FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER
Mainz put a swift stop to Hamburg’s purple patch with a 3-1 win on the road courtesy of Jairo Samperio’s double. His first goal came from a seemingly impossible lob over the Hamburg goalkeeper while lying flat on the ground. The Mainz fans chanted “We’re on our way to Europe” and having gone five matches unbeaten for the first time under manager Martin Schmidt, who can blame them? Stuttgart picked up a much-needed draw at home to Werder Bremen to arrest their three-match losing streak. They’re still firmly placed in the relegation zone however and it’s unlikely they’ll have enough to upset the applecart here. Take Mainz for the win at a generous 11/10.
SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER
Wolfsburg hadn’t lost a match at home since March 2014 until the visit of Dortmund this past weekend. Wolves started poorly but found a way back into the game in the second half, eventually netting an equaliser in the 90th minute from the penalty spot. However, the home side switched off in injury time and Dortmund snatched a last-gasp goal to leave the Volkswagen Arena with all three points. With the important visit of Manchester United on Tuesday preceding this match, Wolfsburg could face Hamburg experiencing any number of emotions. Hamburg’s streak was brought to an end with a poor showing against Mainz and this match probably comes at a bad time for the club. One simply cannot look past the home win at 6/10.
Struggling Hoffenheim need a light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. They’re without a win since the end of September and currently reside in the Bundesliga basement, a point behind Stuttgart. Hoffenheim somehow rallied to a point at Ingolstadt, equalising in the sixth minute of stoppage time. They’ve drawn four of their last five matches, including a point against Monchengladbach, but it has simply not been enough to propel them out of the relegation zone. Hannover have been in woeful form and have lost four of their last five matches. They were soundly beaten 3-1 by Schalke in their last outing and could well struggle on the road. It’s too difficult to make an outright call for this one, so look for Both Teams To Score at 7/10.
Werder Bremen 14/10
Werder Bremen were unable to ease their relegation fears with a 1-1 draw at Stuttgart. They started slowly and improved in the second half, almost winning the match as Levin Oztunali hit the crossbar. It ended a three-match losing streak for Bremen, whose last win came over Augsburg at the beginning of November. Cologne will likely be pleased with their position in mid-table but will feel aggrieved at losing 1-0 to Augsburg last weekend. Anthony Modeste, who hasn’t scored since October, missed a penalty before a harsh free-kick led to the winning goal. This is another one that looks too close to call and Under 2.5 Goals at 9/10 looks a great bet.
Hertha Berlin 14/10
In the first derby between the clubs in 33 years, Darmstadt beat Frankfurt 1-0 to gain the upper hand in the Hesse region. The captain Aytac Sulu headed the only goal of the game and handed Darmstadt a much-needed three points to leave them in twelfth place. They’re by no means safe from relegation, but all things considered, the club will look forward to a hard-fought Ruckrunde with the prospect of staying in the top flight. By contrast, Hertha Berlin have had a fantastic Hinrunde and are currently tied for third place with Monchengladbach. The second half of the season will be the biggest test for the Old Lady but I fancy them to pick up the three points here. Back the away win at 14/10.
Bayern Munich 1/16
Oh, the horror. Bayern Munich slid to their first league defeat of the season last weekend in a match in which complacency cost the Bavarians. They should have entered the halftime break well ahead as all of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Javi Martinez and Kingsley Coman missed relative sitters. Nevertheless, an average performance had the most slender of silver linings with Franck Ribery returning to action for the first time in almost a year, and scoring a consolation goal. Ingolstadt have proved a tough side to beat this season, if not in spectacular fashion. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to hold off the relentless Bayern Munich attacks. Home to Win Both Halves looks a nifty bet at 7/10.
Bayer Leverkusen 17/20
Leverkusen fell to a 2-1 loss away to Hertha Berlin and are struggling to keep pace with the European frontrunners. It must be a heart-breaking tale for former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. The Mexican has netted eight times in his last ten matches and works himself to death for Leverkusen, but the side cannot seem to capitalise and gain any sort of momentum. With an exit from the Champions League likely, I feel they’ll be a different prospect in the second half of the season. Gladbach, on the other hand, are riding the crest of a wave. They’re in absolutely sensational form and their 3-1 win over Bayern Munich will only make them tougher customers. They’re unbeaten since a Champions League meeting with Manchester City in late September and picked up points in their last ten Bundesliga meetings. Leverkusen have the historical edge over Gladbach but are not firing in the way they should. The away Win/Draw Double Chance at 9/10 is the bet for me.
SUNDAY 13 DECEMBER
Augsburg briefly moved out of the bottom three following a 1-0 win over Cologne. Marwin Hitz saved a penalty before a Raul Bobadilla free kick gave the side their first win in just under a month. Whether one can chalk up their poor form to Europa League exertions or simply a weak squad is uncertain, but they face a massive task in keeping Schalke quiet at home this weekend. Schalke occupy sixth spot and ended a five-match winless run last weekend with a 3-1 win against Hannover. Johannes Geis, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Franco Di Santo were the scorers in a much-improved performance from the young squad. I’m tipping Schalke to clinch the away win at 16/10.
Borussia Dortmund 2/11
Eintracht Frankfurt 11/1
Dortmund’s Herculean effort to overcome Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena - the only club to have done so in over a year and a half - is testament to the never-say-die attitude that Thomas Tuchel has instilled at the club. Granted, a few matches have got away from them this season and they are still not nearly solid enough defensively, but in attack they are dangerous and capable of destroying unsuspecting sides. Conceding a penalty so late and then finding a winner through Shinji Kagawa deep into stoppage time will see them full of confidence against a Frankfurt side dead in the water. Frankfurt simply can’t score goals and have won only one of their past eleven Bundesliga matches. Back Dortmund on the Halftime-Fulltime Win at 5/10.
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