THE Bundesliga continues and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Union Berlin's showdown with Schalke on Sunday .
Union Berlin v Schalke | Sunday 7th June 2020, 14:30 | BT Sport
Two sides in woeful form meet in the German capital in a bid to get their respective seasons back on track, perhaps happy to be playing in front of their supporters given their current plights.
Since the Bundesliga restart, Union and Schalke have been the two worst teams that I have watched by some distance. Playing such uninspiring football, it’s little surprise that collectively the teams are now without a win in 17 matches and they are both finding goals very hard to come by.
For Union, their team is perhaps receiving less slack with 2019/20 being their debut Bundesliga campaign. Success at the start of the season was considered to be survival and although the players are not out of the woods yet, the points they gained prior to the league suspension should prove enough with bottom side Paderborn and Fortuna Dusseldorf still to play.
Urs Fischer’s men have been heavily reliant on the 12 goal haul of striker Sebastian Andersson who’s step up to the top flight has been very impressive at this stage of his career.
The 28 year-old is a terrific outlet for the Berliners and has scored a league-high seven goals with his head this season so the 11/2, boosted with SkyBet, on the Swede to add to that tally (as he did in last weekend’s defeat) could appeal in what is expected to be a tight contest.
That Gladbach loss was of course a disappointing one but Union showed much more promise in the second half, setting up with a more positive approach which led to a total of 12 shots on goal by the end of the 90 minutes – the highest the team had recorded since the restart.
If Fischer encourages his team to attack here against a vulnerable Schalke, they could just get the edge here but I’m not confident enough to put money on it.
If I’m not going to back Union, the same can certainly be said for Sunday’s rivals Schalke. David Wagner is under big pressure from S04 fans growing increasingly patient with such poor results and the drab football on show.
Just three goals in eight matches is a huge worry and to add the misery, Schalke’s missing list is growing by the week to the point that going into this match, they’ll be without at least 15 of the 34 leagues goal they have scored this season. The last two of those goals were scored by American Weston McKennie but his suspension is a big blow for Wagner’s hopes of getting three points here.
Union have coincidentally matched that lowly goal number of 34 scored and given how bad these sides rank on the Expected Goals (xG) from recently and across the season (5th and 3rd bottom respectively), unders looks the way to go.
The betting angles
If you combine Under 4 Goals with over 13.5 free-kicks for Union with Bet365’s BetBuilder, we get a price of 6/5 which looks attractive.
As bad have Schalke have been across the pitch, they have certainly been getting stuck in since the German league has returned as their tackle and foul counts show. Focusing on the fouls, and the Blues have conceded an average of 16.25 free-kicks per match including 22 in their last match, perhaps an indication that frustration is growing.
Union themselves have been awarded over the 13 mark in each of their last three matches and an average of 15.75 since the resumption and with both sides desperate for the points here, I think the challenges could fly in. It’s a two-point play for me.
My second bet involves a player who looks very likely to be given a berth in the starting eleven given Schalke’s injury and suspension troubles. As mentioned, Weston McKennie is out as is Suat Serdar through injury so in the middle of the park, Nassim Boujellab should earn only his second start of the season.
The young Moroccan’s passing stats can look low on the surface but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that his average rises to 45.7 per 90 minutes. The 5/4 with Ladbrokes that Boujellab attempts 40+ passes therefore looks too big to ignore given that he should receive many more minutes here against a team that doesn’t see too much of the ball. Again, I’ll be staking two points.
Union’s possession average for the season stands at 43.7% with only Augbsurg recording a lower number. It’s not too surprising given how direct the team is, looking to play the ball up to and off Andersson as much as possible.
When Boujellab played 74 minutes against Koln – a similar team to Union – earlier this season he racked up 45 passes and we all know that Wagner likes his teams to keep the ball, no matter how ineffective they are at converting possession into goals.
To back the selection up further, I looked back at the passing lines centre-midfielders against Union have reached and taking a sample of the last 20, 18 of them have had 40 or more. I won’t stretch to any lines above the 40 here though as given the Schalke graduate hasn’t played too much game time, he may not last the full 90 minutes (if he doesn’t start the game then the bet will be voided).
It may not be the most exciting contest ahead but there’s almost always value to be found if you look hard enough, even in games involving sides bang out form!