THERE'S a midweek round of Bundesliga action to enjoy and on Tuesday night Bayer Leverkusen take on Wolfsburg. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) shares his research.
Bayer Leverkusen v Wolfsburg | Tuesday 26th May, 19:30 | BT Sport
Bayer Leverkusen strengthened their grip on a Champions League with another clinical and impressive win at the weekend, this time at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Kai Havertz once again bagged a double and his stock continues to rise. It’s 18 goals and assists in his last 15 games in all competitions. He’s flourished in this more advanced role while filling in for the injured Kevin Volland.
It’s now six games without defeat for Peter Bosz’s side and they’ve won five of them with the only points dropped away at RB Leipzig. But with a quick turnaround following Saturday’s win and a trip to Freiburg on Friday, then we could see some rotation in this one for Bayer.
Wolfsburg’s seven-game unbeaten run came to an end against Dortmund at the weekend in a game that saw them squander a couple of second-half chances and create just 0.54 Expected Goals (xG).
They did stifle and frustrate Dortmund for the large part with Erling Håland kept quiet, but when chasing the game, Lucien Favre’s men are ruthless in transition and that’s where Wolfsburg were caught out.
And Olive Glasner’s men may have similar struggles against this Leverkusen side. Julian Brandt pulled the strings for Dortmund and Kerem Demirbay might just be the man to do the same here for Leverkusen.
The weekend’s xG tallies tell their own stories with how these two sides will approach this game, and it will be somewhat different.
Wolfsburg 0.54xG v 0.87xG Borussia Dortmund (0-2)
Monchengladbach 2.51xG v 3.42xG Leverkusen (1-3)
This season, only RB Leipzig have restricted their opponents to a lower Expected Goals Against (xGA) than Wolfsburg, so Die Wolfe do limit their opposition and that’s reflected by Dortmund on Saturday.
This exciting Leverkusen side has one of the higher Expected Goals counts in the league at 53.7 5xG compared to the visitors, who are at 40.89 xG.
Die Werkself will knock the ball around and are likely to beat Wolfsburg in the transition once more. If the hosts get that first goal then that’ll open it up in their favour.
When it comes to the possession then that’s something that Bosz’s men will see plenty of. This season, they average 59.6% and that rises to 61.5% at home, while Wolfsburg’s does the opposite – it drops from an average of 49.2% to 47.6% on the road.
The colossal Edmond Tapsoba has been Leverkusen’s top passer in both games since the league’s return – 91 of 94 v Werder Bremen and 55 of 65 against Gladbach, so his passing lines could well be worth a look when the markets become available.
The betting angles
There are plenty of angles that I’ve looked into for this one and there are three bets that I feel I can make compelling cases for. Plus, they’re all priced evens and above at the time of writing.
In the two matches we’ve had since the return, Leverkusen have had 27 shots and 14 of those hitting the target. Havertz has grabbed the headlines but the low centre of gravity and quick feet of Kerem Demirbay make him a danger to this Wolfsburg defence. The 26-year-old scored with his only shot on target against Bremen and at the weekend, he had four shots, two of which on frame.
Going back through the data makes the evens (SkyBet) for him to have a shot on-target look rather tasty. He had two on target against Rangers in the Europa League, one at Leipzig, plus he was on the scoresheet away to Porto.
So, while much of the attention will be on Havertz, the pace of Moussa Diaby and the potential of Leon Bailey returning to the starting XI, then backing Demirbay looks a shrewd little play.
Now the next two bets coincide and it starts with looking at Wolfsburg team tackles. They aren’t afraid to roll their sleeves up and their season average is around 18 tackles per game, which ranks them joint-fourth.
But scrolling through the data on the Stats Zone app, it showed how they do rack them up. Against Dortmund, they had 26 tackles and 27 on their return to action at Augsburg. Before the break here are just some of the numbers across domestic and European competition: 34, 29, 28, 25, 36, 22 & 27.
Some huge numbers and when you consider the 36 were in a 4-0 win over Mainz, it just shows you how combative they are. The fact Sky Bet are evens on 20+ tackles looks too good given those figures. You can even get 6/1 on 28+ Wolfsburg tackles.
Having previewed Wolfsburg v Dortmund I touched upon three men in green for tackles – Xaver Schlager, Kevin Mbabu and Maxi Arnold. That trio topped the tackles charts for them once more with Schlager completing five and the other pair three each.
I’m going to stick with Arnold once again in the tackles market with his bar fractionally lower than that of his midfield partner Schlager. The German made three against Dortmund, while he completed four against Augsburg.
Up against the flair of this Leverkusen side, he’s going to have to get stuck in once more, so those tackle stats should be as good as the weekend.
At the time of writing, only Sky Bet had priced up the player props markets.