Stuttgart v Hertha Berlin
Heading into the penultimate round of fixtures prior to the World Cup, surprisingly Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin are very similar. They both have 11 points and go into Tuesday’s game with the same record: 2 wins, 5 draws and 6 defeats. They have also scored the same number of goals (16) but Hertha Berlin (20) have conceded less than Stuttgart (24). A win won’t take either side any higher than 13th but with Stuttgart occupying the relegation playoff, this is a game of huge importance.
Stuttgart are still without a successor to Pellegrino Matarazzo but Michael Wimmer has done somewhat of a decent job and will keep his position as interim until the winter break, which allows VfB more time to find a successor. Under Wimmer, Stuttgart have scored in three of their four Bundesliga games, winning two and losing two. During their 3-1 defeat against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday evening, Stuttgart created 5 chances but converted just 1. Only Bochum have a lower chance conversion than Stuttgart (20%) despite 8 teams creating less chances. It’s an area that Stuttgart must improve on. They’re also underperforming their xG by 5 goals.
As for Hertha Berlin, they’re starting to find some consistency under Sandro Schwarz. After losing three of their opening four Bundesliga games, Hertha went on a run of five games without defeat, granted that four of those finished in a draw. Since that run, even in their defeats against RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich, Hertha scored twice but still ended up on the losing side. Dodi Lukebakio is in excellent form for Hertha this season and is partially the reason why the Old Lady are still within a chance of winning their games. The Belgian averages 2.5 shots per 90 and has seven goals this season.
Against a Stuttgart side that has just one clean sheet in 13 games, you would expect Hertha to score. Stuttgart have also scored in 71% of their home games in the Bundesliga this season. With odds of 1.6 on Betfair, both teams scoring seems like a likely outcome here.
Bochum v Borussia Monchengladbach
Borussia Monchengladbach make the short trip to Bochum on Tuesday night in the penultimate round of Bundesliga fixtures before they break for the World Cup. With both clubs situated in North Rhine-Westphalia, these games always have a special meaning although no direct rivalry. Should results go their way, a win could potentially see Daniel Farke’s Gladbach move up into the European spots. But for Bochum, even a win wouldn’t take them out of the relegation zone.
There’s no doubting that Borussia have the better squad. A bigger budget, better facilities and international players at the club, it’s no surprise that Farke’s side are favourites at 1.91 here. They received a major boost on Friday night following the return of Jonas Hofmann, who missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. The German scored four minutes into his return with a late run into the box from midfield. Hofmann can play a big role for Hansi Flick in Qatar later this month.
Gladbach also have Marcus Thuram at their disposal. The Frenchman plays centrally as the focal point of this team under Farke, a new role to the left-forward position he played under previous coaches Marco Rose and Adi Hütter. Thuram already has 9 goals in 13 Bundesliga games this season and is proving quite the handful with his physique and explosive pace in the transitions. Thuram, Hofmann and Alassane Plea can all cause Bochum’s defence problems on Tuesday.
Against Borussia Dortmund, Bochum were 2-0 down inside 12 minutes. Manuel Riemann was poor, caught too far off his line on two occasions, which Youssoufa Moukoko capitalised on. Gladbach and Dortmund play somewhat similar football – both like to dominate and be quick in their transitions. Bochum’s defensive block didn’t work on Saturday and you would expect Gladbach to capitalise. It’s also difficult to see where Bochum’s goals come from. Although Philipp Hofmann scored against Dortmund, which was ruled out, Bochum’s goal-getter has been largely non-existent.
No team has scored less than Bochum (11) or conceded more (35). Goals are expected on Tuesday but from the Borussia Monchengladbach end. With a place in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad up for grabs, Thuram wants to impress and that’s not good news for Bochum. Farke’s Gladbach like to have a high number of shots on goal with an average of 5.7 finding the target per 90, only bettered by Freiburg and Bayern Munich. With Thuram in the form that he’s in, that should be enough to see them win at Bochum on Tuesday.
