MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his favourite fancy from the weekend’s continental card.
Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund | Saturday 14.30
Dortmund booked their place in the DFB Pokal final on Wednesday night with a resounding 3-0 success over Hertha Berlin to set-up a mouthwatering showdown against Bayern Munich’s May final.
It’s the third time in five seasons Germany’s biggest two teams will compete in the country’s showpiece cup final and although the gap between the two teams stands at seven points in the Bundesliga, I’m sure we’d all agree that BVB are edging ever closer to the Bavarian powerhouse.
So if Die Schwarzgelben are clearly a team going places under Thomas Tuchel (despite their nightmarish collapse against Liverpool) why are we available to back Dortmund at 8/11 quotes (William Hill) on Saturday at Stuttgart?
I shouldn’t whinge and nor should you. In fact, we should all move quick to snap up the pre-match price as BVB showed last weekend they’re keen to end their league campaign on a high, when swatting bogey-side Hamburg aside 3-0.
Would Bayern be priced so appetisingly for a trip to the Mercedes-Benz arena? Absolutely not. In fact, across the past three campaigns Pep Guardiola’s all-star cast have been chalked up between 1/5 and 3/10 for their visits to Stuttgart.
That aforementioned Hamburg victory included a goal from 17-year-old Christian Pulisic and the feel-good story around North Rhine-Westphalia has at least banished a few of those Liverpool memories.
However, Mats Hummels revealed this week that his sleep is being affected by transfer speculation as he weighs up his options for next season. The centre-back is expected to be in demand over the summer, although his contract does not expire until 2017, and the unwanted attention is unlikely to please Tuchel.
Still, I’m confident that Dortmund can show their teeth here and just can’t turn down 8/11 quotes on a side that’s already beaten Stuttgart 4-1 and 3-1 this season, have won six of the past seven head-to-heads and avoided defeat in 12 against their Swabian hosts.
Die Schwarzgelben have W10-D3-L0 in their past 13 Bundesliga outings, claimed top honours in nine of their 15 road trips this term and seen off seven of their last nine bottom-six hosts – five of which were delivered by a margin of two goals or more.
For Stuttgart, the honeymoon period under Jurgen Krammy has come to an abrupt end. VFB won 18 points between December and late-February but last weekend’s dour 1-0 loss to Augsburg has seen Die Roten take six points from a possible 27 (W1-D3-L5).
The home side have shutout just two of their last 19 opponents. The Swabians have already lost eight of their 15 Mercedes-Benz encounters in 2016/16 and tend to suffer when welcoming the Bundesliga’s elite to Stuttgart, losing 10 of their last 15 when hosting top-six sides.
Key players have lost form, defensive shield Serey Dié is injured – VFB have W2-D3-L11 in his absence, shipping two or more goals in seven of those matches -and the squad seems to have suffered a horribly timed lack of confidence.
It’s not an ideal scenario to be in when sitting just a place above the relegation play-off position and preparing to entertain Dortmund.
The visitors deserve to be much shorter than the 8/11 quoted – even without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - and should be more than capable of picking up another maximum point return here.
Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund – Borussia Dortmund to win (8/11 William Hill)
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