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Hour glass kick off 17:45 23 Feb

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CFR Cluj vs Lazio

Calendar 23rd February
Football icon kick off 17:45
Football icon Lazio to win
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Lazio served us well in last week’s Boosted Treble, and despite a stretch indifferent form, I fully expect them to have too much for Cluj once again, even if they’re away from home.

The side from the Italian capital have hit a bit of a sticky patch in Serie A of late. Following a 4-0 dismantling of AC Milan just last month, Maurizio Sarri’s men have won just 1 of their last 4 league games.

However, their 1st leg performance against Cluj would suggest that Lazio have left plenty in the tank for their Europa League knockout stage.

That Italian side ran out comfortable 1-0 winners at home, with 61% possession, 13 shots with 6 on target, and an xG of 0.99. They conceded just a singular shot on target, and what makes all of this far more impressive, is that Lazio were reduced to men in just the 15th minute of the game.

Their goal came at the end of the first half, and they controlled proceedings thereafter. Ultimately their stats with 10 men bode well, but 1ith 11 men on the pitch, Lazio should have more than enough.

As for Cluj, they’ll be bitterly disappointed with their performance last week. They’ll be forced to come out and play here, but recent performances domestically suggest that they may find it difficult to do so.

They’ve lost 2 of their last 3 domestically, in a league that they’ve dominated over the last five years. Across the two games that they lost, they failed to score once.

They’re singular shot on target against Lazio last week is more telling of their conference league campaign to date. They scored just 5 in the group stage, and they’ll struggle to get much out of their opponents tonight.

Midtjylland vs Sporting Lisbon

Calendar 23rd February
Football icon kick off 17:45
Football icon Sporting Lisbon to win or draw
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Another team that will be wondering as to how they aren’t taking a lead into the second leg of their Europa League Knockout tie.

Sporting CP exhibited what can only be described as close to total domination when they played host to Midtjylland last week. The stats are certainly encouraging, with 72% possession, 16 shots, and an xG of 2.65. Their one flaw? They simply couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net despite their many opportunities.

Ruben Amorim’s side may not be able to quite replicate those numbers in Denmark tonight, but Midtjylland did little to suggest that they’re capable of overcoming the Portuguese giants (apart from score of course).

28% possession, and just 5 shots is poor for a side competing in the Europa League, and an xG of just 0.22 makes it even more perplexing as to how they managed to find the back of the net.

Sporting have lost just twice in their last 6, both of those losses coming against Porto. With 43 goals in just 21 games, Sporting provide a serious threat going forward. An xG P/90 of 2.02 in the Portugues only further highlight’s their attacking quality.

Midtjylland meanwhile, have won just 1 of their last 4. They sit 4th in the Danish top flight and an xG P/90 of just 1.31 in the Europa League is evidence to suggest that they should falter against their Portuguese counterparts. An xGA P/90 of 1.67 emphasises that they really are there for the taking.

A similar performance to last week should see Sporting comfortably qualify here, and a draw is all that’s needed for the treble.

Nantes vs Juventus

Calendar 23rd February
Football icon kick off 17:45
Football icon Juventus to win or draw
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Juventus will be ruing their many missed opportunities from last week’s first leg. A singular counter attack from Nantes sees this tie level, and with everything still to play for, I expect Juve to see this one out in a professional manner.

Last week’s reverse fixture would suggest that a Juve draw at the very least should be on the cards. Allegri’s men finished the game with 57% possession, 14 shots (6 of which were on target), and an xG of 1.37.

Nantes meanwhile scored from just one effort on target which as mentioned above, came from a slick counter attack. An xG of 0.50 suggests that chances were difficult to come by for them, and I would expect that to be the same again, even at home.

Europa League aside, Juventus have won their last 4 in all competitions. They’ve scored 7 and conceded 0 in that period. Their average xG P/90 in the Serie A this season of 1.62 highlights that they’re capable of creating chances (as evidenced against Nantes last week), they simply need to put them away.

Nantes themselves aren’t in terrible form, but they certainly don’t have the quality that Juventus possess. Their recent form suggests that with their wins coming against relegation threatened Angers and Ajaccio, an out of sorts Lorient, and a 9 man Montpellier.

They’ve scored just 25 goals in 24 games domestically and an xGA P/90 of 1.64 bears the fruit of some defensive deficiency.

Such lax defending should give confidence to a Juventus side that we only need a draw from here.

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