THE Bundesliga continues on Tuesday and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Werder Bremen's battle with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach | Tuesday 26th May 2020, 19:30 | BT Sport
Borussia Monchengladbach will be looking to bounce back quickly from Saturday’s disappointing defeat to top four rivals Leverkusen, a game where they looked second best throughout.
Marco Rose’s men have found it tough against the sides in-and-round them during the season but some encouragement heading into this one will be The Foals’ record against bottom half clubs, which reads 12 wins in 16 matches.
Rose, having made no changes to his side from matchday 26 to 27, is likely to freshen things up here so make sure he utilises his squad in the midst of three games in a week.
The absence of Denis Zakaria is already telling, as we saw in the Leverkusen defeat, where the back four struggled to cope with the midfield running of their opponents. The German manager may look to tweak his line-up to avoid a repeat of that dilemma but given that Bremen should pose less of a defensive challenge, it’s more likely that changes to personnel will come at the top end of the pitch.
Breel Embolo only lasted 12 minutes of the weekend defeat and is doubtful for Tuesday’s contest and club captain Lars Stindl should start in his place. One positive of the Leverkusen match was Marcus Thuram’s continuing potent run of form in front of goal, bagging his 10th goal of the season in the race with French counterpart Alassane Plea to finish top goalscorer.
Thuram has been playing in a wide role for most of the campaign and his drifting runs into central areas have caused problems for opposition defences throughout 2019/20.
The betting angles
On the outright front, it’s hard to look past an away win here and with this being the Bundesliga, getting goals on side adds to the odds. Gladbach to win and Over 1.5 Goals is 21/20 with Coral and that looks good to me when factoring in that 15 of the team’s 16 wins have hit this goal line.
Bremen’s win at Freiburg had them riding their luck for the vast majority of the game but to the team’s credit, they came away with a vital three points in their battle for survival. The River Islanders needed to rely on some last ditch defending and several good saves from goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka to keep just their second clean sheet in 26 matches, a big reason they find themselves in such a poor league position.
Werder probably need at least three most wins from their eight remaining games to hold any chance of avoiding the drop but I just cannot see how they’ll have the quality to overcome Gladbach, especially with injuries and suspensions to contend with.
Left-back Marco Freidl sustained a knock so is touch-and-go for this match and midfielders Kevin Vogt and Philipp Bargfrede picked up a hip injury and suspension respectively. Although Davy Klassen marked his return to the side with a weekend assist, he’s one of only a couple of home players who would even be considered for this Gladbach squad.
If Florian Kohfeldt was hoping to look to his club’s head to head record with Gladbach for some inspiration, he’d want to look away again. No clean sheet in seventeen matches with Borussia is a wince-inducing record and they will need a lot of luck here to break that run and try and earn a second home success of the season.
Set-pieces could be key
One area that Bremen have struggled at so much since August has been defending set-pieces. Fifteen goals conceded from dead-ball situations is the highest total in the Bundesliga and Gladbach, who have bagged 11 from the same scenarios, will look to take advantage.
Looking back at matchday 26 just puts even more of an emphasis on this angle. Gladbach, even in defeat, created seven shots on goal from set-pieces whilst Bremen had VAR to thank for ruling out a late Freiburg equaliser for offside resulting from a free-kick.
When looking at prices of Gladbach players that may taken advantage of this, I’m drawn to Ramy Bensebaini. The adventurous left-back averages 1.7 shots per-90 minutes in reaching five goals in 12 starts in his favoured position and has recorded six shots alone since the league restart.
The Algerian’s four efforts on goal against Leverkusen included three shots from set-piece situations and at 6ft 1” tall, he’s certainly a target to try and reach in the box. Only Mathias Ginter in the Gladbach squad averages more aerial duels won per game than Bensebaini so at 13/8 for a shot on-target with SkyBet, I’m happy to get some money behind this selection.
It’s also worth noting a couple of other factors which count in our favour here. Firstly, the full-back takes penalties so if he’s on the pitch when Die Fohlen are awarded a spot-kick, he’ll almost certainty step up to take it. In addition, 38% of the team’s play comes down the left-flank so between Bensebaini and Thuram, expect Bremen to be kept busy.
Marco Rose has said that the Leverkusen defeat will give his side a reality check and a bit more focus and I think they’ll have far too much for a patched-up Bremen team over the course of 90 minutes.