Bundesliga Predictions and Best Bets (April 16-18, 2021)
With German participation in the European competition coming to an end this week, at least as far as the clubs go, attention switches back to the Bundesliga. Bayern’s draw with Union Berlin last weekend has made the title race a little more interesting, while the battle to avoid the drop at the bottom continues.
RB Leipzig still needs Bayern to drop some more points if it is to win its first title, but it will get a head start on the rest of the league this week as it kicks off matchday 29 on Friday at home against Hoffenheim.
I’ll be looking at all nine games in the German top-flight this weekend, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider.
RB Leipzig to Beat Hoffenheim
Leipzig will have been enthused by Bayern’s inability to win against Union Berlin last weekend and can now narrow the gap to just two points on Friday with a win against Hoffenheim. Dayot Upamecano should return at the back for Julian Nagelsmann – and should be able to keep opposing forwards at bay. Three points are crucial to Leipzig’s Bundesliga title hopes.
Hoffenheim’s goalless draw with Leverkusen last weekend ended a three-game losing streak for Sebastian Hoeness’s side. But he will be aware that his team faces three relegation candidates in the coming weeks, so this fixture may not be a priority. Andrej Kramaric will be doing his best to add to his goal tally, but there might be a Hoffenheim team going through the motions and conserving energy this Friday.
Augsburg and Arminia Bielefeld to Draw
Augsburg looks relatively safe in 11th going into matchday 29, but the defeat at the hands of bottom-placed Schalke last weekend will have set some alarm bells ringing. There is simply no consistency to Augsburg’s results at the moment. That defeat has left Heiko Herrlich’s side just six points clear of the relegation playoff spot currently held by this Saturday’s opponent.
Bielefeld will have taken a lot of confidence from beating Freiburg just a week after a priceless draw away at Mainz. Last weekend’s victory even lifted the club out of the relegation zone temporarily. Now Head coach Frank Kramer will, once again, look to Japan international Ritsu Doan to influence the game in the hope of picking up more vital points. A draw is definitely achievable here.
Eintracht Frankfurt to Beat Borussia Monchengladbach
Gladbach had steadied the ship a little after a poor run of results following Marco Rose’s decision to announce his departure for Dortmund in the summer. But an early red card in the game against Hertha last week made it more difficult to come away from the capital with anything but a draw.
Adi Hutter was unveiled as Monchengladbach’s next head coach just days before taking his current Eintracht Frankfurt team to Borussia-Park. It seems as though all Bundesliga clubs choose the strangest time to make their big announcements. But the Eagles will be flying high after last weekend’s 4-3 win over Wolfsburg. The result showed that Frankfurt belongs in the top-four this season – and will be keen for another victory to cement that position on Saturday.
Freiburg to Beat Schalke
Freiburg looks as though it is following a very familiar path this season, as it continues to be quite happy with its mid-table position going into the last six games of the campaign. The Black Forest club lost again last week, but there is very little chance of it even flirting with relegation, so a few more points should suffice before the end of the year. There should be three on Saturday as it welcomes Schalke to town.
The Royal Blues actually won a game last weekend – only its second of the season – but there is still far too much work to be done for the famous old club to escape the drop. Schalke was the deserved winner against Augsburg, but there was the frustration of other relegation-threatened clubs also pulling out positive performances. There may be a little more pride in the team now, but that is all Schalke can really play for now.
Union Berlin and Stuttgart to Draw
Both these clubs harbor outside hopes of European qualification this season, so this game could be pivotal. Union Berlin recorded an excellent draw away at Bayern Munich last weekend thanks to a late goal from Marcus Ingvartsen. He will be hoping for another chance to impress on Saturday and help top scorer Max Kruse up front.
Stuttgart will be without its most influential player, Silas, after picking up a serious injury a few weeks ago. But there is some hope for Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side. It has been one of the more entertaining in the Bundesliga this season and could test the Union Berlin defense throughout. Without Silas, a win away from home seems unlikely – but Salas Kalajdzic’s talent in front of goal could bring a valuable point for the visiting team.
