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Bundesliga Betting: Back Bayer to win battle of the bridesmaids

Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling is the Bundesliga's top scorer

Bayer have built their success on two things: excellent home form and the goalscoring prowess of striker Stefan Kiessling.

Two of the Bundesliga's top three do battle this Sunday, and Kevin Hatchard thinks the value lies with the home side.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund, Sun 16:30 BST, Live on ESPN

Match Odds: Bayer 3.412/5, Dortmund 2.245/4, the draw 3.711/4

With Bayern Munich storming clear at the top of the Bundesliga, these two sides know there is no margin for error if the Bavarians are to be caught. Bayer are second with 37 points, with BVB a point behind.

Bayer have exceeded expectations under coaching duo Sami Hyypia and Sascha Lewandowski, but general manager Rudi Voller has been at pains to play down the club's title chances all season, with a return to the Champions League the primary target.

Bayer have built their success on two things: excellent home form and the goalscoring prowess of striker Stefan Kiessling. Bayer are unbeaten at the BayArena, winning seven of nine matches. Indeed, Opta tell us they are unbeaten in 15 home games under Hyypia and Lewandowski.

Kiessling is the Bundesliga's top scorer with 13 goals, and he scored more Bundesliga goals in 2012 than any other player. The 28-year-old has overcome his injury problems, and his record for Bayer against Dortmund is excellent, with six goals in 13 games.

If Bayer are to overcome Borussia Dortmund, they must forget their dreadful record against the men from the Ruhr. Bayer have only won one of their last 11 games against BVB, including a 3-0 defeat earlier in the campaign.

After a pre-Christmas wobble, BVB have won their last three games comfortably. Those wins should be given context - they were against Hoffenheim, Werder and Nurnberg, who are all in the bottom half. I think the continued absence of dominant defender Neven Subotic is a blow, especially with the in-form Kiessling looking to add to his tally.

Dortmund have won just five of their ten Bundesliga away games, and I think they may be frustrated by a Bayer team playing with confidence at home. I think Bayer's price of 3.412/5 is too big, and is based on their previous record against BVB rather than current form. If you back them Draw No Bet at 2.56/4, a draw will see your stake returned.

Recommended Bet: Back Bayer Draw No Bet at 2.56/4

Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Stuttgart, Sat 14:30 BST

Match Odds: Fortuna 3.39/4, Stuttgart 2.427/5, the draw 3.55/2

Both teams have made poor starts to 2013, losing both of their Bundesliga matches. Fortuna seem determined to create a comedy DVD chock-full of dreadful defending. The Dusseldorf defence was hopeless in a 3-2 home defeat to Augsburg, and it was just as bad in last week's derby defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach.

After just six minutes at Borussia Park, the hapless Juanan scored a completely unnecessary own goal. A poor clearance ultimately gifted Patrick Hermann a second, and Fortuna's new Czech defender Martin Latka looked vulnerable, striking the frame of his own goal.

Since Christmas Stuttgart have lost 2-0 at Wolfsburg and 2-0 at home to Bayern Munich, but they weren't outplayed in either match. At 0-0 against the leaders Shinji Okazaki went close to an opener, while Martin Harnik hit the woodwork.

Stuttgart are clearly pleased by the club's general progress, as they have handed new contracts to boss Bruno Labbadia and his assistant Eddy Sozer. Labbadia has done a decent job as the Swabians have slashed their wage bill, and the club is still involved in the Europa League and German Cup.

Stuttgart have a strong away record, with four wins, and they have collected more points on their travels than at home. Only three teams in the division have a better road record, and despite the absence of forward Martin Harnik (suspended), I still think Stuttgart can cause Fortuna's jittery defence a few problems. It's also worth considering Fortuna have won just three of their ten home games.

Recommended Bet: Back Stuttgart to win at 2.427/5

Schalke vs Greuther Furth, Sat 14:30 BST

Match Odds: Schalke 1.351/3, Greuther 11.010/1, the draw 5.49/2

Rock-bottom Greuther Furth appear doomed, and are propping up the rest of the division with just nine points. While the Bavarians have struggled to score all season, their defending hasn't actually been too bad, but now that department is starting to fail too.

Greuther collapsed in the second half of last week's 3-0 home defeat to Mainz, conceding three poor goals. That was the 11th game in which Mike Buskens' men have failed to score, and they have netted just one goal in their last seven matches.

Schalke have made a decent start under new boss Jens Keller, beating Hannover 5-4 and then picking up a point in a goalless draw at improving Augsburg. The Royal Blues have an impressive home record, winning six games and losing just twice.

In the reverse fixture Schalke ran out comfortable 2-0 winners, and I envisage a similar outcome this time. Given Greuther's offensive failings it's worth backing Schalke in the Correct Score market to win 2-0 at 8.07/1 and 3-0 at 10.5n/a, and backing Schalke -1.5 goals on the Asian Handicap at 2.01/1 will pay out if Schalke win by a two-goal margin.

Recommended Bets: Back Schalke in the Correct Score market to win 2-0 at 8.07/1 and 3-0 at 10.5n/a

Back Schalke -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 2.0621/20

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01 February 2013

German Football

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