Augsburg v Werder Bremen Saturday March 17, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
I've maintained for some time that Werder Bremen are one of the best teams in the bottom half of the table, and they are now consistently proving that under coach Florian Kohfeldt.Monday's nerve-shredding 3-1 win over FC Cologne gave the notherners much-needed breathing space in the relegation dogfight, and they have now lost just one of their last seven Bundesliga matches.
Augsburg continue to surprise under their intelligent coach Manuel Baum, and last weekend's win at Hannover was highly impressive. The Swabians are still in the mix for Europa League qualification, which is remarkable given their resources and the fact that key players Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Alfred Finnbogason are still injured.
However, the squad is stretched, and the last two home games have brought two defeats and no goals. Coach Baum admits his team are purely thinking about avoiding the drop first, and only then will they consider the possibility of a push for Europe. Baum is right to be cautious - Hoffenheim caught FCA repeatedly in the counter in the last game at the WWK Arena, and Werder have the pace and skill to do the same, with Florian Kainz and Max Kruseparticularly dangerous.
Werder are the outsiders here, and against patched-up hosts who aren't playing well at home, we can take advantage of that situation.
Gladbach's woes to increase
Borussia Monchengladbach v Hoffenheim Saturday March 17, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
Momentum is so important at this stage of a Bundesliga season, and while Hoffenheim have it (they are chasing a third straight win), Gladbach certainly don't. The Foals have won just one of their last seven matches, and their injury list seems to get longer every week. Midfielder Denis Zakaria and defensive behemoth Jannik Vastergaard are the latest absentees, and although Oscar Wendt's long-awaited return will compensate for the loss of Vestergaard to some extent, the Dane's passing ability out of defence will be sorely missed.
Gladbach have taken just a point from their last three home matches in the league, and they face a Hoffenheim team hitting form at the right time. A fine 2-0 win at Augsburg was followed by an even better 3-0 victory against Wolfsburg. Striker Andrej Kramaric has scored in five of his last six matches, and his strike partner Serge Gnabry scored and played a part in the other two goals against die Wolfe. Key midfielder Dennis Geiger will miss the rest of the season for Hoffenheim with a torn muscle, so coach Julian Nagelsmann must decide whether to select veteran battler Eugen Polanski, or the more progressive yet fragile Nadiem Amiri.
TSG have taken ten points from their last five matches, and their attacking players are on great form, so much so that top scorer Mark Uth can't get into the team at the moment. Given Gladbach's injury woes, and the fact they are bereft of form, I'll back the visitors.
Cologne's creaky defence to liven up derby day
FC Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen Sunday March 18, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
FC Cologne suffered a heart-breaking defeat on Monday, as they lost 3-1 at Werder Bremen. At 2-1 down, Cologne were the better team for a long spell, but Claudio Pizarro missed the kind of chance he has put away so often down the years, and the Billy Goats conceded a late third.
That loss has left Cologne bottom, and running out of games to launch a late push for survival. They have played much better since long-serving coach Peter Stoger left and was replaced by Stefan Ruthenbeck, and they have been scoring goals, but the defensive issues that have plagued them all season haven't gone away.
Bayer Leverkusen are back in the race for Champions League qualification thanks to a run of three wins in four matches. They have scored twice in each of those three wins, and Argentinean striker Lucas Alario appears to settled into Bundesliga life, with a goal and an assist in each of his last two appearances.
Cologne's defending has contributed to an Over 2.5 Goals bet landing in five of their last six games, and ahead of this Rhineland derby, four of Bayer's last five away matches have featured at least three goals.
I fancy a lively derby, and it's worth noting that an overs bet has landed in three of the last five clashes between these sides.
Back Werder Bremen Draw No Bet v Augsburg at 2.26
Back Hoffenheim Draw No Bet v Borussia Monchengladbach at 1.91
Back Over 2.5 Goals in FC Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen at [1.79]