The Bundesliga is the first major European league to resume. Tom Carnduff picks out his best specials bets for the remaining nine gameweeks.
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Monchengladbach to beat the rest?
Betting without Bayern Munich provides the best value when it comes to the Bundesliga title race.
While it is expected to be a battle between Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig to become the main threat to break the Bavarian side's dominance, there is a case to be made for Borussia Monchengladbach.
For clarification, Bayern lead the Bundesliga by a four-point margin and just two points separates Dortmund in second and Monchengladbach in fourth.
- Bayern Munich - 55pts
- Borussia Dortmund - 51pts
- RB Leipzig - 50pts
- Borussia Monchengladbach - 49pts
Essentially, we're betting on the team to finish second in this market as it's expected that Bayern will kick on and secure yet another Bundesliga crown.
All three sides have a fairly well-balanced final nine fixtures although Dortmund have to play both Bayern and Leipzig, while Leipzig only have Dortmund left to play and Monchengladbach come up against Bayern.
We're playing to the value a little here because backing Monchengladbach to be the best of the rest at odds of 25/1 is too good to turn down given current standings and future fixtures.
We wrote Monchengladbach's title odds off in our 'Inside the Title Race' piece and it's reflected in their 100/1 price but there is every possibility that they come out of these nine fixtures in a better position than both Dortmund and Leipzig.
A Bayern victory when they meet Dortmund at the end of May could effectively bring the title race to an end. Their four-point cushion over the chasing pack could become seven after that game, potentially even more depending on the previous two results.
Then there is that game between the teams in second and third on the penultimate weekend of the season. One, or both, of the teams will drop points in that fixture.
The benefit of the Bundesliga format and their winter break is that we have some idea how teams fare after an extended period not playing.
For Monchengladbach, they have had little issue when it comes to this. They've picked up points in six of their eight games since mid-January and lost just one of their opening seven fixtures of the season.
Last season, under the same manager, they won their first three games following the winter break and also only lost one of their opening eight fixtures.
There is, of course, the strength of Leipzig and Dortmund and the way they have fared themselves following the winter break, but this young and exciting Monchengladbach side can push them all the way.
The remaining games fail to significantly benefit one side over another as far as I'm concerned. It's worth gambling on Die Fohlen at a generous price.
A battle of the Scandinavians for top scorer
Erling Haaland was the most-wanted player during the January transfer window and it's a serious statement of Borussia Dortmund's current status that they were the ones who won his signature.
We already knew of the talent the striker possessed from his prolific showings at Red Bull Salzburg during the first part of the campaign but his efforts in Germany have taken everyone by surprise.
Haaland netted a hat-trick on his Dortmund debut. An incredible achievement made even better by the fact that he was introduced as a 56th minute substitute and would be a significant influence on the final result.
In total, his record stands at nine goals in eight Bundesliga games. His total tally for the season is 40 in 33 appearances across all competitions.
He's now starting games and it's difficult to see that scoring record suddenly plummeting - even with the fact he has failed to score in his last two league outings.
Haaland's 2.1 shots on target per game put him among the league leaders already, and while more games for the others dilute their numbers, it does demonstrate how the Norwegian sensation has easily adapted to life in new surroundings.
It's perhaps telling of his clinical nature in front of goal that his shots/shots on target ratio is significantly better than the other top scorers.
He sees an average of 2.1 on target from just 3.3 shots per game. For Robert Lewandowski, his figure stands at 2.4 from 4.7 while Timo Werner is at 2.1 from 4.2.
While the others are floating around the 50% mark for their total shots being on target, Haaland is cruising at 64%.
Dortmund's remaining fixture list is ideal for goals and, with nine games left, Haaland has all the potential to better the nine goals scored over a similar period since his January switch.
There's a big derby against Schalke, which should end up as a win for the team in yellow given their home form and Schalke's poor showings since the winter break. Then there's Wolfsburg, whose form has been better but their overall record at home leaves a lot to be desired.
