The Bundesliga will be the first of the major European soccer leagues to get back up and running when its 26th round of matches takes place this weekend. Here is a guide to the major contests still to be settled over the remaining nine match days of the German season.
Things are relatively tight at the top of the table, with the top four separated by just six points, but it is seven-time reigning champions Bayern Munich who remain the clear favorites to claim the title. They are heavily odds-on to do so with all of our highest-rated USA bookmakers.
Bayern made a stuttering start to the season but both results and the underlying numbers have had them pegged as the best team in the league since Hans Flick replaced Niko Kovac as head coach at the start of November. They also have the necessary infrastructure and squad depth to deal with the inconveniences of the compressed schedule better than most.
Borussia Dortmund, four points back in second, look the most likely side to push Bayern close. The January arrival of Erling Haaland, the son of the former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland, has added further potency to what was already a strong attack. It has resulted in a slight shift in style that has proved beneficial at both ends of the pitch.
There are four Champions League qualifying places on offer in the Bundesliga and four teams closely clustered behind Bayern hoping to take the three remaining places. Dortmund and Leipzig will most probably secure two of them, leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen to scrap it out over the remaining one.
Mönchengladbach have impressed with an attractive approach, but Leverkusen, currently two points back, have a decent chance of overtaking them between now and the end of the campaign. Only Bayern and Dortmund have taken more points than Peter Bosz’s side since the turn of the year, and they had won four of their last five matches prior to the league stoppage.
Not only that, but Leverkusen’s underlying numbers have also edged above those of Mönchengladbach in that time. After laying down €35 million ($38.5m) on a couple of winter reinforcements, they look a good play to finish the season in a top-four spot.
Schalke are 10 points back in sixth and a bad run of results has made that position look vulnerable. Wolfsburg are the most obvious candidates to overhaul them, and are certainly worth backing if they can be found at odds-against to do so. There is an argument to be made for Köln making a late dash from 10th.
The second division champions endured a difficult start to life back in the top flight, but from the start of December onwards, a run of 12 matches, only three teams have secured more points. In that time, they have taken eight more points than any of the sides ahead of them between sixth and ninth. Their underlying numbers have seen a similarly impressive improvement.
Köln are five points back from Schalke and also have three other teams in front of them, so it remains somewhat of a long shot. In amongst some more sensible, balancing wagers, they look quite attractive as an outside bet to break into the top six.
In terms of what seems to be on offer at the sportsbooks, there is little of interest at the bottom of the table. If you can find a bookie offering odds on Werder Bremen avoiding the drop that would probably be the best option. They have a game in hand on Fortuna Düsseldorf ahead of them, and their underlying numbers, while poor in the grand scheme of things, are good enough to think they have a solid chance of clawing their way up to 16th.
That would be enough to avoid automatic relegation and yield a relegation/promotion playoff against the third-placed team in the second division. It would be an opportunity to extend their run of consecutive top-flight campaigns to a 40th season.
Our Preview’s Bundesliga Soccer Betting Tips Verdict & Predictions
- Bet Borussia Dortmund in the “without Bayern Munich” league title winner market @ -150 (4/6) with Bovada.
- Back Bayer Leverkusen to finish in the top four if you can find a U.S. oddsmaker with this market. It is circa +137 (11/8) at the UK bookies.
- The same comment applies to Köln finishing in the top six (+900 or 9/1 in the UK).