With no Premier League or Sky Bet EFL action on Friday, Tom Carnduff looks at a huge game in the Bundesliga with three best bets on offer.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
This is a really good game to welcome in the weekend. Bayer Leverkusen are in their expected top-four spot but Union Berlin have been one of the stories of the season so far, sitting fifth after 15 games.
What's made their recent run of results all the more impressive is that they've managed to cope without Max Kruse, who is currently sidelined through injury. They have adapted and shown that they don't solely rely on the forward for goals; in fact they have scored two in four of the five games he has missed so far. The one that fell short was a 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich.
That draw with Bayern is one of a number of results already that we can point to as a real highlight of not just Union's season but the Bundesliga as a whole. They are showing that they are equal to those around them not just in the standings but in individual matches too.
Union drew 2-2 with Wolfsburg last time out while the home league game before that was a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund. Just two losses on their Bundesliga record this season shows how they are a difficult team to beat, and even with Leverkusen's strong away form taken into account, the 11/10 looks too short.
We also need to acknowledge that Leverkusen's away form is so good because their run has been against teams they should be beating. Wins have come against Koln, Schalke, Bielefeld and Mainz, the 'best' win they have seen on the road was a 4-2 victory at Freiburg.
It's a game where we are likely to see Leverkusen enjoy 55+% possession but the 5/2 best price available (bet365) on a Union win is just too tempting to turn down. They have been involved in a lot of draws, and perhaps the 8/11 double-chance is a more comfortable bet for some to give the safety net of the points being shared again, but a home win is well worth siding with given the value on offer.
Whether backing the home side or not, the good news for the neutral is that this game should hopefully bring goals. Union are joint-second for most goals scored in the Bundesliga (31) with Leverkusen sitting in third (30). A point of interest is how clinical these two teams are - Union have required an average of six shots per goal, Leverkusen seven, and only Bayern have needed fewer with five.
With that in mind, the goalscorer markets provide some interesting value and the shorter price of two recommended players is the 21/5 available on Sheraldo Becker netting anytime. He has scored in both of his latest two appearances and those came after a tweak of position. It should have been more than two had he not missed an open goal in the early moments of the draw at Wolfsburg.
Naturally a winger, Becker operated as a striker in those games against Wolfsburg and Bremen and you can't imagine that will change given given his success through the middle. In total he had six shots so he has been finding chances to score, two of which he has taken.
Not only is this bet giving us a price of 21/5 (4/1 across the board) on a striker scoring, but one who has been in good form and is seemingly relishing the opportunity to play in a more central and advanced position. In a team scoring goals, against one who have conceded in five of their last six, it's a bet that looks great value.
Sticking with the hosts, and another price that really grabs the attention is the huge 7/1 available on Robert Andrich in the same market. The midfielder is enjoying a real good season in front of goal, with four on his tally and one coming in the draw at Wolfsburg last time out.
He has been scoring from open play but he also possesses a threat from free-kicks in dangerous positions. In that game at Wolfsburg, Union were awarded a penalty but replays revealed that the contact came outside of the box. That didn't stop Andrich, who lifted a close-range effort over the wall and into the top corner.
Other goals have come as a result of runs towards the box. He capitalised on Kevin Trapp's mistake against Frankfurt to tap in from close range, while finding the back of the net from the edge of the area against Bielefeld and another strike from distance hitting the target against Freiburg.
The interesting thing that also comes with these two goalscorers is the possibility that they may take a penalty. Kruse has taken all four of Union's penalties this season but his absence will present the opportunity to someone else. Sebastian Polter and Sebastian Andersson shared duties last season but both have since left the club. Marcus Ingvartsen could step up in the situation, but it wouldn't be a big surprise to see either Andrich or Becker on spot kick duty here.
Hopefully it will be a game filled with goals that will provide entertainment on Friday night. Both teams have demonstrated that their current positions are no fluke, but the real value in the outright market has to come in Union's favour given their performances and results. Taking them at 5/2 looks a solid bet, while one of Andrich or Becker striking will provide a profitable return.
Score prediction: Union Berlin 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Odds correct at 1300 GMT (14/01/21)
We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133, or visit begambleaware.org.