The start of the European soccer season has been incredibly profitable.
After a 5-0 stretch from Monday-Thursday, the Soccer Selections record sits at 15-4. It is far better than I ever expected.
Unless this column goes on the biggest gambling heater ever, there will be regression at some point.
Let’s hope it doesn’t happen this week. I still have plenty of payments to make for my wedding and extra cash is appreciated.
Anyway, enough about my personal life and more on to the picks.
There is a clear strategy with this weekend’s picks across the five major European leagues. I’m looking at newly-promoted teams or struggling sides that got off to bad starts and face significant mismatches over the next three days.
Two of the matchups I like the most occur on Friday, so that should give me a good start to the weekend.
Most of the picks below are for Saturday matches and there are two on Sunday.
Serie A: Udinese (-135) vs. Venezia (Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET)
I’m going to do a lot of fading on the promoted sides in Serie A.
Venezia struggled to create chances in its first match of the season. Venezia lost 2-0 to Napoli and lost the xG battle 2.3-0.5. That stat becomes even more damning when you consider Napoli was playing with 10 men for 67 minutes.
Udinese looked much better in its 2-2 draw with Juventus. Udinese won the xG battle 2.2-0.8 versus Juve, which is a positive sign for Friday’s match.
Look for Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra to work in and around the final third to take advantage of Venezia’s over aggressiveness. Venezia conceded two penalty kicks and had seven yellow cards in its opener.
Ligue 1: Nantes vs. Lyon (-130) (Friday, 3 p.m. ET)
The xG numbers are off the charts in Ligue 1 through three matchdays.
Lyon has the second-best xG total of 6.1 behind Clermont Foot, who it played to a 3-3 draw last weekend.
Nantes carries a xGA of 4.0, but it has only conceded on two occasions. Monaco, Rennes and Metz combined to take 40 shots against Nantes, but 13 of them went on target.
If Lyon keeps up the offensive pressure displayed against Clermont Foot and is more accurate than some of Nantes’ other foes, it should leave with an away victory.
Bundesliga: Augsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen (-135) (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Bayer Leverkusen picked up points in each of its last six games against Augsburg. Five victories and one draw have been earned in that span.
Augsburg is off to a brutal start and it is the only one of the 18 Bundesliga clubs without a goal through two games.
Leverkusen is coming off a 4-0 trouncing of Borussia Monchengladbach and it has a stable full of attackers, led by Patrik Schick, that can take advantage of the team with the worst xGA (4.8) in the German top flight.
English Premier League: Aston Villa (+100) vs. Brentford (Saturday 10 a.m. ET)
You’re going to see Aston Villa a lot in this space during the EPL season.
I’m on Villa’s over 48.5 points and to finish inside the top 10.
The Villains looked strong at home against Newcastle United last week and I’m expecting a similar performance against Brentford on Saturday.
Brentford has done well for itself in its first two games as a promoted side, but those have to be taken with a grain of salt since Arsenal struggled to start and Crystal Palace isn’t exactly a great side.
Even if Ollie Watkins isn’t fit, I think Villa’s attack with Anwar El Ghazi, Danny Ings and Emi Buendia can overwhelm the newly-promoted side.
EPL: Norwich vs. Leicester City (Over 2.5 -130) (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Do not let Norwich’s 6-0 outburst against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup fool you.
The Canaries still have a patchwork defense that can be torn apart by some high-quality attacks. Clean sheets are not going to be the norm.
Norwich let in eight goals against Liverpool and Manchester City and it has the highest expected goals against in the EPL of 4.7.
Leicester carries a xGA of 3.6 thanks to its 4-1 loss to West Ham United and a road trip to Norwich provides it with a perfect bounce-back spot.
I’m tempted by the Leicester money line, but if Norwich banks off its confidence in the final third and Leicester is still leaky at the back, we could see a 2-1, 2-2 type game that prevents the Foxes from taking all three points.
La Liga: Elche vs. Sevilla (-130) (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET)
This is a straightforward pick.
Sevilla is a much better side than Elche and it won four of the last five head-to-head battles.
Sevilla started the season with consecutive clean sheets and it has the largest positive xG differential at 3.5.
Elche has not scored in 180 minutes during the new season.
Ligue 1: Troyes vs. Monaco (-115) (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET)
Monaco is a team I’ve been following closely when it comes to betting lines and this feels like the perfect spot to jump in on it.
Monaco’s Ligue 1 form looks like it was affected by its failed pursuit of a spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
The principality side is now confirmed in the UEFA Europa League and it can put focus into moving up from 19th in the Ligue 1 table.
Troyes holds a xGA of 5.6. Monaco was shut out in its last two matches, but its xG is 3.3.
If Monaco is more accurate and focused in front of goal, it should win this match with ease.
Serie A: Salertinana vs. Roma (-175) (Sunday, 2:45 p.m. ET)
Same thought process here with Roma as for Udinese.
Roma is an even better side than Udinese and should feast on its newly-promoted opponent Salernitana on Sunday.
Roma scored three goals against Fiorentina, another side expected to be in the relegation battle, in its opening match of the season.
Jose Mourinho’s side has enough depth to deal with the quick turnaround from Thursday’s UEFA Conference League win over Trabzonspor.
Basically, until any of the promoted sides in Serie A prove their worth I’m going to fade them.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and updated as of 11:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.