The past Bundesliga weekend represents a fine example of the new generation of German footballing excellence. The national side displayed a cutthroat flair in their successful 2014 World Cup campaign that surely pushed the boundary of their so-called ‘clinical’ style, no better exhibited than in their 7-1 thrashing of Brazil. In the same vein, there were goals aplenty over the past weekend with Bayern romping to an 8-0 embarrassment of Hamburg, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg trading blows in a nine-goal thriller and two other matchups breaching the 4.5 goal mark. Sunday proved a tricky day on the tipping front with both matches playing contrary to predictions, while Frankfurt in Saturday’s final match put an end to my six-game weekend winning streak.
VfB Stuttgart 4/1
Borussia Dortmund 13/20
Former Stuttgart defender Sebastian Rudy broke the hearts of the away fans at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena with a late goal that resigned the side to their third consecutive Baden-Wurttemberg derby loss against Hoffenheim. Stuttgart are still searching for their first win of 2015 as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety. Die Schwaben drew the reverse fixture but it has been five years since they’ve last beaten Dortmund. Jurgen Klopp’s side conceded a shock 52-second goal against Mainz as a wild goalkeeper punch fell kindly to Elkin Soto, who slotted with ‘keeper Weidenfeller well off of his line. Dortmund rallied to win 4-2 with strong performances from Aubameyang and Reus, securing back-to-back wins in the Bundesliga for only the second time this season. Dortmund are now a point above the relegation zone and their class is expected to shine through against a Stuttgart side with little to offer.
Bayern Munich 1/6
Mighty Bayern Munich marched to their biggest Bundesliga win in thirty years as they dismantled a hapless Hamburg side 8-0. A scorecard boasting goals from the likes of Thomas Muller (2), Mario Gotze (2), Arjen Robben (2), Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery from the bench, tells one all there is to know about Paderborn’s chances in this one. Although the home side picked up their first win of the year last weekend with two goals in the final twenty minutes to come from behind against Hannover, the second time this season that they’ve staged the same heist, they are still very much a relegation risk. Arjen Robben is in peerless form scoring trademark goals and is now equal on top of the Bundesliga scoring charts with fourteen strikes. His influence will no doubt be felt as the German champions ease to victory. Considering there is no value in the Bavarian win, back them to keep a clean sheet 13/20. They’ve conceded only nine goals all season.
Sport-Club Freiburg 19/10
1899 Hoffenheim 27/20
Freiburg sent Hertha Berlin back into the bottom three with a 2-0 win in the capital last weekend. The home side currently occupy the relegation playoff spot and will be desperate to arrest their slide with a strong performance against mid-table Hoffenheim. Simply put, the biggest problem with Freiburg is their inability to win football matches. They’ve only left with three points on four occasions all season and only two of those victories have come on their home patch. Hoffenheim made hard work of ousting bottom of the table Stuttgart at the weekend, needing a last-gasp winner to put an end to their three-match losing streak. The draw has been a common result between these two sides in recent history but I’m backing plucky Hoffenheim to keep pace in seventh place with an away win at 27/20.
FC Schalke 9/10
Werder Bremen 11/4
Despite losing their first match of 2015 last time out, Schalke remain level on points with Augsburg in fourth place. They looked rather blunt on attack with the enforced absence of Klaas Jan Huntelaar and had nothing in reply to Frankfurt’s 64th minute strike. Good news for Die Knappen comes in the form of a statement by Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic, who is keen on making his loan move to Schalke a permanent one. Another positive is the return of Huntelaar for next week’s derby with Dortmund but for now, they face the task of upending a Werder Bremen side on the move. Bremen recorded their fifth win on the trot last week as they scraped past Augsburg 3-2 and have been a different entity under coach Victor Skripnik. Bremen have proved a dodgy side to back on the road but did come right against Hoffenheim on their most recent away trip. Schalke will be exhausted from their mid-week Champions League tussle with Real Madrid and Werder Bremen to win or draw looks like great value at 8/10.
