Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. As the Bundesliga makes its triumphant return, Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for the biggest games in Germany this weekend …
Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FS1
Save for any coronavirus-related complications, the Bundesliga will return to our screens this weekend with one of its showpiece events: the Revierderby.
Borussia Dortmund welcomes Ruhr rivals Schalke to the Westfalenstadion in the most unusual of circumstances: Neither team has kicked a competitive ball in over two months, and none of the 81,000 fans who usually provide one of the world’s most raucous partisan atmospheres will be present.
Recent form is a relative concept for this one, but BVB heads into this crunch tie on a run of seven wins out of eight in the league, Most recently, they earned an impressive 2-1 away win at fellow Champions League contenders Borussia Monchengladbach.
Lucien Favre’s side is not renowned for its defensive fortitude, but Dortmund has kept clean sheets in three of their last four league games. A win here will put them within two points of league leaders Bayern Munich, who does not play until Sunday.
Dortmund, however, is suffering something of an injury crisis. The likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Axel Witsel, Emre Can, Mario Goetze, Achraf Hakimi and Manuel Akanji are either ruled out, or major doubts.
The hosts also do not boast a strong recent record in what is traditionally a closely fought rivalry. They have not beaten Schalke at home since 2015, and in their league meeting at the Westfalenstadion in November 2017, they squandered a 4-0 lead to draw 4-4.
But it must be noted that Schalke was on a dismal seven-game winless streak before the Bundesliga season went on hiatus, and the second half of their campaign has looked weaker than the opening half.
However, a Schalke upset win is worth a punt at +475. They are facing an injury-ravaged Dortmund side, who will receive little home advantage behind closed doors. The potential lack of intensity and fitness of both teams throws another level of uncertainty behind the bookies’ favorites, who tend to rely on rapid transitions up the pitch.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Schalke
Best Bet: Schalke to win and both teams to score (+775 with BetMGM). Neither side is renowned for its watertight defending, and both teams have scored in six of their last nine meetings. If you back Schalke for the win, that price is too good to ignore.
RB Leipzig vs. Freiburg
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FS2
The East Germans resoundingly dumped Tottenham out of the Champions League in their last competitive outing, and their domestic title hopes are very much alive. Julian Nagelsmann’s side can jump to within one point of Bundesliga-leading Bayern Munich with a win.
Freiburg, however, can climb into European contention with a victory, and they might be considered Leipzig’s “bogey team.” They have beaten their energy drink-shilling counterparts in three of their last four meetings, including a 2-1 win at home earlier this season.
In nine historical meetings, Freiburg has managed four victories, although none at Red Bull Arena.
However, RB Leipzig is favored at -304 with BetMGM with good cause: They have never been beaten by Freiburg at home, and Naglesmann’s tactically agile side should have no problem with Freiburg’s meat-and-potatoes 4-4-2.
One thing can be certain: There will be goals. At least three total goals have been scored in every single one of Leipzig’s Bundesliga wins this season — and they have scored at least three in all but one of those wins.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 3-2 Freiburg
Best Bet: RB Leipzig to win and both teams to score (+185 with BetMGM). There have been at least three goals in the last eight matches between these sides, and both teams have scored in five of Leipzig’s last six home league games.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Sitting one point behind RB Leipzig in fourth place is Borussia Monchengladbach, who will hope to consolidate their Champions League qualification hopes with a win at Eintracht Frankfurt in Saturday’s late kickoff.
Gladbach has lost just one of their last seven league outings, against Borussia Dortmund, and earned a 4-2 victory over Frankfurt earlier this season.
Frankfurt, on the other hand, has only won one league match in their last five, and suffered an aggregate 7-0 defeat in the two games before the league hit pause. Adi Hütter’s side is a shadow of the team that made the Europa League final four and finished seventh in the league last season — in part because of the departure of striker Luka Jovic, who has since left for Real Madrid.
Frankfurt defeated Gladbach at Commerzbank-Arena two seasons ago, but their share of the recent head-to-head series is not favorable, having won only two of their last 10 league meetings.
The draw is good value at +250 with BetMGM, as three of their last seven encounters have ended in a stalemate, but an away win seems to be the ticket here.
Prediction: Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
Best Bet: Lars Stindl first goalscorer (+550 with BetMGM). Alassane Plea may be Gladbach’s top scorer this season, but Stindl was in rarified form before the hiatus. The German midfielder bagged five goals in his side’s most recent five games.
Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich
Sunday, Noon ET, FS1
Bayern Munich’s inevitable march to an eighth successive title resumes on Sunday, when they visit the Bundesliga’s current hipster club of choice, Union Berlin.
The Iron Ones are playing their first-ever top flight season, and they restart the campaign eight points clear of relegation, having proven themselves with some impressive scalps. In November, for example, they beat Gladbach 2-0 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei (“The Stadium at the Old Forester’s House”). In October, they were a penalty miss away from stealing a point at Bayern Munich, too.
Bayern, however, is in spectacular form under Hansi Flick. The Bavarians are undefeated in 2020 and won their last four matches before the suspension by a 12-0 aggregate scoreline. They are priced at -455 with BetMGM for the win, which is astoundingly short for an away team…. and a team in a game of soccer!
The bookies seem to believe a Bayern win is a foregone conclusion, and the only variables in the equation appear to be fitness levels and the unfamiliar confines of an empty stadium in the German capital.
Prediction: Union Berlin 0-3 Bayern Munich
Best Bet: Bayern to win both halves (+125 on BetMGM). This game doesn’t offer a huge amount of value, but Bayern have scored in both halves of 60% of their league games this season, and three of their last four league outings.
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