Melbourne Victory vs Central Coast Mariners
Melbourne Victory will be without home comforts this weekend as they face the A-League leaders at the Aurora Stadium in Launceston. With proceeds of the ticket sales raising money for the Tasmanian bushfire appeal, both sides will hope to be less than charitable on the pitch...
With both teams picking up ten points in their last five outings, you'll be hard pushed to find two better form teams in the A-League this season. A key aspect of this success has been in their goal scoring proficiency, so far this season netting 51 goals between them. Aussie strikers Daniel McBreen and Marco Rojas lead the race for the Golden Boot, and will wet the appetite of the neutral as they face each other on Saturday morning.
The Mariners have asserted real dominance in the A-League so far, and with a four-point lead over second placed Adelaide United, they will be confident of once again making the Finals Series in style finishing at the top of the league. With only two defeats and ten goals conceded Graham Arnold's men have caught the eye of the chasing pack and with striker Daniel McBreen in the form of his life he is no doubt the envy of the rest of the A-League.
With Victory captain Adrian Leijer returning from suspension, this game looks as tightly contested as ever and fitting that this charitable fixture could prove to be the stand out game of 2012-13 season so far. With a finely balanced head to head record slightly in the favour of Victory, the Mariners know they are in for one of their toughest tests of the season but will see it as a blessing that they don't have to travel to the AAMI Park which has been somewhat of a fortress for the Victory this season.
Expect a close game with one goal to be the difference - the Mariners look too strong at the moment for anyone to stand in their way, and on a neutral ground are a good price for the win at [2.4].
Newcastle Jets vs Brisbane Roar
With identical records and both lingering at the wrong end of the table, this Saturday morning clash at the Hunter Stadium has the smell of a frantic 'six-pointer'. Sights are set on making the Finals Series playoffs, but form will have to be found in 2013 for both these sides after suffering a disappointing start to this year's campaign.
The hosts find themselves in a sticky bit of form going into Saturday's game. With one win in their last nine outings Gary Van Egmond will know that a win against the Roar could prove crucial if the Jets are to kick on towards the back end of the season. Emile Heskey and skipper Ruben Zadkovich are unlikely to feature due to recent injuries, but the home faithful will not be looking for excuses come full time and will be expectant of a display good enough to push them into the top six.
After last years second place finish, the Roar will be frustrated with the lack of progress and consistency they have shown so far this season. Most disappointed of all will be Albanian striker Besart Berisha who has failed to find the blistering form he was in last season which saw him win the Golden Boot by a comfortable margin. Still, with eight goals this campaign he is once again the shining star in a quite ordinary team and will look to terrorise the Jets defence.
With back to back wins for the first time this season a few weeks ago things could be worse for Mike Mulvey's side, and with a good record at the Hunter Stadium the Roar will travel to Newcastle in high hopes.
This cagey affair won't be drenched in goals and at [3.55] the draw seems to be the most sensible bet.
Back the draw @ [3.6]
Olhanense vs Sporting Lisbon
The Estadio Joe Arcanjo welcomes a struggling Sporting side to the Algarve for a Primeira Liga clash, in which both sides will fancy their chances of stealing all three points...
After finishing a respectable eighth last season, the hosts will be seeing this campaign as an opportunity to build on last year's stability and make a surge for the European places. With only three wins to their name, things could be going better, but in a league littered in draws they find themselves back in eighth and only four points off fifth place.
Goals have been their main problem with only sixteen being scored - and with striker Liban Abdi topping the charts on a measly four they will need to find a prolific goal scorer to challenge the Cardozo's and Martinez's of this league.
Sporting Lisbon are in somewhat of a crisis. Lacking confidence, form and more importantly results, they sit in a desperate twelfth position a point from safety. Two wins is all they have managed this season, making last years fourth place finish seem like a distant memory for the Sportinguistas.
After the sacking of former boss Franky Vercauteren, new coach Jesualdo Ferreira has hit out at his under fire team this week saying "We are going to grow, because there are players here who can give a lot more than they have been". Ferreira's wealth of experience in management will surely prove to help turn around this bleak season before it is too late to salvage anything.
With eight points separating the ten bottom teams, before realising it both of these sides could find themselves on the brink of the relegation places. Three points on Saturday couldn't come at a better time for either of them.
Olhanense are a good price at [4.1] for the home win getting Ferreira off to a shaky start at the Sporting helm.
Back Olhanense to win @ [4.1]
Benfica vs Porto
The Classico. The 'Big One'. 'Undefeated'. All appropriate titles for the fixture that brings Portugal to a standstill and brings attention to the Portuguese League from the eyes of Europe. BLV gives you the chance to watch one of the most exciting clashes in world football... sit back and enjoy.
The sides come into this fixture undefeated and untested so far with Benfica sitting top of the table, three points clear of a Porto side that have a game in hand on their rivals. With 63 goals between them already, they have been the source of punishment for many of the struggling Primeira Liga sides, and with only 15 goals conceded they both come into this tie with impressive records.
Cardozo vs. Martinez. The two leading goal scorers and two stand out players will face each other in the Estadio da Luz for the first time on Sunday. With thirteen and eleven league goals respectively, they have taken many of the plaudits for their teams stroll through the first half of the season. Perhaps what has been most impressive of all is the way Martinez has adapted to life in Europe so quickly and effectively - a goal of Sunday would more than guarantee his place in the hearts of the Porto faithful this early in his carrer.
This game surely won't disappoint, with two sides at the peak of their powers and enough determination for this rivalry to get heated at times. Benfica haven't beaten Porto at home in the league since late 2009 - a stat that will be enough motivation for Jorge Jesus to want to quieten the visiting Portistas'. With a six point lead up for grabs, the hosts will see this as a prime opportunity to take a psychological advantage going into the second half of the season.
This game won't decide the title, but expect an unbeaten record to end this weekend with Benfica taking the spoils and igniting party fever in Lisbon.
Back Benfica to win @ [2.36]