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Bundesliga Betting Preview: Matchday 26

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The Bundesliga returns

The Bundesliga returns to action this weekend for the first time since early March, and in doing so, the football-starved fans from across Europe can sit back, get the accas ready and watch our bets unfold once more.

Matchday 26 features a number of exciting fixtures, with all five title contenders in action, a relegation six-pointer and one of Germany’s biggest derbies.

We’ve taken a look at the eight fixtures to take place this weekend as the Bundesliga returns to our screens.

The Bundesliga betting show

Dortmund v Schalke Odds

The Reiverderby is likely only surpassed by Der Klassiker in terms of stature within German football and the 96th league meeting between Dortmund and Schalke is comfortably the stand-out fixture of the weekend. Despite winning only once against their Ruhr rivals since 2015, Dortmund are still strong favourites to cut Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the table to a single point, with the home side 8/15 with Sky Bet to do just that.

If it is to happen, Der BVB are likely to be reliant on two of Europe’s hottest prospects in Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho to make things happen. Before the league’s suspension in March, teenage prodigy Haaland seemed to breaking goalscoring records on a weekly basis and is 13/5 to pick up where he left of by scoring at any time. Similarly, England winger Sancho has 14 goals in 23 league games this season, alongside 16 assists, and is favourite to get the game’s first goal on Saturday, at 7/2.

If there is hope for sixth-placed Schalke, it could be found in the fact that Dortmund will be shorn of their famous ‘Yellow Wall’, with the game to be played - as with all matches this weekend - behind closed doors. The home side will also be without key centre-back Dan Axel Zangadou, as well as Axel Witsel, Emre Can and Marco Reus. Such absences, alongside the edge they have had in the derby over the past few years, could tempt some to back David Wagner’s side to solidify their chances of Europa League qualification at 19/4.

RB Leipzig vs Sport-Club Freiburg

RB Leipzig are another team who will be looking to apply some pressure on league leaders Bayern, who do not play until Sunday evening. Die Roten Bullen currently sit third, a point behind Dortmund, and before the enforced break, Julian Nagelsmann’s team were enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions and are 1/3 to extend that run against an inconsistent Freiburg side. As well as boasting the league’s joint-best defence, Leipzig also have another of Europe’s most in-demand players, Timo Werner, who is second to only Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga in terms of goals scored this season, having averaged a goal every 98 minutes, on his way to 21 in total. It is no surprise to find the 24-year old the 23/10 favourite to be first goalscorer.

Eighth-placed Freiburg had been struggling after a bright start saw them occupy a Champions League spot prior to the winter break, yet they remain firmly in contention for a Europa League spot and are one of only three teams to beat Leipzig in the Bundesliga this season, having won the reverse fixture 2-1 in October. They are 15/2 to make it a league double.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Hertha Berlin

Mid-table clashes can often be difficult to call and the meeting between ninth-placed Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin, who lie 13th, is no different. Complicating the picture further is the fact that although the home side have not lost to Hertha since 2015, their record at the PreZero Arena this season has been poor, with Die Kraichgauer having lost 7 of their 13 games there before the March suspension.

Additionally, more than half (16) of Hertha’s 28 point tally has been earned away from home as Die Alte Dame rallied following a poor autumn that saw them lose five consecutive games between October and November.

A feature of both sides this season has been a difficulty in keeping clean sheets. Looking at the last 17 games the two teams have played accumulatively yields a grand total of two shut-outs between them. Indeed, such struggles were illustrated perfectly the last time they met in October. The game would feature 5 goals as Hoffenheim eventually ran out 3-2 winners, but only after Hertha themselves had threatened to steal victory after trailing 2-0 at half-time.

As such, it could well be worth considering BTTS at 4/7 or Over 2.5 goals at 8/11, rather than trying to call a result that Sky Bet agree is a tricky one to call (Hoffenheim 21/20; Hertha 23/20; Draw 5/2).

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs SC Padeborn 07

While this fixture may not carry the glamour of the Reiverderby or the historic significance of the game being held in Berlin, it could well be the most consequential game taking place in the Bundesliga this weekend. Six points separate Fortuna, who currently occupy the relegation play-off spot in 16th, from bottom side Padeborn who recorded one of only four league wins this season in the reverse fixture at home, winning 2-0.

