Real Madrid vs Elche
This should be a canter for Real Madrid as they host basement boys Elche in La Liga.
RM have managed 36 more points than Elche this season. The minnows arrive at the Bernabeau having taken just 9 points all season.
They finally got off the mark last time out as they beat Villarreal, despite having just 28% of possession.
Chances of a repeat are very slim here. Of those 9 points claimed, only 3 have been on the road.
The hosts haven’t lost a league game on their own turf this campaign. Winning 6 and drawing 3, a home record that is only bettered by Barcelona.
The absence of Vini JR due to I’ll discipline isn’t ideal, but even without him RM have more than enough quality for an easy day at the office.
Particularly given that Elche are not only missing key midfielder Mascarell and defender Palacios but Pere Milla; who scored all 3 goals in their maiden win, is injured and won’t feature here. A devastating blow to any hope of putting together a string of results.
Club Brugge vs Benfica
Benfica were devastating in their Champions League group. Topping a pile of PSG, Juventus and Maccabi Haifa.
The Portuguese giants claimed a whopping 14 points from their 6 group matches and didn’t take a single defeat.
They won home and away against Juventus, drew 1-1 in both games with PSG whilst they produced an aggregate score of 8-1 over their two meetings with the Israeli’s.
Domestically, they’re top of the pile and are now 5 points clear of rivals Porto.
January also saw the arrival of Gonçalo Guedes from Wolves to bolster an already free flowing attack and provide more support for the newest wonderkid off the production line – Gonçalo Ramos.
Brugge have had a torrid time of things domestically after a remarkable Champions League group stage.
They’ve now won just 1 of their last 10 league matches and have slipped 20 points behind league leaders Union SG.
They simply can’t get wins over the line right now and one eye has to be also looking at a local derby with Cercle Brugge on Sunday given that their performances have been so poor, they risk missing out on European qualification domestically this season.
These two were two of the standouts in the groups, both defying the odds to qualify. However, things have moved in opposing directions since then and I can see Brugge being outclassed here.
They also lost numerous players in January. A couple of talented youngsters as well as squad depth players, who haven’t been replaced.
That lack of depth is only going to add to the issues at hand, making a European campaign that much trickier to sustain.
Preston vs Luton
Luton are flying right now. A draw away at Coventry at the weekend made it 3 wins and a draw from their last 4 games.
Luton went off as the outsiders for that game and were unfortunate not to win it.
Despite only narrowly edging the xG (1.57 to 1.56). Coventry’s xG game largely thanks to Matty Godden’s penalty.
Rob Edwards side have been on an upward trend since December, winning 6 of their last 8 league games.
They’ve been impressive on the road too, taking 27 points from 15 away matches, a tally that can only be bettered by Burnley and Sheff Utd (28).
That matches up brilliantly against a PNE side who can’t perform in front of their own fans.
Only Wigan have taken fewer points at home than Preston this season and they’ve lost their last 5 games at Deepdale, conceding a rather alarming 13 goals in the process.
Luton are slight favourites here to take the win. I think they’re decent value at around 2.4, but for the purpose of the treble I’m playing safe and backing them to avoid defeat.