There's a fascinating and crucial Rhineland derby on Saturday in the Bundesliga, and Kevin Hatchard believes in-form Bayer Leverkusen can secure a precious victory...
"On the road, Bayer have won nine of their last 12 matches in all competitions. They beat Porto at the Dragao, Rangers at Ibrox and Bayern at the Allianz Arena. They have scored at least twice in eight of those matches."
Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday 23 May, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport
Frankfurt win was an early statement from Foals
Borussia Monchengladbach could barely have made a better start to this new phase of Bundesliga action. Alassane Plea's angled drive put Marco Rose's side 1-0 up in the very first minute, and six minutes later, his fellow Frenchman Marcus Thuram tapped in a second. The Fohlenelf went on to secure a 3-1 triumph, albeit against lacklustre and out-of-form opponents.
The true test of Gladbach's quality will arrive this weekend, as Bayer Leverkusen make the short trip across the Rhineland. Rose's side produced one of their best performances of the season to win 2-1 at the BayArena in November, and the Foals have now won three league games in a row against Die Werkself. However, they haven't always had things their own way against their local rivals at Borussia Park - in 2017 Leverkusen won 5-1 there in the league, and they smashed Borussia 5-0 the following year in the DFB Cup.
Some Gladbach fans are holding onto the faint dream of a first title since the glory years of the 1970s, but realistically this game is about Champions League qualification. A win would stretch the gap between Borussia and Leverkusen to five points, with just seven matchdays remaining. Key midfielder Denis Zakaria is still out with a knee injury, while the less influential Fabian Johnson is also likely to be on the sidelines.
Boszball gets its acid test
Peter Bosz has never been the kind of coach that believes in a Plan B. He maintains that if the players understand and implement Plan A well enough, a backup or alternative strategy should never be needed. That approach had disastrous consequences at Borussia Dortmund (he lasted 15 league games in charge before he was jettisoned) but it is starting to bear fruit at the BayArena. The Dutch tactician has already been given an improved and extended contract, and there are signs that his team is progressing.
Bayer have won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions, including Monday's 4-1 demolition of Werder Bremen. Their best player, 20-year-old midfielder Kai Havertz, has scored in six of his last nine competitive appearances. January signing Edmond Tapsoba has been outstanding in central defence, and young French winger Moussa Diaby is in electrifying form.
On the road, Bayer have won nine of their last 12 matches in all competitions. They beat Porto at the Dragao, Rangers at Ibrox and Bayern at the Allianz Arena. They have scored at least twice in eight of those matches.
Striker Kevin Volland is still recovering from a serious foot injury, and Lars Bender is also missing with a foot problem.
Value lies in backing Bayer
Both clubs are on an upward curve, and are packed with talent. However, Bayer have the better form (they have collected 25 points from the last 10 matchdays, while the Foals have picked up 18 in the same period) and I think they can cause an upset here.
I'll back Bayer Draw No Bet at [2.12].
Goals likely, with attacks on top
Borussia Monchengladbach have one of the best defensive records in the league, but they haven't kept a single clean sheet in 2020, and they have leaked 13 goals across their last nine league matches. Five of their nine league games this year have seen an Over 3.5 Goals bet land.
Bayer's 2020 so far has also been full of excitement and goals. Eight of their 14 competitive matches since the turn of the year have featured at least four goals.
You can back Over 3.5 Goals here at [2.26].
King Kai to strike
German international Kai Havertz looked like he had hit a physical and mental brick wall just before Christmas, but since the winter break he has been superb. He played as a forward on Monday in Bremen, and scored twice with a pair of well-taken headers. He has netted 12 goals in all competitions, and I think he'll get chances here against a defence that has stopped keeping clean sheets.
You can back Havertz to score at the attractive price of [2.94].
Kevin Hatchard 2019-20 Bundesliga P/L
Points Staked: 85
Points Returned: 80.05
P/L: -4.95 points
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Back Bayer Leverkusen Draw No Bet at [2.12]
Back Kai Havertz to score at [2.94]