This season's Champions League finalists do battle in the Bundesliga this weekend, and Kevin Hatchard thinks favourites Bayern Munich could get a rough ride...
"Four of the teams' last six meetings have featured fewer than 2.5 goals, including their last three clashes in the Bundesliga."
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich
Saturday 17:30 BST
Match Odds: Dortmund [3.15], Bayern [2.46], the draw [3.5]
The Bundesliga is awash with plaudits thanks to the Champions League exploits of these two clubs. They reached the final at Wembley in differing ways this week - Dortmund were forced to cling onto a 4-3 aggregate victory at Real Madrid, while Bayern completed their extraordinary 7-0 cumulative demolition of Barcelona. The semi-final performances have led many observers to conclude that Bayern are simply a better team that Dortmund and should be clear favourites to win the final on May 25, but the German Clasico doesn't work like that.
Although Bayern are 20 points clear of BVB at the top of the league, I believe that's a reflection of the clubs' relative squad strength. When the two teams actually meet, the margins tend to be much smaller. They have locked horns three times this term, and all three clashes have taken place at Bayern's Allianz Arena. Bayern won 2-1 in the Supercup, 1-0 in the German Cup, and the teams drew 1-1 in the league.
It's worth considering that Dortmund are unbeaten in their last five league matches against Bayern, and before this campaign Jurgen Klopp's men had racked up five consecutive wins against the Bavarian giants. Dortmund have won their last two Bundesliga home games against Bayern - they ran out 1-0 victors last season and 2-0 winners the campaign before. While most teams play with a fear factor against Bayern, Dortmund know they are capable of beating them.
BVB playmaker Mario Gotze will be spared the indignity of facing his future employers (at least for now) as he is injured, while Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Marcel Schmelzer are carrying knocks. Bayern have left a clutch of stars at home, including Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm.
The bet that stands out for me is Under 2.5 Goals at [2.24]. That bet has paid out in four of the teams' last six meetings, including the last three league games, and there won't be much to choose between the sides. I suspect Bayern are favourites partly because of their outstanding away record, but Dortmund have won their last eight home games in all competitions, and I think backing them Draw No Bet at [2.2] is a sensible move.
Freiburg vs Augsburg
Sunday 14:30 BST
Match Odds: Freiburg [2.06], Augsburg [3.9], the draw [3.6]
Freiburg have had a tough couple of weeks, but they are still just four points adrift of the top four. Coach Christian Streich knows this might be the club's best chance at European qualification for a while, as he will lose several top players in the summer. Forward Max Kruse has agreed to join Borussia Monchengladbach, midfielder Daniel Caligiuri will defect to Wolfsburg and Jan Rosenthal has confirmed he will move to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Freiburg have lost their last three matches in all competitions, their worst run since Streich took charge. They went down 1-0 at Bayern Munich, which followed 2-1 defeats at Stuttgart in both the Bundesliga and the German Cup. Despite this trio of losses, Freiburg have plenty to be confident about as they prepare to face relegation-threatened Augsburg. The men from the Black Forest have won three of their last five home games, including the last two against Borussia Monchengladbach (2-0) and Hannover (3-1). Freiburg have kept clean sheets in five of their last seven home games, and their record in home matches against Sunday's opponents Augsburg is exceptional. Freiburg have won all seven of their competitive home games against the Bavarians, keeping a clean sheet every time.
Augsburg boosted their survival hopes last week with a 3-0 victory against Stuttgart. That victory looks more comfortable than it was - all three goals came in the last half-hour after Stuttgart had squandered several good chances. Although Augsburg have improved hugely since Christmas, they have lost their last two away games, and I think Freiburg will prove to be too strong and too well organised for them. A team with Freiburg's home record shouldn't really be as big as [2.06] to beat a team in the bottom three.
Back Freiburg to win at [2.06]
Hamburg vs Wolfsburg
Sunday 16:30 BST
After a season of maddening inconsistency, it appears Dieter Hecking is finally getting his Wolfsburg side to string a few performances together. The Wolves are unbeaten in seven matches, and Opta tell us that's their best sequence of the campaign. They have been particularly impressive on their travels, winning three of their last five away games and drawing the other two. Indeed, Wolfsburg's away record this season (seven wins, 24 points collected) has only been topped by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
Wolfsburg's recent success has been underpinned by an improvement in their attacking play. They have scored at least once in each of their last nine games, and they have netted 24 goals in 14 league games since the winter break. Having recently pledged his future to the club, Brazilian playmaker Diego has upped his game, producing two goals and two assists in his last two games.
Hamburg's Champions League hopes were surely dashed by last week's 4-1 mauling at Schalke. Having taken the lead, the Redshorts were dismantled by the returning Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who helped himself to a hat-trick and contributed an assist. Hamburg's defending was ragged throughout, with their marking particularly dreadful. Against an in-form Wolfsburg attack, I suspect they may struggle again. Hamburg have only won one of their last four home games, and they haven't won any of their last five home games against Wolfsburg.
Back Wolfsburg to win at [3.15]