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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Millwall can make late push for Championship playoffs

Bayern Munich to seal Bundesliga title

Millwall have had a lot to celebrate recently
1 of 1

Premier League & Sky Bet Championship
3pm Saturday
Bundesliga
2.30pm Saturday

Millwall v Bristol City
Such is the congested nature of the Sky Bet Championship playoff race that just three points separate tenth-placed Preston from Middlesbrough in sixth.

Two of the teams locked together on 62 points meet in a crucial clash at the Den with Millwall fancied to beat Bristol City.

Millwall's last defeat was on New Year's Day and when the Lions get on a roll few teams enjoy a trip to Bermondsey, where the home side are unbeaten since November.

Seven wins in their last nine games is impressive, all the more so given they should have beaten Ipswich on Monday but for some uncharacteristically dodgy defending and an inspired goalkeeping performance from Tractor Boys stopper Bartosz Bialkowski.

Neil Harris tends to get his players up for matches and they are difficult to play against with a physical front two of Steve Morison and Lee Gregory capable of unsettling any side at this level.

City have won only three matches in 2018 and not succeeded on the road since overcoming Sheffield United's ten men on December 8.

They were playing much better then and their performances over Easter were terrible, much worse than a 2-2 draw at Barnsley and 1-0 loss to Brentford suggest.

A last-gasp equaliser at Oakwell masked the shots-on-target count being won 8-2 by Barnsley and overall it was 23-8 in shots. Those figures were 7-0 and 27-2 in the Brentford game for an Easter aggregate of 15-2 in shots on target against City and 50-10 in total.

It's possible League Cup semi-finalists City are just running out of steam, although it is also possible manager Lee Johnson is on one of his infamous losing sequences. He has had similar struggles during his time with the Robins and previous club Barnsley.

Recommendation
Millwall
1pt 5-4 Betfair

Sky Bet Championship standings

Match odds

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Christian Benteke's potential absence could leave Crystal Palace down to the bare bones as an attacking force but the Eagles can still ease their relegation fears at Bournemouth.

Palace are much better than their league position of 17th suggests and much better than a run of five defeats in six. The last four of those losses came against Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, all by one goal and on three occasions it came from conceding in the dying minutes.

Benteke would add a focal point to Palace's attack with Alexander Sorloth also sidelined but he has missed more than 20 "big" chances this season with Roy Hodgson's men playing well enough on other occasions when the Belgian was sidelined.


Saturday football columns

Didi Hamann

Kevin Pullein


Palace have scored ten goals in the last six league games when Benteke failed to start, beating Chelsea in that period too.

Wilf Zaha is the key to Palace as an attacking force and Bournemouth, a team seen as overachieving relative to expected goal ratings, may finally run out of luck.

Bournemouth have turned draws into wins and defeats into draws with incredible powers of late recovery in recent weeks but one clean sheet in their last 22 matches should be of concern to Eddie Howe.

Palace have also lost just one of their last 15 Premier League matches against teams outside the big six.

Recommendation
Crystal Palace draw no bet
1pt 11-10 general

Premier League standings

Match odds

Augsburg v Bayern Munich
Before Manchester City look to seal the Premier League title, Pep Guardiola's former club Bayern Munich will be gunning to do likewise in the Bundesliga as they make the short trip to Augsburg.

And Bayern should make equally short work of the job in hand, even if Jupp Heynckes rotates his squad with Wednesday's Champions League clash against Sevilla in mind.

Bayern have won 18 of their last 21 league games and triumphed in the last six meetings between the Bavarian pair by an aggregate 20-4.

Recommendation
Bayern Munich -1 on Asian handicap
1pt 11-12 188Bet

Bundesliga standings

Match odds

Bet on these games at Soccerbase.com


Plays of the day

Banker
Bayern 8-15
Hosts Augsburg are having a decent season despite three home defeats on the spin and Bayern may not be at total full strength, but this still looks an ideal chance for them to wrap up the Bundesliga title. 

Blowout
Rotherham 3-4
Fleetwood are unbeaten in seven, with five straight clean sheets and four consecutive wins which suggests they can trouble a Rotherham side on a run of one victory in six.

Accumulator
Bayern Munich 8-15, Fulham 5-6, Millwall 23-20, Wigan 4-11 Hills

Both teams to score
Games at Leicester 10-11, Hull 8-11, Oxford 8-11 Betfair

Bet on these games at Soccerbase.com


Thought for the week

Sky Bet are still offering a market on the PFA Player of the Year and it is a fascinating heat with Kevin De Bruyne 4-5 favourite from 10-11 shot Mohamed Salah in a two-horse race with Harry Kane 28-1.

I should declare an interest in the fight having tipped De Bruyne at 25-1 in Racing Post Sport's The Big Kick-Off betting guide in August  but he should win the award.

I'm not saying De Bruyne is a good bet - indeed there is a case for believing that recency bias could swing it Salah's favour - but the Manchester City midfielder has been the outstanding individual for a team who have thrilled neutrals on their way to amassing 84 points.

It's not just De Bruyne's 15 assists - the most in Europe - but just the way he has made City tick throughout the season. It looks simple at times but Pep Guardiola's plan is anything but and De Bruyne has been at the heart of their complicated passing patterns.

De Bruyne has started 42 matches this season with 37 City wins, three draws and two defeats. In the other seven games City have won twice, drawn twice and lost on three occasions.

Salah's 29 and counting Premier League goals are deserving of an award - the Golden Boot - which is dished out for the most prolific player. The Premier League's outstanding player has been De Bruyne.


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Salah's 29 and counting Premier League goals are deserving of an award - the Golden Boot. The Premier League's outstanding player has been De Bruyne
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