Freiburg v Bayern Munich
Saturday May 16, 14:30
Bayern Munich went down swinging in the Champions League semis, but ultimately they had no answer to the sustained excellence of Barcelona. Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was hopeful that the tactical adjustments he has made throughout the season would allow the German champions to overcome even the world’s best teams, but that hope proved forlorn. Barca’s all-star armoury may well have blown Bayern away even if the Bavarians had been at full-strength, but we’ll never know, as Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and David Alaba remained tethered to the treatment table (not literally, unless things have taken a weird turn since club doctor Hans Muller-Wolfahrt departed).
With the German Cup campaign derailed by Borussia Dortmund, and the Bundesliga title wrapped up, only personal pride remains for Bayern and Guardiola. That pride shouldn’t be underestimated, and while Bayern have lost their last two Bundesliga matches, I don’t expect them to sleepwalk into a third defeat.
Bayern have been at pains to stress they will give their all in Saturday’s game at Freiburg, and their midfielder Sebastian Rode has pointed out that the team owes the other sides in the relegation battle a good performance. After a sobering exit from Europe, I’m expecting a fired up Bayern that’s keen to finish an adequate campaign with a flourish, and Guardiola has no reason to rest star players.
Freiburg only have themselves to blame for still being stuck in the relegation dogfight. Last Friday’s 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Hamburg was the sixth time that the Black Forest outfit have blown a lead in the 88th minute or later. Performances mean little at this stage of the campaign, with results the only worthwhile currency, and Christian Streich’s men barely have two cents to rub together. Freiburg have collected just three points from their last six games, and they are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Freiburg’s home form has often bailed them out in times of trouble, but that’s deserted them too, as they’ve lost their last two home games to Mainz and Paderborn. Against a frustrated Bayern Munich team that will feature some players battling for their futures, I think Freiburg could be about to suffer another costly blow.
Back Bayern Munich -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at [1.92]
Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt
Saturday May 16, 14:30
Hertha Berlin are one of the teams still embroiled in the closest relegation scrap the Bundesliga has ever seen, and with a tricky trip to Hoffenheim on the horizon, this is the capital club’s big chance to secure safety. Against an Eintracht Frankfurt side that have been on their summer holidays for quite a while, I think Pal Dardai’s Hertha will get the points they need.
Hertha have lost their last three matches, but those defeats came against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach, and they played well in all three games. Before that dip in results, Hertha had gone seven matches unbeaten. They still look solid under the watchful gaze of Dardai, who will earn himself a lucrative new contract if he keeps his beloved Hertha in the top flight.
Frankfurt’s away form has been dreadful all season, and they have collected a solitary point from their last eight road matches. The premature end to Bundesliga top-scorer Alex Meier’s season was a hefty blow, and the Eagles haven’t really recovered. Frankfurt’s next best player is arguably midfielder Stefan Aigner, and he can expect plenty of stick from the home fans, after he felled Hertha’s Roy Beerens with a horrific challenge in the reverse fixture.
Back Hertha to win at [2.06]
Stuttgart v Hamburg
Saturday May 16, 14:30
In the last few seasons there has been a shift in power from iconic German clubs to less established outfits like Wolfsburg, and both Hamburg and Stuttgart have been poster-boys for that decline. Stuttgart were champions as recently as 2007, while Hamburg have never been relegated from the Bundesliga, hence the rather pompous clock at the Imtech Arena that shows how long the Redshorts have been in the top flight. Now both are in the relegation mire, and one could doom the other this weekend.
Stuttgart are bottom, but gave themselves a lifeline with last weekend’s 2-0 home win against Mainz. Hamburg are just two points better off, but are currently outside the bottom three, having taken seven points from four games since Bruno Labbadia took the helm.
Against expectations, former Stuttgart boss Labbadia has given HSV some much-needed fight, and in their last two games late goals from Gojko Kacar have seen them turn a draw into a win against Mainz and turn a defeat into a draw at home to Freiburg. Such belief simply hasn’t been evident for most of the campaign.
Stuttgart are still in with a chance of survival because they have won three of their last four home games, but I still think they are far too short to win this at [1.77]. You could barely put a cigarette paper between the squads in terms of quality, and I think this nerve-ridden slugfest will be far tighter than the match odds suggest.
Stuttgart seem jittery to me – they have catastrophically blown leads in two of their last three games, and the pressure seemed to tell on their coach Huub Stevens this week, as he ranted at his players and called them monkeys. This could be incredibly tight, so I have to oppose the hosts at those odds.
Lay Stuttgart at [1.77]
Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim
Saturday May 16, 14:30
Bayer Leverkusen’s hopes of finishing in the Bundesliga’s top three nosedived last week, as they were swept aside 3-0 at local rivals Borussia Monchengladbach. A place in next season’s Champions League playoffs is secure, but direct entry into the group stage is not, and Bayer only have two games to make up a five-point gap.
Last weekend’s second-half display at Gladbach was a blip for Roger Schmidt’s Bayer in what has been an encouraging season. Progress to the Champions League knockout phase was a step forward, and Bayer were only beaten on penalties by Bayern Munich in the German Cup. Since Christmas, Die Werkself have kicked on, collecting 30 points from 15 matches. At home, they have won their last five matches without conceding a single goal.
Hoffenheim’s dreams of securing a first ever European qualification have been undermined by their wretched away form. Markus Gisdol’s men have won just one of their last eight away games, losing five times in that sequence.
With the excellent Karim Bellarabi returning from suspension to boost what is already a dangerous front four, I think Bayer can win this comfortably against a Hoffe side that has leaked 17 goals in its last seven outings.
Back Bayer Leverkusen -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at [2.12]
Kevin will be commentating on Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund for TuneIn Radio with talkSPORT. For live commentary search for “Bundesliga English” on the TuneIn app, or visit the official Bundesliga website
2014/15 Bundesliga P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 130
Points Returned: 139.36
P/L: +9.36 points