Commodore's Club Friendlies Preview

The lean winter months are a tough time for any self-respecting football punter. Forced to scavenge for bets on women’s football and the MLS – the off-season is no place for the feint-hearted. The freeze has started to thaw in recent weeks, though, as Europe’s finest begin their marathon marketing tours to far off exotic locations. Like Australia. Of course it’s never easy to read into this particular type of pre-season pageantry, where every player under the sun gets a run out and new signings are given the obligatory five minutes in a bid to boost shirt sales. Of course, all this can be used to your advantage and if you wager wisely, there’s every chance of bolstering the coffers before the genuine article returns in August.

Fiorentina 21/10 | Draw 22/10 | Benfica 5/4
Our action starts with the ludicrously complex International Champions Cup and a meeting between Fiorentina and Benfica – a solid Europa League meeting in the making. Benfica are still dealing with Jorge Jesus’ defection to bitter-rivals Sporting Lisbon just weeks after leading them to a second successive league title. The new man in charge, Rui Vitoria, is still finding his feet, with Benfica going down to PSG in an earlier match. La Viola will also face the French champions before Saturday’s meeting, which should offer a decent yardstick of what we can expect. I fancy a couple goals here, with Both Teams to Score available at 6/10.

Man City 29/10 | Draw 27/10 | Real Madrid 8/10
It’s the dawn of yet another era in Madrid. Rafa Benitez is the latest to sip from the poisoned chalice. Just how his pragmatic approach will be received at the Bernabeu remains to be seen. Having started his reign with an uninspiring stalemate against Roma, Benitez will be hoping for more from his new-look side against Man City on Saturday. City weren’t much better as they laboured to a 1-0 victory over Melbourne City courtesy of a late Samir Nasri goal. City will be without Vincent Kompany who left the tour to attend the birth of his child. His loss could well tip the tie in Madrid’s favour. This could be a tetchy affair, while Madrid’s greater quality looks set to be the difference in the end. They can be found at 8/10.

AC Milan 18/10 | Draw 23/10 | Inter Milan 27/20
Saturday’s other match sees AC and Inter square off in the unusual surrounds of the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in China. Both sides had their struggles in Serie A last season, with AC Milan finishing 35 points behind champions Juventus and Inter not faring much better. Both have been busy in the transfer market with AC bolstering their forward ranks with the signing of Carlos Bacca from Sevilla and Luiz Adriano from Shaktar, while Inter have made Xherdan Shaqiri’s loan deal permanent, along with the €30 million capture of Geoffrey Kondogbia. Every one of the last six meetings has seen less than 2.5 goals, making the unders market the way to go here. Alternatively, you can get on the draw at 23/10.

Wolfsburg 11/10 | Draw 24/10 | Villarreal 23/10
Saturday will also see the opening fixtures of the Emirates Cup in London, an enjoyable pre-season tournament hosted by Arsenal. The rules contribute to the attacking football on display, with each side gaining a point per goal scored. So expect some high-scoring encounters. The action kicks-off with Wolfsburg taking on Villarreal. The Spanish outfit have endured a tough transfer window thus far, losing star striker Luciano Vietto to Atletico Madrid, while Giovani do Santos and Javier Aquino have also departed. The moves have left them shy of quality up front. Wolfsburg enjoyed a strong season last term, finishing second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich before claiming the German Cup and are tipped to claim a victory here at 11/10.

Arsenal 15/10 | Draw 26/10 | Lyon 36/10
The Gunners will face Lyon in Saturday’s other encounter, which acts as a trial for coveted French striker Alexandre Lacazette. Having finished atop the scoring charts in Ligue 1 last season, Lacazette is in high demand. Arsene Wenger’s side are shaping up nicely ahead of the new season but are still light a top quality striking option. Lacazette fits the bill. Lyon have already seen off AC Milan, while Arsenal were utterly dominant in their 3-1 victory over Everton at the weekend. This one should provide plenty of goals and both teams are tipped to score. As for the result – Arsenal are building nicely toward the new season and should have no problem claiming another victory on home turf.

SuperSport 7/1 | Draw 3/1 | Crystal Palace 4/10
Fellow London club Crystal Palace will be engaging in a pre-season tournament of their own at the Cape Town Stadium over the weekend. Alan Pardew has continued to build on the good work of last campaign, with the signing of Yohan Cabaye a particularly pleasing capture for the Eagles. His vision and range of passing will provide the perfect foil for Palace’s powerful and pacy wingers. Cabaye’s debut didn’t go to plan, with Palace going down 2-0 to Union Berlin over the weekend. However, they should still have too much class for SuperSport United.

Ajax CT 5/1 | Draw 26/10 | Sporting Lisbon 11/20
New Sporting Lisbon manager Jorge Jesus will get a first taste of life at his new club when they face Ajax Cape Town in the day’s second match. Jesus has been tasked with returning Sporting to the top of the pile in Portugal, but his first priority must be to keep hold of some of his stars. William Carvalho, player of the tournament at the recent U21 Euro Championships, won’t make the trip to South Africa after being ruled out for three months with a fractured fibia. However, there remains enough quality in the ranks to get the job done and set up a meeting with Palace on Sunday. 

Juventus 5/4 | Draw 23/10 | Dortmund 22/10
Two of Europe’s glamour clubs will do battle on Saturday when Juventus face Borussia Dortmund in Switzerland. Both teams enter the new season in something of a transition period. Dortmund are adjusting to life under new manager Thomas Tuchel, while Juventus are dealing with the loss of the spine of the side that reached the Champions League final. Gone are the likes of Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal. The signings of the promising Paulo Dybala and the prolific Mario Mandzukic will help fill the void up front, but there remains a gaping hole in their midfield. The meeting will be Dortmund’s fifth of pre-season already, with the German’s winning three of their four matches so far. Juventus haven’t played since going down to Barcelona in Berlin, making the away win worth a punt at 22/10.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Friendly Picks
Fiorentina BTTS 6/10
Real Madrid WIN 8/10
AC Milan DRAW 23/10
Arsenal WIN 15/10
Wolfsburg WIN 11/10
Crystal Palace WIN 4/10
Sporting WIN 11/20
Dortmund WIN 22/10