German Bundesliga

Bundesliga Tips: Back leaders to frustrate champions

Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane
Can Harry Kane fire Bayern back to the top?

It's the biggest game of the season so far, and Kevin Hatchard believes that even though Harry Kane will find the net for Bayern Munich, table-toppers Bayer Leverkusen will find a way to maintain top spot.


Leverkusen can retain first place

Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich
Saturday 10 February, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video

By any metric, this has been an extraordinary season from Bayer Leverkusen and their coach Xabi Alonso. We are well into February, and Die Werkself haven't lost a single game in any competition. They won their Europa League group, they are two points clear in the Bundesliga title race and on Tuesday they won a thrilling DFB Pokal quarter-final 3-2 against an excellent Stuttgart side.

Stuttgart pressed Bayer vigorously at the BayArena, and caused Xabi Alonso's side lots of problems. The southern giants led 1-0 and 2-1, but eventually lost a thriller, as Jonathan Tah crashed home a late header. Results like that build belief, and Bayer have that in abundance. They also showed that kind of fortitude against Bayern in Munich, as Exequiel Palacios scored a last-gasp leveller, and since the turn of the year Bayer have come up with late winners against Augsburg and RB Leipzig.

Bayern Munich had to fight hard to win the meisterschale last season, and they are being pushed to their limits again. An extraordinary series of injury problems have hampered Thomas Tuchel's side throughout the campaign, as has a muddled transfer strategy which seemed to focus on acquiring Harry Kane at the expense of everything else.

That said, Kane has been a huge success. He has rattled in 24 Bundesliga goals already, and looks set to at least come close to Robert Lewandowski's single-season scoring record of 41 goals in a Bundesliga season. He found the net against Leverkusen in the reverse fixture, and he has shown up in the big games. He scored against Leverkusen, RB Leipzig and Stuttgart, and he netted a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker.

Back Harry Kane to score at 1/12.00

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This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but I'll back Kane to score at evens on the Sportsbook, but I'll also back Bayer Leverkusen +0 & +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.768/11.

Bayern are beset by injury problems still - Joshua Kimmich (shoulder), Dayot Upamecano (hamstring), Serge Gnabry (adductor) and keeper Manuel Neuer (knee) are all less than 100% fit, while Kingsley Coman, Konrad Laimer and Alphonso Davies are all definitely out. The return of Min-jae Kim from Asian Cup duty with South Korea is a huge boost, but he only arrived back on Thursday.

Given that Bayer played so well against Bayern in Munich (the delightful Florian Wirtz was outstanding, as he has been all season), and considering the fortitude they have recently displayed, I think they can at least pick up a point.

Back Bayer Leverkusen +0 & +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.768/11

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Lilies to be trampled again

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Darmstadt
Saturday 10 February, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

I wrote in this column pre-season that Darmstadt would struggle with the step up to the Bundesliga, and so it has proved. Thorsten Lieberknecht's Lilies are bottom of the standings with just 11 points, and they have the worst defensive record in the division. Last weekend they battled gamely against the leaders Bayer Leverkusen, before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat.

Borussia Mönchengladbach have had tough away games recently against the top two, and they performed fairly well. They ground out a somewhat fortunate goalless draw at Bayer Leverkusen, and they led at the Allianz Arena before eventually losing 3-1 at Bayern.

Gladbach are nowhere near the European spots, and they still have a bit of work to do to make sure they stay clear of the relegation battle. The Fohlenelf can at least generally rely upon their home form - they have won four of their last six league games at Borussia Park, and have scored at least twice in all of those victories.

Darmstadt have collected just five points on the road all season, and I can't see them getting anything here. I'll back Gladbach -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.021/1.

Back Borussia Monchengladbach -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.021/1

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Dortmund to bounce back

Borussia Dortmund v Freiburg
Friday 09 February, 19:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video

Borussia Dortmund stunk the place out in last weekend's 0-0 draw at Heidenheim, their first goalless stalemate in the Bundesliga since 2019. BVB coach Edin Terzic was unhappy with the quality of his team's build-up, and bemoaned a lack of clarity and composure in attacking situations. Indeed, Dortmund could have lost the game, as top-flight newcomers FCH came desperately close to a last-gasp winner, and their striker Tim Kleindienst produced a jaw-dropping miss in the first half.

That said, Dortmund are in good form in general. They have collected ten points from four matches since the turn of the year, and are right back in the race for the Champions League spots. Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel should return from an ear infection, while Julian Brandt and Marco Reus have also recovered from illness. The recovery of Jadon Sancho is less certain, as he is struggling with a muscle injury.

Dortmund have every reason to think they can overcome Freiburg on Friday night. Their home record against Christian Streich's side in recent years is stellar, with 14 wins and a draw out of the last 15 meetings at Signal Iduna Park. Freiburg have lost their last two matches 3-1, and they are struggling in terms of defensive personnel. Former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter has been playing through the pain of an Achilles injury, while Philipp Lienhart is still recovering after groin surgery.

We can back Borussia Dortmund -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9210/11, and I think that's a fair price. Dortmund's last three home games against Freiburg in the league have ended 4-0, 5-1 and 5-1.

Back Borussia Dortmund -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9210/11

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