Dortmund kept themselves in the title hunt with a highly-entertaining comeback against Werder Bremen last weekend in a match that see-sawed back and forth. Bayern Munich remain in the driving seat for their fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, yet one has to feel that there is still at least one dramatic twist left for the end of season tale. The race for the final guaranteed spot in the Champions League is still well and truly alive with all of Hertha Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen, Mainz, Schalke and Monchengladbach apt candidates given the quality shown over the course of the season.
Friday 8 April
Hertha Berlin 11/20 | Draw 3/1 | Hannover 52/10
Hertha Berlin’s grip on third place was loosened significantly in the wake of their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of a rampant Monchengladbach. The Old Lady went into the break 1-0 down following a mistake from goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who made amends with excellent saves prior to the wheels falling off. Berlin’s gap between themselves and a host of other sides vying for direct Champions League qualification has subsequently been reduced to three points. Hannover make the trip to the capital playing as though relegation is already a foregone conclusion. Ten points adrift of safety with six matches left to play makes the drop to the Bundesliga’s second tier almost certain. Back the Hertha Berlin Halftime-Fulltime Double at 13/10 for good value.
Saturday 9 April
Hamburg 1/1 | Draw 9/4 | Darmstadt 29/10
Hamburg’s top flight future now seems secure after beating Hannover 3-0 on the road. The victory ensured that Hamburg have a seven-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone and with six matches left to play, will back themselves to stay up. Darmstadt shared the spoils when they welcomed Stuttgart and still have some work to do to guarantee top flight football next season. Although they haven’t won a league match since early February, Darmstadt have been steadily collecting points through stalemates and have now drawn four on the trot. I’m tipping Hamburg to grab the three points at home at even money.
Stuttgart 5/1 | Draw 37/10 | Bayern Munich 9/20
Stuttgart have only won one of their last seven matches and the magnificent run of form that saw the club free of the relegation zone is now firmly a thing of the past. It’s still six points between Stuttgart and the dreaded drop zone but this match with Bayern Munich would be considered something of a write-off. Bayern Munich’s winning ways continued unabated with a comfortable if slender 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. Franck Ribery struck a stunning volley to open the scoring, after which Bayern Munich spent much of the match in cruise control with one eye on their Champions League encounter with Benfica. With Europe taking precedence, taking the straight Munich win at 9/20 is the best option here.
Werder Bremen 11/10 | Draw 5/2 | Augsburg 23/10
A shock victory appeared on the cards for Werder Bremen on their visit to Dortmund. A goalless first half gave way to the home side opening the scoring, before an own goal and Zlatko Junuzovic strike saw Bremen in front with 16 minutes left to play. It was not to be however, as the Bundesliga’s second best side turned the tables and left Werder Bremen just a single point from safety. Struggling Augsburg lost 4-2 on the road at Mainz and remain above the relegation only by virtue of goal difference. This trip to Bremen is a proverbial six-pointer with the clubs separated by the most slender of margins. Augsburg are winless in six matches and I’m tipping the home side to lengthen this streak at 11/10.
Eintracht Frankfurt 14/10 | Draw 24/10 | Hoffenheim 37/20
Frankfurt performed admirably to limit the damage against the league champions yet a good performance at this stage of the season counts for nothing without points to show. Frankfurt are still mired in relegation and are running out of time to secure top flight football. One win from their past 10 matches displays the gravity of the situation. They welcome fellow 2. Bundesliga candidates Hoffenheim to the Commerzbank-Arena in a must-win fixture for both sides. Hoffenheim’s resurgence under coach Julian Nagelsmann has been promising and a late goal against Cologne rescued a point last week. Recent form will give the club hope that avoiding relegation is possibility. I’m tipping the away win at 37/20.
Ingolstadt 21/10 | Draw 23/10 | Monchengladbach 13/10
Ingolstadt are all but mathematically assured of a spot in the Bundesliga next season after a sensational 3-0 win over Schalke. It was Ingolstadt’s first win in six matches, but crucially the club had only lost one of those fixtures. They remain at home for the visit of a Monchengladbach side who is in fine form, yet Ingolstadt will feel that they can get something from this match as they are unbeaten at home in 2016. Thorgan Hazard’s brace spearheaded Monchengladbach to an impressive 5-0 destruction of third-placed Hertha Berlin last weekend yet I’m expecting the visitors to struggle against resolute Ingolstadt. The home Win/Draw Double Chance is slightly short at 11/20 but is where I’ll be headed in this one.
Wolfsburg 21/20 | Draw 5/2 | Mainz 49/20
Wolfsburg’s Champions League dreams were effectively shattered on the weekend’s visit to Bayer Leverkusen, where they were hammered 3-0. That’s three straight Bundesliga matches without a win for Wolves, which leaves them languishing eighth on the table and seven points off potential Champions League qualification. Mainz kept up their own challenge for a place in Europe’s premier club competition with a 4-2 win over Augsburg that has lifted the club into sixth place. Mainz are only four points away from Hertha Berlin in third place and will fancy their chances against a Wolfsburg side there for the taking. However, I see this one ending in a draw at 5/2.
Sunday 10 April
Schalke 29/10 | Draw 26/10 | Borussia Dortmund 17/20
Schalke’s inconsistency reared its ugly head once again with last weekend’s travel to Ingolstadt. The Royal Blues were embarrassed 3-0 by the Bundesliga newcomers, which severely dented their Champions League qualification chances. There was little to speak of in the match from a Schalke perspective and they’ll have to improve ten-fold when hosting Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund left it late but still claimed all three points last week against Werder Bremen. It is now 20 matches unbeaten for the club, a streak stretching back to December in the match before the winter break. Back the away win at an attractively priced 17/20.
Cologne 21/10 | Draw 9/4 | Bayer Leverkusen 27/20
Cologne could not hold onto their goal lead at Hoffenheim, conceding late to share the spoils. Cologne are not exactly safe from the drop but being six points clear, know they’ll need only a few key performances to guarantee top flight football. Wins have been sporadic at best for Cologne and I can’t see them getting anything from the visit of Leverkusen. Bayer’s fantastic 3-0 win against Wolfsburg moved the club into fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Monchengladbach. The Champions League is still a very real possibility for Leverkusen, who have gone four matches unbeaten. Back the away win here at 27/20.
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