This time of year can be tricky when betting on league soccer. While some teams are still fighting for league titles or European berths, and others are fighting to survive, there's a large portion of clubs with little to play for. Sure, the difference between 13th place and 10th place might mean something to ownership because of television money, but to players, it means little.
And you can't even be sure what to expect of teams fighting for survival. Take a look at Everton. They're a team nobody expected to be in the position they're in because it's a veteran roster full of players on big wages. The kind of wages that aren't likely to be paid in the Championship next season. So are the more prominent players at Everton, like Richarlison, more concerned about their exit strategy or saving the team? If you're on a team like Norwich, and you know you're going down, are you going to risk injuring yourself in a match that means nothing or coast through?
Gamblers often overlook the human element of sports, but if it weren't for the human element, we'd all win a lot more often than we do. Thankfully, we've got plenty of matches to choose from, and I've sifted through them all and found these three gems. All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
AC Milan vs. Fiorentina
Date: Sunday, May 1 | Time: 9 a.m. ET | Watch: CBS Sports Network/Paramount+
Fiorentina have fallen off a cliff. A few weeks ago, this team was one of the more pleasant surprises in Serie A. The Violets got off to a great start to the season, hanging around the top six until January, when they sold their best player, Dusan Vlahovic, to Juventus. Anybody with a semi-functioning brain expected to see a drop-off in performance because clubs don't typically sell their best player in the middle of a season and improve. Well, Fiorentina didn't improve, but they held their ground. They were in a great position to finish in the Europa League spots for the first time since 2016. Then the last three matches happened.
Fiorentina lost to Juventus in the Coppa Italia semifinals, which stinks for the club, but isn't a big deal. The disaster is losses to Salernitana and Udinese since that have severely impacted Fiorentina's chances of surpassing Roma or Lazio. Particularly, with such a rough stretch to finish the year, starting against a Milan team that can put a vice grip on their first Serie A title since 2011. We've seen Inter and Napoli choke away chances in recent weeks, and maybe Milan follows suit, but I see a Milan side that's been rock solid defensively at home against a Fiorentina team that's been much better at home all year. The Serie A title race gets a lot less interesting come Sunday afternoon. Pick: AC Milan (-155)
Tottenham vs. Leicester City
Date: Sunday, May 1 | Time: 9 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock
Tottenham have certainly been one of the more frustrating teams to figure out because while Antonio Conte has improved the team in many areas, he can only do so much. Given a summer to shape the roster to fit his needs, this team should be fine next season (and I don't buy the PSG rumors, but I've also learned over the years of worshipping Conte that anything is possible with him). If anything, the current iteration of Tottenham has shown us how a system can completely fall apart with one cog missing. Wingbacks are crucial to what Conte does, and Emerson Royal just does not fit the bill, as shown in Tottenham's results. That said, this strikes me as a matchup ripe for goals.
Royal has been ineffective going forward, which has led to inconsistency in Tottenham's attack. Even when they scored four against Villa, they did so with an xG (expected goals) of only 1.0. Defensively they've been solid, and they'll be facing a Leicester team that's tired. It'll be the fifth match the Foxes have played in 15 days when this match kicks off. Tottenham played four matches in all of April. I wouldn't be shocked if Tottenham gets us over the total by itself, but I'm going to hedge slightly in case Leicester find a way to break through on a set piece. Pick: Over 2.5 (-160)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Atlético Madrid
Date: Saturday, April 30 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: ESPN+
I'm trying to use splits to my advantage here. You see, Athletic Bilbao have been much better at home this season, with an xG differential of +14.2 there compared to -4.0 on the road. Atlético Madrid have been a lot better at home too, posting an xG differential of 14.2 there and only +2.8 on the road. But an xG differential of +2.8 on the road isn't bad! It's the third-best in Spain behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona. But those home/road splits have led to what I believe to be a bit too much value on Atlético here.
In recent years, Bilbao have had success against Atlético, only losing one of the last four meetings, but Bilbao have been much better this year against La Liga's weaker teams. They've struggled against the better teams, and in the first meeting (a scoreless draw), Atlético had 14 shots to Bilbao's six. Also, Joāo Felix came on as a late substitute in that match and played only 18 minutes before picking up a red card (an Atlético player getting red-carded!?). I expect he'll play a lot more Saturday, and he'll be the difference. Pick: Atlético Madrid (+155)
This week's parlay isn't as chalky as last week's, but it's still pretty dusty. It's also a little smaller, but the payout is nice at +120.
- Borussia Dortmund (-270)
- Juventus (-490)
- Barcelona (-300)