Ten Bundesliga predictions for Matchday 23

So last week, started out pretty well, despite whiffing on Eintracht completely on Friday, as we correctly predicted Sandro “Fussballgott” Wagner scoring against Bayern, the Hertha-Wolfsburg draw and Jhon Cordoba as a new goalscorer for Mainz on Saturday. Sadly, Aubameyang’s tap-in and Filip Kostic’s MIA performance against Schalke put a damper on the mood, and Marwin Hitz added insult to injury with a last-minute wondersave to deny Hannover 96 a point. Of course such obstacles won’t deter us from trying this again, so without further ado let’s get our crystal ball out. Here are 10 way too specific predictions (in bold throughout the text) for Matchday 23 in the Bundesliga.

Friday pick

1.Cologne hosting Hertha will finish 1-1. Salomon Kalou and Anthony Modeste are the two safest bets to score, but Cologne is struggling to score outside of Modeste, and 2nd leading scorer Simon Zoller and his 5 goals will miss this match due to injury. Hertha have yet to win in 2016 and will be without midfield dynamo Vladimir Darida, who is suspended. That’s not helping this match, as these 2 teams already combine for just a shade over 22 shots per game, which is 1 more than Bayern averages. Hertha have been excellent under Pál Dárdai, as their 36 points is already 1 more than last season’s total, but they have also been riding a scorching conversion rate at 14.4% and a superb 8.8% against. Such a huge gap is either a sign of a ridiculously talented team like Bayern, or an unsustainable hot-streak that is coming to an end soon. (Cologne’s 8.5% for and 8.7% against is much more realistic of their skill level) Perhaps Vedad Ibisevic, who scored a brace in the Hinrunde’s 2-0 victory will finally open his scoring account for 2016, but my bet would be on Kalou, who has already scored 8 times away from home. Regardless, a low-scoring draw seems like the most likely outcome, and with two excellent goalkeepers in Timo Horn and Rune Jarstein, even a 0-0 result should not surprise us.

Saturday prognosis

2.There will be only 4 games played in the Bundesliga on Saturday, to accommodate the 4 Europe League teams in Augsburg, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Schalke 04 who all played on Thursday and will take the field on Sunday. Darmstadt will take all 3 points from the Weserstadion. Werder have only gotten 6 points at home this season out of 10 matches, while Darmstadt are the third best away team (a fact that did not escape Pep Guardiola last weekend) with 17 points in 11 games. The 5 suspended players should be back for Darmstadt, while Bremen have Fritz and Bargfrede’s absence will mean a weakened Werder midfield. Don’t expect a high-scoring affair, though, but a 0-1, or 1-2 scoreline should do the job.
3.Wolfsburg are undefeated in 32 of their last 33 home matches, yet are probably underdogs to Bayern. The rematch of the famous 5 goal outpouring from Robert Lewandowski could see Wolfsburg miss up to 9 players, while Bayern have added the suspended Rafinha to their 3 injured defenders (Badstuber, Boateng, Javi Martinez). Despite the mistakes against Juventus and Darmstadt, respectively, Joshua Kimmich and Serdar Tasci could get the start (though perhaps Lahm and Benatia will get the nod from Pep) and with a depleted Wolfsburg squad that has only gotten 5 points in their last 6 games, Bayern should get past this hurdle. Arjen Robben, who is still mesmerizing defenders (ask Patrice Evra) has had 16 shots in the last 2 games and is a great bet to get at least 5 in this game.
4.There will be a goal from a set piece when HSV host Ingolstadt. Both teams have scored at least 5 goals from set pieces this season, as Michael Gregoritsch (still injured for this game) has been great from free kicks, while the criminally underrated Pascal Groß has just been setting up his teammates left and right, as the 24-year-old leads the Bundesliga with 58 chances created. Don’t expect high-flying offense, or too many goals from this one, as Hamburg still can’t seem to settle on a striker with neither of the Lasogga, Drmic and Rudnevs trio looking particularly impressive, facing off against the 16 goal total misery that has been Ingolstadt’s “attack” – only 5 of those goals coming from open play.
5. VfB average close to 16 shots per game, second only to FCB, while Hannover allow 15.5, the third worst in the league. The visitors also lead the league in allowing 136 of those 342 shots to hit the target – 11 more than the next worst team in FC Cologne. The fact that they have only conceded 37 goals is a testament to Ron-Robert Zieler’s 73% save percentage , as the former MU keeper is averaging over 4 saves a game. An even crazier stat is that Zieler has made 94 saves, while the 2nd most is Stuttgart’s Tyton with 64 followed by 5 other netminders with 60-63 saves. Despite missing 3.6 shots per game with Daniel Didavi’s suspension, Stuttgart have a capable replacement in Alexandru Maxim and should still have plenty of firepower, with Timo Werner gaining more and more experience with every start and the explosive midfield of Lukas Rupp, Christian Gentner and Filip Kostic.
6.Filip Kostic will be the man of the match – Okay, so that did not work out last week against Schalke, as the Serbian was largely anonymous. However, I still believe in his resurgence under Kramny, so let’s run this one back vs Hannover and Sakai – one of the worst RBs in the league. Хајде!

