With just 24 days until Christmas, now is the perfect time to grind out a little bit of money on some Saturday and Sunday soccer plays from around the globe.
Baked especially by the brains at the LVH SuperBook here in Sin City, here are the opening odds and my selections for six matches this weekend as we try to dodge the draws and make a small profit.
As always, these games are best when just watched but if you are a gambler/punter and want to give it a go, here are my best bets from six different leagues.
Note: HOME teams in all caps.
Sitting in second place between heavies Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen (8-3-3, 27 goals for, 19 goals against) is a club to watch.
On Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT), Leverkusen plays host to 14th-place Nurnberg (4-4-6, 14 goals for, 20 goals against) in a revenge game of sorts for the home team.
Last year, Nurnberg shut out Leverkusen, 3-0 in this fixture but were defeated at home, 4-1. Leverkusen is undefeated at home (4-2-0) and has outscored opponents 12-5 in the process so far this season.
Nurnberg is 2-1-4 away from home and has been doubled up in the scoring department, 12-6.
Not an easy winner by any means, but well worth a small shot.
PREDICTION: Bayer Leverkusen 2, Nurnberg 0
BET: Bayer Leverkusen -225
A revenge pick here for Valencia, which lost to Real Sociedad 1-0 both home and away last season in Spain’s La Liga.
Eleventh-place Valencia (5-3-5, 16 goals for, 18 goals against) and 12th-place Sociedad (5-2-6, 16 goals for, 16 goals against) are tight statistically and tight in the standings, but the difference here is the home-field advantage at Mestalla.
Los Che is an undefeated 5-1-0 at home this season (14 goals for, seven goals against) while Sociedad is just 1-1-4 away from home (six goals for, 13 goals against).
This game will be played on Saturday at 12 p.m./9 a.m. PT.
PREDICTION: Valencia 2, Real Sociedad 1
BET: Valencia -175
Fox Soccer Channel will be airing this yawner (12:30 p.m ET/9:30 a.m. PT) on Saturday between the top team in the league, Manchester United (11-0-3, 33 goals for, 18 goals against), and 19th-place Reading (1-6-6, 16 goals for, 23 against) at the Royals’ Madejski Stadium.
ESPNsoccer.net reports the Red Devils will be without the services of wingers Nani and Antonio Valencia but Sir Alex Ferguson has enough scoring talent in English Premier League scoring leader Robin van Persie (nine goals), Wayne Rooney (two) and Javier Hernández (five) to score three goals in this match.
With two road losses already (5-0-2), Reading won’t catch United off guard here.
United’s only loss to Reading came way back in 1927 in the FA Cup.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 3, Reading 1
BET: Manchester United -1.5 +115
We all know this will be David Beckham’s last game for the Los Angeles Galaxy and for all he has done for Major League Soccer in the United States, expect his teammates to send him out with a bang.
The Galaxy (16-6-12, +12 goal differential) will represent the Western Conference, and played truly inspired soccer during the conference playoffs to make this MLS Cup, which will be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.—a true home-field advantage for the Galaxy.
Eastern Conference representatives Houston (14-11-9, +7 goal differential) had a similar lukewarm season as the Galaxy but also rose up in the playoffs to make this championship game and are certainly no fluke and well worth a look at the +350 (three-way line) underdog price.
Will Bruin (16 goals) and Brad Davis (eight goals, 12 assists) spearhead the Dynamo attack and will need to be at their best Saturday afternoon in this showdown to be televised on ESPN.
Los Angeles, though, has more firepower on offense with Robbie Keane (21 goals), Landon Donovan (10) and Beckham (seven), among others, and will benefit from playing on their home pitch and should get an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
Houston won the season’s only meeting, 2-1 May 21 at home in the BBVA Compass Stadium.
The pace here should be hot and heavy but I’d recommend staying away from the total (2½u -125) as southern California has been absolutely deluged by rain the last couple of days which could slow down the attacking play.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Houston Dynamo 1
BET: LA Galaxy -130
TO WIN OUTRIGHT ODDS: Galaxy -240, Dynamo +200
The two meetings between these two Italian Serie A clubs last season saw 15 goals scored but this one should be a more low-scoring affair in Milan.
Inter Milan (9-1-4, 26 goals for, 16 goals against) sits in fourth place in the league and has had an impressive season while Palermo (3-5-6, 14 goals for, 21 goals against) is in 15th place and sits somewhat safely above the relegation zone.
Inter has a pretty solid and balanced scoring attack in Diego Milito (seven goals), Rodrigo Palacio (five) and Antonio Cassano (five), and should improve on its impressive 6-0-2 (16 goals for, six goals against) mark at the San Siro Stadium on Sunday (9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT).
PREDICTION: Inter Milan 2, Palermo 0
BET: Inter Milan -225
This match will be played on Sunday (7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT) and sees the seventh-place club in Netherlands’ Eredivisie, NEC Nijmegen (6-4-4, 22 goals for, 24 goals against) hosting the 16th-place club, NAC Breda (3-2-9, 11 goals for, 28 goals against) at McDOS Goffertstadion.
NEC is very average 2-3-2 (eight goals for, 12 goals against) at home but this one is more of a play against NAC Breda which is a woeful 1-1-5 away from home (six goals for, 17 goals against) despite going 2-2-0 in the last four meetings in this series.
The home team NEC is currently on an impressive 4-2-1 run while NAC Breda has been shut out three straight games and outscored 6-0 in the process.
PREDICTION: NEC Nijmegen 2, NAC Breda 1
BET: NEC Nijmegen -190
Because the holiday season is upon us, why not a couple bonus plays from my elves Stink, Stank and Stunk brother?
Here they are:
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Chelsea -111 over WEST HAM UNITED (ESPN2, Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 p.m. PT)
MANCHESTER CITY -1, -115 over Everton (FSC, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT)
If you are interested in reading my write-up on the Chelsea-West Ham United match on Saturday (ESPN2, ESPN3, 7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 a.m. PT), here is the link to my preview published on Thursday.
As always, good luck to everyone, enjoy the games and please tip your waiters and waitresses on the way out.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11