Kevin Hatchard’s taking us back to Germany today, as Roberto Di Matteo’s Schalke look to get their season back on track against Hoffenheim.
Schalke v Hoffenheim
Saturday March 07, 14:30
It’s becoming quite a cruel week. After the Aalborg debacle on Thursday, we had an equally big slap in the face yesterday. Having opposed the hosts Lech Poznan at 1.574/7, we were looking good, with the game against Jagiellonia Bialystok goalless after 86 minutes. Lech Poznan then scored twice to smash our bet, although I dare say some of you will have got a decent trade out of it.
We had success in Germany earlier this week, and we’re back there today for a Bundesliga clash between Schalke and Hoffenheim. Roberto Di Matteo’s Royal Blues were chastened by last week’s 3-0 Revierderby defeat at Borussia Dortmund, while Hoffenheim have steadied the ship after an awful start to 2015.
Di Matteo has admitted he got his tactics wrong at Signal Iduna Park last week. Schalke shut up shop and were far too timid, and although they held out for 78 minutes, BVB eventually blew their house down.
I’m expecting a backlash today, and it’s worth remembering that the man who led Chelsea to their only Champions League success has generally made a positive impact since arriving in Gelsenkirchen. He has dragged Schalke back into the race for the top four, and they have picked up an average of 1.69 points per game since he replaced Jens Keller.
Di Matteo says he’s realised he needs to play a bit more expansively, and Hoffenheim could be on the wrong end of that today. Hoffe reached the last eight of the German Cup in midweek with a 2-0 win at Aalen, but their away form has generally been their Achilles’ heel all season.
Hoffe have only won twice on the road in the Bundesliga, and those wins were at Hertha Berlin and Stuttgart, who are two of the worst teams in the division. Their away record against the big boys is pretty awful – they lost 4-0 at Bayern Munich, 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund, 3-1 at Borussia Monchengladbach, 3-1 at Augsburg and 3-0 at Wolfsburg. They are yet to claim a single point away to sides currently in the top six.
Hoffenheim have problems at both ends of the pitch in away games. They have scored just 12 goals on their travels, and they’ve only managed two clean sheets.
Schalke have won seven and lost just one of their 12 home games, and I think they look too big at 2.3811/8 against a Hoffenheim side that consistently fails to perform on the road. It’s been made quite clear to some Schalke players that they are playing for their futures, and there’s talk that lackadaisical waster Kevin-Prince Boateng could be dropped, which would be no bad thing. Di Matteo needs a win, and I think he’ll get it.
Back Schalke to win at 2.3811/8
2015 P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 32
Points Returned: 28.7
P/L: -3.3 points