The Bundesliga season comes to a close on Saturday afternoon with Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) again in the hot-seat for our best bets column.
Paderborn v Stuttgart | Saturday 14.30
It’s the tightest relegation battle in Bundesliga history with six sides still fighting for their top-flight status. Saturday’s promises to throw up plenty of thrills and spills and we’ll begin by looking at two of those teams battling it out at the bottom.
Basement dwellers Paderborn welcome 16th-placed Stuttgart to their compact Benteler Arena home. Three points for the visitors would secure safety but the hosts would still require results to go their way if they’re to survive for a second season in the German top-flight. Tensions will be running high with so much at stake but the best betting option should be to back a high-scoring encounter.
André Breitenreiter’s SCP have W3-D7-L13 since November but performances certainly haven’t been as bad as the results suggest and recently the minnows have found their goalscoring boots once more. Paderborn have scored in four of their previous six and despite failing to find the net in four consecutive games in front of their home supporters through February and March, the hosts have managed to notch in 11/16 (69%) of fixtures at the Benteler Arena.
Breitenreiter’s charges have found keeping the goals out their major problem. SCP have kept just three Bundesliga shutouts since September and so it’s not too surprising to see a healthy 12/16 (75%) of Paderborn’s home games have broken the two-goal barrier with 7/16 (44%) also banking for Over 3.5 Goals backers.
With such a porous backline, it’s hard to find the faith in Paderborn clinching only a second league victory in 11 on home soil. You see, despite Paderborn’s dismal run of results, Stuttgart have done their best work on home soil as Huub Stevens continues to drive the Swabians away from danger. Looking dead and buried just a matter of weeks ago, Die Roten now know survival is in their hands.
However, Stuttgart’s W3-D5-L8 return on the road, including taking just two points from a possible 21 on their travels, is bound to cause concern. But punters hunting a goal-heavy game will be pleased by the fact 10 of their most recent 13 have featured Over 2.5 Goals with their last four away outings all producing Over 3.5 Goals.
Overall on the road, VFB have returned a healthy 9/16 (56%) of games with three goals or more and 7/16 (44%) of matches to feature at least four goals. Stuttgart have scored in 12/16 (75%) of those fixtures, keeping only two clean sheets.
Taking all those stats into account and the fact this clash is essentially a shootout for Bundesliga survival, I’m inclined to follow the goals trends and back Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 4/6 with Bet365.
Hamburg v Schalke | Saturday 14.30
The biggest potential story of the season could be at the Imtech Arena. Hamburg are the only Bundesliga club never to be relegated but Die Rothosen head into the final weekend in a perilous position. Nicknamed The ‘Dinosaur’, the northern giants must pick up three points from the visit of Schalke to stand a chance of survival.
Last weekend’s loss at fellow scrappers Stuttgart was a hammer blow to Hamburg’s hopes of playing Bundesliga football next season and although there’s been a noticeable improvement under Bruno Labbadia (their fourth coach this season), it’s hard to legislate for a side that’s won just five of their 16 home fixtures and managed a pathetic return of 23 goals from their 33 games.
Luckily for HSV, Saturday’s opponents Schalke are experiencing their own crisis. The Royal Blues have been directionless under the stewardship of Roberto Di Matteo; what began as steady defensive progress has turned into a shot-shy side shorn of confidence and ideas. S04 have failed to find the net in five of their last seven on the road with their 13-point tally away being the joint-third worst in the league.
Expect Schalke’s encounter with Hamburg to be dull, dour, tense, anxious, edgy and jittery. Taking a look at the prices I’m pleasantly surprised to see we can back Under 2.5 Goals at odds-against quotes. BetVictor are offering 6/4 and that’s a big value bet.
The hosts have been better in the final third under Labbadia but 11/16 (69%) of their Imtech Arena outings have delivered Under 2.5 Goals including five of their last six on home soil. It’s a similar story when looking at Schalke; seven of their past eight matches have featured fewer than three goals including eight of their 12 under Di Matteo on the road.
The stats suggest Under 2.5 Goals should be closer to 7/10 but thanks to BetVictor, we can back a low-scoring duel at the inflated price of 6/4. I’m in.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Augsburg | Saturday 14.30
Borussia Monchengladbach will look to finish their fantastic season with another impressive home display. Augsburg are Saturday’s visitors to Borussia Park and although the Bavarians have enjoyed their best ever campaign in the Bundesliga, it’s hard to see them stopping the rampant Foals.
Lucien Favre’s hosts have W10-D3-L0 since early February and that’s included victories by two goals or more against champions Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Leverkusen as well as a win against in-form Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen. Gladbach have also bagged nine successive three-pointers on home soil.
Augsburg haven’t yet tied up sixth spot and Markus Weinzierl’s troops have failed to hit the heights of the first half of the season and suffered losses in half of their most recent 14 fixtures (W3-D4-L7). The Fuggerstädter have been hit by injuries and fatigue but their record on the road has also proved problematic (W5-D0-L11) with six defeats occurring in their last eight.
I can’t see anything other than a reasonably comfortable home victory and so seeing Gladbach available to back off a -1 Asian Handicap start at 13/14 (BetVictor) holds plenty of appeal. Since Favre took the reigns, the Foals have W45/73 (62%) of their Borussia Park matches with 27 of their 45 wins coming by two goals or more – Augsburg have suffered defeat in 28/50 (56%) of Weinzierl’s away Bundesliga games with 14 of those 28 also coming by a two-goal margin.
The hosts are handicapped by the loss of suspended defender Tony Jantschke and injured duo Martin Stranzl and Alvaro Dominguez but those absentees are levelled out by the fact Augsburg’s two big hitters in skipper Paul Verhaegh and front man Raul Bobadilla are both banned for the final fixture of the campaign.
Paderborn v Stuttgart – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (4/6 Bet365)
Hamburg v Schalke – Under 2.5 Goals (6/4 BetVictor)
Borussia Monchengladbach v Augsburg – Borussia Monchengladbach -1 Asian Handicap (13/14 BetVictor)
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