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There’s plenty of action for us to get our teeth stuck into on Sunday evening, as the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals conclude, the French Cup and Portuguese Primeira Liga roll on, and there’s a Canada v USA face-off for World Cup qualification – and North American bragging rights, of course…
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The AFCON hasn’t exactly been a goalfest so far, with 24 of the 46 games so far producing just one or no goals. These two teams have been among the most efficient bus-parkers, with Senegal, despite their many stars, netting just once in their group games before letting rip with two (TWO!) goals in their last-16 tie against the minnows of Cape Verde.
Their opponent’s games have been just as light on goalmouth action, as they’ve scored twice and conceded once don’t he way to the last eight. With a semi-final spot at stake, you wouldn’t expect them to open up and 0-0 or 1-0 either way looks a very likely 90 minute result.
Le magique de la coupe is in the air today with two games from the last-16 as lower-league Bergerac try to nose ahead of Ligue 1’s St Etienne, but we’re more interested in the clash of top-flight sides where Lens take on Monaco at 8pm.
These two sides endured contrasting starts to their seasons, with Lens one of the hottest sides opening the campaign, while Monaco are onto their second manager of the season, with Niko Kovac replaced by Phillipe Clement due to their sluggish first-half of the season. Despite this, the sides go into this cup tie level on points in the league with the home side having won just twice in their last nine league games.
Neither side is particularly solid defensively, with Lens keeping just one clean sheet in their last 11 games, and Monaco are just as porous, with their last ten league games seeing just two clean sheets. Both teams to score looks worthwhile, especially in a cup tie.
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Canada go into this North American showdown top of the World Cup qualifying standings thanks to a series of impressive results against the traditional CONCACAF powers of Mexico and the United States. If they can add a result to their September 1-1 draw in Nashville they’ll be very well-placed to make it to Qatar 2022.
Their opponents are second, a point behind, will also be wary of over-committing early in what could be pivotal game in the campaign. They also have a habit of playing terribly dour first-halves before getting their fingers out in the second 45 minutes – they’ve scored 13 goals in this qualifying run, and 11 of those have come after the break.
The previous meeting saw these two play out a scoreless opening stanza before both teams scored in the second half, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar pattern play out tonight.
The Primeira Liga plays through this weird non-UEFA international break, and league leaders Porto will be trying to get used to life without new Liverpool signing Luis Diaz. They’ve a six-point lead at the top of the table from Sporting, and a whopping goal difference of +38.
That’s built on their record of 51 goals scored, the second-most in the division, and they also have the second-fewest goals conceded and they’ve also won their last nine games while going undefeated so far this season.
Maritimo had won their last three games before drawing 1-1 with bottom-placed Belenenses. They go into the game in ninth place, and have a knack for scoring whatever the result, not being shut out in any of their last seven outings.
Porto have also been looser at the back recently, allowing a goal in four straight games. They should win this game, but the visitors can get on the scoresheet.
Sunday’s acca pays out at approximately 18/1:
- 7pm: Senegal v Equatorial Guinea: Under 1.5 Goals
- 8pm: Lens v Monaco: Both Teams to Score – Yes
- 8:05pm: Canada v USA: Under 0.5 First Half Goals
- 8:30pm: Porto v Maritimo: Away Yeam Over 0.5 Goals
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