After securing 3/4 winners last week, Kevin Hatchard’s back with his best Bundesliga bets.
Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach
Sunday March 22, 16:30
Live on BT Sport 1
One of the biggest compliments I can pay to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich is that they make the extraordinary seem routine. Last weekend they thrashed a buoyant Werder Bremen side 4-0 at the Weserstadion without ever really moving beyond third gear, and for the first ten minutes the champions were actually very sloppy.
The quality didn’t take long to show through though, as Thomas Muller and David Alaba both curled home 20-yard strikes as if it was the easiest thing to do in the world. Muller was sensational, setting up Robert Lewandowski for two second-half tap-ins.
Bayern have now scored 34 goals in their last eight games in all competitions, and their 11-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga gives them plenty of breathing space. The challenge for Bayern is to maintain their intensity and they chase the treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
Bayern are like a championship boxer in need of quality sparring partners to keep them sharp, and they’ll be fighting a rock-hard opponent on Sunday. Borussia Monchengladbach are third in the table, and I think they’ll give Bayern a run for their money, just as they did in the 0-0 draw the teams played out earlier in the campaign.
Gladbach have conceded just four Bundesliga goals in 2015, and they have won five of their eight league games since the winter break, losing just once. Their fitness levels are superb – Gladbach have used just 18 players, and they have racked up nearly 40 games in all competitions.
The defence is superbly marshalled by leviathan Martin Stranzl, while keeper Yann Sommer has the league’s highest save percentage, and has proved an excellent replacement for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Foals will look to soak up pressure and hit on the counter-attack, and the likes of Max Kruse, Raffael and Patrick Herrmann can all do damage on the break. Bayern’s only real weakness is that their high defensive line sees them give up chances on the counter, and as Gladbach showed last week against Hannover, they can carve teams open when players are caught out of position.
Gladbach might not get anything out of the game, but they’ll run Bayern close. They can be backed -2.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9420/21, and they haven’t lost by more than one goal all season.
Back Borussia Monchengladbach -2.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9420/21
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday March 21, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 1
Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen were both knocked out of the Champions League in agonising fashion by teams from Madrid – Schalke were a goal short of an amazing comeback against Real at the Bernabeu, while earlier this week Bayer lost on penalties to Atletico at the Vicente Calderon.
Now the main focus for both teams is getting into next season’s Champions League. Bayer are currently in fourth, a place and three points better off than Schalke. With third-placed Gladbach up against Bayern, this could be a pivotal weekend.
Schalke boss Roberto Di Matteo has lifted the shackles of late, but I think he’ll revert to his natural caution for such a huge game. Bayer know a draw at the Veltins Arena will keep them three points ahead of Schalke, so I don’t expect them to be too cavalier in their approach either.
Since the winter break, five of Schalke’s ten games have seen just one team find the net, while a No bet in the Both Teams to Score market has paid out eight times in Bayer’s 11 games in 2015. Intriguingly, just one team has found the net in eight of the clubs’ last ten meetings.
Back No in the Both Teams to Score market at 2.245/4
FC Cologne v Werder Bremen
Saturday March 21, 14:30
FC Cologne’s 1-0 win at Werder Bremen in October proved a watershed moment for the northern giants. They truly had hit rock-bottom, so they sacked coach Robin Dutt, and promoted former Werder defender Viktor Skripnik from the U23 side.
The Ukrainian has dragged his club out of the relegation mire, and despite last weekend’s hammering by Bayern Munich, Werder sit a healthy ten points clear of the bottom three. Since that fateful Friday night against the Billy Goats, Werder have won nine of their 16 league games.
Cologne held Borussia Dortmund to a goalless draw last weekend, and a few more decent results should see them safe. They continue to look better on their travels than they do at their Rhein Energie Stadion. It’s easy to be fooled by their recent 4-2 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt, but you have to bear in mind that Frankfurt have a terrible defence, and play incredibly open football.
If you take that result out, Cologne have only won one of their other 11 home games, and have scored just five goals in that sequence. They are priced at 2.285/4 to win this, and that looks a big over-reaction to that Frankfurt win. Werder have taken seven points from their last three away games, and they welcome back top scorer Franco Di Santo from suspension. I’m siding with the visitors.
Back Werder Bremen +0 & +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.981/1
Stuttgart v Eintracht Frankfurt
Saturday March 21, 14:30
The Clown School have been inundated with applications from potential students this week, because Stuttgart’s 4-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen was the greatest advert for clowning for years. If you want a laugh, check out the replay of Bayer’s first goal. Florian Klein hits his own man with a clearance, and two Stuttgart players proceed to run away from the ball for no reason, allowing Wendell to fire home.
Stuttgart are rock bottom, and yet sporting director Robin Dutt (he’s not doing well in this column) shows no sign of replacing struggling coach Huub Stevens. The Swabians are failing in all departments – they have scored just four goals since Christmas, and have leaked 12 goals in their last six games.
If Stuttgart can’t find gaps in the Eintracht Frankfurt defence this weekend, they might as well give up. Thomas Schaaf’s men play cavalier, crazy football, and they can’t defend to save their lives. They have shipped an eye-watering 49 goals, but what has saved them is their excellent attack, which has banged in 48 goals. Alex Meier is still the league’s top scorer, with 19 goals to his name.
These teams played out a nine-goal thriller when they last met, as Stuttgart took the points with a 5-4 win. With two struggling defences on show, we could see something similar, and you should note that 16 of Frankfurt’s 28 league games have featured at least four goals.
Back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.942/1
Kevin will be commentating on Hamburg v Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach 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: 104
Points Returned: 107.29
P/L: +3.29 points