JULIAN BETTS (@BettsJulian) returns with a fourth episode of his Round The World In 80 Leagues series. This time, we're off to Germany.
Eintracht Braunschweig v Armenia Bielefeld | Sunday 12:30
Do you know anyone from Bielefeld? Have you ever been to Bielefeld? Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
One of the most exciting aspects of writing these pieces is in finding out that almost everywhere in the world, no matter how mundane, has, at the very least, a football team and a story.
Some tales are quite fantastical, others more surprising and almost all interesting but only a select few places have made their name by being instantly forgettable. And therein lies the underlying principle of the Bielefeld Conspiracy.
A city so nondescript, so devoid of attraction that the citizens have bred the myth that it doesn’t actually exist at all. The above three questions form the basis of the conspiracy and as almost every reply is a universal no, so the conspiracy is perpetuated and strengthened over time.
Braunschweig, also not a wildly interesting city, does at least have a rich footballing history. Back in their heyday, not only were they once crowned Bundesliga champions (1966-67), they were also the first Bundesliga club to adorn sponsor logos on their shirts choosing well when teaming up with hard liquor merchants Jaegermeister.
A small part of us all, I think, regrets that the German Football Association refused an application to rename the club Eintracht Jaegermeister in 1983! (The English FA would surely have approved the plan in an instant, no questions asked).
They also hold a remarkable statistical record. In the 10 seasons between 1963-73 spanning 322 Bundesliga matches Braunschweig failed to pick up a single red card – quite incredible when you think about it.
Unfortunately life has dealt them a harsher hand recently and their only foray into the top tier of German football since 1985 resulted in just a one-season stay in 2013/14. They have fluctuated between the lower divisions for the majority of the past 30 years.
Yet fast forward to the present day and they sit second in Bundesliga 2 dreaming of top-flight football once again.
Eintracht have been propelled up the table in no small part to their almost perfect home record, gaining 22 out of a possible 24 points so far. Just the one draw against Hannover blotting their almost perfect copybook.
Their visitors on Sunday, Armenia Bielefeld, have not fared as well on their travels. Some might even accuse them of going missing, a football vanishing act – seven games, not a single victory, two points and five losses.
The betting angles
The contrast between the two sides could not be more palpable making the visitors perfect cannon fodder for this up and coming Braunschweig side. The 5/6 (Ladbrokes) on offer for a home victory is therefore manna from heaven.
Such is the gulf between the sides that I briefly considered Eintracht on the -1 handicap but immediately rejected the idea once I’d found out that six of their victories have come by just a solitary goal meaning only 1/7 would have paid out on this bet – no thanks!
At this point I should have learnt my lesson from Nacional Potosi, stuck to the straightforward victory in 90 minutes and walked away but the value hunter in me just couldn’t resist a closer look.
Turns out that in five of the seven victories Braunschweig have been ahead at half-time. Coupled to that, four of Bielefeld’s away losses have seen them behind at the break, which is enough to tempt me into the 2/1 (Coral) on Braunschweig/Braunschweig HT/FT market.
Just remember if this turns out to be a loser – you’ve never met me, you’ve never seen me, I don’t exist and anyone who claims any different is merely part of the conspiracy.