FC Augsburg 9/4
Bayer Leverkusen 12/10
Ragnar Klavan first scored and then conceded a penalty minutes later as Augsburg suffered their first defeat of 2015 against Werder Bremen. They remain on the brink of Champions League qualification but are coming off a draw and a defeat and will need to elevate their performance against a side they have only ever beaten in a friendly. Indeed, Leverkusen have won every other contest. A second-half hat-trick in the space of ten minutes from Heung-Min Son was somehow not enough to propel Leverkusen to victory in a frenetic clash with Wolfsburg. They’d managed to draw level at 4-4 following a goal from Karim Bellarabi but conceded in the dying minutes after losing Emir Spahic to a late red card. That makes for two losses on the trot and it seems as though both sides, only separated on the table by two points, will be just as desperate for victory. Neither side have looked convincing enough to justify backing on the outright but both have scored with regularity since the Ruckrunde began. Both Teams to Score is the play here at 7/10.
Mainz 05 13/10
Eintracht Frankfurt 19/10
Elkin Soto scared already scarred Dortmund supporters with a long range 52-second lob following a goalkeeper error. Dortmund went 2-1 up only for Mainz to hit back but the relegation candidates could not maintain the intensity for the full ninety minutes and conceded twice more to fall to their second consecutive loss. They are still searching for their first win since their 5-0 rout of Paderborn but are unlikely to find it against a Frankfurt side stringing together results, despite favourable head-to-head statistics. Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon, who hit the winner for Frankfurt at the weekend to down Schalke, has signalled his intent to stay on with the club. It marked coach Thomas Schaaf’s 500th match on the touchline with a win and underlined the tremendous fight that Frankfurt have shown against the bigger clubs in recent weeks. Bundesliga joint top scorer Alexander Meier has been integral to the club maintaining its mid-table position and Frankfurt are tipped for the away win at a valuable 19/10.
Hannover 96 23/10
Cologne have banned a fan group labelled “Boyz” following a pitch invasion in their 1-0 defeat to Gladbach in the Rhineland derby. Cologne were unlucky to concede in second-half stoppage time to leave them floundering in eleventh spot on the table, a mere loss away from the drop zone in a congested basement battle. Hannover find themselves in a similar position and will also be gutted to have left with nothing when they hosted Paderborn at the weekend. Brazilian defender Marcelo gave them the lead minutes after the hour mark but Hannover lost their grip on the match in the final twenty minutes to concede twice. Hannover are without a win in five matches but boast a decent head-to-head record against Cologne. This a tough one to call with neither side inspiring confidence. Cologne haven’t scored a goal in three games and Hannover have been well short of prolific, so I’ll side with Under 2.5 goals at 11/20.
Hamburger SV 21/10
Borussia Monchengladbach 13/10
Gladbach moved into third on the Bundesliga table with yet another 1-0 win. The same scoreline has decided the last four matches for Gladbach but most importantly, they have picked up three points in all but one. Granit Xhaka, with his future pledged to the club, netted a late winner as Gladbach look to cement a place in the Champions League next season. They have won the last three head-to-heads with Hamburg and could not be more confident coming into this clash. For Hamburg, the reverse is true. Coach Knabel made an apology to the fans following his side’s 8-0 humiliation at the hands of Munich and is looking for his players to respond strongly this week. To compound matters, on-loan Bayern Munich player Julian Green has battled to find a place in the first team and Hamburg could be set to lose him after Green refused to play for the reserves. Hamburg had won their previous two matches before the Munich massacre and are no stranger to such results in Bavaria, but are unlikely to trouble a gritty Gladbach side that knows how to grind out results.
Hertha Berlin 72/10
Surprisingly, Kevin De Bruyne was not on the scoresheet as Wolfsburg continued to notch up points in the Bundesliga with an extraordinary 5-4 win at Leverkusen. Unsurprisingly, Bas Dost was and scored four to take his tally to eight goals in five starts. In short, Wolfsburg are on fire. They haven’t lost a match in the Bundesliga since November and are scoring at will. They remain the only real challengers to Bayern Munich securing yet another Bundesliga title despite still remaining eight points shy of the Bavarians. Wolfsburg have a squad resplendent with quality, especially considering the addition of Schurrle, and I’m excited to see how they get along in the league next year. Berlin did beat Wolfsburg 1-0 in the reverse fixture at home but haven’t had much success against Wolves in recent years. They slumped to a 2-0 loss at home last time out and have only won once in the Bundesliga since the turn of the year. Wolfsburg are a banker bet this weekend at 7/20. Good luck.