Osasuna eyeing Europe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am

A Champions League place is within touching distance for Spanish surprise package Osasuna, who should continue their impressive home form with victory over bottom club Malaga.

Osasuna have won 11 of 16 at home, and they have been particularly adept at maximising their returns from games against struggling teams. They have won 10 out of 11 (with one draw) against the bottom seven teams, and that sequence includes a 2-1 win at Malaga in December. Malaga are dreadful away and are almost down already.

Atletico Madrid are the next-best home option against Bilbao. The hosts started with four straight home wins under new boss Pepe Murcia, but the luck has not gone with them in their last two home games. This is a good chance against Bilbao, who are more solid now but don't pack much of a punch on the road.

The best bets in Germany are Hamburg and Werder Bremen, who lie second and third respectively in the table. Hamburg travel to bottom club Duisburg and should win, unless they fail to cope with the pressure of being so close to Bayern Munich.

Werder, like Hamburg, have been a reliable win bet away to bottom-half teams this season, and they have another good chance at Wolfsburg. The hosts have been hard to beat at home (only Hamburg and Stuttgart have won there) but their overall form is poor.

Bayern Munich and Schalke are home bankers, but look to Eintracht Frankfurt for better odds. Frankfurt have won four of six at home to bottom-half teams and are decent odds against Mainz.

Lyon should bounce back from their midweek defeat in the French Cup by sealing their fifth successive title at Paris Saint-Germain. Marseille, fresh from their cup victory at Lyon, can score a valuable home win over Nancy, while Le Mans rate well at decent odds for a home win over Monaco.

Best homes: Osasuna, Atletico Madrid, Marseille, Le Mans.

Best aways: Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Lyon.