The Euroleague 2023/24 season kicks into action with round 1 of games under way. Our preview and prediction focus for Thursday is the German derby between Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin
Pablo Laso is used to big Euroleague nights but this will be his first as head coach of Bayern Munich. Israel Gonzalez is used to guiding Alba Berlin but can his side get the job done in BMW Park?
Who: Bayern Munich (0-0) vs Alba Berlin (0-0)
Where: BMW Park, Munich
When: 20.30 Munich/19.30 London/14.30 New York
Gabriele Procida showed a lot of progress over the summer wearing the Italy jersey. Now the question is whether he can translate that enough for Alba Berlin. We’ll get a good piece of that answer when he battle Vladimir Lucic in this one.
The other key battle is how Alba’s Matteo Spagnolo fares against Bayern Munich point guard Leandro Bolmaro. Then there’s the small matter of Serge Ibaka. The big man is in his autumn year but still presents an enormous challenge for Chris Koumadge and Johannes Thiemann.
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Need to know
This is an arena with a lot of history. Not only did it host the infamous 1972 gold medal game in the Olympics but it was also the main filming location for Rollerball. Don’t expect quite that level of violence on Thursday night. That is, unless Pablo Laso is feeling really wild.
Alba may be the weaker of the two German sides at the Euroleague level in recent years but that’s not the same in Basketball Bundesliga. Alba won three straight Bundesliga titles and finished top of the regular season ladder last year. Their reign was ended by ratiopharm Ulm in the first round. Ulm went on to eliminate Bayern as well before beating Bonn in the finals.
What the bookies think
The sportsbooks have Bayern Munich as clear favourites in basketball betting at 5/18. Alba Berlin meanwhile can be found at 15/4 across most Euroleague betting markets. The oddsmakers are understandably confident in Bayern with the point spread. The Bavarians are -8.5 point favourites.
What we think
Pablo Laso will look to make a statement in this game. He wants to show that Bayern Munich isn’t a club to make up the numbers. Nor, for that matter, is he a coach that will ever be happy just to be there.
Throw in all of Alba’s roster losses this offseason and this one could be a very long night for the Berlin club. It’s obviously easier to get revved up for a game against your biggest rivals. That will be good for a fight from Alba early. Still, it’s hard to see them staying in this one.
Bayern Munich are just objectively better than Alba Berlin right now. It’s opening night but it’s going to be a long one for the visitors.
Pick: Bayern to win and cover the -8.5 point spread.