Unexpected midweek defeats for Real Madrid and Leicester City offered the betting fraternity a timely reminder that the season’s most dominant forces cannot always be relied upon once they appear to have achieved their goals.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men were utterly dominant in their 3-0 first-leg victory over Borussia Dortmund, putting the tie beyond reasonable doubt.
Yet they were very nearly caught cold at the Westfalenstadion by a home team with an uphill battle to provide their bellies with the requisite fire for victory.
Meanwhile, some way below the star-studded terrain of the usual bwinning fodder, runaway Championship leaders Leicester City reacted to achieving promotion from the English second tier by losing for the first time in 16 games.
Brighton, in hot pursuit of a play-off place, had far more to play for than the Foxes and duly ran out 4-1 victors at the King Power Stadium.
Identifying similar motivational mismatches over the coming weeks could provide punters with a profitable end to league campaigns across the content.
Here’s a selection from the coming weekend’s fare to get you started:
West Brom to beat Spurs @ 2/1
The Lilywhites enjoyed a home riot against a doomed Sunderland side last time out, but with the top four seemingly out of reach, another season of Europa League football won’t be making their hearts go pitter-patter.
By way of contrast, the Baggies will scent the three points that can take them a step closer to survival after a rousing win at Carrow Road last weekend and have lost just five of their 16 home games this term.
Cardiff double chance against Southampton @ 8/5
Nine points adrift of seventh-placed Manchester United, the Saints could forgiven for lacking intensity, especially against visitors they’d beat in their sleep nine times out of ten.
With the often-inspired David Marshall in goal for the Bluebirds there’s always a chance they can hold out.
Belenenses to beat Vitoria Guimaraes @ 9/5
Ten points separate Vitoria from the Primeira Liga’s drop zone, where Belenenses sit two points off safety.
The former are experiencing the archetypal mid-table form tail-off and haven’t won for seven games, suggesting they could be susceptible to foes with significantly more reason to care about the result.
Apollon Symrni to beat Olympiakos @ 33/4
Piraeus’ finest have lost two of their four league games since wrapping up the Super League at canter.
Visting Apollon occupy the final relegation spot, but they could haul themselves above any one of three sides above them with victory in the final game of the campaign.