HAVING hibernated for the past month, the Bundesliga returns from its winter break this weekend and whilst they title race may be done and dusted already, there’s still plenty of value to be had in Germany’s top-flight. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) is on the hunt for the best bets.
Schalke v Hannover | Saturday 14.30
A late surge from Schalke towards the end of 2014 saw the Royal Blues finish the calendar year a point off third-place and Roberto Di Matteo will be keen to see his side push on. Hannover are the visitors to the Veltins Arena for Schalke’s 2015 curtain-raiser and there’s a lot to like about the hosts at 11/10 with BetVictor.
With four victories in their last six games under their belts in the Bundesliga, the Royal Blues remain a real force when playing in front of their home fans. Dating back to the start of last season, Schalke have won 17/26 (65%) Bundesliga game at the Veltins Arena. It’s a very strong trend that directly contrasts with Hannover’s rotten away form.
The 96ers enjoyed a positive start to their campaign but that tailed off towards the end of the year as Hannover concluded 2014 with a W1-D2-L3 record. But it’s on the road where the Reds really struggle. Across the same sample, Hannover have lost 16/26 (62%) of their away league games since the start of last season.
Schalke are missing first-choice stopper Ralf Fährmann along with the likes of Jefferson Farfan, Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka and potentially too Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. But the hosts can still call upon Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Max Meyer in forward positions so I’m more than happy to chance them at odds-against quotes, especially with 11 wins in their last 14 against their Lower Saxony visitors.
Hamburg v Koln | Saturday 14.30
I’ve never been fully comfortable with opposing Hamburg. For such a huge club, they seem to be in a constant run of turmoil. On the pitch, the Dinosaur have flirted with relegation in the past 18 months and they just can’t seem to get things right.
For all Hamburg’s attacking potential within their personnel, they’ve managed a pathetic nine goals in the first-half of the season. Of course, that’s the worst goalscoring record in the Bundesliga but it’s also the worst goalscoring record in Europe.
Joe Zinnbauer's hosts have also been rocked by injuries to a number of key players. Cléber, Lewis Holtby, Valon Behrami and Tolgay Arslan will all be absent giving visitors Koln a fantastic chance of coming away with a result.
The Billy Goats arrive having tasted victory once since November but there were plenty of positive vibes coming out of their January training camp. Despite a poor run before Christmas, Koln can still boast the second best away record in the league (W4-D1-L4) and are well capable of avoid defeat on Saturday.
I’m going to back Koln +0.25 in the Asian Handicap at Bet365’s 41/40. This selection means we’ll receive a full pay-out should the visitors pocket the points but we’ll also have ourselves half of our potential pay-out should they take a draw.
Werder Bremen v Hertha Berlin | Sunday 14.30 | BT Sport 2
Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin go head-to-head as the battle for Bundesliga survival continues. Just three points separates the bottom seven sides and both teams know a winning start to 2015 would do them the world of good.
Rather than pick sides, I’m going to be backing goals. Over 2.5 Goals can be snapped up at 5/6 with BetVictor and it’s a price well worth taking at the Weserstadion.
Bremen ended their 2014 campaign on the back of five successive Over 2.5 Goals winners with those five fixtures producing whopping 25 goals. They’ve also already seen half of their matches on home soil break the two-goal barrier and call upon top-scorer Franco Di Santo again.
It’s been a similar story for Hertha. Eleven of their 17 games have produced three goals or more with six of their eight away from the capital banking in the Over 2.5 Goals column. And encouragingly, five of those six fixtures also featured at least four goals.
And as for a final carrot, how about the fact that 13 of the last 15 meetings between these two sides have featured at least three goals? Yeah, I’m happy to get behind a repeat on Sunday.