The top of the Bundesliga table remained largely unchanged as Bayern, Wolfsburg and Gladbach all recorded wins. Leverkusen leapfrogged both Schalke and Augsburg to put themselves firmly in contention for another stint in the Champions League, while the latter missed an opportunity for points against Hertha Berlin. Bayern’s 4-1 trouncing of Cologne served to keep them on track to reach the 100-goal barrier for the season and a chance to break their record tally of 101 goals set in 1971/72. Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost continued a season of tumbling records that only highlights the emerging gulf between the top two and the remaining Bundesliga contenders.
VfB Stuttgart 1/1
Hertha Berlin 29/10
Stuttgart held on for a draw away to Hannover despite taking a second-half lead through captain Christian Gentner, the points leaving them bottom of the table and winless in seven matches. It’s quite a surprise to see them priced up at even money, home ground advantage having not been kind to the squad throughout the season. Stuttgart have only won once at the Mercedes-Benz Arena and have picked up only five points, while opponents Hertha Berlin ousted them 3-2 in the reverse fixture and away at Stuttgart last season. A last gasp Salomon Kalou strike moved Berlin out of the bottom three last weekend and they’ll fancy another coup against a side in a season-long slump. Back the Old Lady to win or draw at 15/20.
Sport-Club Freiburg 16/10
Werder Bremen 16/10
Freiburg had a tough time in their last outing, going down 1-0 to Leverkusen in a match that they never really challenged in. The loss caused them to slip into the bottom three and they have only wins against Hertha Berlin and Frankfurt since the beginning of the Ruckrunde to give supporters solace. They won’t find it easy to claw their way out of the relegation zone when they meet Werder Bremen, who put on a plucky display against Wolfsburg amid massive defensive errors. They took the lead twice against Wolves but conceded three times in five minutes to drop a place in the overall standings. This already looks as though it could be a week of either huge profit or financial suicide, as I’m backing another away side to come away with points (a trend you will no doubt notice), this time on the outright win at 16/10.
Hannover 96 10/1
Bayern Munich 1/4
The mighty men from Munich were somehow not satisfied with their 4-1 dismantling of Cologne. Conceding the goal and giving away possession when they were 2-1 up, allowing the opposition a sniff at an equaliser, was deemed unacceptable by the club’s players and coach. Still, Munich have recorded four Bundesliga wins on the trot and have scored a ludicrous twenty goals in the process. That’s an average of five per match in the past month. Hannover drew with lowly Stuttgart last time out. They were simply not good enough in the first half and only after conceding did they launch a concerted attack. However, they failed to net in the final twenty minutes as poor discipline marred the finale. They’ll likely catch a hiding here. You’ll find a bit of value in the Over 3.5 goals market at 12/10.
Hamburger SV 5/1
Borussia Dortmund 5/10
Four consecutive Bundesliga victories have orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in Dortmund’s demanding season. Three points in their derby with Schalke sees them shoot up the standings to tenth and looking to make a late season assault of the Champions League places, eight points adrift of Leverkusen in fourth. When the Ruckrunde began, Dortmund were rooted to the bottom of the log. They absolutely dominated Schalke and finally broke the shackles with three late second-half goals in the space of eight minutes. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took his Bundesliga tally into double figures while Marco Reus took advantage of a goalkeeping error to slot his fifth in as many matches. Hamburg were outdone last week by Alexander Meier and Eintracht Frankfurt which leaves that at serious risk of relegation. I can’t foresee anything other than a rousing Dortmund victory at 5/10.
FC Schalke 12/10
1899 Hoffenheim 21/10
Schalke’s dismal loss to derby rivals Dortmund prompted apologies to the fans from both the coach and sporting director for a “horrible performance”. They allowed a massive 31 shots on goal, created next to nothing and covered a record lack of ground as the players resigned themselves to the inevitable. It was a display that showed a jaded side battling to juggle the demands of European qualification. Hoffenheim were workmanlike to beat Mainz 2-0 and are now only two points behind their opponents on the Bundesliga table. They’ve taken six points from nine on offer recently and could well give Schalke a run for their money on the road. I’d advise prudence here and take Schalke to win or draw at 9/20. Di Matteo would’ve grilled the side in anticipation of this fixture.
FC Augsburg 23/10
Augsburg sunk to a disappointing last-minute loss against Hertha Berlin in a match in which they would desperately have hoped for a result. It dented their chances of moving into the top four and extended a winless streak to four matches. They meet a Wolfsburg side in ruthless form who put five past Werder Bremen in their last outing. Wolfsburg have now won four on the trot, scoring fifteen goals, with star players Bas Dost and Kevin De Bruyne in serious form. Dost became the most effective scorer in the history of the Bundesliga competition with thirteen goals in 819 minutes of football. That’s a goal every 63 minutes that Dost is on the pitch. Only Lionel Messi has a better scoring record in 2015. De Bruyne is having his own dream season with fifteen assists and eight goals to his name already. I wouldn’t look further than a Wolfsburg win this weekend at 11/10.
Mainz 05 31/20
Borussia Monchengladbach 31/20
Mainz sunk to a 2-0 loss at the weekend and again find themselves looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone. They keep failing to build on good wins and as a result cannot seem to gain any momentum heading into crucial clashes. To their credit they did go on the attack at Hoffenheim but were caught on the counter and left chasing the game. Gladbach eased to a 2-0 victory over Paderborn following two deflected goals and now hold a four-point advantage in third spot. Gladbach could certainly be more clinical in front of goal but are an organised defensive unit that give away very little. I’m fairly sure that Gladbach will do what it takes to win this but Mainz possess both the ability to surprise and the knowhow to grind out draws, illustrated earlier in the season. Gladbach Draw No Bet at 17/20 is the tip here, it’s doubtful they’ll ship enough to lose outright.
Eintracht Frankfurt 19/10
Poor Cologne were eventually routed by Munich but will probably still be pleased to have grabbed a goal against the Bundesliga’s most miserly defence as well as having some control of the possession. They will need to come out with the same intensity against Frankfurt who came away with all three points against Hamburg. It kept Frankfurt’s dream of Champions League football alive but there is still much work to be done, five points behind Leverkusen in fourth. Alexander Meier was back on the scoresheet with a brace and his season tally of sixteen goals for a mid-table side is highly commendable. Frankfurt’s form on the road however has been less than spectacular and I fancy Cologne to grab a win here at a valuable 14/10.
Bayer Leverkusen 7/10
Leverkusen thoroughly dominated their match against Freiburg despite the 1-0 scoreline and moved into the top four with the three points. They built on a midweek win in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid and should relish the chance of meeting Paderborn fresh from a week of rest. Paderborn slid into the bottom three for the first time this season and with only eleven matches left, will be feeling enormous pressure. They’ve looked outclassed against more established Bundesliga sides and have only one win, against Hamburg, since the Ruckrunde began. The attacking threat from the likes of Leverkusen’s Son Heung-min and Karim Bellarabi should prove too strong for Paderborn. Back the away side at a decent 7/10.