THE Bundesliga continues on Friday night and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Hoffenheim's contest with RB Leipzig.
Union Berlin v Schalke | Sunday 7th June 2020, 14:30 | BT Sport
Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim’s greatest ever manager, returns to his old stomping ground on Friday evening with the echoes from another two points dropped surely still ringing in his ears.
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Paderborn was Red Bull’s eleventh stalemate of the season, a record only matched by Schalke. Despite possessing the second best defence in the league, Leipzig have struggled to kill teams off particularly at home where seven of those draws have taken place.
That can likely be attributed to teams visiting Leipzig and sitting deep but Nagelsmann will know that the best teams, like Bayern and Dortmund, will find a way through these stubborn deep blocks to win regularly.
Simultaneously, the positive away form is likely a result of games being far more open which plays into Die Roten Bullen’s hands – as we saw on show at Koln where Werner, Nkunku and company broke the defensive line repeatedly.
The young manager will have to do without in-demand Dayot Upamecano after his red card last Saturday and with a fair few games coming up, rotation will likely be the name of the game as we so often see from the RB gaffer.
The trip to Hoffenheim has been made more intriguing by the home club’s decision to part ways with their own manager this week – Alfred Schreuder being shown the exit door with the club citing disagreements over the future vision as the reasoning.
In truth, despite the team sitting seventh and in with a shout of Europa League qualification, a poor home record (eight defeats) and an unconvincing style failed to win over supporters who don’t seem too despondent that the Dutchman has been let go.
The timing of the change, with just 18 days left of the season, could be seen as rather bizarre but the Hoffenheim board clearly feel that the quartet of youth team coaches they have asked to take charge will get more out of this squad in the remaining games than Schreuder could.
From a betting point of view, management changes can throw up uncertainty but also opportunities. With the village-based club appointing relatively unknown quantities though, it poses a tricky situation to analyse. Will we see a change in tactics, a ‘new manager bounce’ or, with just a couple of days to work with the players, more of the same?
Increased aggression from Hoffe?
One aspect of the team’s game I think may change though is how aggressive the side could be. It’s a trait we often see from a group of players when a caretaker or new management team are installed, with individuals looking to stake their claim and show some fight with nobody else to blame once the under fire manager has gone.
To demonstrate this, we saw five of the seven teams that changed manager this season in the Bundesliga increase their tackle count from the last game of the old manager to the first game of the new set-up.
Hoffenheim’s average tackle count for the season is 16.2 but I think they could get above that number against a team they are unlikely to see much of the ball against. Of those five teams I mentioned, the average tackle increase was 7.3 so I’ll be backing the 17+ and 18+ home team tackle lines respectively, priced at evens and 11/8 with SkyBet. Both one point plays.
My third selection will be a Bet Builder, sticking to a similar theme by including free-kicks awarded to Leipzig. The bet is RB Leipzig double chance; over 1 goals in the match and over 13.5 free-kicks in the match for Leipzig , coming out at an attractive 13/10 with Bet365. It’s a two-point play from me.
Since the restart, Leipzig have earned themselves 17.6 free-kicks per game and with this angle brining some success in their most recent away trip at Koln, I’m happy to get it on side again, albeit at a lower line this time around which we have the benefit with in a bet builder.
With the superior quality Leipzig have across the pitch, they should at least come away with a point here given their away form looks far stronger than Hoffenheim’s home record.
The Over 1 Goal line has copped in every single Hoffenheim home game this season as well as 13 of Leipzig’s 15 road trips. With the Blues without a clean sheet in 10 at home, conceding 27 in that time (and without jinxing it!), the goals element looks a relatively safe part of the combo.
Leipzig were fortunate that top four rivals Leverkusen and Gladbach slipped to defeats last weekend but can ill afford to slip up again themselves if they want to repeat this season’s successful Champions League journey in 2020/21. I’m backing them to come out on top with a couple of prop plays to boot.