The past weekend brought with it a volatile set of fixtures as far as the Bundesliga was concerned. No less than thirty-six yellow cards and three reds were shown across the nine matches. Two Hamburg players are set to be disciplined for brawling during the break in their loss to Wolfsburg and coupled with the slew of bookings, made for a nasty weekend as late-season intensity boiled over on the German footballing front. The top four all solidified their Champions League positions with wins, while some sides stuck in the relegation quagmire put on hearty displays to give their top flight aspirations a boost. This sentiment was perfectly encapsulated by Stuttgart’s spirited performance in front of their frustrated faithful. With six matches left, Bayern Munich need only three victories to earn their third consecutive Bundesliga title.
Friday 17 April
Eintracht Frankfurt 5/2
Borussia Monchengladbach 1/1
Frankfurt were missing Bundesliga top scorer Alexander Meier as they slumped to an insipid 3-0 loss to the impending champions. What began as an enterprising season for Frankfurt has steadily dwindled into mid-table mediocrity as one poor result after another sees their hopes of European qualification all but dashed. What is perhaps more disappointing for the camp is that they were largely anonymous against Munich and simply looked to be making up the numbers in a training ground kickaround. The same approach will result in heartache this week as they meet a Gladbach side in explosive form. Gladbach needed only 29 seconds to open the scoring in the battle of the Borussias as they downed Dortmund 3-1. Losing their DFB-Pokal quarter-final on penalties to Arminia Bielefeld is their only blip in the past eight matches, including a famous win against Munich. Gladbach are tipped to oust Frankfurt at even money as they prepare for Champions League football next season.
Saturday 18 April
Bayern Munich 5/10
Hoffenheim wasted yet another opportunity to move into the top six as they lost 3-2 away from home to Cologne. One feels that it may have been one of their final chances to do so unless they dig deep to find something against the mighty Bavarians. They were also knocked out of the German Cup recently and haven’t managed a win in their last four outings. That form line isn’t set to improve as Bayern Munich roll into town. Guardiola’s side has a lengthy casualty list at present with all of Benatia, Schweinsteiger, Boateng, Robben, Ribery and Alaba sidelined. However, their strength in depth is phenomenal and they need only turn to the likes of Robert Lewandowski for the sublime. The Polish striker scored two last week which took the Bundesliga Golden Boot holder to sixteen goals for the season. He has six in his last six Bayern Munich appearances. Munich are tipped to take the win on the halftime-fulltime double at 11/10.
Borussia Dortmund 2/9
Dortmund’s European dreams suffered a further setback as a rather pathetic display led to a 3-1 loss to in-form Gladbach. Manager Jurgen Klopp criticised the team by saying that they deserved the result as they were completely dominated for much of the match. Indeed, it was the third time this season that Dortmund conceded within the first minute of play. Only an appearance by substitute Jeremey Dudziak, his second in a Dortmund jersey, stirred some sort of response. The right-back set up Gundogan’s consolation goal that did little to gloss over a truly woeful afternoon. Paderborn scored their first goal in seven games and then added another to earn a crucial three points in their battle against the drop. Unfortunately only a couple of goals every couple of months will not give Paderborn much chance of staying in the top flight. In the interest of value, take Dortmund to win and Both Teams to Score - no - on the matchbet market at 17/20.
Bayer Leverkusen 7/20
News in the Leverkusen camp comes in the form of the termination of Bosnian Emir Spahic’s contract for assaulting a club steward following his former side’s exit from the DFB-Pokal. Despite the drama, Leverkusen remain in fourth place and took all three points against Mainz even after giving away two late penalties. That’s six straight Bundesliga wins for the club. Hannover remained winless in 2015 as they were held to a draw by Hertha Berlin at home. They are now precariously poised with just two points separating Hannover from the relegation zone. Leverkusen are tipped to continue their rich vein of form and and the home win at 7/20 is a must for weekend multiples.
