How did that happen?
After nailing the Friday-night match and getting two more from the early Saturday action, it seemed a new personal-best in picking Bundesliga matches was a shoo-in. I mean, I needed just one more!
If I’d gone with my instinct to not pick draws, I might have had Saturday’s late game. Had I gone with a reverse-jinx of the 1. FC Köln match, which worked great for their 0:3 at Schalke, I might have had the early Sunday match. If I just continued on my anti-Ingolstadt path, I’d have had the late Sunday match.
Instead, I missed all three and posted yet another miserable week of picks, not helping a mood still a bit soured by the Leon Andreasen volleyball goal that ended Köln’s home unbeaten streak.
At least I didn’t lose any money, as I’m the most-conservative gambler I know (i.e. I don’t gamble.)
But another match day is about to hit, providing yet another opportunity to post a personal best or even (is it too much to ask?) a better than .500 weekend.
Let’s get to it!
Friday, October 23
Hamburger SV (+½) over Hoffenheim 1899
Hoffenheim’s 4:2 loss at VfL Wolfsburg last week was a great 90-minute example of both why I think they have the potential to be a decent side and why I am likely 100% wrong in thinking that.
Wolfsburg scored twice within the first eight minutes, which we can all agree says bad things about the Hoffenheim defending, yeah?
But then they tightened up a bit against what was a determined Wolfsburg side and scored the next two goals to level the score. See? They are capable of a fight!
And they’re also capable of defensive collapses, which opened the door for Max Kruse to complete a hat trick and put Hoffenheim’s total goals-allowed number at 18 in just nine matches, which is second-worst in the league.
Apparently, Markus Gisdol have been given a “win or else!” ultimatum. It seems to me that if this team were going to rally around their coach to help save his job, it would have happened by now.
That said, I don’t really believe in Hamburger SV. Their aversion to scoring goals will be truly tested by Hoffenheim’s insistence on surrendering them. Bruno Labbadia’s crew has enough points to be well above their usual place in the middle of the relegation spots, but having scored just one goal in their last five matches is awfully reminiscent of last year’s scuffling side.
I hate picking the HSV here, but not as much as I hate the idea of laying even a measly half-goal.
Saturday, October 24
Eintracht Frankfurt (pk) over Hannover 96
I remain mystified by Frankfurt’s form since steamrolling my club. They have just two points from their last five matches, scoring just two goals since posting six on 1. FC Köln.
Meanwhile, Hannover has won consecutive matches after getting only two points from their first seven. Though, let’s face it, their win Sunday over Köln was a travesty of justice. Köln was running circles around Hannover until Andreasen swatted the game’s only goal into the net with his right arm. Köln was clearly shaken by the goal being allowed and didn’t resume their dominance until late in the game, but couldn’t get anything past Ron-Robert Zieler.
Zieler is good enough to keep a scuffling Frankfurt side off the scoreboard yet again, but I’m more convinced that Hannover is awful than I am that I continue to overrate Frankfurt’s offense based on one (soul-crushing) game.
Bayern München (-2½) over 1. FC Köln
I don’t know if admitting to attempting to place a jinx on a result somehow negates the mystical powers of a jinx, but considering my picks and results from both clubs’ matches last weekend, I’m willing to throw this up there hoping more that it’ll be wrong than believing my beloved effzeh will get pasted at Allianz Arena.
That said, is there a worse time to be facing Bayern than coming off their first loss in ages? Thanks a lot, Arsenal!
Bayer Leverkusen (-1) over VfB Stuttgart
I tend to do well when I pick against Leverkusen, so why am I taking them and laying a goal here?
Stuttgart is awful; that’s why.
Roger Schmidt’s vaunted scoring machine is now tied for second-least-productive offense in the Bundesliga, having managed just eight goals in their first nine games, or twice what they scored Wednesday in Champions League against AS Roma.
Alexander Zorniger wants badly to be managing a team that plays offense the way people believe Schmidt’s Leverkusen team plays offense. To that end, Stuttgart has scored twelve so far this season. The problem is, they’ve given up 19, which is the league-worst.
When you don’t score goals, it’s hard to beat anyone by more than one, which is something Leverkusen has done just once all year, scoring three of their eight goals against Werder Bremen. As poor as Bremen has been lately, Stuttgart has been worse.
And I’m determined to avoid picking draws.
VfL Wolfsburg (-½) over SV Darmstadt
Darmstadt has been terrific, especially for a promoted side, but Wolfsburg showed signs of a potential return to last year’s levels of performance, if not something even better.
