds no fears for a team who have already won at Derby, Hull, Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Burton, while a much-changed outfit took a Manchester City side with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front to penalties at the Etihad on Tuesday.

QPR can make life difficult for sides at Loftus Road but good footballing teams Brentford and Fulham left with victories and Wolves should also be up to the task.

1pt 17-14 188Bet

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Reading v Middlesbrough
Garry Monk is a long way from getting things right at Middlesbrough but this trip to Reading offers the big-spenders a decent opportunity for maximum points.

Reading defied logic to reach the playoff final last season. How depressing it must have been for those connected with the club to watch Match of the Day last week after a deserved defeat at Sheffield United to see the team who pipped them to the Premier League on penalties had just beaten Manchester United.

That Wembley defeat to Huddersfield may well have been a career-changing moment for boss Jaap Stam, who is struggling to repeat last season's minor miracle with goals becoming a massive problem.

Only Birmingham, Bolton and Burton have scored fewer than Reading's 11 and adding to that tally will be tough seeing as Jon Dadi Bodvardsson has joined last season's top goalscorer Yann Kermorgant on the sidelines.

No win in five league games is simply not good enough given the talent in Monk's Boro squad but they at least have the potential to improve and the same cannot be said for the hosts.

1pt 29-20 bet365, Betfair

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Saturday football tipsters

Dan Childs

Kevin Pullein

Fleetwood v Oxford
If Reading are suffering a playoff hangover then Fleetwood may be too. They missed out on promotion at the semi-final stage last season and now find themselves 11th in Sky Bet League One.

Oxford, unbeaten in five league matches since a bizarre run of three straight defeats that came out of nowhere, are back to something like their best and should be confident of a positive result at Highbury.

"They caused us problems, we could not stop them" said Paul Warne after Rotherham escaped with a 3-3 draw when a missed penalty cost Oxford victory time out, while Charlton's Karl Robinson claimed United are "an outstanding team" following their 1-1 draw.

Rotherham and Charlton, like Oxford, are set to be in the promotion shake-up and Pep Clotet's outfit had beaten Peterborough, AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers by an aggregate 8-1 before those draws.

Oxford draw no bet
1pt 21-20 Hills

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Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
Villarreal used to like their trips to the Vicente Calderon and they could be in for more joy at Atletico Madrid's new arena, the Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico have won only two of their last eight against Villarreal, including just one of their last four at home. Diego Simeone's side have scored only once in their last six matches against a Villarreal side who look capable of making life tricky for Atletico.

Villarreal have two speedy strikers on the counter in Carlos Bacca and Cedric Bakambu who can take advantage of any nerves from Atletico, who have not played well in La Liga this season and are odds-on for an early Champions League exit.

Villarreal +1 on Asian handicap
1pt Evs bet365, 188Bet

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Plays of the day

Barcelona 10-21
Bilbao is traditionally a tough place to go for the big teams but Athletic have won only one of their last ten in all competitions and their expected goals is distinctly mid-table this season.

Chelsea 8-13
Bournemouth came within seconds of holding Manchester City at home, while Chelsea, who have lost to Crystal Palace and Burnley this season, are on a run of one clean sheet in eight games.

Barcelona 10-21, Roma 2-7, Lazio 5-18, Napoli 3-19 188Bet

Both teams to score
Games at Sheffield Wednesday 5-7, Oldham 5-6, Bury 3-4 188Bet

Thought for the week

Here's a few ideas to improve the League Cup.

Get rid of two-legged semi-finals When managers are planning their schedule the idea of another two high-intensity games in a packed January isn't ideal.

Play the rounds closer together Could it be all sorted before Christmas? If not scrap all FA Cup replays and, much like the Copa del Rey, play loads of matches close together building a sense of structure to the competition.

Don't mess around with the draw The current sponsors have totally cocked up the draw throughout the rounds and have stupidly allowed a situation to develop where some question its integrity.

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Oxford, unbeaten in five league matches since a bizarre run of three straight defeats, are back to something like their best
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