THE BUNDESLIGA is back and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Saturday evening's encounter between Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach | Saturday 16th May 2020, 17:30 | BT Sport
Saturday’s evening kick-off sees Borussia Monchengladbach take the trip south to face an Eintracht Frankfurt side who will no doubt be envious of their opponents’ league position.
Frankfurt started the season at around 9/2 to finish inside the coveted Champions League places come May but instead find themselves 15 points further away from the top four than they are to 16th placed Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation play-off spot.
The form of Die Adler has veered from the sublime to the ridiculous all season, smashing five past Bayern Munich in November to end former manager Nico Kovac’s reign as Bayern manager to then embarking on a run of seven defeats in eight.
A summer of upheaval saw over €90m worth of talent leave in the form of Luka Jovic and Sebastian Haller, two men who scored over 52% of the team’s 89 goals in a 2018/19 run to 7th place in the Bundesliga and the Europa League semi-finals.
Replacing that many goals was always going to be very tough for the Frankfurt hierarchy and although Bas Dost, Andre Silva and Gonçalo Paciência have tried to replicate the tally left before them, only the latter has snuck into double figures for the season with 10 goals – a ratio of a goal every four games.
Dost’s signing was perhaps the cautious, short-term option and the 30 year-old has been blighted by various injuries since his return to Germany. However, the target man Haller replacement is a definite threat on his day and Frankfurt, averaging the most crosses per-game of any Bundesliga side this season (27), will certainly try and pick him out. With Paciência doubtful, you would expect the Dutchman to start from the off.
The prices on Dost to bag anytime here are too short for my liking, especially erring on the side of caution in the first matchday back. I will keep a close eye on the striker though the coming weeks to see if he’s looking as fit and as sharp as he has stated he feels on return to training.
Frankfurt have been underperforming against both their Expected Goals (xG) and Expected Goals against (xGA) return so it is little surprise that their league position reflects that. They will have little excuse not to try and give their supporters a bit of end of season cheer though and finish the campaign strongly, especially with a Europa League exit looking certain after a 3-0 drubbing at home to Basel in the first leg of the Last 16 tie.
Reflecting on Gladbach and I can't help but be impressed by Marco Rose's debut management season in the Bundesliga. The ex-Salzburg boss has given the team a new lease of life but will want to make sure all the hard work done to date is not undone by a limp finish to the final few games.
Despite only arriving in the summer, Rose has impressed many with the football he has his side playing and the transfer dealings in the summer which have arguably stepped the club up a gear.
Thorgan Hazard left to join Dortmund and the money obtained from that sale was spent wisely on Marcus Thuram (eight goals and eight assists in all competitions) and defenders Ramy Bunsebaini and Stefan Lainer. Bunsebaini's performances at left-back have been particularly impressive, providing a longer-term option for the ageing Oscar Wendt.
Gladbach's home form, as I highlighted in the outright season re-start preview, has been the backbone to their strong 2019/20 but four of their six defeats have come on the road, so this match will no doubt be a challenge.
It's perhaps easy to forget when you look at the table now that Gladbach were top of the table from matchday 7 to 14 but slipped down the table following five wins in 10 games. That form would not generally be considered bad but it goes to highlight the pace required to maintain a lead over the likes of Bayern Munich and Dortmund who are pretty relentless all season.
It has to be said that Denis Zakaria's absence through injury is a big miss for this and the remaining games as someone who keeps the team ticking over in the middle of the park. Tobias Strobl could replace the Swiss international if Rose deploys a 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders but it's hard to predict team news too well at this early stage of the restart.
The betting angles
I am predicting goals in this one, with both teams on a run of seeing the Over 2.5 Goals line land in six of the their last seven Bundesliga fixtures and Gladbach perhaps surprisingly without a clean sheet in 10. The recent head-to-head record between the sides flags goals too – the reverse fixture finishing 4-2 of Die Fohlen.
By adding each team to have Over 3 corners in the game to Over 1.5 Goals with Betfair's Same Game Multi feature, you get odds of 128/100 which I'm happy to place some money on. It's landed in their last four meetings and it's one of the reasons I'm backing it to return again.
Frankfurt sit third for corners earned in home games on average in the German top-flight (7.5) and have hit this marker in 10 of their 12 fixtures on home turf, one of the games it didn't land in coming against Bayern Munich.
Gladbach meanwhile average 5.00 per-away tie and hit four or more in 9 of their 12 matches on their travels. Both teams attack with pacy wide men so it makes sense that the corner count is relatively high for them and with 22 goals scored from set-pieces between them, they know corners is a good route to goal.
When looking at individual goalscorer odds in the context of so many set-piece goals, one man stood out. Frankfurt's second top scorer is centre-back Martin Hinteregger. The Austrian is 17/2 to score anytime with Bet365 which just looks far too big. That price implies an 11.7% chance when in fact he has found the net six times in 22 appearances (27% of games).
It's a longshot and I wouldn't go too gung-ho for that reason, but he's at the general 11/2 to score elsewhere and even 9/2 with one bookie, so I'm happy to take advantage of the price differentiation.