FC Koln v Bayer Leverkusen
Although a win against Schalke in his first game in charge, Xabi Alonso suffered a difficult start to his tenure at Bayer Leverkusen. A run of six games across all competitions without a win, B04 soundly beat then Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin 5-0 on Sunday afternoon. But on Wednesday, it’s a completely different battle as Bayer Leverkusen make the 14km trip to Cologne – Alonso’s first taste of the Rheinderby and the first since the return of ultras, who boycotted games across Germany until all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
Bayer Leverkusen’s win against Union Berlin has seen them climb the table to 14th but they only have four points from a possible 18 away from the BayArena this season. They’ve conceded 11 goals in their last three Bundesliga away games but against a Cologne side struggling in front of goal, Bayer Leverkusen have an excellent opportunity to make it successive wins for the first time this season.
Favouring a 3-4-3, Alonso likes to make use of the wide areas with Mitchell Bakker and Jeremie Frimpong given the freedom to roam forward, benefitting Moussa Diaby, who scored a brace against Union Berlin. Against the capital club, B04 were clinical – converting 5 of their 7 chances. Creating chances hasn’t been a problem for Bayer this season with just six teams creating more in the Bundesliga, but they’ve struggled in the final third. Patrik Schick, who has scored just three goals in 1399 minutes this season, has adductor problems and will likely miss Wednesday’s game but that gives Adam Hložek and Diaby another opportunity to fine tune their understanding.
For Cologne, it’s difficult to see where the goals come from. With their boisterous home support, the RheinEnergieStadion can be a difficult place to visit, as OGC Nice found out on Thursday night. 2-0 up, Cologne fought back to 2-2 with the backing of the home fans, but that wasn’t enough to advance to the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League. In front of goal, Steffen Tigges, Florian Dietz and Sargis Adamyan have scored just five goals between them, a fraction of the 20 that Anthony Modeste scored last season – Mark Uth has also spent much of the season injured.
Steffen Baumgart’s side have picked up 11 points from a possible 18 at home this season but they also ship a lot of goals – 5 in their last 3 games. With an improving Bayer Leverkusen side, this could be the perfect matchup for Alonso’s side. Cologne will look to attack and B04 can capitalise on that. This game feels like it will be a ‘score more than your opponent’ approach, with B04 the winners.
Schalke v Mainz
Schalke are known for their high turnover of coaches and this season is no different. Appointed in the summer, Frank Kramer has already been dismissed and is replaced by Thomas Reis. He secured Bochum’s Bundesliga status for this season but after a winless start, was sacked. Now it’s up to Reis to guide Schalke to Bundesliga safety. Bottom of the table after 13 games and already five points adrift of Stuttgart, who occupy the relegation playoff, Reis has a huge task on his hands.
Only Bochum (11) have scored less goals than Schalke (12) this season. Simon Terodde has failed to replicate the form that clinched S04 the 2. Bundesliga title and Sebastian Polter has struggled. In fact, it’s attacking-midfielders Marius Bulter (3) and Dominick Drexler (2) that has scored 41.6% of Schalke’s Bundesliga goals this season. It doesn’t help that they’re also missing Rodrigo Zalazar whilst Jordan Larsson has struggled to establish himself within the squad.
With seven consecutive defeats across all competitions and just five goals scored, it’s difficult to see just how Schalke can beat Mainz. Bo Svensson’s side better S04 in every area and it’s just a question of how many Mainz can win by. They have only scored three or more goals in one game on one occasion in the Bundesliga this season, and that was against 10-men Cologne. Of course, Schalke’s defence is non-existent and they’ve had to make an emergency signing in Timothée Kolodziejczak on a free whilst Maya Yoshida, who despite excellent leadership qualities, hasn’t been able to keep up with the pace of German football.
Svensson could go with several options in attack to keep Schalke guessing. Karim Onisiwo is likely to start but has only scored one goal in his last 10 Bundesliga games. Jonathan Burkardt, whilst talented, has lacked composure in the final third and has been unable to replicate last season’s finishing abilities. All things considered, it’s difficult to see how Schalke can win here and they won’t get many chances to score. Meanwhile, Mainz have been wasteful in the penalty area and 76% of their Bundesliga games have finished under 3.5 goals.
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