Schalke to keep slipping
Wolfsburg v Schalke
Saturday 13 March, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
Wolfsburg suffered a rare wobble at Hoffenheim last weekend, as two pieces of careless defending saw them slip to a 2-1 defeat. Their afternoon was summed up by left-back Paulo Otavio’s wild challenge on Munas Dabbur, which prevented a third goal (Wolves’ keeper Koen Casteels had been caught upfield trying to score the equaliser) but cost him a red card. As coach Oliver Glasner poetically reflected later, the Brazilian “tried to save what could not be saved.”
Wolfsburg can however save their bid to qualify for the Champions League. They are third in the table with ten matchdays left, they have the second-best defence in the league and they have only lost three top-flight matches. For the first time in a long time, Glasner will be forced to delve into his reserves, as he has picked largely the same starting XI in the last few weeks. Exceptional centre-back Maxence Lacroix and midfield warrior Xaver Schlager are suspended, as is Paulo Otavio. Luckily for Glasner, he has quality alternatives.
Regardless of the reshuffle, Wolfsburg should still have enough quality to see off Schalke. New coach Dimitrios Grammozis had an underwhelming debut last Friday, as his team scraped a 0-0 draw with second-bottom Mainz. They have collected just ten points from 24 games, and unless something truly extraordinary happens, the Royal Blues are bound for the second tier.
They have the worst attack and the worst defence in the division, they have won one league game all season, and they have lost their last three meetings with Saturday’s opponents.
They have lost by an two-goal margin 14 times in 24 Bundesliga matches.
Wolfsburg are trading at evens on the Asian Handicap to win by two goals or more, and even though they only beat them 1-0 in the DFB Cup earlier this year, they should be able to overpower their opponents here.
Mainz can boost survival fight
Mainz v Freiburg
Saturday 13 March, 14:30
Confidence is often a trait associated with people of the Netherlands, but Mainz midfielder Jean-Paul Boetius’ claims after a 0-0 draw at Schalke that his side would stay up seemed based on something more than stereotypical bravado. Mainz have looked doomed for much of the season, but they have collected 11 points from their last seven outings, and that sequence has given them a genuine shot at survival. Having not won a single home game this term under previous coaches Achim Beierlorzer and Jan-Moritz Lichte, Mainz have rustled up two wins from the last three at the Opel Arena under Svensson.
Freiburg are still within striking distance of the European spots, but I get the sense that they feel the primary objective of survival has been achieved. Even coach Christian Streich has admitted that the tension has been removed to a large extent. The Black Forest side have beaten Dortmund and Leverkusen in 2021, but they have only won three of their last nine, and they were overpowered by RB Leipzig in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat.
Eagles can avoid Bulls’ stampede
RB Leipzig v Eintracht Frankfurt
Sunday 14 March, 14:30
Live on BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
RB Leipzig are very much in the title race, and they have reached the semi-finals of the DFB Cup, but their European campaign came to a rather limp end in Budapest. For the second time in their round-of-16 tie against Liverpool, Die Roten Bullen slipped to a rather meek 2-0 reverse, and Liverpool could have won the tie even more convincingly if they had been more clinical in front of goal.
Now Leipzig face another tough test against fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles have only lost one of the clubs’ last six Bundesliga meetings, and last season Adi Hütter’s men triumphed in the league and the cup. Frankfurt have only lost three times in the league this season, they have one of the division’s best striker in Andre Silva, and they recently did Leipzig a favour by beating Bayern 2-1.
Leipzig have won their last six Bundesliga matches, the best current run in the division, but after a draining midweek trip I can see them dropping points against a refreshed Frankfurt side that is chasing Champions League qualification. Filip Kostic has been on sensational form in the last few games, and Luka Jovic has given Hütter another option in attack.
Leipzig seem too short at 1.84/5, so I’ll lay them.