Following promotion in 2017/18, Fortuna have failed to build on an impressive 10th place finish last year and have struggled to score throughout a campaign that has seen them register a joint-league low of 27 goals. Experienced frontman, Rouwen Hennings, has provided 11 of those and is the 7/2 favourite to open the scoring in what is their best opportunity from their remaining fixtures to close the four-point gap to 15th-placed Mainz. They are 11/10 to seize the opportunity.

If Fortuna’s situation is merely precarious, Padeborn’s is wholly bleak. Steffen Baumgart’s side have endured a torrid time in what is only their second ever season in the German top-flight. 10 points adrift from safety, it would seem that their only hope of survival would be to somehow replace Saturday’s opponents in the league’s relegation play-off spot. If they are to achieve this, it would appear essential that they come away from the MERKER-SPIEL ARENA with a win, a prospect Sky Bet consider an 11/5 shot.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Mönchengladbach

Saturday’s evening fixture includes another title challenger that will be looking to close the gap to the of the table. Mönchengladbach currently occupy the final Champions League spot and have been in the top 4 since the first week of October, which combined with good away form (only 1 defeat from their last 5) and a captain in Lars Stindl who had scored 5 in 5 before the enforced break, makes it easy to understand why Sky Bet make Die Fohlen 13/10 favourites to get that bit closer to Bayern, even if it is only temporarily. Stindl is 2/1 to continue his good form by scoring at any time.

Frankfurt will be hoping that the two months away from the pitch can act as a catalyst to regain control of a season that was threatening to fall away before March’s suspension. Die Adler had slipped to their current position of 12th, after a run of three straight league defeats in which they conceded ten and scored only once, with that being an own goal. They also would lose 3-0 at home to FC Basel in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie. Adi Hütter’s side are 15/8 to check Gladbach’s title ambitions, and 5/2 to snatch a point.

FC Köln vs FSV Mainz 05

The first game of two on Sunday pits the best performing of the newly-promoted sides, Köln, against established top-flight outfit Mainz who seem determined to participate in a fraught relegation battle this season.

Köln may have lost the first game 3-1 between the two back in October, yet go into Sunday’s meeting firm favourites at 19/20 to extend the gap between themselves and Jurgen Klopp’s former side to 9 points. Despite losing 10 of their first 14 games, Köln find themselves only 5 points from 6th-placed Schalke after a 2-0 win in their 15th game against Bayer Leverkusen, would see them go on to win 7 in 10 before the March suspension. Many observers agree that Die Geißböcke are a better side than their current 10th position suggests.

If Mainz are to come away from the RheinEnergieStadion with an unlikely win, which Sky Bet have as a 5/2 chance, it will be essential that they show an improvement defensively. Away from home, Die Nullfünfer have conceded at a rate of almost 3 goals per game (2.67) although they had enjoyed their best form of the season before the enforced break, having lost only once in their previous 5 Bundesliga games.

Köln still retain an outside chance of Europa League qualification, while Mainz desperately require points to maintain daylight between themselves and Fortuna in the relegation play-off place. Considering this, a draw would seem unlikely, something supported by the fact that this weekend’s game features the two sides to draw least (twice each) in the league this season.

Union Berlin vs Bayern Munich Odds

Even without the backdrop of a league returning to action after an unprecedented hiatus, this fixture was always going to be one to stir the soul as Union Berlin welcome Bavarian footballing aristocrats Bayern Munich to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei for the first time in their history.

Union have defied all expectation in their first-ever Bundesliga season and currently sit in 11th position, comfortably 8 points clear of the relegation zone and with an outside chance of Europa League qualification. That being said, the face a daunting task against a Bayern Munich side that appeared revitalised after the November appointment of former player Hans-Dieter Flick to replace Niko Kovač.

Sky Bet agree, offering odds as long as 11/1 for the home side to pull off what would be one of the greatest results in their history. Bayern on the other hand, will know that it is essential to silence what will be a raucous crowd on Sunday evening if they are to continue to hold off the immediate threat of Dortmund and RB Leipzig, as they seek to win their 8th consecutive league title. They are as short as 1/5 to get the win in Berlin or 8/15 to win and there to be Over 2.5 Goals in the match.

Predictably, Robert Lewandowski is the favourite, at 9/5, to open the scoring and add to his league-high tally of 25 goals this season and 2/5 to score at any point.

By Michael Murphy