Hovering media reports of the impending doom of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich and a stint managing Manchester City next season have been vehemently denied by all parties involved. Four straights losses, for the first time since 1991...but inconsequential in terms of the Bundesliga. They are the league champions once again but the allure of Europe’s far more illustrious prize takes centre stage with such megaliths. Wolfsburg will be afforded the opportunity to try their hand in the Champions League next season and it will take £45m to lure Kevin de Bruyne from the Volkswagen Arena. This weekend marks the first of two gameweeks where all the matches kick off simultaneously, heaping pressure on clubs affected by other results.
Saturday 16 May
We begin Saturday’s football affair with a clash of German heavyweights. Wolves guaranteed themselves automatic Champions League qualification last weekend with a 3-1 win over stumbling Paderborn, poacher Bas Dost netting twice. That’s fourteen goals since the turn of the year for the Dutchman. Dortmund’s desperation for European football next season manifested in a 2-0 win at home against Hertha Berlin, a goal in each half taking them to within two points of ailing Schalke in sixth. I wouldn’t recommend trying to pick a winner here. Both Teams to Score looks a safe bet at 9/20.
Hamburger SV 36/10
Stuttgart picked up a crucial victory that takes them a point behind three sides tied on 31 points and two points off Hamburg. They’re on the bottom of the table but safety has suddenly become a real prospect for Huub Stevens and his men, and the manager praised his side in the wake of their 2-0 win at home against Mainz. They’re back at the Mercedes-Benz Arena and a win will take them above their opponents with their position dependent on other results. Hamburg picked up a point at home with fellow strugglers Freiburg but it could well turn out to be in vain. I like Stuttgart to pick up the win and so do the bookies, priced up at 7/10.
Bayern Munich 5/10
Freiburg are one of the aforementioned sides three sides locked on points in the basement battle but their performance in their draw with Hamburg deserved three points. A last-gasp Hamburg goal has left Freiburg with plenty to do and they won’t be heartened by the visit of the champions, four-match losing streak or not. Munich deserved their defeat at home to Augsburg last week and it could have been far more embarrassing than 1-0. Neuer’s day off was cut short as Pepe Reina received a red card after thirteen minutes and despite Augsburg missing a penalty, Munich could summon nothing in response. Dante is a true liability at the back but I still feel you can’t bet against Bayern playing against a side of Freiburg’s quality. Back the champions to win at 5/10.
Werder Bremen 31/10
Borussia Monchengladbach 8/10
Werder Bremen were hardly a threat in their last outing and a fortunate free kick led to a last gasp equaliser at Hannover. It kept Bremen’s European hopes alive as they’re now level on points with Dortmund in the race for the Europa League. However, they cannot afford to be even half as awful when they host a Gladbach side seeking three points to guarantee their spot in the Champions League. They beat nearest table rivals Leverkusen 3-0 last week in fantastic fashion, all of the goals coming in the second half as Bayer crumbled. Gladbach haven’t lost a Bundesliga match since February and have seven wins from eight league matches. They’re great value for the win at 8/10.
Hertha Berlin 19/20
Eintracht Frankfurt 26/10
Hertha Berlin’s loss to Dortmund last time out sees them flirting precariously with the drop zone. They’re four points clear of Stuttgart in last with four clubs between them, but stranger things have happened. They’ll need a result at home to a Frankfurt side fresh off a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. They were destructive in the first 45 minutes, all of their goals coming in the opening half and their fans can look forward to the top flight again next season. The problem for Frankfurt is that they are simply awful on the road. Berlin need at least a point so take them to win or draw on the Double Chance at 1/4.
Paderborn simply didn’t have the quality to stop a semi-rampant Wolfsburg last week, going down 3-1. It leaves them second from bottom, tied on points with Freiburg and Hannover but significantly off the pace in terms of goal difference. Only points will suffice for Paderborn and travelling to a wilting Schalke side may give them hope. Schalke have picked up one win in eight matches and are not only losing their spot in the Champions League next season, but are now at risk of dropping out of Europe entirely. Something has to give for Roberto Di Matteo or he could well pay with his job. Take Schalke to win at 6/10.
Bayer Leverkusen 4/10
Leverkusen left disappointed last week as they were outplayed by a Gladbach side now in the driving seat for automatic Champions League qualification. Leverkusen’s fate probably lies in the early season qualifier, a tricky test for any club testing new signings and assessing the validity of the current stock. Hoffenheim were bested away at Frankfurt and European competition for them has become largely about mathematics. Leverkusen are the better side here and should come away with the home win at 4/10.
Flying high from their victory over the Bundesliga champions, Augsburg’s place in the Europa League could be almost assured with a win at home. They’re exceptionally lucky to be where they are after a strong beginning to the season has given way to a woeful set of recent results. Their win over Munich was only their second in eight outings. Hannover are deep in the relegation mire, one of the 31-pointers, and at this stage of the season only victory will be the savior. However, I believe Augsburg’s confidence would have been given a boost after last week’s win and the promise of Europe could see them through. Back the home win at 5/4.
Mainz went down 2-0 to Stuttgart last week but safety is on the horizon. Another point would make the drop impossible, but they likely won’t need even that. They’ve relied on a steady stream of draws throughout the campaign and another one cannot be too far around the corner. Cologne secured their status in the top flight with a 2-0 win over Schalke, playing the Royal Blues off the park last weekend. It was a narrow victory considering the late nature of the second goal but Cologne fully deserved the three points. With their place in the Bundesliga next season assured, perhaps Cologne won’t come out with quite as much fire. I’m not a fan of tipping draws but in this case I can’t see another result, especially given the amount of Mainz matches that end in stalemates.