Southern rivals to sparkle
Freiburg v Stuttgart
Saturday 23 January, 14:30
Live in Betfair Live Video
It’s become a cliché in the Bundesliga to talk about how remarkable a job Christian Streich has done and is continuing to do at Freiburg, but it’s no less true. Yet again, he has defied expectation and logic to propel the Black Forest club a long way clear of relegation danger. Every summer he loses key players, and every summer he finds a way to replace them and remould his side.
In attack, Ermedin Demirovic is starting to shine after a slow start, while Baptiste Santamaria has settled down in midfield. Considering Freiburg lost goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow, utility player Robin Koch and striker Luca Waldschmidt in the summer, it’s remarkable to see them just five points off the Champions League spots.
Freiburg’s southern rivals Stuttgart have also impressed. They were promoted as second-tier runners-up, and have played in an attractive manner. Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Arminia Bielefeld was probably their worst display of the season so far, and it was only their fifth defeat in 17 matches. The return of speedy forwards Silas Wamangituka and Nicolas Gonzalez from suspension should help.
I fancy goals here. Freiburg beat Stuttgart 3-2 on Matchday One, and nine if Stuttgart’s 17 league outings have featured at least four goals. For Freiburg, an Over 3.5 Goals bet has also landed nine times in the league, including in four of their last five top-flight games.
Labbadia on the edge
Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen
Saturday 23 January, 17:30
Live on BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
With big spending and big ambitions come a certain amount of expectation and pressure, and Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia has been around long enough to know that he is close to being dismissed. The capital club is just two points above the bottom three, and the stunning success of city rivals Union has merely added fuel to the fire. Despite creating chances in games, the goals have dried up, and Hertha haven’t scored in any of their last three matches. With Jhon Cordoba, Matheus Cunha and Krzysztof Piatek at Labbadia’s disposal, this is a baffling state of affairs.
At the other end is where Hertha’s problems truly lie. They leaked three goals in Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to Hoffenheim, and they have conceded at least twice in seven of their 17 matches. New goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow looks a broken man, and persistent injuries for centre-backs Dedryck Boyata and Jordan Torunarigha haven’t helped.
Werder are a bigger club than Hertha traditionally, but they don’t have the same financial muscle these days, and after last season’s brush with the drop they are simply happy to aim for mid-table. They have proved harder to beat this term, and have managed some impressive draws on the road, holding Bayern and Leverkusen to 1-1 stalemates. Four of their nine away games have ended level, and they really should have drawn 1-1 at Gladbach in midweek, but slipped to a 1-0 defeat after missing some great chances.
I think this will be tight and tense, with not much to choose between the sides. I recommended using the Correct Score market here, putting half a point on the 0-0 draw and half on a 1-1. Alternatively, you could just back the draw at 3.55/2.
Haaland to bounce back
Borussia Monchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund
Friday 22 January, 19:30
Live on BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
These are uncertain times for Borussia Dortmund. Tuesday’s somewhat careless 2-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen raised questions about whether caretaker coach Edin Terzic can actually keep the team in the top four, and now that there is a ten-point gap between BVB and the leaders Bayern, all talk of a title charge has been junked. Recent post-match interviews from the likes of Mats Hummels, Thomas Meunier and Thomas Delaney have showcased the deep frustration there is in the squad. They know they are a talented group, but they just can’t find the consistency they need.
And yet there is always the capability to sparkle and beat the top sides. Dortmund swept Gladbach aside 3-0 on Matchday One, and they recently won 3-1 at RB Leipzig. Even though they were outplayed for much of their loss at the BayArena, I believe they’d have won that game if Jadon Sancho had put away an excellent chance at 1-1. Then there is the Erling Haaland factor: tongues have been wagging at the Norwegian’s failure to find the net in four of his last five games, but the stats will tell you that drought won’t last long. He scored a brace against Gladbach on MD1, and he has netted 25 goals in 23 appearances for club and country this season.
Gladbach did superbly to produce a comeback win against Bayern recently, but I still believe they are defensively fragile. Werder Bremen should’ve equalised against the Foals in midweek, as the hosts grimly clung onto a 1-0 win. Marco Rose’s side has leaked at least two goals in five of their last eight matches in the league, and I think Haaland is a great bet to score at evens here.