Bundesliga Tips: Slick Schick and co to avoid defeat

Bayer Leverkusen boast one of the Bundesliga's best attacks, and Kevin Hatchard believes they'll find a way to damage local rivals Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayer to shine in Rhineland showdown

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday 15 January, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video

Local rivals Leverkusen and Gladbach have often been the sides battling for the final Champions League spot in recent seasons, fighting for the scraps that fall from Bayern, Leipzig and Dortmund's top table. While Bayer are still in that race for the top four, the Foals are eight points off it, despite last weekend's win at COVID-affected Bayern Munich.

Leverkusen's weaknesses were there for all to see in last weekend's clumsy 2-2 draw with Union Berlin. As so many sides do, Bayer walked right into Union's counter-attacking trap, and only a late Jonathan Tah header got them out of jail. However, it was an example of how Gerardo Seoane's side's firepower can get them out of many tricky spots. Bayer have rattled in 42 goals in 18 games, and star striker Patrik Schick has 17 of those goals in just 15 appearances. In terms of outperforming his personal Expected Goals figure, Schick is the most efficient striker in the league.

Gladbach have moved to address their defensive issues by signing Union Berlin centre-back Marvin Freidrich, but I'm not sure it's really a personnel problem. Nico Elvedi and Matthias Ginter are individually very good defenders, but the team as a whole has leaked 33 goals, more than four of the current bottom five. Adi Hütter's side are simply too easy to play against, and they have real trouble against Bayer, having lost their last four league games against them.

Without key players like Ramy Bensebaini and Jonas Hofmann, I'm still not convinced about Gladbach, and I'll oppose them here. We can use the Bet Builder on the Sportsbook to back Bayer/Draw Double Chance and Over 2.5 Goals at 2.22. A 2-1, 3-0 or 3-1 win for the visitors does the trick, as does a 2-2 or 3-3 draw.

Haaland can lead Dortmund charge

Borussia Dortmund v Freiburg
Friday January 14, 19:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video

Although few people really believe Borussia Dortmund can show the grit and consistency required to truly push Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga, last weekend's events in the German top flight have at least kept the tiniest spark of a title race alive. While a severely depleted Bayern lost at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Dortmund produced a stirring fightback as they recovered from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt. The gap between the top two is now down to six points.

Another win on Friday against Freiburg would halve that deficit, and while on paper a home game against the Black Forest side seems like a tough challenge, I suspect Dortmund will claim maximum points. Freiburg have won their last two games against BVB, but both of those victories were at the old Schwarzwald Stadion, and SCF's record in Dortmund is atrocious. Christian Streich's men have lost 10 of their last 11 Bundesliga games at Signal Iduna Park.

Although the absence of fans is a concern (only 750 of the Dortmund faithful will be allowed in due to COVID-19 restrictions), BVB have won 14 of their last 16 home matches. Although star striker Erling Haaland hasn't scored in his last two league games, he was excellent against Frankfurt, and I'd always back a man who has averaged exactly a goal a game since arriving at the club.

Freiburg have won just two of their last eight league games, and I believe Dortmund will be too strong for them here. I'll back Dortmund to win, Haaland to score and Over 1.5 Goals on the Bet Builder at 1.98.

Improving Arminia to take another step

Arminia Bielefeld v Greuther Fürth
Sunday 16 January, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video

Even with 16 games of the season remaining, it seems inconceivable that Greuther Fürth will turn their campaign around and find a way to survive. They are arguably the worst side to have graced the Bundesliga, and they are 12 points from safety, with just one win in 18 so far. They have the worst attacking and defensive records in the division, and they have lost 14 times already.

On that basis alone, Arminia Bielefeld are worth backing here at 1.97 in the Match Odds market, but Frank Kramer's men have also improved of late. Last weekend they fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Freiburg, and they won at RB Leipzig just before Christmas. DSC have put together a three-match unbeaten run at the Schuco Arena, and they are probably playing their best attacking football of the season.

This is a mismatch, despite the fact that it's a battle between the bottom two, so I'll happily back the hosts to take three points.

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