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Two of this week's Bundesliga matches are included in this next-level promotion, along with the English Championship match up between Wayne Rooney's Derby County and Blackburn Rovers.
Bundesliga Round Two action
The Bundesliga returned to action last weekend with a set of results that confirmed that the financial ramifications of the pandemic have dampened hopes of an unpredictable year at the top. Bayern Munich’s opening night thrashing of Schalke 8-0 was a game that should unnerve not only Bayern’s potential title challengers but German football as a whole. The sport should not be so grimly, tediously one-sided.
Yet that should not detract from the entertainment elsewhere in the Bundesliga, nor indeed the betting value of arguably the second-best division in Europe. What’s more, Borussia Dortmund’s emphatic 3-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday - in which a new-look teenaged attack ran riot - gives hope of a two-way tussle for the crown.
Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund
Julien Favre will see last season as a missed opportunity to end Bayern’s supremacy, and yet the superb performances of 17-year-old pair Jude Bellingham and Giovanni Reyna, who combined for the opener last weekend, gives renewed optimism. Forming a trio with Erling Haaland, Dortmund’s kids should be able to blow Augsburg away.
Augsburg have proven themselves fearless against Favre’s side when, frankly, perhaps they would be better served by being a little more scared.
By boldly, and ferociously, counter-attacking Dortmund last season they created flowing end-to-end games in which - inevitably - the more explosive, and more talented, side came out on top. Dortmund were 5-3 winners in January and 5-1 winners in August.
And the hosts’ opening day 3-1 win at Union Berlin should not be enough to convince us of a closer battle this time around. Union sit deep and look to absorb pressure; Dortmund will hunt the ball down and do everything they can to unsettle Augsburg’s occasionally chaotic defenders. The visitors should be able to win convincingly.
Take the Over on Dortmund scoring 2.5 goals (or Dortmund at -3).
Hertha BSC v Eintracht Frankfurt (zero margin game - offering the fairest odds)
These two sides were separated by one place and four points last season, sitting safely mid-table after unspectacular campaigns. But while Frankfurt have been seriously limited in the transfer window, Hertha made a marquee signing in striker Jhon Cordoba – the Colombian scoring on his debut in an impressive 4-1 win at Werder Bremen.
The £13 million signing from FC Koln scored 13 times in the Bundesliga last season, and having made such a telling impact off the bench last weekend can be expected to start.
Hertha were superb in their opening-day victory, using playmaker Matheus Cunha to great effect, while by contrast Frankfurt laboured to a disappointing 1-1 draw against newly promoted Arminia Bielefeld.
In this Covid-19 era of psychological vulnerability - partly attributable to the effect of playing in mostly empty stadiums - the difference in energy levels and cohesion between Hertha and Frankfurt could be telling. The hosts, on a high, should take all three points.
Take the outright on Hertha to win
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Freiburg v Wolfsburg (zero margin game - offering the fairest odds)
Two evenly matched teams could produce one of the weekend’s dullest matches in Freiburg, and that’s not just because both are relatively modest when it comes to scoring and conceding goals. These two clubs much prefer playing on the counter-attack, using a deep defensive line to stay compact and waiting for chances to break. Neither flourishes when given a lot of possession, and neither wants to see too much territory.
That should lead to a static, conservative game of football. Don’t expect many spaces to exploit or expansive shapes to attack, just as in Wolfsburg’s 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. Freiburg, meanwhile, tend to hover around the 40% possession mark when playing top-half clubs, and last season tended to eke out draws against the big sides with a defensive 6-4-0 formation.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be any goals, but with a point favourable for both managers it’s likely this match will never really get going.
Back the draw.
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