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Freiburg v Leipzig (Sat 2.30pm)
The team on the longest unbeaten run in the Bundesliga at present is, a little unexpectedly, Freiburg. Christian Streich’s side's seven-match unbeaten streak has seen them climb out of the relegation zone but Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt still only has them four points above the relegation playoff spot.
Leipzig boast an impressive record against Freiburg since they were both promoted to the Bundesliga at the start of last season. In each of their three meetings, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side have chalked up four goals.
The first of those encounters saw Liverpool-bound Naby Keita strike a stunner but he’s suspended for this weekend’s game after picking up a fifth yellow card in Leipzig’s 3-1 victory over Schalke last Saturday.
Keita even scored in that win which saw Leipzig look rejuvenated. That Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel described them as a “pressing machine” tells you the good that the winter break has done them in terms of recuperation, having looked a little weary beforehand
They will need to be wary of Freiburg’s strength at set-pieces with the hosts scoring half of their 18 goals from them this season. That said Leipzig should have enough, even without Naby Keita and the injured Emil Forsberg, to win through here.
- Freiburg 1, Leipzig 3 (14-1, Unibet)
- Werner to score first (39-10, Unibet)
- Leipzig win (28-25, Unibet)
Monchengladbach v Augsburg (Sat 2.30pm)
Despite creating a number of clear-cut chances, Gladbach were defeated in the last second of injury time by arch-rivals Cologne last Sunday.
“It is irritating that we lost the derby because we have been the better team,” said coach Dieter Hecking on Thursday, with Gladbach now having lost their last three away games, all of which have been against sides in the bottom half of the table.
The consolation for Hecking is the performance of Brazilian forward Raffael who even at 32 showed he’s still capable of coming on and changing a game, with his goal a just reward.
A calf problem meant Hecking had been cautious about starting him against Cologne but he’s likely to play from the beginning against Augsburg, a team who have proved to be something of a bogey team for the Foals in recent years.
That Manuel Baum’s side arrive at Borussia Park just a single point behind Gladbach in seventh tells you how good a season Augsburg are having. Their 1-0 victory against Hamburg last weekend was without injured top scorer Alfred Finnbogason too, who is likely to return at least to the bench on Saturday.
Only Leverkusen and Bayern have created more chances than Augsburg this season, with Baum’s side suited to playing on the counter. Gladbach always look likely to create chances but defensively, they look vulnerable at present, with Jannik Vestergaard particularly susceptible at centre back.
The expectation from the home crowd will be for a big response to last weekend’s disappointing derby defeat but Augsburg should be well placed to earn at least a point here.
- Gladbach 1, Augsubrg 1 (14-1, Unibet)
- Gregoritsch to score first (7-1, Unibet)
- Augsburg double chance (3-4, Unibet)
Hamburg v Cologne (Sat 5.30pm)
It was not necessarily the most convincing victory you’ll see this season but Cologne’s win over Gladbach was certainly one of the most dramatic. New signing Simon Terodde took the only chance that came his way last Sunday, which just so happened to be the last kick of the game pushing Cologne up to nine points.
That victory has made this weekend’s trip to Hamburg the very definition of a six-pointer, particularly with their hosts being the side directly above them in the table. A win for Cologne would leave them just three points behind Hamburg.
It has been talked of as “a final” but for Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol: “It feels the like 25th final since I’ve been here.” The point being he and Hamburg have been used to this sort of relegation scrap.
Their display at Augsburg last weekend was concerning. Germany Under-21 goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck, instated as the club’s new number one since the turn of the year, did what he had to well on his debut but couldn’t be faulted for the goal.
Aside from that, picking out positives is tricky with Hamburg unable to create a clear-cut chance of note. Eighteen-year-old striker Jann-Fiete Arp was laid low by flu last week and Gisdol has said he’s unlikely to be available again.
As for Cologne, French midfielder Vincent Koziello signed this week from Nice and could go straight into the starting line-up.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a high-quality encounter between the bottom two but even though Cologne have improved defensively since Stefan Ruthenbeck took charge, both sides to score looks the best option here.
- Hamburg 1, Cologne 1 (51-10, Unibet)
- Terrode to score first (6-1, Unibet)
- Both teams to score (83-100, Unibet)
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.