Written by Rick John Henry for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
The Ruckrunde has been incredibly difficult to predict. Last weekend was yet another example of how competitive the Bundesliga can be with the exception of another routine win for the champions. Bayern Munich remain eight points ahead of nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund, with a massive separation between the German giants and the rest of the table. There are two highlights to this weekend’s fixtures with a flagging Hertha Berlin hosting Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen welcoming Dortmund on Sunday.
Friday 19 February
Eintracht Frankfurt 12/10
Frankfurt fell to a 3-1 loss away from home in Cologne that sees the club a mere point from safety. Alexander Meier opened the scoring for Frankfurt only for Cologne to hit back almost immediately. Frankfurt were outplayed in the second period and if they continue in the same vein for the rest of the season they will almost certainly find themselves in a relegation scrap. Hamburg, deep in debt, came from behind to get the best of a strong Monchengladbach side and end a wait of six league matches without victory. It was a thrilling match as Hamburg held on for dear life in the final 10 minutes. Frankfurt have been anything but reliable at home and Both Teams To Score at 13/20 provides enough value in this one.
Saturday 20 February
Bayern Munich 1/16
No upset likely here. Despite a rather pedestrian start to the second half of the season, Munich clicked into gear with a 3-1 win over Augsburg last week. The victory was dedicated to centre-back Holger Badstuber, who broke his ankle in training the day before the match. It was the latest in a succession of injuries that has marred the player’s career in recent years. Darmstadt enter the match without five of their first-team regulars. A total of six players were booked for the fifth time this season in their 2-1 home defeat to Leverkusen, four of those yellow cards coming in the final 10 minutes. Manager Dirk Schuster denies that the bookings were deliberate - a possible ploy to clear the slate before a match that they have little hope of winning. With that in mind, the Bayern Halftime-Fulltime Double at 3/10 should arrive with ease.
What’s happened to Gladbach? After stringing together 10 successive matches unbeaten earlier in the season, they’ve lost three of their last six and slipped to seventh on the table. Their latest defeat came away from home against Hamburg but a return to their home patch should fill both the club and punters with optimism. Cologne were simply too good for Frankfurt last time out and the come-from-behind victory has kept the club in the hunt for a spot in Europe next season. The Goats are just four points adrift of the qualifying berths but will find it tough to come away from this fixture victorious. I’m backing the home win at even money.
Hertha Berlin 18/10
Hertha Berlin’s six-match unbeaten streak (including three consecutive draws) was brought to an end by the unlikeliest of opponents. Okay, perhaps Stuttgart’s return to form renders the loss slightly more acceptable but there’s no doubt that the Old Lady will be disappointed with their performance and recent form overall. The men from the capital will be eager to get back to winning ways against a Wolfsburg side very poor on the road. They’ve lost four of their last five travels and have only one win this season away from the Volkswagen Arena. Two goals in two minutes saw Wolves dispatch Ingolstadt last weekend but they’ve yet to really convince this term. The home win at 18/10 is incredible value all things considered.
28-year-old Julian Nagelsmann picked up a point on his coaching debut as Hoffenheim drew 1-1 at Werder Bremen. Nagelsmann was meant to take the reins at the end of the season with Huub Stevens tasked with steering the club to survival. However, Stevens was forced to resign due to heart problems and the club have decided to let U19 coach Nagelsmann step into the senior role ahead of schedule. The youngster better be something special, with Hoffenheim still six points from safety. Mainz moved level on points with Schalke in fifth with a 2-1 win over the Royal Blues last weekend. It’s been a fantastic season for Mainz, who have now won three on the trot. Home ground advantage has not proven a benefit to Hoffenheim and I’m tipping the away Win/Draw Double Chance at 5/10.
Werder Bremen 24/10
Despite a 2-0 loss on their visit to Wolfsburg last weekend, Ingolstadt will be largely pleased with the way things have gone this season. They continue to win and lose in almost equal amounts and although they would look to be more consistent, the promoted club remain six points above the drop zone. Werder Bremen occupy a space on the opposite end of the spectrum. After challenging for a place in Europe last season the club now find themselves in the promotion/relegation spot with twenty points for the term so far. They’ve won only one of their last five Bundesliga matches and missed another opportunity for points against Hoffenheim last weekend. This one has Under 2.5 Goals at 7/10 written all over it.
Sunday 21 February
Bayer Leverkusen 49/20
Borussia Dortmund 21/20
Leverkusen took advantage of Hertha Berlin’s slip-up to take third spot on the table by goal difference. Bayer came from behind to beat Darmstadt 2-1 on a heavy pitch at the Stadion am Bollenfalltor. They needed a Darmstadt own goal to get back on level terms before Julian Brandt netted in the 77th minute to secure all three points. That makes it six matches unbeaten for Leverkusen. Dortmund eked out a 1-0 win against Hannover with a gritty performance. A piece of magic from Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the difference between the two sides and the challenge for Dortmund will be to replicate the form they found over the first half of the season. They eased to a 3-0 victory over Leverkusen in the reverse but something tells me this will be a tougher affair. Both Teams To Score at 13/20 does enough for me.
Schalke just cannot meet any level of consistency. Just when one feels that the club is about to hit a run of form they capitulate in miserable fashion. Schalke remain fifth on the table following their 2-1 loss to Mainz - level with last weekend’s opponents on points and goal difference. Next they host one of the Bundesliga’s form sides in Stuttgart. The Swabians have somehow strung together five wins on the trot and have leaped up to 10th on the table after propping up the log for much of the season. They’re unbeaten in seven matches and will look to cause an upset in this one. The away Win/Draw Double Chance is surely worth a punt at 7/10.
Hannover hung on admirably with their travel to Dortmund but ultimately succumbed 1-0 to the Bundesliga high-flyers. It left Hannover rooted to the bottom of the table with seven straight defeats - and nine from their last 10 matches. Relegation looks almost certain if their form line continues as such. Augsburg seemed to have turned their form around in a torrid season yet are now winless from their last four matches. Last weekend they were rightly defeated 3-1 by Bayern Munich and the club will look to bounce back immediately against the basement boys. I’m tipping the away win at 31/20.
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