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Freiburg v Leverkusen (Sat 2.30pm)
After Leverkusen’s 2-0 victory against Mainz last weekend, winger Julian Brandt spoke of team-mate Leon Bailey being “worth his weight in gold” when he’s in the form he is right now.
As it happened, Bailey’s golden touch extended to the dressing room at half-time last week. With Leverkusen struggling to create chances in the first half against a defensive Mainz side, Bailey suggested to Brandt that they switched wings at the start of the second half.
Three minutes after the break, Bailey was cutting inside and firing in the opener from distance, his eighth goal in total this season to initiate a deserved win and keep them in second place.
Earlier this season, they took Freiburg apart but Saturday is likely to be a bit trickier. Christian Streich’s side are eight Bundesliga games unbeaten. Their last two games have seen them take four points off Leipzig and Dortmund proving they can mix it against sides with far greater resources than theirs.
Their hero in Dortmund last weekend was Nils Petersen. Prior to this season, he’d mainly been a supersub but the departure of Maximilian Philipp and Vincenzo Grifo has seen Petersen assume greater responsibility. His two goals at the Signal Iduna Park last weekend took him to 10 for the season.
Freiburg have the ability to hurt Leverkusen on the counter and from set pieces. Yet this might come down to whether the hosts can cope with Bailey, the division’s form player at present.
- Freiburg 1, Leverkusen 3 (23-2, Unibet)
- Bailey to score first (5-1, Unibet)
- Leverkusen win (21-25, Unibet)
Monchengladbach v Leipzig (Sat 5.30pm)
Dieter Hecking gambled with a back three against Frankfurt last Friday night but ultimately it didn’t pay off. Patrick Herrmann’s struggle to adjust at right wing back showed in particular when Frankfurt got their first.
By the time Gladbach found their stride, they couldn’t keep their cool in front of goal, with Thorgan Hazard hitting the bar from a second half penalty as they went on to lose 2-0.
A return to a 4-4-2 is likely for Leipzig’s visit with West Ham loanee Reece Oxford going straight back into the squad after he came back for a second loan spell at the club.
He could well go up against a fellow Englishman in Ademola Lookman, who in turn joined on loan from Everton this week. He might just have to settle for a place on the bench for now but when he does get game time, he’ll be charged with bringing the sort of creativity which has been lacking from Leipzig since their 3-1 win against Schalke at the start of the new year.
They looked back to their best in that performance but instead of building on that, they’ve gone backwards with worrying displays against Freiburg and Hamburg. Naby Keita not starting either of those didn’t help nor did or indeed does the continued absence of the injured Emil Forsberg.
Gladbach have been lacklustre away from the Borussia Park of late but they tend to produce their best back home and for the bigger occasions. Being back with a formation they’re more comfortable with should help to entice the best out of them against Leipzig.
Munich-born Raphael Honigstein writes about football for Germany’s biggest broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, ESPNFC and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.