There are some big storylines being played out on the Bundesliga’s final weekend. Jurgen Klopp will say goodbye to Signal Iduna Park as Borussia Dortmund face Werder Bremen, although the charismatic coach’s true swansong will be the German Cup final against Wolfsburg next weekend.
Bayern Munich will lift the Bundesliga trophy at the conclusion of their game against Mainz, as they look to avoid a fourth straight league defeat. We’ll also be treated to the most spectacular final-day relegation scrap the Bundesliga has ever seen, with no-one yet demoted, and six sides all scrambling to avoid the drop.
With such drama unfolding you may think I’ve picked some odd games to feature, but I’ve tried to select what I think are the best bets, rather than the best stories. Let’s hope we can have a profitable finish to what’s been a positive season.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Augsburg
Saturday May 23, 14:30
Both of these teams can be delighted with how their respective seasons have panned out. At the start of the campaign, Borussia Monchengladbach were publicly targeting a top-eight finish, but they have massively exceeded those expectations. Lucien Favre’s hard-working and skilful squad have achieved direct entry into the group stages of the Champions League, and if they beat Augsburg and Wolfsburg lose at FC Koln, then Die Fohlen will finish the season as runners-up.
Gladbach have shown themselves to be tireless and disciplined, and since Christmas they have been on sensational form. They have won eight of their last nine Bundesliga games, and at their Borussia Park fortress they have won their last nine matches, scoring twenty goals and conceding just four. Strikers Max Kruse and Raffael have rediscovered their best form in 2015, and have scored 11 goals apiece. Kruse will be keen to score in what will be his farewell performance before he joins Wolfsburg.
Augsburg have also defied expectations, and barring a freak set of results they will secure their first ever European qualification. Markus Weinzierl is one of the best young coaches in Germany, and has transformed the Bavarians from relegation candidates into Europa League qualifiers. He has been a touch fortunate with injuries, and as a result a thin squad hasn’t been exposed.
Most of Augsburg’s good work was done by early February, which is just as well, because they’ve only won three of their last 14 games. Their cause won’t be helped by suspensions for barrel-chested striker Raul Bobadilla and skipper Paul Verhaegh, and it’s worth noting they have lost six of their last eight away games.
Gladbach are without suspended defender Tony Jantschke and injured duo Martin Stranzl and Alvaro Dominguez, but they are the better team and have more to play for. It should be a tenth straight home win.
Back Borussia Monchengladbach -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at [1.94]
Hamburg v Schalke
Saturday May 23, 14:30
The famous clock still ticks on at Hamburg’s Imtech Arena, marking how long the iconic northern giants have been proudly taking their place in the Bundesliga. In the Bundesliga era, Hamburg have never endured the pain of relegation, but unless they beat Schalke and other results go their way, that treacherous trapdoor will finally open.
Hamburg only have themselves to blame for their predicament. Bruno Labbadia is their fourth coach of the season, and none of his predecessors this term managed to get the most out of a seemingly talented squad. Players like Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Rafa Van der Vaart, Nicolai Muller and Johan Djourou have all performed well below their capabilities, and the loss of young playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu to Bayer Leverkusen has proved to be a massive blow.
Hamburg have scored a pitiful 23 goals in 33 games, by far the worst attacking record in the league, and they have won just five of their 16 home matches. Labbadia seemed to be dragging the team he used to play for to safety, but last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Stuttgart was a gigantic blow.
Schalke’s problems aren’t quite so bad, but there are huge issues at all levels of the organisation. The squad is disunited, and perennial underperformers Sidney Sam and Kevin Prince Boateng have been placed on gardening leave, while midfielder Marco Hoger has only just returned after the club handed him a short suspension.
Those disciplinary measures were clearly an effort to support beleaguered coach Roberto Di Matteo, because although the Royal Blues have secured a Europa League place, the Italian is under huge pressure. On his watch, Schalke have slipped 13 points behind the top four, and they have served up some hideous football. There is a lack of tactical cohesion, and the players seem confused as to what they are actually supposed to be doing.
While Schalke can relax to an extent, there are players looking to impress, either to win a move away or to secure a place in the S04 squad for next season. Most of the pressure is on Hamburg, and it’s hard to see this being anything other than unbearably tense. I’m really surprised that Under 2.5 Goals is trading at [2.52], for several reasons.
Although HSV have been more attacking since Labbadia took the reins, two of their last five games have featured fewer than three goals, and overall 11 of their 16 home matches have seen an unders bet pay out. Schalke are really struggling to score goals on the road, having drawn blanks in five of their last seven away matches, and eight of their 12 away outings under Di Matteo have featured fewer than three goals.
These two played out a goalless draw in Gelsenkirchen back in December, and whether the clock is stopped or not, I don’t think we’ll see much entertainment at the Volksparkstadion this Saturday.
Back Under 2.5 Goals at [2.52]
Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday May 23, 14:30
Bayer are unable to improve on fourth position, but are also safe in the knowledge they’ve secured a Champions League qualifier at the start of next season. After taking the reins in the summer, Bayer coach Roger Schmidt promised exciting football, and I think he’s delivered. Young guns like Karim Bellarabi, Hakan Calhanoglu and Heung-Min Son have sparkled, and the defence has looked rock-solid since Christmas.
Eintracht Frankfurt are safe in mid-table after a crazy first season under Thomas Schaaf. The Eagles were never really in relegation danger, but once they lost the Bundesliga’s top scorer Alex Meier to injury, their European dream died a painful death.
With the pressure off, the market clearly expects goals, but I’m not so sure. Frankfurt have failed to score in five of their last six games, and Bayer Leverkusen have kept clean sheets in 12 of their last 15 outings in all competitions, which is an incredible sequence. I think No in the Both Teams To Score market is overpriced at [2.96].
Back No in the Both Teams to Score market at [2.96]
Kevin will be commentating on Bayern Munich v Mainz for TuneIn radio with talkSPORT. For live commentary and updates from all of the other games, search for “Bundesliga English” on the TuneIn app, or visit the Bundesliga’s official website
2014/15 Bundesliga P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 134
Points Returned: 141.48
P/L: +7.48 points