MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has scanned the Bundesliga looking for the best betting opportunities from the top tier in Germany this weekend.
Bayern Munich v Augsburg | Saturday 14.30
As predicted, Bayern Munich fell to a heavy defeat in Barcelona in midweek and it wasn’t too surprising to see and hear that the knives were out for Pep Guardiola back in Germany. Brought in to deliver European success, one of the globe’s most sought after coaches’ has failed in his task for a second successive season.
I’ve a lot of time for Pep; his methods, ideology and work ethic are almost unrivalled and I did feel a smidgen of sympathy for him on Wednesday night. Bayern were without a number of key players and so the overreaction looked a little OTT. However, the fact the German champions failed to register a shot-on-target for the first time in a league or European match since October 2009 is almost unforgiveable.
So back to the drawing board and it’s intriguing to see FC Hollywood so generously priced for their Saturday league encounter with Bavarian rivals Augsburg. The odds have been trimmed in the past 24 hours but 6/11 (Bwin) is still available on Bayern to win – a very rare sight considering they’ve bagged 34 wins in their past 38 home Bundesliga fixtures.
Sure, several players will be rested and rotated with the return Champions League tie in mind but the champions will still be able to field a side strong enough to put the minnows in their place. Three successive losses just isn’t acceptable in Bayern’s world and so seeing the opportunity to back Pep’s men at 7/8 off a -1 Asian Handicap start with Bet365 shouldn’t be missed.
With this selection, we’ll get our cash back should Bayern only win by a one goal margin and we’ll have ourselves a winner should the hosts win by two goals or more at the Allianz Arena, as expected.
Augsburg have enjoyed a fairy-tale campaign but the wheels have started to come off Markus Weinzierl's team in recent weeks. Only Frankfurt have picked up fewer points than their tally of 12 and five successive away defeats have come in a run that’s seen the visitors win just twice in 12. It’s eight defeats in 10 trips to top-six sides and I’d be stunned if that record didn’t worse this weekend.
Stuttgart v Mainz | Saturday 17.30 | ESPN
The Bundesliga relegation scrap looks like being the most entertaining across Europe and with six teams still vying for survival, the race to stay in the top-flight promises to go right to the wire.
One of those teams fighting for their lives is Stuttgart. Coach Huub Stevens has thrown away his defensive instincts and turned the rock bottom club into an entertaining and enterprising attacking outfit in recent weeks, to mixed success. Eight points from four games at their Mercedes-Benz Arena home gave hope but cruel luck and terrible defending could cost Die Roten their Bundesliga status.
Last weekend Stevens’ side produced a superb display for 70 minutes at Schalke only to be undone by a combination of deflections and backline blunders to lose out 3-2. Timo Baumgartl, most at fault for their horrendous gaffes, should make way but I don’t expect the goals to stop following – Stuttgart’s last seven fixtures have returned a total of 29 goals – an average of 4.14 goals-per-game.
It’s that goal-heavy angle I’m looking for this weekend when the Swabians welcome Mainz in a do-or-die encounter. Sitting just three points from safety with just three games to play, Die Roten are going to need to play on the front foot if they’re to stand a chance of staying in the top-flight.
Never before in their Bundesliga history have the hosts posted so few points or wins at this stage of the season (six wins and 27 points from 31 games) and the side sittom bottom of the table after matchday 31 has suffered relegation in each season since the three-points-per-win system was introduced. The omens are terrifying for the Swabians, emphasising the need for Stevens’ troops to go on the offensive.
Mainz arrive nestled safely in mid-table thanks to the shrewd stewardship of Martin Schmidt. Following his appointment the O-Fivers have picked up W4-D3-L3 to gradually move away from the drama at the bottom of the table. But with little left to play for, the Karnevalsverein could participate in an enjoyable high-scoring encounter.
Ladbrokes have made Over 2.5 Goals a 7/10 play, which holds plenty of appeal. Mainz’s road games tend to be high-scoring affairs. In exactly half of their previous 20 away days, Over 3.5 Goals has proven a profitable selection with eight of their last nine at bottom-six sides breaking the two-goal barrier too. Stuttgart’s matches have followed a similar pattern, producing four goals or more in five of their last six.
Koln v Schalke | Sunday 16.30
Koln’s clash with Schalke on Sunday has the potential to be short of goalmouth action. Last time out Peter Stöger’s hosts recorded their ninth goalless draw of the campaign – a Bundesliga record – at Augsburg and their fixtures at the RheinEnergieStadion have produced an average of 1.93 goals-per-game.
The Billy Goats have seen 10/15 (67%) of games as hosts feature two goals or fewer with six producing just one or zero with Koln failing to even score themselves in nearly half of those matches. Six of their last seven matches anywhere have failed to break the two-goal barrier.
Koln are certainly a tough nut to crack and although Bundesliga survival has been all but assured, I don’t expect them to drop off the pace. The hosts are unbeaten in eight on home soil – the last time the Billy Goats went nine straight home league matches without defeat was in 1991/92 – so there’s plenty of incentive to stick to their rigid game plan.
Schalke are enduring their worst ever second-half of the season under Roberto Di Matteo and the former Chelsea coach has made the Royal Blues more defensively adept but incredibly meek going forward. Last week’s 3-2 success at home to Stuttgart flattered Di Matteo’s men and was only the third occasion since 17 December that the Gelsenkirchen club had scored two or more goals in a Bundesliga match.
Since the Italian has taken over, Schalke have featured Under 2.5 Goals in 7/11 (64%) of their away trips without troubling the scoresheet on six occasions. To make matters worse, top goalscorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar ended his record 13-match Bundesliga goal drought with a brave last weekend but he’ll be suspended for Sunday’s tie. The Royal Blues have W3-D4-L5 of the 12 matches he’s missed since the start of last season.
With all that in mind we simply must oppose goals and Ladbrokes’ 7/10 on Under 2.5 Goals is good enough to grab my attention for a bet from Sunday’s action.
Bayern Munich v Augsburg – Bayern Munich -1 Asian Handicap (7/8 Bet365)
Stuttgart v Mainz – Over 2.5 Goals (7/10 Ladbrokes)
Koln v Schalke – Under 2.5 Goals (7/10 Ladbrokes)
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