The finish line is fast approaching in Germany with each club having just four games left of the regular season.
There is so much still to play for amd we have plenty more intriguing clashes this weekend.
Leipzig to win and both teams to score
Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig were denied all three points last weekend when bottom club Paderborn levelled in added time, once again leaving punters cursing after another odds-on failure.
Leipzig have dropped far too many crucial points in recent weeks and that will surely cost them the runners up berth as they have slipped four points behind Dortmund. Once more they are heavy favourites at Hoffenheim on Friday in another must-win encounter. Admittedly they were forced to play the whole of the second half a man down against the bottom club but had enough chances to secure victory before the late sucker punch.
The hosts drew away at Dusseldorf which leaves them two points behind Wolfsburg in the race for sixth. In a surprising twist however, home manager Alfred Schreuder was sacked on Wednesday despite being well placed to keep challenging for Europe. This will be a tough assignment for the visitors and their match price hardly screams value.
Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last four and have managed to score on each occasion. They haven’t faced any of the top six in that run however and may be vulnerable going up in class, especially as Hertha Berlin won 3-0 on the opening day of the resumption to expose their defensive weakness.
Match to end in a draw
Koln v Union Berlin
Koln were disappointed not to take all three points from last week’s trip to Augsburg but on the balance of play, a draw was a fair result despite conceding so late on. They now look safe from relegation although one more win would guarantee top-flight football next year.
Union secured another point from a 1-1 draw with Schalke as they look to avoid the drop as well, although they only have a four-point cushion and will be happy that games are running out for rivals around them.
Berlin have yet to taste victory in their last five outings with two points from a possible fifteen leaving them closer to the trap door than they would have liked. A draw may arguably suit both clubs with neither wanting to contemplate defeat.
Dortmund to win and both teams to score
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Borussia Dortmund
Dusseldorf maintained their improved run of form as they dream of pulling off the great escape. Another point was added to their total although on reflection, with 25 shots last week at home to Hoffenheim’s mere eight, they should have really won. It does however put them within three points of safety and they have extended their own advantage over Bremen to three as well.
This follows a run of just one defeat in seven although too many draws prevent them climbing out of the bottom three at present. They would no doubt happily settle for another this weekend of course as they welcome high flying Dortmund into town. The visitors may have conceded the title but look poised to secure runners up although they had to work harder than expected in last week’s narrow 1-0 success against Hertha. Their penultimate match away at Leipzig looks vital in deciding who takes second behind Bayern but it would be a surprise if Dortmund lost that grip, especially with the fixture list looking kinder.
It’s hard to oppose them here although the prices reflect their supremacy, but there is value in the submarkets. With Fortuna scoring in four of their last six, we hope they can find the net again.
Frankfurt +1 handicap
Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt
Hertha were not disgraced in Dortmund and a narrow loss was a good effort. They sit comfortably in mid-table with realistically little chance of making the top six or falling into the relegation zone.
Frankfurt couldn’t back up their impressive 3-0 stroll in Bremen when beaten 2-0 at home against Mainz although, with a seven-point cushion, they look set for another season in the top flight next year. Surprisingly Frankfurt couldn’t muster a single shot on target and we suspect the euphoria of that win in Werder may have left them a little sluggish. Prior to that, they had scored at least once in their previous five matches and we expect normal service to be resumed now.
Likewise, Hertha had scored in six of their previous seven so goals would look assured at the very least. Of course, those stats are reflected in the short odds-on quote so in a game that may be played at a gentle pace, we believe supporting the visitors may prove rewarding.
Frankfurt were impressive during the second half of a 2-1 cup defeat at Bayern on Wednesday and providing those efforts haven’t deflated them, they can do well here.
Werder Bremen to win
Paderborn v Werder Bremen
The bottom two clubs meet with defeat for the hosts condemning them to certain relegation. They still need favours to avoid the drop and with only four top-flight victories have struggled throughout their campaign. They did kill many an accumulator when drawing with Leipzig last week but even that point made little difference to their predicament at the foot.
Bremen know victory is vital if they are to have any hopes of catching Dusseldorf who currently occupy the relegation playoff berth. It would take an amazing effort to move clear of any of the relegation places and successive losses leaves them in deep trouble.
With Bayern Munich to play next week, they must ensure a maximum return here. They will take encouragement from successive victories on the road and we expect an all-out assault to complete the treble on Saturday afternoon.
Wolfsburg to win
Wolfsburg v Freiburg
This is an interesting matchup between teams who are chasing sixth place and the last European place on offer. The hosts are in the driving seat following a vital 1-0 win at Bremen but Freiburg are only four points adrift and can close that gap to a single point with victory.
Wolfsburg have struggled for consistency and are therefore a very frustrating outfit. Dutch forward Wout Weghorst bagged his 12th top-flight goal of the campaign with his late winner last week and will need to be influential if the hosts are to strengthen that grip on sixth place.
Freiburg took advantage of a poor performance from ten-man Monchengladbach to secure a shock Friday night success which was their first win in five. Even with an extra man, they were perhaps flattered by the scoreline and we’re am not too sure their luck will hold out for another week.
Monchengladbach +2 handicap
Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach
Bayern are closing in on an eighth successive league title and are also in the final of the cup, so maybe eying a treble with the Champions League still in their sights too. They have been absolutely superb since the resumption and have extended their lead at the summit to an impressive seven points.
They won 4-2 at Leverkusen last week in what turned out to be a dress rehearsal for the cup final and are looking at making it a lucky thirteen wins in a row in all competitions in the Saturday tea-time game.
Gladbach dominated both possession and shots despite a narrow 1-0 loss in Freiburg and must be worried they will miss out on a top-four position now. They remain ahead of Leverkusen on goal difference but that rival has a weaker fixture list, meaning they need to take something from the champions.
Unfortunately, Munich don’t seem to be creaking and are so well organised and clinical that finding a weakness is tough. However, on the basis the visitors needs are arguably greater, and they can’t afford to sit back and defend, it may prove the right time to oppose the mighty red machine, at least in the submarkets anyway.
Bayern were slightly relieved to hear the full-time whistle on Wednesday with Frankfurt pressing and if Borussia can start positively, this may be closer than expected.
Match to end in a draw
Mainz v Augsburg
This is another important clash towards the bottom with both teams just above the drop zone. The hosts gave themselves a big lift with an excellent 2-0 win in Frankfurt which was also their first win and clean sheet in six. That’s the reason they find themselves three points above the relegation playoff berth and they will be keen to back that up with victory over struggling Augsburg.
The visitors are a mere point better off after a run of one win in ten, so neither will bring too much confidence to the table. This may be another occasion when avoiding defeat takes precedence for both, so that looks the safe option for backers.
Leverkusen to win with both teams to score
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen
Schalke must be wondering who they have upset as their winless run stretched to twelve after a 1-1 draw at Union Berlin last week. Their fans must be despairing of ever seeing a victory again and the end of this season can’t come quick enough.
They will be grateful that their charges sit comfortable in mid-table but what lies ahead next year must be worrying. It was hoped the enforced break may see an improvement but one point from fifteen and just two goals means things continue to slide. They managed one shot on target last week and look set for a long evening against top-four chasing Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayer eased themselves into the cup final with a routine 3-0 triumph at fourth-tier Saarbrucken on Tuesday when star forward Kai Havertz was rested nursing an injury. He has been strongly linked with Chelsea this week and will be looking to return and impress on the road now.
The team appear to prefer playing away and are chasing a sixth consecutive success on opponents’ soil in all competitions. Although Schalke have such an awful scoring record, Leverkusen often concede, so backing both to do so could reap dividends.