The European club soccer season took a brief break last weekend to make way for the first of many international breaks.
The September international break brings about a different set of circumstances for clubs to deal with. Three games of World Cup qualifying were played during the window and that could lead to some fatigue and lack of availability for certain players.
For example, Tottenham Hotspur will be without Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero due to isolation upon return from South America.
Combing through the team news for every game is more important than most weeks because of the larger number of absences.
With that in mind, certain games are off the table for me, but I was able to find a handful of solid spots to take advantage of on Saturday.
All of the Soccer Selections for this weekend come from Saturday. It is just a coincidence, but it helps take away any distractions from the NFL Sunday.
Overall Record: 21-7
English Premier League
Leicester vs. Manchester City (-165) & Over 2.5 (-135) (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Saturday’s match at the King Power Stadium should look much different than the Community Shield showdown that was won by Leicester City prior to the start of the Premier League season.
City did not have Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish in the starting XI for the season-opening contest. The Foxes had their full complement of attackers, led by Jamie Vardy for that 1-0 victory.
Since then, the Foxes have picked up six points from three EPL games, but their defense has been shaky at times. They conceded four times to West Ham United and have an expected goals against of 5.3
Man City may miss one or two attackers, but it should be in a better spot than it was in August.
Look for City to set the pace early and create some chances against the Foxes back line. The Over 2.5 is in play with City’s dynamic attack. It could be an even better play if Ederson does not start in goal for the reigning EPL champion.
Watford vs. Wolves Over 2.5 (+125) (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
It is only a matter of time before Wolves break out in the scoring column.
The 18th-placed side in the EPL does not have a goal yet, but it has an expected goals total of 4.3.
Wolves could find the perfect foe to break out against in Watford, who conceded on five occasions in the opening three weeks.
I’m wary of Wolves finishing off this result on the road since Watford is dangerous up top and beat Aston Villa, so I’m sticking with a high-scoring affair at Vicarage Road.
Also, the last six matches between Wolves and Watford have seen at least one side score two goals or more.
Union Berlin (-135) vs. Augsburg (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Augsburg has quickly become one of my favorite teams to fade in Europe.
Augsburg is 0-1-2 in the Bundesliga with a xGA of 6.9 (not nice) and it faces a stiff task on the road against Union Berlin on Saturday.
Union Berlin earned four points from a pair of tough home games against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach.
The performances against a pair of top-tier teams in Germany are promising for Union Berlin’s European hopes and they are easy to bet on in this spot against a potential bottom feeder.
Freiburg (+115) vs. FC Koln (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Freiburg has been one of the pleasant surprises across Europe’s top five leagues.
Freiburg upset Borussia Dortmund at home and then won a five-goal affair versus Stuttgart in which it scored the first three goals.
A year ago, Freiburg put up nine goals in two matches on its Saturday opponent, FC Koln. The visitors have also looked strong early on, as they sit in sixth place, but they were on average on the road last season at 6-4-8 and fell to Bayern Munich on their first road trip of the 2021-22 campaign.
Freiburg may not overwhelm Koln, but it is the side playing with more confidence early on and it should benefit from its home crowd. Freiburg only had four losses on home soil last season.
Empoli (-120) vs. Venezia FC (Saturday, 9 a.m. ET)
I’m back to fading Venezia.
The promoted side has struggled with life in Serie A so far with zero points, no goals scored and five conceded tallies.
Venezia was outplayed by Napoli and Udinese in its first two games and it faces an Empoli side that pulled off a surprise win over Juventus before the international break.
Empoli, who was promoted along with Venezia, has not lost in its last three home matches with Venezia.
I’ll go with the side that has adjusted to life in Serie A much better and is at home.
PSG vs. Clermont Foot (Over 3.5 +110) (Saturday, 11 a.m. ET)
The expectation for any PSG match is for a ton of goals to be scored.
Even if the Parisians do not have Lionel Messi or Neymar in the starting XI, they should produce plenty of chances against Clermont Foot. Messi and Neymar played in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers on Thursday night.
Clermont Foot possesses some bizarre xG totals. It has an 8.7 xG and 6.6 xGA. The promoted side has nine goals for and five against.
I’ll take my chance here with the high total as Ligue 1’s most talented attack goes up against an unstable defense.
Monaco vs. Marseille (Over 2.5 -120) (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)
Five of the last six matches between Monaco and Marseille featured three or more goals. The sixth match in that run had two tallies in it.
After an unsuccessful bid to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage, Monaco has its focus back on Ligue 1 and that showed in a 2-1 win over Troyes on the last matchday.
Marseille produced three goals in two of its three matches this season and it put up two in the other.
All of the totals suggest another high-scoring affair is in the cards in this head-to-head showdown.