GERMAN football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has poured over the Bundesliga column and shared his favourite fancies right here.
Schalke v Borussia Dortmund | Sunday 14.30 | BT Sport ESPN
Sunday is Revierderby day – always a date for the diary.
Schalke’s battles with Dortmund tend to fiery affairs and this weekend’s match-up promises plenty for punters and neutrals alike. These two hate the sight of each other and Germany’s biggest derby match tends to deliver fireworks.
Dortmund make the 32-kilometre journey looking to do the double over Schalke having already beaten the Royal Blues 3-2 earlier in the campaign. Thomas Tuchel’s troops have already secured a top-four finish this season and sit 23 points ahead of their hosts in the Bundesliga standings.
Indeed, BVB are enjoying their best ever season for points accrued (67 points after 28 games) and that tally would have made them league leaders at this stage in 49 of the last 52 seasons.
Dortmund are unbeaten in 11 league matches (W9-D2-L0) and still maintain hopes of catching table-topping Bayern Munich. The Black & Yellows have outscored the Bavarian juggernaut but were surprisingly off-pace when welcoming Liverpool for Europa League duty on Thursday.
Did BVB struggle with the emotion that came alongside Jurgen Klopp’s return? Were Tuchel’s team tactically out-classed by the Reds? Perhaps there’s a small element of both. The men from the North Rhine-Westphalia will need to step on the mettle once more when Sunday afternoon rolls around.
Schalke would enjoy nothing better than handing a fatal blow to their bitter rivals’ lingering title hopes. The group from Gelsenkirchen are a point off the top-four and have aspirations for clinching a Champions League place but this match marks the beginning of a tough season run-in.
After Dortmund, the Royal Blues still have to travel to Bayern as well as taking on fifth-placed Leverkusen so failure to pick up maximum points here could have serious consequences for Andre Breitenreiter’s men.
Schalke have found little consistency this season and last weekend’s damming 3-0 reverse at Ingolstadt – a side that scored just nine goals from open heading into that encounter – worsened their recent record to just three triumphs in eight.
Midfielder Leon Goretzka remains a major absentee although Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, benched for the past two matches, could start instead of misfiring fellow forward Franco Di Santo as the home side go on the offensive.
I don’t want to oppose Schalke here; the Royal Blues do have a tendency for raising their game against the division’s elite – since the start of last season, the hosts have W9-D3-L2 when welcoming top-half opposition – and with Dortmund sandwiching this fixture between intense Europa League action, they make little appeal.
To be honest, I’m surprised to see Schalke as big as 7/10 (BetVictor) with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line and I’m happy to get this selection onside. We’ll make money should the Royal Blues avoid defeat but even if they lose by a one-goal margin, we’ll get our cash back.
The only way in which I’ll lose by stake backing the +1 Asian Handicap is if Dortmund run out winners by two or more goals, a feat they’ve achieved just twice in 20 years visiting Gelsenkirchen. Indeed, Schalke have lost by at least two goals in just 10/99 (10%) home fixtures since the start of 2010/11.
Meanwhile, a constant Revierderby trend tends to be goals, and plenty of them. Seven of the last eight head-to-heads have featured Over 2.5 Goals winners as both sides have scored in six of those contests.
With five of Schalke’s six encounters with top-nine teams this term beating the 2.5 gaol mark, as well as seven of their most recent 10 at home to top-six clubs, a repeat could well be on the cards.
The Royal Blues have seen winning Both Teams To Score bets bank in 10/14 (71%) at home under Breitenreiter with Dortmund following suit in 9/14 (64%) of the domestic dates away.
The Black & Yellows have delivered more than three goals in 9/14 (64%) of their away trips, with Over 3.5 Goals landing in 10 of their last 20 on their travels, making Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/6 Stan James) look a handy avenue of attack.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hoffenheim | Saturday 14.30
Having given Hoffenheim – specifically, 28-year-old head coach Julian Nagelsmann – the big build up last week, the side from Sinsheim produced a bit of a turkey on Sunday afternoon.
Thankfully, Kevin Volland secured a late leveller to salve a 1-1 draw against Koln but in truth, TSG weren’t as good as the stats suggested – Hoffe landed five on-target attempts to Koln’s one.
