Written by Rick John Henry for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
It was a pitiful weekend on the punting front with little going to plan. Dreary draws and a few surprise results made for difficult post-gameweek analysis. Yet I always find it better to look ahead in these situations, and the coming weekend brings with it a fascinating set of fixtures full of opportunity. Wolfsburg would have had some much-needed rest after a tiring period of European and domestic commitments. They, and all Bundesliga clubs, will soon have the luxury of the winter break as the final week of Hinrunde football draws to a close with Bayern Munich once again deemed champions at the halfway mark.
FRIDAY 18 DECEMBER
Schalke went down 2-1 to previously embattled Augsburg in a match in which their supporters would have fervently hoped for a result. Entering the break a goal down, the Royal Blues improved in the second half and grabbed an equaliser only to concede in stoppage time due to a poorly headed clearance. Hoffenheim managed to move off of the bottom of the Bundesliga with a 1-0 home win over fellow basement-dwellers Hannover. Hoffenheim took the lead and then defended resolutely to ensure the result, which does still leave them mired in the relegation zone. Schalke haven’t had an easy run of late, this should be a match that sees them clinch three points. Back the home win at 6/10.
SATURDAY 19 DECEMBER
Bayern Munich 1/5
Hannover were lacklustre on their trip to Hoffenheim and after a bright period in October, have plummeted down the league table. Only two points away from the basement, they find themselves in an unwinnable predicament with the visit of Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola hailed Ingolstadt as the toughest opponents the champions had faced this season, as a goalless first half rattled the Bavarians. However, Lewandowski settled Munich nerves with a second-half strike, followed by a goal from Philipp Lahm. Munich perhaps didn’t approach the match with their usual verve and had to dig deep to motivate themselves against the promoted club. They shouldn’t have such trouble this weekend. Back Bayern on the Halftime-Fulltime Double at 6/10.
Hamburg performed admirably on their visit to northern rivals Wolfsburg, grabbing the first goal. Despite conceding to share the spoils, Hamburg will be pleased with the result and will look forward to facing an admittedly improving Augsburg side. Hamburg have lost only one of their past five matches while Augsburg have picked up three wins on the trot in all competitions and are unbeaten in their past four league matches. The visitors will look to build on a memorable past week which saw them progress in the Europa League as well as collect three points against Schalke. This is a difficult fixture to pick a winner and I’m leaning towards Both Teams To Score at 8/10.
Bayer Leverkusen 15/20
Ingolstadt’s brave performance against Bayern Munich will give their supporters real hope of a surprise with the visit of high-flying Leverkusen. Ingolstadt used an aggressive pressing game to limit Bayern’s possession and may employ similar tactics in front of their home crowd. Javier Hernandez scored a hat-trick as his purple patch continued, while, the likely to depart, Stefan Kiessling netted a brace for Leverkusen in a 5-0 rout of Monchengladbach last weekend. Kiessling was involved in four of the goals despite taking a back seat to Hernandez this season, which has lead to his probable departure in January. Leverkusen have had an up-and-down season, lying sixth in the league, but last weekend’s thrashing should give them the confidence to beat Ingolstadt. Back the away win at 15/20.
Eintracht Frankfurt 12/10
Werder Bremen 2/1
Frankfurt’s woeful form continued with a 4-1 loss to Dortmund. Alexander Meier struck as early as the sixth minute and Frankfurt went into the break all square with the Bundesliga giants. However a second-half rout saw the club slump to a fourth consecutive league loss and has them equal on points with Hannover, two points off the bottom. Struggling Werder Bremen were made to share the spoils with Cologne, conceding a controversial late goal. Bremen are only a point above Frankfurt and both clubs desperately need to find something from this game. I can see an open clash as both sides attempt to finish the first half of the season as far from bottom spot as possible. Back Over 2.5 Goals at 7/10.
Borussia Dortmund 9/20
Cologne were fortunate to find a point against Werder Bremen after being granted a goal when Svento scored from an offside position. Nevertheless, the club will welcome the good fortune with open arms with the visit of Dortmund to contend with. Cologne will remain mid-table going into the winter break, ultimately an improvement on last season’s campaign. However, they will need to remain equally resolute in the Ruckrunde with low-scoring draws seemingly their bread and butter. Dortmund waltzed to a 4-1 victory over Frankfurt, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting once again to take his season tally to 26 goals. Dortmund should have the firepower to come away from this match with all three points. Back them to do just that at 9/20.
Stuttgart played out a dull goalless draw at Mainz that saw the club miss yet another opportunity to move out of the relegation zone. As it stands they are rock bottom and have a very difficult home match to try and change that position before the season break. Wolfsburg’s extraordinary midweek Champions League fixture against Manchester United that saw them qualify for the last sixteen led to a somewhat frustrating home draw with Hamburg. After conceding early, Wolfsburg dominated the rest of the match but could simply not find a winner. Lying fourth, equal on points with Monchengladbach, this is an important fixture for them to remain in the Champions League places over the winter. I can foresee Wolfsburg picking up a valuable win on the road at 5/4.
SUNDAY 20 DECEMBER
Hertha Berlin 11/10
The Old Lady hammered Bundesliga newcomers Darmstadt 4-0 away from home last weekend to keep their dreams of a place in next year’s Champions League alive. Currently third on the table, Vedad Ibisevic scored twice in the rout as the men from the capital proved too strong for the promoted club. Berlin have now won four of their past five league matches as they host a Mainz outfit fresh from a disappointing performance against Stuttgart. Mainz will be pleased with the way their season has transpired thus far, seventh on the table and sandwiched between giants Leverkusen and Schalke. They’ve gone six Bundesliga matches unbeaten with three wins and three draws but I see that streak coming to an end here. Get behind the Old Lady at the nice price of 11/10.
Andre Schubert suffered his first loss in charge of Monchengladbach as the club were stunned by a rampant Leverkusen. He took over after five consecutive losses and proceeded to go ten league matches unbeaten, surging up the table and beating Bayern Munich in the process. However, last weekend was a step backwards as Gladbach were overwhelmed away from home, conceding five times on their way to an embarrassing defeat. Darmstadt succumbed 4-0 on home turf to Berlin and are struggling to string results together as the harsh realities of the Bundesliga become apparent. I can only see one result here. With the home win a tad short however, take Over 2.5 Goals at 15/20.
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