THE BUNDESLIGA is back and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Sunday evening's encounter between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich.
Union Berlin v Bayern Munich | Sunday 17th May 2020, 17:00 | BT Sport
Union Berlin play host to league leaders Bayern Munich in the Stadio An der Alten Försterei (the stadium in the old forester’s house) but will be sad to have one of their flagship home games of the season behind closed doors.
Union’s setting is beautiful and it’s little wonder so many that have visited it have fallen in love with the club and its traditions. The stadium, redeveloped by over 2,000 supporters volunteering their labour time, is surrounded by forest in the south of such a diverse cultural and historic city.
But make no mistake, Urs Fischer’s men are not in the Bundesliga this season just to make up the numbers and let everyone take in the beauty of its foundations. The team have earned more wins than defeats at home this campaign which is not always easy for teams promoted to this level, as the likes of Paderborn would attest to.
Fischer has done a great job in getting the best out of his squad, guiding them to 11th position at the time of writing which any Union fan would have bitten your hand off for back in August.
Being without that special atmosphere will be tough for Union to deal with in a fixture like this when they need all the help they can get, but their only ever competitive meeting with Bayern back in October should give them hope at least.
Die Eisernen fell to a 2-1 defeat but troubled the Bavarians who were lucky to escape with all three points, requiring a penalty save from Manuel Neuer to avoid dropped points. Borussia Dortmund fell to defeat here earlier this season so Bayern must be wary.
With Marvin Friedrich suspended, it will be interesting to see if Union revert to a back four which served them relatively well against the same opponents last time out or continue with their favoured 3-4-3 system.
Whatever team the home side line-up with, it’ll be a tough Sunday evening encounter against a club looking for their eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown. The mood in the Bayern camp appears to be good and has been for some time since an upturn in fortunes and return of an identity that appeared to be lacking for so long.
Head coach Hans Dieter-Flick has recently signed a new deal as well as players Alphonso Davies and Thomas Muller, all three of whom have had such a positive impact this season. Muller is heading towards the opposite end of the career lifespan to Canadian Davies and with Phillipe Coutinho now out for several weeks, the creative burden will only increase on the unorthodox attacking midfielder.
Not that it’s phased him in 2019/20 so far however with 16 assists in 25 Bundesliga games (64% of appearances). There’s a little bit of value in Coral’s 6/4 on Muller to create a goal again here, especially with Robert Lewandowski back fit and ready to finish off opportunities presented to him, but it’s more of a lean for me as I’d have liked a bigger price.
Muller has laid on six assists for Lewandowski since August, the best combination by some way in the division.
The betting angles
Despite performance inconsistencies at the start of the campaign, Bayern have been fast starters all season long and have scored a remarkable 15 goals in the first quarter hour of games (12 coming in away games) and 22 in the first 30 minutes. FCB are 23/20 with Coral to be leading after 30 minutes, just as they were in that 2-1 victory over Union at the Allianz Arena after Benjamin Pavard’s stunning opener. That’ll be one of my main selections here.
Given that I am expecting Bayern to come flying out of the traps, it’s worth taking a look at their outrights odds. While of course they are very short on the 1-X-2 market, combining Over 3.5 Goals with an away win gives odds of 11/8 with Betway.
Ten of Bayern’s 12 road trips have gone over the 3.5 goal line and eight of those the Reds went on to win. With two thirds of away games therefore landing this bet, the 11/8 looks attractive and if Bayern carry on from where they left off in March, they should have way too much quality for Union here in near neutral conditions and land their sixth consecutive away win with Over 3.5 Goals.
Four points is Bayern’s biggest championship lead of the season and with Dortmund facing a challenging derby game against Schalke, this first weekend back could be a fruitful one if Flick’s men play well and extend their run of 10 wins in 11 league matches.