Still, Nagelsmann’s appointment has had a wonderful impact and having taken over with the club only off the bottom of the Bundesliga on goal difference, Hoffenheim are now 14th with only Dortmund (22) and Bayern Munich (19) claiming more points than their tally of 14 (W4-D2-L2).
The visitors have doubled their points total in the eight games under the young boss’ first eight fixtures and although they struggled when asked to take the initiative last weekend, a return to their mean counter-attacking ways could pay dividends at Frankfurt on Saturday.
The Rhein-Neckar-Arena club were on-it when winning 3-1 at Hamburg before the international break with TSG averaging almost five shots-on-target per-game under Nagelsmann’s watch.
Volland is unearthing his old form, Andrej Kramaric adding goals and guile to an adventurous attack with Mark Uth and Eduardo Vargas providing panache from the flanks. So with 16/19 (BetVictor) offered up on Hoffenheim with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start, I’m keen to camp with Sinsheim side again.
It’s a critical contest with just a point separating the pair and Eintracht currently occupying an automatic relegation place. And although Frankfurt were only seen off 1-0 at Bayern Munich last weekend, Niko Kovac’s crew were still a huge second best.
Since the Croatian arrived, the Eagles are covering significantly more ground but results and performances haven’t shown any sign of improving. Eintracht have still won once in 10 (W1-D4-L5) and now failed to net in six of those fixtures.
The sole success came in a sketchy 1-0 triumph against beleaguered Hannover and this weekend they’re once again without skipper and top-scorer Alex Meier. In the 19 matches he’s missed since the start of last season, Frankfurt have scored just 16 goals.
The hosts have beaten Hoffenheim only once in five recent head-to-heads and although they’ve suffered a solitary reverse in seven in Frankfurt, I’m still happier siding with TSG here, knowing we’ll collect cash should they avoid defeat.
We’ll pocket a half-stake win should the game end all square and a full-stakes profit should Hoffenheim pile more misery on Eintracht with an away victory.
Werder Bremen v Augsburg | Saturday 14.30
Werder Bremen welcome Augsburg for what’s looking like a crucial six-pointer in the battle to avoid Bundesliga relegation on Saturday.
Bremen sit one point and one place above their guests but head into this weekend without experienced leaders Clemens Fritz and Claudio Pizarro. Having claimed just two league triumphs in 13 (W2-D5-L6) at the Weserstadion, the pressure is on the River Islanders this weekend.
Viktor Skrypnyk’s side have drawn five of their last six as hosts and will also have to deal without suspended centre-back Papy Djilobodji; not ideal when you’re without a clean sheet in 31 top-flight fixtures and shipping over 2.00 goals-per-game.
Credit to Bremen, mind. They put in resolute performance at Dortmund last weekend before going down 3-2 and although they’ve beaten six of their last eight bottom-six visitors, I can’t be supporting Werder with such a shocking defensive record.
So instead, I’m heading to the goals markets where Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score can be snapped up at 9/10 with Stan James. Lovely.
The River Islanders have seen both sides score in 20/28 (71%) of their outings this season with 19/28 (68%) also overcoming the Over 2.5 Goals hurdle. On home soil those figures are 9/13 (69%) Both Teams To Score winners and 8/13 (62%) in the Over 2.5 Goals column.
Last weekend’s 4-2 loss to Mainz saw Augsburg drop into the relegation play-off spot for the first time in 2016 with Markus Weinzierl’s charges now without a win in six, shipping at least two goals in each winless fixture.
Paul Verhaegh’s injury hasn’t helped the Bavarians cause but Augsburg have netted in each of their last nine, as well as in all bar one of their 14 Bundesliga road trips in 2015/16. So you’d expect the Fuggerstädter to grab a goal here.
Like Bremen, eight of Augsburg’s last nine league games have featured goals for both sides and the most recent four head-to-heads between the two teams has seen the pair find the back of the net.
Cumulatively, 37/56 (66%) of the two teams’ matches have featured profitable BTTS punts, 35/56 (63%) have beaten the Over 2.5 Goals line, with 24/56 (43%) going on to produce at least four goals, making a goals-angle the preferable angle.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hoffenheim – Hoffenheim +0.25 Asian Handicap (16/19 BetVictor)
Werder Bremen v Augsburg – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (9/10 Stan James)
Schalke v Borussia Dortmund – Schalke +1 Asian Handicap (7/10 BetVictor)
Schalke v Borussia Dortmund – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/6 Stan James)
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