Bundesliga Betting: Leverkusen to shock Schalke

Freiburg 1.70, the draw 3.80, Hannover 96 4.60

The “Breisgau Brazilians”, as Freiburg used to be known under former manager Volker Finke, are still tantalisingly close to qualifying for Europe, but who would they field in the competition? Jan Rosenthal (Frankfurt), Daniel Caligiuri (Wolfsburg) and Max Kruse (Gladbach) have all decided to move on to bigger (and better paid) things in the summer. Psychologically, that should help though: the trio and other possible defectors want to make sure they leave the supporters happy. Hannover have been poor away from home this season. They won’t win here.

VfL Wolfsburg 2.10, the draw 3.40, TSG Hoffenheim 1899 3.35

Wolves got a decent draw against Leverkusen last week but their Bundesliga season is basically over: they’re not in danger of going anywhere near the relegation or European places. With the much more important cup semi-final against Bayern coming up on Tuesday, they could take their eye off the ball here. Hoffenheim look much improved under Markus Gisdol, their 17th coach of the season (he’s their fourth, actually). They’re only one point away from the relegation play-off spot and six off safety. A cheeky bet on them here makes sense.

Mainz 05 2.00, the draw 3.40, Hamburger SV 3.60

Thomas Tuchel’s side has been running out of steam since the winter-break, winning only one game in ten. But they were a bit unlucky to lose in Nürnberg. The home side will be favourites against a Hamburg team that has crashed to three awful defeats in a row. Manager Thorsten Fink has resorted to desperate measures. Heiko Westermann was stripped off his armband - Rafael van der Vaart is the new skipper - and there was plenty of “eating grass” rhetoric. It all betrays helplessness and an inability to address the real problems. Go for a Mainz win.

FC Bayern 1.18, the draw 6.75, 1. FC Nürnberg 14.00

Sporting director Matthias Sammer has hinted at rotation (“we’ll probably see some players who don’t usually play in the next few weeks”) after the Champions League win over Juventus. Half the regulars could well be rested with a view to the DFB Cup semi-final against Wolfsburg on Tuesday, but maybe Claudio Pizarro will get a chance to audition for a starting place in the first leg of the Champions League final, when Mario Mandzukic will be suspended. Bayern have little more than a bit of derby pride to play for here but it’s damn hard to oppose them after winning all eleven Bundesliga games since the winter break. Nürnberg have come from nowhere - well, Franconia, to be precise - to put together an impressive run of nine games without defeat under Michael Wiesinger. Something will have to give in Munich. If you’re feeling very, very brave go for the draw but the home win is the safer option.

Fortuna Düsseldorf 2.75, the draw 3.30, Weder Bremen 2.45

“We’re making mistakes. Now the pressure is on,” moaned Fortuna’s sporting director Wolf Werner. Six games without a win have seen his team slip precariously close to the relegation places. Nerves are beginning to show. Dani Schahin and Ken Ilsö had a bit of an argument in training and needed to be separated. What’s worse, their best player, Mathis Bolly, is out, along with defensive stalwart Adam Bodzek. The consolation is that Werder have lots of problems, too. Aaron Hunt will be out, and so are half a dozen other players. This is tough one to predict but Werder offer value. They’re due another win.

Greuther Fürth 7.50, the draw 4.40, Borussia Dortmund 1.40

Jürgen Klopp played a much changed team in the 4-2 win over Augsburg and could well go with a similar line-up against the worst team in the league. A few players will definitely be rested. Fürth are still chasing their first (and possibly only) win the the Bundesliga but coach Frank Kramer has declared this a time for experiments. He wants to test one or two fringe players in order to make a decision on their future after the inevitable relegation. This one’s got the feel of a friendly, so the much, much better team in black and yellow will surely win.

Schalke 04 2.40, the draw 3.40, Bayer Leverkusen 2.75

Royal Blues coach Jens Keller was busy talking about a “bare bones” scenario all week but he’ll still be able to field a pretty decent line-up. Jermaine Jones has recovered in time to play for the suspended Neustädter, and in midfield, Raffael will play for Jefferson Farfan, with Julian Draxler moving wide. Leverkusen are without suspended left-back Sebastian Boenisch (Michal Kadlec will play) and Gonzalo Castro will continue in central midfield, where Stefan  Reinartz is also suspended. It’s the the sort of game - away from home, against an attacking side - that Leverkusen do well in, so backing them looks wise.

VfB Stuttgart 2.20, the draw 3.35, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3.10

It’s taken a long time, but Lucien Favre has finally got it together again: Gladbach are playing defensively sound, successful Favre-football once more. The problem is, not everybody’s happy. The home fans booed the side despite the 1-0 win over Fürth last week; they want to see more goals. Borussia haven’t scored more than one in any of their last seven games. Stuttgart have shored up at the back as well. The Swabians might concentrate on their semi-final against Freiburg, so this one screams unders.

FC Augsburg 2.25, the draw 3.30, Eintracht Frankfurt 3.10

Two defeats in a row have dampened optimism in Augsburg somewhat but they can’t afford to let their heads drop. Automatic relegation, a play-off place or safety are all still possible. And they’re not playing Eintracht at the worst time, either. Armin Veh and his team have only (narrowly) beaten Fürth over the course of their last eight games; there’s little left of the free-flowing, attacking football that put them into contention for fourth spot not too long ago. Augsburg are still without midfielder Ja-Cheol Koo, while Frankfurt are missing keeper Kevin Trapp and will probably have to play without attacking midfielder Alexander Meier, too. Augsburg’s greater appetite should see them through.

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