Bundesliga Saturday Tips: Havertz and co to slow the champs
There are some huge Bundesliga games on Saturday, and Kevin Hatchard has four selections from the 14:30 kick-offs.
Bayern to be made to work hard
Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich Saturday 06 June, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport
As Bayern stride towards an eighth straight Bundesliga title, it's worth remembering where they have come from, and how much they have had to dig deep to turn their campaign around. A 5-1 hammering at Eintracht Frankfurt in November cost coach Niko Kovac his job, and after a 2-1 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach in December, the Bavarian giants were in seventh spot and seven points behind the league leaders.
Since that unwarranted reverse in the Rhineland, Bayern have been almost flawless under understated but highly influential coach Hansi Flick. They have won 14 of their last 15 league games (a goalless draw at home to RB Leipzig was the only stumble) and they have surged seven points clear at the top. It's the second season running that has seen the champions overturn at least a seven-point gap in the title race.
Bayer are now running into another team that's in excellent form. Bayer Leverkusen are very much in the mix for a top-four spot thanks to a sequence of ten wins from 13 matches. Star midfielder Kai Havertz - who has been continually linked with a move to Bayern - has scored in five of his last six appearances, and is priced at 15/8 to score here.
It's always dangerous to oppose Bayern, but Bayer have won their last two Bundesliga games against them, and I actually think they can frustrate and match Bayern for a while here. Bayer have only trailed at HT in four of their Bundesliga matches this season, and you can lay Bayern in the HT market, where they are priced at 1.95.
Eagles to make another slow start
Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz Saturday 06 May, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport
Eintracht Frankfurt took a big step towards safety on Wednesday, as they exposed Werder Bremen's flaws with surgical precision. Stefan Ilsanker, who had never previously scored in the Bundesliga, bagged a late brace in a 3-0 victory. His first goal came just seconds after his introduction as a substitute, and both of his strikes were from set plays, a particular strength of this Frankfurt side.
That win at the Weserstadion also continued an intriguing recent trend for the Eagles. 18 of their last 22 goals have come after half time, and they are certainly slow starters. They'll be a little drained from Wednesday's exertions, and it may once again take them a while to grow into the game.
Local rivals Mainz are scrapping for their football lives at the wrong end of the division, and they have won just one of their last eight games. They have failed to score in half of those matches, and they have scored before half time in just two of those eight encounters.
I'll back Second Half in the Half With Most Goals market at 10/11.
Leipzig to cut loose against strugglers
RB Leipzig v Paderborn Saturday 06 May, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport
As expected, Paderborn are tumbling towards relegation, and Sunday's sobering 6-1 home defeat against Borussia Dortmund hastened their descent. Paderborn posed a genuine attacking threat in the first half, using their speed in transition to good effect, but they tired in the second period and were overwhelmed as a result. Steffen Baumgart's plucky battlers have won just once in 2020, and in the ten games since, they have collected just four points.
If you look at Paderborn's games against the elite teams, they tend to go down swinging. They lost the reverse fixture against Leipzig 3-2, lost 3-2 to Bayern home and away, drew 3-3 and lost 6-1 to Dortmund, and lost 3-2 at Bayer Leverkusen. Against a Leipzig team that is spearheaded by 25-goal speedster Timo Werner, I think we'll see a similar outcome this weekend. Leipzig haven't been picking up wins consistently, but they should be able to sweep aside a team that is short of quality and now short of time to turn its season around.