Forget that they blew a 2:0 lead over Hoffenheim before finishing strong for a 4:2 win. Max Kruse and Julian Draxler appeared to be settling in nicely and may help replace the aura of superiority that seemed to with Kevin De Bruyne.
Maybe it was a one-game thing, but having seen the way Kruse was leading by example, providing high effort and skill . . . I think Wolves may be about to go on the hunt.
Hertha BSC (pk) over FC Ingolstadt
Ingolstadt learned a harsh lesson in being a low-scoring side playing for the clean sheet on Sunday. The Schanzer had a chance to take an 0:1 from the penalty spot early in their match at Stuttgart, but Matthew Leckie’s attempt was just poor enough for Przemyslaw Tyton to save it despite diving away from the path of the ball.
Then Stuttgart got the game’s only goal on a play in which Daniel Didavi should probably have been ruled offside.
I salute Ralph Hasenhüttl sticking to the all-defense, all-the-time plan that has kept his promoted high in the table despite having scored just six goals in nine matches, but there’s some sense of self-limiting taking place when you let the league’s worst defense post their first clean sheet of the season.
Where I’d describe Ingolstadt’s demeanor as “self-limiting,” I’d describe Pal Dardai’s Hertha BSC as “a team that plays within itself,” which is just enough of a difference in philosophy that makes me think that this will be a one-sided match, regardless of the score.
1. FSV Mainz (-½) over Werder Bremen
Bremen are stuck in a five-match losing streak. Some might be encouraged by their performance in a 1:0 loss to Bayern Almighty, but that shouldn’t distract from the bigger picture here.
Werder’s anemic offense has scored just once its last five matches. Their seven goals this season is second-lowest only to FC Ingolstadt’s six. Even more alarming, though, might be the defense.
Yeah, I know they gave up just the one to Bayern, but they’re also surrendering goals to teams that otherwise don’t score. Leverkusen posted three on Werder in a 3:0 win. Hannover and Ingolstadt each scored on Bremen to win 1:0. Things are tough on the Weser these days.
I know Mainz has lost three of their last four, but those have been to Leverkusen, Bayern, and Dortmund. With their toughest stretch of Hinrunde schedule now behind them, I think they’ll use some of their selective pressing against Werder’s defense to create chances for Yoshinori Muto and Yunus Malli, who can create problems for defenses.
I do like the Skripniker, though, and wouldn’t be too surprised to see his team ready for Martin Schmidt’s game plan, but I tend toward thinking there is a personnel problem in Werder’s attack that isn’t easily addressed via coaching. It feels like if it’s not a scoreless draw, Werder can’t take any points home with them, and neither of these sides have played one of those yet.
Sunday, October 25
FC Augsburg (+2) over Borussia Dortmund
This one is tough. Dortmund and Augsburg are having very disparate seasons thus far. Dortmund has largely returned to their top-two status. Five of their six wins have been by two goals or more.
Augsburg will be coming off a season-high, having beaten AZ Alkmaar 0:1 for the club’s first-ever victory in European competition. Otherwise, though, it’s been a dismal season for last-year’s surprise story. The FCA currently sit last in the table with six losses and a minus-seven goal-differential.
Winning by more than two is a tall order, though the BVB have managed it three times already this season. Augsburg, though, have yet to lose by as many.
When Dortmund lost at home to Augsburg last season in the second match day of the Rückrunde, it ended up marking the season-low for the BVB. After watching Augsburg celebrate wildly at Signal Iduna with their travelling fans while being serenaded with a “whistle concert”, Dortmund went on a seven-match unbeaten run, which started with four consecutive victories.
If there’s any desire for a measure of vengeance in the heads of the Schwarz-Gelben, it could end up being a very long Sunday for the visitors, but I think it might be a less-intense affair between two club coming off fine showings in Europe and just two days’ rest.
Hence, I’m taking the goals.
Borussia Mönchengladbach (-½) over FC Schalke 04
The only teams to take points from die Fohlen since Lucien Favre left the club are Manchester City and Juventus.
In Bundesliga competition, they’ve won all four by outscoring opponents 14:4.
It wasn’t that long ago that it was Schalke who had the hot hand while riding a four-match winning streak into a home match. Schalke was not winning quite as impressively as ‘Gladbach has been, but it was still a bit of a surprise when they lost 0:3 to 1. FC Köln.
If Schalke pulls the upset here, it, too, will be somewhat surprising, though no huge upset. These are two of the Bundesliga’s top clubs in recent years, so over the course of any ninety minutes, just about anything could happen between them.
So give me the streaking team playing at home.
Last Week: 3-6
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