It's back. We made it. At least for now. European soccer returns May 16 and fans finally have some familiar faces to put money on. Because everyone simply wants sports, no one cares that there won't be fans at these matches. However, that's something to keep in mind when looking at matchups, as I found a couple outliers when I analyzed fan-less matches that took place prior to lockdown.
- Bet the away team to score first if the home team is less than a -200 favorite
- When two fairly even teams are playing, lean on the away side
Let's put those to work for Bundesliga Gameweek 26.
Teams to score first: Wolfsburg -138, Paderborn +125, Hertha Berlin +140, Borussia Monchengladbach -138, Mainz +137, Bayern Munich -600, Bayer Leverkusen -200
Moneyline gambles: Wolfsburg +120, Paderborn +230, Hertha Berlin +275, Borussia Monchengladbach +125, Mainz +275
You can choose to ignore Bayern Munich at -600 or use it as a parlay piece. I'll probably pass on them to score first at those odds, and if anything, I'd look at the over for the match. It's a similar case for Leverkusen because the -200 odds are hard to trust when these teams have had two months away from each other. Prior to the break, Werder Bremen were struggling and losing every match. Two months later and it's a different situation, especially since they started the campaign on a better note, which was the last time they had multiple months of rest.
I'd also stay away from Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach because their opponents (Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg, respectively) are much better at home and I prefer better odds if that's the case (above +200). If they had better odds, I'd definitely be more inclined to back them because the lack of fans will undoubtedly hurt the teams who play better at home with them.
My top targets for the gameweek are Hertha Berlin, Mainz and Paderborn. Hertha Berlin is most intriguing because Hoffenheim have an oddly poor home record with five wins, one draw and seven losses. As for Hertha, they have a minus-2 goal differential away, which is solid given their place in the table. This is a prime spot for an upset at +275 and at least to score first at +140.
It's unlikely anyone will back Paderborn because of their position in the table (last), but they should get both Christopher Antwi-Adjei and Sven Michel back from injury to help bolster the squad. More importantly, it's not like Dusseldorf are good, as they are also battling relegation. Considering Dusseldorf have 13 home goals and Paderborn have scored 13 away, it's reasonable to take Paderborn at plus odds (+125) to score first.
Mainz are more of a long shot, and I don't completely trust them because Florian Muller is set to start in net after Robin Zentner was injured in the last match. Muller allowed 12 goals in the first three matches of the season. If anything, getting Koln at -110 odds is a decent moneyline bet, especially if you don't trust backup goalkeepers.
I think there's going to be rust and wouldn't mind looking at some matches to finish in draws. Borussia Dortmund are getting odds like they'll have a full stadium and things are normal. I think it's worth a gamble to take a draw at +375 because Schalke already like playing games tight, with 10 of their 25 matches finishing in draws this season. Also, these teams had a scoreless draw at Schalke back in October.
I feel the same way about Augsburg as a home underdog against Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg have had the fewest combined goals scored in their matches this season (64), and I think they'll continue that defensive play in the first match back against a team that can be potent at home with 24 goals in 12 matches.
If you aren't completely comfortable in backing an away side, I like to throw in a double chance or take a team's moneyline with a draw. For Hertha Berlin, you can take them at +275 to win or at -125 for them to win or draw.
Hertha Berlin ML +275 or ML/draw -125
Paderborn score first +125
Koln ML -110, Koln -1.5 +270
Dortmund / Schalke draw +375
Augsburg / Wolfsburg draw +250
OVER and UNDER
There will be lots of talk ahead of Gameweek 26 about how there are a ton more goals scored in the Bundesliga than other leagues in Europe, namely the Premier League. Of course, those are pumped into the odds, so be wary about automatically betting the over.
I'm already taking Koln to win, and I think they score at least three goals. Prior to lockdown, they scored at least three in three of four home matches, with the down performance coming against Bayern Munich. The positive with Mainz is that there always seems to be goals when they play away. They're on a weird stretch of either winning by multiple goals or losing by multiple goals, with at least four goals scored in six of their last seven away games. You can take the Koln / Mainz over 3.5 goals at +150 or go slightly bigger on Koln over 2.5 goals at +175.
There's an average of 3.6 goals scored per Eintracht Frankfurt home match, and there have been at least three goals scored in six of Monchengladbach's last seven. It's expected to be one of the lower scoring contests of the weekend, so I'll take the decent -138 odds for over 2.5 goals.
Everyone loves betting the over on Bayern Munich because when they score, they usually score big. There have been more than three goals in 16 of their 25 matches and Robert Lewandowski will be hungry to find the back of the net. There's also a chance Bayern's back line is rusty, and I'll hope that Union Berlin can capitalize, having scored two goals in four of their last five at home. You can go easy and take over 3.5 goals at +110 or aim higher with +250 odds at over 4.5 goals.
If you want some fun, I'll throw a couple plays together to go for a bigger payout. These are always fun, but don't expect to win this bet:
Hertha ML/draw -124, Koln over 2.5 +280, UB/Bayern O3.5 +120 = +1413 odds