The Bundesliga is scheduled to restart May 16, and our German football expert Kevin Hatchard has taken a look at issues at the top and bottom of the table.
"Bayern Munich won ten of their last 11 league games before the league was suspended, so it's no big surprise that coach Hansi Flick was given the role on a permanent basis."
Bayern in command after stunning surge
Champions Bayern Munich found their form before the season was suspended, justifying their odds of [1.16] to win the title. The Bavarian juggernaut racked up ten wins in the final 11 league games ahead of the break, and that catapulted them four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top.
Coach Hansi Flick has been given a contract to lead the team permanently, having initially replaced Niko Kovac on an interim basis. Flick has restored the intensity of Bayern's work without the ball, and both keeper Manuel Neuer and the versatile Joshua Kimmich have remarked that the lines of the team feel a lot closer together, and that the side seems more organised.
Unsurprisingly, Robert Lewandowski leads the race for the Top Scorer trophy, the torjaegerkanone. He has 25 goals, four more than his closest challenger Timo Werner. There's then a big drop-off to third spot, which is occupied by the exceptional Jadon Sancho.
Sancho has been in electrifying form for Borussia Dortmund (who are [7.4] to win the title), adding 15 assists to his 14 goals. Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland has banged in nine goals in eight league games since arriving from Salzburg, and there have been significant contributions from Thorgan Hazard and Marco Reus.
In an attacking sense, not many teams can live with Dortmund, but their biggest weakness remains their defending. Although the winter arrival of Emre Can has stiffened the side, and a switch to 3-4-3 has given the team a more stable look, there are still problems. Dortmund collapsed completely in a 4-3 loss at Bayer Leverkusen, which is the only league game they haven't won in 2020. Their title push could hinge on how they do in their home game against Bayern and their away match versus RB Leipzig. If you think Dortmund are worth backing, now is the time to do it.
RB Leipzig are still in the title hunt (they are priced at [10.0], as they are five points off top spot. Although they caught the eye by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals, their domestic form has tailed off, with just two wins collected in the last seven matchdays. Exceptional young coach Julian Nagelsmann has worked wonders with the likes of striker Timo Werner and midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, and defender Dayot Upamecano has excelled as part of the tightest rearguard in the Bundesliga. However, Die Roten Bullen sometimes struggle to put together a 90-minute performance, especially against the elite teams in the division.
The battle for Champions League qualification also includes Rhineland-based duo Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. Gladbach (who are [44.0] to lift the meisterschale) are ahead of schedule in their rebuild under new coach Marco Rose, and when their attacking unit clicks, The Foals are a joy to watch. Bayer Leverkusen were perhaps the team hit hardest by the break in action, as they had won 11 of their 13 games in all competitions in 2020. Spurred on by a revitalised Kai Havertz, Die Werkself were sweeping all before them, and they haven't lost a competitive match since February 1.
In betting terms, wait for there to be significant liquidity in the Top 4 Finish market, and then back Bayer. They are only two points behind Gladbach, and I think Peter Bosz's men can win that race.
Werder and Paderborn sliding towards the drop
Given that Paderborn have a playing budget of just 11 million euros, and that they were operating in the third tier just two seasons ago, no-one is surprised that they are bottom of the standings. Coach Steffen Baumgart has stuck to his attacking style, and although they are incredibly naïve sometimes, Paderborn are fun to watch. They are ten points adrift of fourth-bottom Mainz.
Werder Bremen's predicament is more of a shock. A slew of injuries disrupted their campaign from the get-go, and a collective loss of confidence has been damaging. Coach Florian Kohfeldt has been given staunch backing by the club, but a run of nine defeats in 11 Bundesliga matches has left the club in severe danger of demotion.
Fortuna Dusseldorf are four points better off than Werder, and are in the relegation playoff spot. Sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel made the difficult decision to part with long-serving and popular coach Friedhelm Funkel, and after he and his family then received a torrent of abuse, Pfannenstiel announced that he would quit his role at the end of the season.
Funkel's successor Uwe Rosler has had a measure of success since taking the job. Fortuna have only lost one of their six league games since he took the reins, although they did suffer an incredibly embarrassing DFB Cup exit at fourth division Saarbrucken.
Mainz are four points better off than Fortuna, but remain fragile defensively, and they are the kind of club that you could see enduring a five or six-match losing run. As for Augsburg, I believe that replacing coach Martin Schmidt with former Leverkusen boss Heiko Herrlich is a risky move, and it remains to be seen what impact it will have. Hertha Berlin have appointed proven relegation firefighter Bruno Labbadia, and with the quality at his disposal, I don't think there's any way the capital club will go down this term.
Kevin covered how the return of Bundesliga will work here. He will be back every game week with in-depth previews.
Back Bayer Leverkusen in the Top 4 Market (when the market has sufficient liquidity)