With most domestic football drawing to a close this weekend, our League Scouts have been hard at work scouring European football’s fixture list for their best bets as we look to finish the season off with a bang.
This week we have picks from the final round of games in Germany’s Bundesliga, where Dortmund have a chance to snap Bayern Munich’s nine-year streak of title wins; Union Berlin and Freiburg will be fighting over the final Champions League spot, whilst Schalke, Bochum, and Stuttgart are all aiming to avoid the drop.
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Saturday Afternoon’s Best Bets & Predictions
GIF Sundsvall v Skovde
After last season, both of these sides would have expected to challenge towards the top end of the table. GIF Sundsvall were a top-flight club and began the campaign well, whilst Skovde only just narrowly missed out on the Allsvenskan relegation play-off places.
Following on from their relegation last season, GIF Sundsvall began the 2023 Superettan season quite well. However, since beginning the season with back-to-back victories, they have managed just one win in their last six outings.
Their most recent outing was a 1-0 defeat to Orgryte IS, via a 64th minute winner from Noah Love Christofferson. Their lack of goal scoring has been a major issue with that being the fifth time this season they have scored one goal or fewer in their opening eight matches.
After a relatively impressive 2022 campaign, Skovde would have been expecting to replicate that and challenge towards the top three, once again. However, after eight matches of this season, they sit rock-bottom in the Superettan table and remain the only winless side, having collected just two points so far.
Former Sweden international, Tobias Linderoth, remains in charge of the club. He has been the manager since the end of the 2020 season but pressure is growing given that we are nearly a third of the way through the season and the immediate focus has to be on clambering their way out of the bottom four.
Despite their inconsistent start to the campaign, GIF Sundsvall are expected to be one of the strongest sides in the league and, with their home advantage against a bottom-of-the-table winless team, they should come out on top here.
Trelleborg v Vasteras
These two started the season very differently at opposite ends of the Superettan table but they both come into this on the back of some good results and performances last weekend.
Last season, Trelleborg had an impressive campaign as they narrowly missed out on a top three finish and the Allsvenskan/Superettan relegation/promotion playoff places. However, they began the 2023 campaign slowly with five defeats and just one win in their opening six matches.
They do now, though, come into this on the back of a 3-2 win away at bottom-of-the-table and still winless Skovde in their most recent outing, last weekend. That made it back-to-back victories for the hosts as they seek to return to something near their form last season.
Under the long-term management of Kalle Carlsson, Vasteras have enjoyed an extremely impressive start to the season. The club have only ever had one season in the top-flight of Swedish football but, after eight games and nearly a third of this season gone, they will be eyeing up an unlikely return to the top-flight, since their relegation in 1997.
They edged past Osters, who had started with four successive victories, last weekend by two goals to one. Goals from Jaheem Burke and Jabir Abdihakim Ali have Vasteras that win and it does mean they sit at the top-of-the-table, ahead of Utsiktens on goal difference. They have managed five victories and two draws so far this season.
Whilst Vasteras’ impressive defensive record of conceding just four goals in eight games is paramount to their current successful run, the underlying data does suggest that is unsustainable. Given that, as well as Trelleborg’s entertainment value so far this season, it could be quite a fun game for the neutral, even if the visitors are expected to come out on top just about.
RB Leipzig v Schalke
With a win against Bayern Munich last weekend, RB Leipzig secured their place in the 2023/24 Champions League group stages, but they will face a stern test this weekend as Marco Rose’s side host Schalke. The visitors sit 17th and need at least a point, dependent on Bochum’s result, to finish in the relegation playoff – a win could take S04 as high as 14th if Augsburg, Bochum and Stuttgart lose.
The reverse fixture finished 6-1 to RB Leipzig but Schalke have shown fight in recent weeks despite their position with three wins, one draw and two defeats in their last six Bundesliga games – S04 have lost just three of their last eight away games. But RB Leipzig will want to keep their excellent home record intact, only Borussia Dortmund (43) have picked up more points than Leipzig (38) at home.
Don’t expect Rose to deviate from his preferred 4-2-3-1 which has served Leipzig so well in 2023. Against Bayern last weekend, Leipzig only saw 41% of the ball but created 9 chances – higher than their average per 90 this season. Against Schalke, with Christopher Nkunku in excellent form, Dominik Szoboszlai having his best campaign and Dani Olmo playing for a new contract, expect Leipzig to dominate possession and to create chances against a Schalke side that has conceded 67 goals.
No team has scored fewer goals than Schalke (10 in 16) away from home this season. That said, they have scored 7 in their last 4 Bundesliga games. But they’re coming up against a Leipzig team that has conceded 39 goals in 33 games – only Union Berlin (38) and Bayern Munich (37) have conceded less. Even with Janis Blaswich replacing the injured Peter Gulacsi, Leipzig have been formidable in defence.
RB Leipzig have won their last four against Schalke and despite having nothing else to play for in the Bundesliga, they will want to end the season on a high as they prepare for the DFB Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt next weekend. Expect Schalke to fight for their survival but to come up just short against Leipzig. I’d safely back this as a Leipzig win.