Sunday predictions

7. Augsburg performed admirably against Liverpool and can now focus all of their attention on the Bundesliga, as the Bavarians host the rollercoaster that has been Borussia Mönchengladbach this season. The home side have a bit of a striker crisis, as they either have no one who can score, or their best options are injured (Bobadilla), so they might be turning to Icelandic journeyman Alfred Finnbogason up top to go along with Ji. The Foals will miss suspended Lars Stindl, and could go with Thorgan Hazard and Ibrahim Traore/Jonas Hofmann alongside the Johnson, Xhaka, Dahoud trio. Augsburg have only accumulated 9 points at home so far, and BMG have earned 10 on the road, so it’s the old weakness vs. weakness matchup. I wouldn’t expect a 4-2 result like in the Hinrunde, but since both of these teams play an open style (they have both allowed over 300 shots in just 22 games along with only 5 other teams) a game with multiple goals is still a reasonable outcome. Two excellent goalies in Marwin Hitz and Yann Sommer also face off, but we are picking Raffael to score his 10th goal of the season. The 30-year-old has easily been one of the best players in the Bundesliga and should feast on Augsburg, just like he did in training the other day.

8. Jairo Samperio will score against Leverkusen. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been in great form recently, 2 assists and 2 goals in the last 3 games to bring him up to 5 and 5 on the season. After almost single-handedly engineering a comeback against Hoffenheim, Jairo should do well against an injured and tired Werkself that will miss Toprak, Kampl and Bender (still not fit), especially against untested 20-year-old right back Tin Jedvaj, who has only played 310 Bundesliga minutes. Mainz will have to prove that last week’s defeat was just a slip-up and could jump Leverkusen in the standings with a win.

9.Dortmund will struggle vs Hoffenheim Borussia should feel hard done by the Europe League draw, as they got the strongest possible opponent in Totteham Hotspur in Friday’s draw. If last week’s funky lineup is any indication, Tuchel is focusing on the EL, as the coach has been rotating heavily and might not be opposed to conceding the league to Bayern at this stage. If that trend continues, then he puts out a midfield of Ginter, Sahin and Pulisic, and the abomination that is Adrian Ramos up top. BvB will have their hands full with the Nagelsmann boys, who have suddenly come to life with 4 points in their last 2 games. Still, the chances of Hoffenheim winning are minuscule, after all this team has needed 3 coaches for its 3 wins this season, but a repeat of the 1-1 draw in the Hinrunde is a decent bet. Dortmund fans can thank me later for reverse jinxing Adrian Ramos after he scores a hat-trick.

10.Eintracht will at least earn a point against Schalke Allow me to make my case: I’m somehow still on the ‘Frankfurt will figure it’ out bandwagon, despite last week’s miserable performance in a scoreless draw. Eintracht have also earned at least a point 7 (3 wins and 4 draws) of their 11 home games. Seferovic, Huszti, Fabian and Alex Meier are all above-average attacking players and Schalke just got rocked by Shakhtar in the Europa League.

Midfielder for 200 Alex! – might be the cry for Schalke fans, as half of their wunderkind quartet in Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka (out with a separated shoulder for weeks!) will not play. In addition,Choupo-Moting is doubtful, and Leroy Sané is in some other alternate universe, where passing to his teammates is not an option. It’s gotten so bad that, the 60 million transfer darling has gotten benched and a lot of the fans didn’t seem to mind it. Ladies and gentlemen, the Andre Breitenreiter era!

Up top, Klaas Jan-Huntelaar has clearly lost a step, and while winter pick-ups Younes Belhanda and Alessandro Schöpf have looked good, this team still lacks a true goalscorer. Franco di Santo is so terrible that I can’t even make fun of him. Oh, what am I saying, of course I can and I will. His miss from 2 yards out (at the 1:55 mark here) after wrestling his opponent to the ground (a foul btw) sums up his season/career.

And the defense was made to look silly against Shakhtar. Not a lot of positives for the Royal Blues, but in this wacky Bundesliga season, it only takes one game and one away win to catapult Schalke into the third spot.

As always, let us know what you think of these predictions and enjoy the games!

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Abel started out watching and playing soccer in Hungary, before falling in love with the Bundesliga in the mid -90s (thanks to Kicker and Sat1's Ran). Now, he's in the USA -- and still loving it all many years later. Abel is faithful to BVB, but also endlessly fascinated by the emergence of new teams and talents from Germany, to the point that he even started a website about it, at www.bundespremierleague.com. Otherwise, you can find him working in publishing, teaching ESL, and/or drinking craft beer - not necessarily at the same time, or in that order. Abel tweets at @VanbastenESL and @BundesPL