Bayern Munich to Beat Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg’s impressive defensive unit breached four times last week as it lost in a thriller to fellow Champions League qualification-chasing Eintracht Frankfurt. Head coach Oliver Glasner will hope that his team is a little more solid this Saturday as it welcomes Bayern to town. He has previously been linked with the top job at this weekend’s opponent but would be pleased with even a draw here.
Hansi Flick has been heavily linked with the German national side this week, as he saw his club side crash out of the Champions League to PSG at the quarterfinal stage. That leaves just the Bundesliga to play for and, with the draw against Union Berlin last week giving Leipzig renewed hope, Bayern should go all out in the remaining six games. It will need to deal with Wolfsburg’s Wout Weghorst, but an away win would get things back on track domestically for the champions.
Bayer Leverkusen to Beat Koln
Hannes Wolf could well make some changes to the Leverkusen starting eleven on Saturday after Monday’s goalless draw away at Hoffenheim.
The home side would climb to fifth with a win here – as Dortmund plays later on in the weekend – so this is no time to lose concentration again.
Koln will be just as aware of the need to pick up some points quickly. The Billy Goats lost to a stoppage-time winner in a five-goal thriller against Mainz last weekend and now finds itself in the bottom two. Just two points have been won in the last eight games, and Friedhelm Funkel has been brought in to take over Markus Gisdol as the temporary manager. Whether or not he can inspire a rare win for Koln this weekend remains to be seen.
Borussia Dortmund to Beat Werder Bremen
Dortmund could well be down in sixth by the time this game kicks off on Sunday – and that would put it in the new third-tier Europa Conference League if the season were to end now. That wouldn’t be good enough for the likes of Erling Haaland, so there is a desperate need for the club to somehow claw back the points gap between itself and the top-four before the end of the season. There is no Champions League distraction, so there is absolutely no room for error in the Bundesliga from now on.
Werder Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt will be painfully aware that his side’s season is far from over as well, though. A fourth consecutive defeat last weekend left the club just four points above Arminia Bielefeld in the playoff spot – and there has been an improvement from nearly all the other teams near the foot of the table. The gap could be even closer by the end of Sunday’s fixtures.
Mainz to Beat Hertha Berlin
There is a hugely important game at the bottom of the Bundesliga to round off matchday 29, as Mainz welcomes Hertha Berlin to the Opel Arena. The home side comes into the game on the back of an impressive five-game unbeaten streak and has the appointment of Bo Svensson at the start of the year to thank for that. The form has completely turned around, and now Mainz could take a further step away from the relegation zone with a win against struggling Hertha.
Hertha will be without its main coaching staff on Sunday as there have been several positive COVID tests at the club. Head coach Pal Dardai is one of those set to miss out on this trip – as is Dodi Lukebakio on the playing side of things. Hertha has produced some relatively positive results in the last few weeks but has seen fellow relegation candidates actually win games to leave it in deep trouble. Another defeat here could see it drop into the bottom three.
My Top Bundesliga Picks for This Weekend
Here are my three picks in the Bundesliga for matchday 29.
This weekend, my first pick is for Arminia Bielefeld to continue its recent good form and pick up another crucial point away at Augsburg. The home side still has a lot to play for, being so close to the bottom three, so a stalemate would probably suit both clubs rather than losing with just five games to go after this weekend.
Stuttgart hasn’t looked quite as effective without the injured Silas – but there is always a threat of a goal when Kalajdzic is on the field. He could be the main difference for the visiting team at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei on Saturday. Union Berlin will be as tough to beat as ever, though, so this might also end in a draw.
My final pick for matchday 29 is in the big relegation game on Sunday. Both Mainz and Hertha desperately need the points as the end of the season draws ever closer, but the home side is enjoying the better form. COVID absentees will not help Hertha either. The Berlin club has some very important games coming up now.