Union Berlin v Werder Bremen
Union Berlin sit fourth and occupy the final Champions League spot as they sit level with Freiburg heading into the final game of the season. Only a goal difference of four separates the two teams and with Freiburg playing at Frankfurt, Union realistically need a win to secure Champions League football for the first time in their history as their incredible story continues.
For much of the campaign they were challenging Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title until they went four games without a win between February and March. Still, it’s a remarkable campaign that their fans will look back upon in time. On Saturday, they host a Werder Bremen side that have little to play for with their Bundesliga status secured after a draw in Cologne.
Only Bayern Munich (37) have conceded fewer than Union (38) this season and the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is typically a difficult place to visit. No team has conceded fewer than Union’s 11 at home this season after 16 games – Urs Fischer’s side also remain unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga. Union put four past Freiburg in their last home game but typically they don’t score many either. Die Eisernen have only scored more than two goals on two occasions in their last eight home games.
But there isn’t a more deadly duo in the Bundesliga this season than that of Werder Bremen’s Niclas Fullkrug and Marvin Ducksch. With 28 goals and 11 assists between them this season, they will of course pose a threat to Union but with Robin Knoche and Danilho Doekhi both having stellar season’s in defence ahead of Frederik Ronnow, expect Bremen to find it difficult to penetrate Union’s defence. Bremen also have just one win in their last 11 Bundesliga games and have only scored more than one goal in one of their last four Bundesliga games.
Four of the last five meetings between the two teams have finished Under 3.5 Goals and Union Berlin are just that good at home this season. Even with Fullkrug and Ducksch, it’s difficult to see Bremen winning whilst Union are also relatively low scorers. Under 3.5 Goals offers excellent value here.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Augsburg
Borussia Monchengladbach have been disappointing this season and they have nothing to play for in the final game of the season, other than pride and finishing above their fierce rivals Cologne. In Daniel Farke’s first campaign, Gladbach have 9 wins in 16 home games but it’s their home form that has the club in 11th after 33 games – they have just one away win in 17 games this season and only Bochum (9) and Hertha Berlin (5) have picked up fewer points on the road than Gladbach (10).
As for Augsburg, they could still find themselves in the relegation playoff should Stuttgart, Bochum and Schalke win whilst they lose in Monchengladbach. Augsburg certainly have enough quality in their squad for that not to be the case after keeping leaders Borussia Dortmund at bay until the 58th minute last weekend despite being down to 10 men and with Mergim Berisha, Dion Beljo, Irwin Cardona and Ermedin Demirovic, they have plenty of attacking options.
Saturday’s game will be the last in a Borussia Mönchengladbach kit for Ramy Bensebaini, Lars Stindl and Marcus Thuram with the trio leaving when their contracts expire. Stindl at 34 has been an important player this season with 14 goal contributions in 28 games whilst Thuram is enjoying his best goal-scoring season in the Bundesliga with 13 goals in 29 games. The attacking duo are likely to start with Jonas Hofmann (11 goals, 8 assists) also an integral player in the final third.
Borussia Monchengladbach have scored two goals in three of their last four Bundesliga games at home whilst Augsburg have kept just two clean sheets on the road this season. Augsburg also haven’t won an away game since October and despite this likely being Farke’s last game despite it being his first season in charge, it should end with a Borussia Monchengladbach win.
Brommapojkarna v IK Sirius
Brommapojkarna have been the surprise package of the season to date, coming off the back of a dominant Superettan title win to place themselves in 5th after 9 matches. Djurgården surpassed them, beating Häcken on Thursday, but BP have a chance to climb up to 4th with a win against Sirius.
Their ascent becomes all the more impressive when you consider some of their top players and breakthrough stars of last year – the two Bergvalls and Wilmer Odefalk – all left for Djurgården. The younger Bergvall brother, Lucas, has been majorly impressive so far, but BP have certainly managed to fill the gaps.
Olof Mellberg has created a machine which rarely concedes while also being exciting attacking-wise. The season started off shaky, but after three consecutive losses early on they have now not lost in the last five, winning four of those matches.
Only two goals conceded in that unbeaten run is a huge accomplishment, with one of the weaker squads in the league on paper. Their pace-filled attacking play is a joy to watch, too, with a number of different threats. While the run of fixtures hasn’t been the most testing, the results are still a great testament to the work being done behind the scenes at Sweden’s most established academy.
Sirius have on the other hand struggled massively, still without a win under their belt this season. While there is still plenty of time to go, there are glaring holes in the squad and the system is neither restricting opponents or maximising their limited offensive potential.
All of their five points have come from draws, and with three defeats on the trot now, it’s a desperate position for the Uppsala side. Performances haven’t been too poor, but with a real lack of cutting edge in attack, winning games on xG doesn’t matter much.
Striker Nikola Vasic’s absence due to suspension is a concern for Brommapojkarna, but the home side has been incredibly solid and should be able to cope just fine.
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