Sport-Club Freiburg 18/10
Freiburg missed a golden chance to take three points last week as Julian Schuster missed a penalty on their goalless visit to Schalke. Still, it was mission accomplished for Freiburg as they set up defensively disciplined in order to take a point to keep them clear of relegation. In another match where spot kicks played a part, Ja-Cheol Koo of Mainz slotted two at the death but a shining personal performance was not enough to see the club to victory. They were essentially let back into the game after going 3-0 down against Leverkusen but will fancy their chances on the road. A loss could prove disastrous for both sides in their battle against relegation and I expect a cagey affair. Under 2.5 goals looks a good bet at 8/10.
Hertha Berlin 31/20
FC Cologne 2/1
The Old Lady look set to stay in the Bundesliga next season. A second-half equaliser eight minutes from time saw them into twelfth position and relative safety. It would take a few horrendous blunders to prevent Hertha Berlin from beating the drop this year. They’ve shown a really strong resolve in recent matches that sees them unbeaten in their last six Bundesliga ties. Cologne also exhibited the necessary qualities to stay in the league last week as they held on to come away 3-2 winners against Hoffenheim despite going a man down. Nigerian striker Ujah and German Hector put in fine individual performances to pick up Cologne’s first win in four matches, keeping them six points clear of the bottom and equal on points with Berlin. A tough match to call so I’m heading for safety in this one. Hertha Berlin to win/draw on the Double Chance is the tip at 4/10.
FC Augsburg 11/10
VfB Stuttgart 23/10
Augsburg remain sixth following their disappointing loss to Paderborn last week, but their form line will be a major worry for all those involved at the club. They’ve won only one of their last nine league clashes and their bright start to the season, as well as the prospect of Champions League football, seems a distant memory. Stuttgart snatched a morale-boosting victory in the closing stages of a dramatic encounter with Werder Bremen. Conceding an equaliser in the 86th minute, Stuttgart rallied to score a 91st minute winner with only ten men on the pitch. Huub Stevens was delighted with the fight shown by his players and they should visit hungry for another upset. However, Stuttgart have lost the past four head-to-heads and Augsburg’s home form is the only factor keeping them in European contention. Both sides could throw caution to the wind here and over 2.5 goals is the tip at 9/10.
Sunday 19 April
Werder Bremen 1/1
Hamburger SV 27/10
Werder Bremen levelled the scoring at the beginning of the second-half with Stuttgart through the boot of the departing Davie Selke, but even another equaliser in the 86th minute could not rescue a point against an inspired Stuttgart side. Some dreadful form in the Bundesliga sees inconsistent Bremen without a win in over a month. Their problems, however, pale in comparison to those faced by struggling Hamburg. Djourou and Behrami are set to be punished for their half-time change room fist fight and to compound matters, Hamburg are without a goal in 494 minutes. They failed to create a single chance against Wolfsburg and have only netted a paltry sixteen times all season. Sadly, the only club to have featured in every single Bundesliga since its inception currently have their name on a one-way ticket to the second division. They’re unlikely to prevent Werder Bremen picking up the home win at even money.
FC Schalke 37/10
Wolfsburg secured their spot in next season’s Champions League with a 2-0 win against fraying Hamburg. They remained in charge throughout a fairly straightforward win that didn’t necessitate much effort or ruthless efficiency. Essentially, Wolfsburg were allowed to operate in cruise control. Schalke’s dreary goalless draw against a negative Freiburg side has seemed to exacerbate the feeling that Di Matteo’s time is almost up. He has a talented, exciting group of players but just cannot seem to get the best out of them on a weekly basis. Schalke are now ten points adrift of the Champions League places and are highly unlikely to feature in the competition next year. They’ve expressed interest in signing Sami Khedira from Madrid but how they’ll attract him with only the promise of the Europa League remains to be seen. In the meantime, one feels that Wolfsburg will only heap more misery on the Italian and his charges. Back the home side to come up trumps at 13/20.