The soccer seasons in Europe are starting to wind down, while in North America, Major League Soccer and the Mexican Primera Division's Clausura are just getting into their first month of play.
The LVH SuperBook here in Las Vegas now has odds out on all this weekend’s matches, so here's a handicap of my five favorite games with clubs which aren't favored by -300 or more in a three-way draw line.
(Note: HOME teams in all caps.)
Borussia Dortmund is trying to hold off Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
Borussia Dortmund -195 at WOLFSBURG +525, Draw: +300
This game on Saturday morning (9:30 am EDT/6:30 am PDT) here in Sin City starts out the slate and sees first-place place Borussia Dortmund (19-6-3) travelling to ninth-place Wolfsburg (12-4-12).
Important here is the fact that Dortmund is trying to hold off a hard-charging Bayern Munich side in Bundesliga (up three points) play and will be focused in this one.
Dortmund is 8-4-2 on the road and has outscored its opponents 26-9, while Wolfsburg is a pathetic 3-2-9 at home and has been outscored 33-16 on its home turf.
In the season’s first meeting, Dortmund crushed Wolfsburg, 5-1, as Robert Lewandowski (17 goals) and defender Shinji Kagawa tallied for the winners with defender Lucasz Piszczek notching two assists.
Dortmund has been a roll over the last two years and should win this crucial game on the road fairly easily.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3, Wolfsburg 1
Bet: Borussia Dortmund -195
Luis Suarez and Liverpool have not been the Reds we're all familiar with this season in the English Premier League.
LIVERPOOL -250 vs. Aston Villa +750, Draw: +350
Another Saturday morning (FSP, 10:00 am ET/7:00am PT) match sees two struggling teams meeting at Anfield with both needing wins for different reasons.
Eighth-place Liverpool (11-9-11) needs the win for its confidence, while 15th-place Aston Villa (7-12-11) needs the victory to avoid major relegation fears from the English Premier League in May.
Liverpool is 5-8-2 at home (36 goals for, 33 against). Aston Villa is 3-8-4 (16-21) away from home with a 20-percent road win rate.
Aston Villa has just one win in its last seven matches (1-2-4) and has been outscored 11-5 in the process. Liverpool has too much talent and, though having a very mediocre season, will not want to lose in front of the home fans against such a weak foe as Aston Villa.
Liverpool shut out Aston Villa, 2-0, at Villa on Dec. 18.
Prediction: Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 0
Bet: Liverpool -250
Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus have been superb defensively this season in Italian Serie A league play.
Juventus -185 at PALERMO +500, Draw +295
Juventus (16-14-0) is still the only undefeated club in Europe, thanks in great part to the superb goalkeeping of Gianluigi Buffon. Juve has allowed only 17 goals in its 30 Italian Serie A matches while scoring 49 goals.
Still chasing AC Milan in the league, the visitors will have their work cut out for them against one of the few teams on the planet which wear pink uniforms. Palermo (11-6-13) has scored 44 goals and allowed 47 in league play and is a respectable 10-1-4 at home outscoring foes by 11 goals (32-21).
Juventus, a club formed in 1897 by a bunch of Turin students, has a crazy nine draws (6-9-0) away from home but is the call here. It has four shutouts in its last five matches, with the only two goals scored against Buffon coming in a 2-2 draw to AC Milan. Palermo has five goals in its last five games.
Juventus registered a clean sheet (3-0) in the first meeting at home.
This game will be also be played on Saturday at 12:30 pm EDT/9:30 am PDT.
Prediction: Juventus 1, Palermo 0
Bet: Juventus -185
Toronto FC heads to Montreal to play the Impact in an all-Canadian match in the MLS on Saturday.
Toronto FC +185 at MONTREAL +145, Draw: +210
A battle between the clubs with the two worst records in the Eastern Division of the MLS, this Saturday's (12:00 pm EDT/9:00 am PDT) all-Canadian match may be one to wager on but not necessarily one to watch.
Toronto FC is 0-4-1 in its last five matches but has played strong teams like Santos Laguna (twice in CONCACAF play), Columbus, San Jose and Seattle. The newest franchise in the MLS, the Montreal Impact (0-1-4) has been outscored 11-3 to start the season and is an automatic go-against at the betting window until proven otherwise.
Although this match is at Stade Olympique in Montreal, I expect Toronto to get its first win in a close game. In another all-Canadian match, the Impact lost their franchise opener, 2-0, to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Prediction: Toronto FC, 2 Montreal 1
Bet: Toronto FC +185
Mario Balotelli's composure is still nowhere to be found.
Manchester City +190 at ARSENAL +140, Draw: +240
This match goes Sunday morning here in North America (FSC, 11:00 am EDT/8:00 pm PDT) and is probably the most anticipated and most important game of the entire weekend.
Arsenal has made major strides and sits in third place in the EPL now, right behind Manchester City. With likely Player of the Year Robin van Persie firing on all cylinders, the Gunners have been impressive of late, but this will be a pressure-laden game for the homeboys at the Emirates Stadium in London.
I see the Sky Blues playing a good game after tying Sunderland, 3-3, last weekend at home in the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City is now chasing rival Manchester United in the standings, and the Red Devils will have likely defeated QPR earlier in the day at Old Trafford, putting more pressure on Manchester City.
Despite Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez causing constant distractions for manager Roberto Mancini, Manchester City has enough talent, defense and depth to find a way to win this one, now the most crucial game on its schedule to date.
Arsenal has improved, but I still see a small class difference between the Gunners, who I have ranked 10th in my Top 30 European Soccer Rankings, and the Sky Blues, who I have ranked seventh.
Manchester City blanked Arsenal 1-0 at home back on Dec. 18.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1
Bet: Manchester City +190
Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Chelsea host Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
I have six other sides I feel will win, but with odds of -400 and up, they are nothing to brag or even write about to the serious handicapper or gambler.
Here they are, if you are interested and would like to tie them together in a six-team parlay:
AC MILAN -400 over Fiorentina (Saturday, 9:00 am EDT)
BAYERN MUNICH -1000 over FC Augsburg (Saturday, 9:30 am EDT)
CHELSEA -425 over Wigan Athletic (Saturday, 10:00 am EDT, FSC)
BARCELONA -1000 over Real Zaragoza (Saturday, 2:00 pm EDT, ESPND)
MANCHESTER UNITED -600 over QPR (Sunday, 8:30 am PDT, FSC)
REAL MADRID -600 over Valencia (Sunday, 3:30 pm PDT)
Good luck, and always bet within your means and with your head, not your heart.
ATS RECORD TO DATE: (3-1-1)
Odds courtesy of LVH SuperBook
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinStott11
Kevin Stott has written sports for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers and Gaming Today in Las Vegas and Suburban Life Newspapers and Press Publications in Chicago and bleeds Chelsea blue and should not be confused with the soccer referee of the same name.