THE Bundesliga continues on Wednesday and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Fortuna Dusseldorf's fixture with Schalke.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke | Wednesday 27th May 2020, 19:30 | BT Sport
Fortuna Dusseldorf host out-of-form Schalke in perhaps one of the more unappealing games of the midweek Bundesliga calendar, but it doesn’t mean there’s no value to be found.
Dusseldorf manager Uwe Rosler would have been cursing his side’s defending in the final few minutes of the weekend draw with Koln, throwing away two crucial points in their battle to avoid relegation and against their local rivals no less. Koln poured men forward and went even more direct than they normally do, something Fortunen couldn’t handle.
Defending from crosses was the team’s biggest downfall, conceding both goals and a penalty from failing to deal with balls in the box although at the other end of the pitch, there were encouraging signs of Rosler’s tactical tweaks taking good effect.
Pressing high up the pitch, starting from the front three of Skrzybski, Karaman and Thommy, forced mistakes from Koln and led to Fortuna’s first goal and their best other chance in the first half. The latter in particular had an excellent game, registering 5 shots and scoring what he and his teammates must have thought was the match-clinching goal.
After making four changes to his starting line-up, more than any other team from matchday 26 and 27, I’m not expecting Rosler to tinker too much after an encouraging performance but he’s likely to bring defender Kaan Ayhan back in to the team following his suspension.
Schalke on the other hand look in a sorry state after two abysmal performances since the restart, despite sitting eighth in the table. Boss David Wagner has blamed psychological issues on his players’ current form but it also has to be recognised how little quality there is in some quarters of the squad.
A lack of creativity and final third threat (now scored just two goals in nine) has put pressure on the defence who are, as a result, making individual errors and a poor showing in the derby defeat to Dortmund was trumped by a shameful showing in the Augsburg loss. Schalke players will have been thanking their lucky stars that there were no fans in the VELTINS-Arena to show their displeasure as it would’ve been rather ugly.
It may be a little early to draw too many conclusions but you can’t help but think of Huddersfield (the side Wagner used to manage) in their second Premier League campaign when you watch Die Knappen at the moment. Lacking identity, goals and far too easily to play against.
It’s little surprise the team’s goal return is so bad currently when you take a gander at their expected goal rate – 1.12 xG per 90 minutes is a sorry figure and to compound the Gelsenkirchen club’s misery, top scorer Suat Serdar went off injured in the 3-0 weekend hammering and looks set for a spell on the sidelines.
The betting angles
For all these reasons, I’m happy to back Dusseldorf +0 on the Asian Handicap line which is 24/25 with Bet365. It’s just a shade short of even money and is essentially the same as backing the home team on the draw no bet market so a win will bring home the money but gives insurance if the game ends in a draw.
One man who will draw encouragement though is the versatile Daniel Caliguiri who is currently featuring on the right-wing for the Royal Blues, having previously played at right-back and centre-midfield in 2019/20. The German has played nearly 300 Bundesliga games in his career now and he will need to use that experience wisely to help guide his teammates through a tough spell to come.
Caliguiri’s shout count rises from 1.5 per game to 2.2 when playing on the right-wing and it’s interesting to note that the 32 year-old takes set-pieces regularly which is always a boost to my second selection – 1+ shot on-target for the wide man at 11/10 with PaddyPower.
Dusseldorf rank highly for fouls conceded including 32 in the last two games so there could be plenty of chances for Caliguiri to have a direct effort on goal. Other bookies have this line at around 4/6 which is perhaps more reflective of his most recent stats (SOT in three of his last four) and how integral he will be to the away team in this game.
In addition, Caliguiri scored in the reverse fixture so has experience of making an impact against this opposition.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke – Fortuna Dusseldorf +0 Asian Handicap (24/25 Bet365)
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke – Daniel Caliguiri 1+ Shot on Target (11/10 Paddy Power)