A FULL house for Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) on last weekend’s Bundesliga column. Can he repeat the feat this weekend?
Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin | Saturday 14.30
Julian Draxler’s first goal for Wolfsburg since signing on deadline day was enough to secure three points in their Champions League opener against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night and we should expect the Wolves to bag another victory on Saturday afternoon against Hertha Berlin.
As well as Draxler, Dieter Hecking’s side brought in experienced centre-half Dante to give the defence a bit more stability and the summer capture of Max Kruse has provided the offence with a little more sparkle in attacking areas. Early signs suggest the departures of Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic may not hit the club quite as hard as we first thought.
Having beaten Hertha in four of the last five meetings, VFL are understandably strong favourites to repeat the trick. But it’s their awesome Volkswagen Arena form which deserves all our attention. The hosts are unbeaten since March 2014 in Bundesliga football on home soil (W18-D6-L0) with 15 victories in their most recent 18 outings and at least two goals scored in 10 of their last 11.
Wolfsburg have W2-D2-L0 so far this season in league action with both maximum point hauls being earned at the Volkswagen Arena. And it’s also worth pointing out – their tally of two goals conceded is equal-best in the Bundesliga and their strongest return in top-flight history.
Visitors Hertha have enjoyed a solid opening four games too. Their W2-D1-L1 return has only ever been bettered twice in 33 previous top tier campaigns but whilst Pal Dardai’s charges are organised and generally tougher to beat than in previous seasons, they still struggle on the road.
Since the Hungarian took charge, the capital club have W3-D2-L5 of 10 road trips and are likely to be without Peter Pekarík, Roy Beererns and Mitchell Weiser. Hertha have won none of the 12 games that forward Beerens has missed since the start of last season, scoring only five goals. Nine of those matches ended in defeat.
Throw in the Berlin-based side’s record at top-six teams – eight losses in nine – and Wolfsburg W28-D12-L5 return under Hecking’s watch at home to Bundesliga opposition and we’ve the basis for a strong Asian Handicap selection. The Wolves can be backed at even-money (Bet365) off a -1 start. With this pick, we’ll get our cash back if the hosts win by one but have ourselves a winner should Wolfsburg win by two goals or more.
Augsburg v Hannover | Sunday 16.30 | BT Sport Extra
Now we get to see what Augsburg are really made of. Following last season’s quite unbelievable run to fifth, the Bavarians qualified for Europa League football. That campaign began on Thursday night with defeat in Bilbao and Markus Weinzierl’s troops have struggled to get going in 2015/16.
The Fuggerstädter only have a solitary point on the board but were harshly edged out in an unlucky 2-1 loss at Bayern Munich last weekend. There were promising signs in that defeat but there’s still no getting away from the fact that this is Augsburg’s equal worst return from their four Bundesliga games ever.
The hosts have failed to score in five of their previous seven at the WWK Arena but they’ve hit the woodwork on numerous occasions already this term and they should have enough to notch against a haphazard Hannover. I spoke at length last week about how crap I think the 96ers are but they put in a decent shift when going down 4-2 to Dortmund.
Felipe endured a nightmare at centre-half and the visitors have now gone a full 22 top tier outings without keeping their sheets clean. Hannover have only won two of those matches and arrive with a W1-D6-L6 record from their most recent 13 away days.
The Lower Saxony club have also only posted a solitary point from their first four and Michael Frontzeck’s men have only once before accrued fewer points at this stage of a Bundesliga season. Still, they’ve never lost to Augsburg (W5-D5-L0) and that run includes five wins from the most recent six duels.
With neither side particularly impressive in the early exchanges, it’s the goals markets that make most appeal. As well as that woeful backline record, Hannover have seen Both Teams To Score bank in 16 of their last 20 games. The BTTS bet has also proven profitable in 30/53 (57%) of league encounters at the WWK Arena under Weinzierl’s watch. A repeat on Sunday is a very backable 8/9 with 888.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen | Sunday 16.30 | BT Sport Europe
The opening day of the 2014/15 season saw Leverkusen win away at Dortmund, setting the tone for the Black & Yellows’ disastrous season. Karim Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history to help settle matters and Jurgen Klopp’s men failed to recover. A late rally saw BVB take seventh.
But Thomas Tuchel’s made a record-breaking start to life in the dugout at the Signal Iduna Park, guiding Dortmund to a remarkable 10 wins from 10. Their come-from-behind victory over Krasnodar on Thursday night in the Europa League included plenty of changes in personnel and you get the feeling the Black & Yellows are back to being Germany’s second best.
Their haul of 12 points and a +12 goal difference is second only to Stuttgart in Bundesliga history (+13 goal difference in 1996/97) with the side scoring at least three goals in each of their four Bundesliga games. But standing in their way on Sunday is a Leverkusen side that’s W2-D2-L0 in the previous four head-to-heads, including shutting BVB out in the last two at the Westfalenstadion.
But hey, we’ve got to be with Tuchel’s troops. Dortmund have now won eight of their last 10 matches and indeed eight of their last 10 at the Westfalenstadion, with seven of those wins by a margin of at least two goals. Immediately I’m attracted to a bolshie bet on the hosts who’ve won their last six on home soil with seven of their last eight home wins by that magic two goals or more mark.
Dortmund are 11/8 (BetVictor) off a -1 Asian Handicap start and that looks a decent play. We get our cash back should BVB only manage a victory by a solitary goal with wins by a margin of two goals or more deemed a winner.
I was really keen on Leverkusen this season but the sale of Son has really dampened my appetite. Bayer did pick up a much needed home win against BATE Borisov in the Champions League but they’ve made a desperately disappointing start to their Bundesliga campaign.
Roger Schmidt’s side have suffered back-to-back league losses ‘to nil’ including a convincing defeat at Bayern Munich. In fact, their road record at top-six teams last term read W1-D1-L3 with all three defeats at the top-three with Gladbach and Wolfsburg winning by three goals in their encounters.
The visitors are only converting one in nine clear-cut chances but it’s their backline that’ll come most under threat on Sunday afternoon and I reckon Dortmund are a decent bet to make it 11 successive wins on the spin since Tuchel took charge.
Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin – Wolfsburg -1 Asian Handicap (1/1 Bet365)
Augsburg v Hannover – Both Teams To Score (8/9 888)
Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen – Borussia Dortmund -1 Asian Handicap (11/8 BetVictor)