Borussia Dortmund v Bochum
Borussia Dortmund are just four points behind leaders Union Berlin. On Saturday afternoon, they host neighbouring Bochum in the local derby as they look to close the gap before Union travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. BVB come into this weekend’s game following a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen but Edin Terzic opted to rest several players having already secured a place in the Champions League knockout stages. Gregor Kobel and Mats Hummels were substituted at half-time as a precautionary measure but should be fit enough to start on Saturday.
Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring midway through the first-half but BVB conceded four minutes before the break. Central-defender Nico Schlotterbeck spoke of his team’s poor performance with just one of their 13 shots finding the target, resulting in the goal. Misfiring Anthony Modeste started on Wednesday night but the Frenchman is likely to be displaced by Youssoufa Moukoko on Saturday. With the 17-year-old leading their attack, Dortmund are much quicker in their transitions which should prove problematic for a Bochum defence that’s conceded 32 goals in 12 games. BVB have no problem creating chances, averaging 8 per 90 minutes, but five teams are averaging more goals per 90 despite creating the second most number of chances. Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen have both being wasteful in front of goal but Saturday’s game against Bochum is an excellent opportunity to showcase their talent.
As for Bochum, they’ve won 29 air challenges, the most of any team in the Bundesliga, but this shouldn’t be a problem for Borussia Dortmund, more so given that Modeste is unlikely to start and so they will keep the ball on the ground. Even a win for Bochum on Saturday wouldn’t take them any higher than 16th, the relegation playoff. With just three games remaining before the World Cup, it’s likely that Bochum will end 2022 in the relegation zone. Unfortunately they weren’t able to compete with surrounding Bundesliga teams in the market given their nominal budget and although the appointment of Letsch has resulted in two wins in their last four, Bochum are destined for the drop.
And with the superior squad, despite their injury concerns, you would fully expect Borussia Dortmund to collect three points at home on Saturday. BVB have lost just one of their six games at the Signal Iduna Park and come into this game full of confidence following a 5-0 win against Stuttgart before a 2-1 win against European rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. BVB to win and Over 2.5 represents good value.
Werder Bremen v Schalke
Werder Bremen come into Saturday’s game against Schalke with belief that they can in fact challenge for a place in Europe next season. Last Friday’s 1-0 win against Hertha Berlin, which saw Niclas Fullkrug score five minutes from time, for a short period put Bremen into the European places before the remaining fixtures took place on Saturday and Sunday. Ole Werner’s side have won three of their last five Bundesliga games and are certainly deserving of their current eighth place, just four points off Borussia Dortmund who hold the final Champions League spot.
Both Werder Bremen and Schalke were promoted from the 2. Bundesliga but have had contrasting starts to their campaign. With a 2-0 defeat against Freiburg last weekend and Bochum beating leaders Union Berlin the prior weekend, it means that S04 are bottom of the table whilst Bremen are flying high. It also forced Schalke to change coaches. Heading into Saturday’s game, Schalke appointed Thomas Reis as their new coach on an 18 month contract. He secured Bundesliga status for Bochum last season but after a winless start this campaign, was dismissed. He certainly has the pedigree to keep this Schalke side in the top flight but they are misfiring with just 11 goals in 12 games. Prolific in the 2. Bundesliga, Simon Terodde is yet to prove his ability in the top division whilst the signing of Sebastian Polter just hasn’t worked. Rodrigo Zalazar, Thomas Ouwejan and Sepp van den Berg are also three key injuries that Schalke are having to deal with.
Bremen’s Ole Werner won’t deviate from his preferred 5-3-2. Mitchell Weiser and Anthony Jung love to attack from their wing-back positions and are accurate with their crossing. That’s partially down to the reason Fullkrug is the Bundesliga’s top scorer with nine goals. Bremen always create chances – 10 last weekend against Hertha – but if they want to be challenging for Europe come May, they have to start converting. Defensively, they remain a strong unit and against the joint-lowest scorers in the league, they shouldn’t have too much of a problem defensively.
Schalke have conceded at least two goals in their last five Bundesliga games and in Fullkrug and Marvin Ducksch, they come up against one of the Bundesliga’s deadliest partnerships with a makeshift defence, despite the recent arrival of Timothée Kolodziejczak. Bremen have scored five goals in stoppage time this season and will fight to the very end. It’s difficult to see how Schalke can get anything from this game even with the appointment of Reis. At 1.65 of Betfair for a Werder Bremen win, this offers excellent value in a game they should get three points.
Freiburg v Cologne
Should Union Berlin and Bayern Munich somehow lose this weekend, Freiburg will find themselves leading the Bundesliga with a win against Cologne on Sunday. Just six points separate the top five teams and at the moment, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be top come the winter break. Christian Streich’s side come into Sunday’s clash having topped their Europa League group with a 1-1 win at Qarabag. Although the monumental journey whilst Cologne played at home on Thursday night, Streich did rest several key players with seven of the starting XI bench players. And so their game against Cologne on Sunday shouldn’t pose too much of a fitness threat.
Both teams have similar philosophies. Freiburg and Cologne are hard-working teams that like to press and win a high percentage of tackles. Surprisingly, Cologne (20) have scored more Bundesliga goals than Freiburg (18) this season, but the hosts are averaging 5.8 shots on target per 90. Cologne will also have to do without Florian Dietz for the remainder of the season whilst Sebastian Andersson was already out for the long-term. Sargis Adamyan and Steffen Tigges haven’t been able to replace the goals of Anthony Modeste and up against the third best defence in the Bundesliga, it’s difficult to see how Cologne will find a way past an impressive Freiburg side.
Vincenzo Grifo has also been excellent for Freiburg this season. With six goals and two assists in 12 games, the attacking-midfielder is already well on his way to beating last season’s tally. Freiburg have also received a boost with the return of Roland Sallai and Kevin Schade. Against a Cologne said that will be without Dejan Ljubičić and likely Jonas Hector, Freiburg will look to capitalise with two of the team’s leaders missing. Denis Huseinbasic has stepped up and is establishing himself within the squad but Cologne are light of options with several youth players making up the bench.
Freiburg have a good record at home against Cologne. Dating back to 2015, Freiburg have picked up 15 points from a possible 18. Whilst most teams are hit with fitness concerns with games being played every three or four days, Freiburg are coping better than most. They were able to rotate on Thursday and with just two defeats in 12 Bundesliga games, Freiburg are looking strong. Cologne are shipping goals at the moment and only three teams have conceded more than their 23. Freiburg to win at 1.7 on Betfair represents excellent value against a Cologne side that appear to be running out of steam after their impressive start.
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