Beyond that, they take on a Paderborn side who have struggled throughout the season, particularly at home, while Mainz and Hertha Berlin will be targeted as games that must end in victory.
There are some strong contenders to be the top goalscorer over this third part of the campaign. Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner will be fancied, but the value is with Haaland given his incredible performances already.
Haaland is backed to outscore other forwards across the nine games but a name that deserves serious consideration in this market is Sebastian Andersson.
The striker has enjoyed his first season in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin - netting eleven goals in 25 appearances.
It has left him short of Lewandowski and Werner at the top of the goal-scoring charts but Union's nine remaining fixtures will play to Andersson's strengths.
The stand-out characteristic of the Swedish striker is his ability in the air.
Among their remaining fixtures, Union come up against teams who have had difficult in defending set-piece situations and have genuinely struggled when it comes to aerial battles.
Only four teams have hit double figures for goals conceded from set-pieces in the Bundesliga this season. Union still have to play three of those sides.
To make things even better, those contests against Fortuna Dusseldorf (10), Paderborn (13) and Mainz (13) are all at home.
Alongside that, there are fixtures against Schalke, Koln and local rivals Hertha Berlin who have each conceded nine goals from set-pieces.
That's not to say that Andersson is going to score every goal from a corner or free-kick, although he does thrive in those environments.
What is does provide is a clear indication of those teams who struggle against players with a real aerial presence. Andersson netting a brace in each of the games against Mainz and Koln prior to the winter break somewhat reflects that.
Union utilise aerial battles more than any other German top-flight side. Their average of 53.4 across 90 minutes is well clear of Freiburg's 40.9 in second. It's hardly surprising that they have won more aerial duels by a considerable average margin of 7.8 per game as well.
And then there's the role that Andersson plays in all this. Union have a striker who suits what they want to do and it's part of their success so far in virtually ensuring survival in Germany's top-flight.
On average, Andersson wins 7.8 of the 14.6 aerial duels he is involved in every game. That is well clear of other top strikers in this area; Lewandowski's average is 2.1, while Haaland sits at 1.5 and Werner at 0.2.
The remaining fixture list is kind to both Union and Andersson. He's netted more headers than any other forward in the league this season and we should expect that trend to continue in the coming months.
For a bigger-priced option, the 33/1 available on Andersson to finish as the top goalscorer across the final nine games is certainly worth backing.
Sancho continuing to shine
Sky Bet have put together a number of RequestABet specials for the resumption of the Bundesliga and my eye was immediately caught by the 7/1 available on Jadon Sancho netting at least seven goals over the next nine games.
Little more needs to be said on the impact the England international has made during his time at Borussia Dortmund.
The 20-year-old is one of the league's best players. His record this season stands at 17 goals and 19 assists in 35 appearances across all competitions.
His tally already looks fantastic, but it's a credit to his quality and character that it came following a relatively slow start.
14 of Sancho's goals and 16 of his assists have come in the Bundesliga. However, nine of the goals that he had involvement in came during the first eleven games.
That's still a great record, but the 21 goal involvement across the 14 games since then reflect his true form following the opening months of the campaign.
Again, the winter break gives us some indication of how a player adjusts following an extended period without first team football.
Sancho has scored five and assisted a further six in the eight games since mid-January. He has recorded at least a goal or assist in every Bundesliga game involving Borussia Dortmund in 2020.
It will be a challenge to score seven goals in just nine final games, particularly when we don't know how certain teams will react to months without playing, but the forward has indicated throughout the campaign that he can score goals.
His six goals in a five-game block just prior to the winter break are another positive that point towards this 7/1 price being good value.
Whether it be playing on either wing or through the middle, the England star has shown an ability to strike from a variety of attacking positions and should continue his wonderful record when football returns to our screens.
Odds correct at 1100 BST (09/05/20)
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