Embark on an exhilarating journey through Europe's vibrant football landscape, as we delve into the upcoming weekend's intriguing matchups in Germany's 2. Bundesliga and the UK's National League, alongside a fascinating Dutch Eredivisie clash.
From the top-of-the-table drama in Holstein Kiel v Braunschweig to the gritty National League battle between Bromley and Boreham Wood, and capping off with Ajax's Eredivisie challenge against Waalwijk, this weekend promises a blend of tactical nuance, rising stars, and underdog spirit. Join us as we dissect these compelling fixtures, offering insights and predictions to enhance your football weekend.
Holstein Kiel v Braunschweig
Friday nights are all the more worthwhile for the two-game fill of German 2. Bundesliga action at 5.30pm and one of those matches instantly catches my eye to open up my weekend betting picks. I went four for four last weekend and had no losing bets the weekend before, so let’s hope we start off with another flyer! Holstein Kiel sit top of the table and entertain a Braunschweig outfit placed second-from-bottom. A home banker surely? Not necessarily in my eyes.
Kiel went into the winter break in perfect form having won five of their last five. With St Pauli becoming draw specialists in that time, it allowed them to enter the break top of the standings by two points. Two of those wins came against Hamburg and Dusseldorf, who are within the top-four, but perhaps the temporary halt of the season came at a bad time for them. It isn’t just straightforward to carry on where they left off having not played competitively for roughly a month. An open game is to be expected here, especially as Kiel have just the one solitary home clean sheet to their name this season, so Braunschweig travel not without hope.
Whilst sitting in the relegation zone is one obvious warning signal about being too hopeful on their prospects travelling to the league leaders, it is worth noting that a fairly recent managerial change has certainly done the trick for the 1966/67 Bundesliga champions. Braunschweig hired Daniel Scherning in November and they’ve won three of five under his management, including their last two in succession. Four of the five also saw both teams score, again highlighting to something of a more open approach. For all that their defensive problems remain, they look a much greater threat going forward, averaging 1.80 goals scored per game, and also having had time over the winter break to further implement the Scherning way of playing on the squad.
I suspect Kiel will be quite popular in accumulators this weekend given they are around the 1.60-1.70 market, which may look a tad generous merely looking at the league table. They may well win, but Braunschweig are on the upgrade and I fancy them to pull away from trouble eventually. The recommended bet here is Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals, which is available at 1.91 with BoyleSports. Seven of nine Kiel home games has seen each team net and the same is said for matches containing at least three goals. As mentioned, the away side are trending the right way, and whilst a look at the table will see they’ve netted only 16 goals, nine have come since the change of manager within the last five goals and zero clean sheets in that time comes as no surprise. Goals look the way here.
Bromley v Boreham Wood
Although the cold weather has hit the non-league scene particularly hard in recent times in terms of match postponements, we should experience no such issue here as Bromley, with their 3G pitch at Hayes Lane, hosting Boreham Wood in this National League encounter. The hosts proudly sit second in the table behind runaway league leaders Chesterfield, whilst Boreham Wood have started to edge away from relegation trouble after a recent upturn in form.
Bromley have been knocking on the promotion door fairly hard over the last few seasons, so it perhaps won’t come as a real shock to see them challenging again. The difference this time is they are hunting down automatic promotion, instead of looking to creep into a play-off spot, which they have achieved in two of the last three seasons. Andy Woodman has built a team that is hard to beat but also sprinkled with players either proven at this level or excelling after being given the chance to do so. Making Hayes Lane a fortress has been something Woodman has been keen to do since entering the building in March 2021, and it is fair to say they are there now. Ten wins from 14 and averaging over 2.14 goals per game makes it easy to see why away teams don’t like coming here.
One team that doesn’t tend to enjoy it on their travels more often than not is Boreham Wood, although there have been signs of that changing of late. Across the season, they’ve won only three times on the road out of 13 attempts, but two of those have come within their last five away assignments, including their most recent one when earning a 2-1 triumph at Kidderminster Harriers. It is just one defeat in their last five in the league home or away, which is a major improvement on the lengthy winless streaks they’ve already had this season. However, those four in which they are unbeaten are all versus lowly opposition in terms of the league table, and the one loss came when third in the table Barnet hammered them 6-0, although they had a man sent off at 3-0. In fact, of 13 meetings with current top-half clubs this season, Boreham Wood have won only one.
Bromley are enjoying a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions and they are very difficult to oppose right now. We noted how Boreham Wood tend to struggle against the better teams in the league, well Bromley often enjoys it against those in the bottom-half. They have only suffered defeat to clubs in the top-half, possessing a won nine and drew five record against those placed 13th or below, with four of the draws coming on the road. A Bromley win has to be the name of the game here and to get a price of 1.97 with SBK when we take everything into account is more than attractive.
Ajax v Waalwijk
Whilst we can’t really say Ajax ‘are back’ as such, we can certainly say they are in a much better place than they were earlier in the season. We can definitely credit John van ‘t Schip for making Ajax a better team to watch, certainly going forward, but defensive problems still remain, which may offer some hope for Waalwijk on their visit to Johan Cruyff Arena on Sunday afternoon. Ajax’s goal in the remainder of the campaign is to try and hunt down third spot, which would get them into the UEFA Champions League, so winning games like this has to be the minimum requirement this weekend.
Waalwijk will still travel to Ajax knowing they are still major underdogs. You just cannot compare the two clubs when you think about it, but 11 against 11 anything can happen, even if you are looking at a price of around 1.25 on a home victory. Ajax sit only behind top two PSV and Feyenoord on the Expected Goals (xG) count, and being third highest-scorers suggests how effective they are going forward. They’ve only failed to score twice all season, and with Waalwijk failing to net in half of their away games then maybe one goal could be enough for the three points, but Ajax will always go for the jugular and chase multiple goals. Only once this season have they failed to net at least two goals in any game against a team positioned below them in the table. They’ve averaged 3.80 goals scored per game versus teams positioned 13th or below. Waalwijk currently sit in 16th.
Ajax’s issues are certainly defensively, on a count of only five teams conceding more goals than them in Eredivisie this season. They’ve shipped an average of just over 1.88 goals per game across the campaign, although over their last ten league games that number drops to 1.60, so they are trending in the right direction. They returned from the winter break with an epic 3-2 away win at Go Ahead Eagles; a team enjoying a great season and hunting down a European spot. Waalwijk disappointingly lost 2-1 at home to Heracles; a side just above them in the table. Ajax is one of the last places they want to go right now. They’ve already conceded 3+ goals when facing Ajax earlier in the season, as well as the likes of PSV, AZ, Nijmegen, Heerenveen; all very attack-minded teams that can blow opponents out of the water on their day. With Ajax hitting their offensive groove, I suspect something similar could happen on Sunday.
I am prepared to dip into the player goalscorer market here, as I am most surprised at seeing an odds-against price on Brian Brobbey scoring at anytime. Bet365 are offering 2.20 on this market, with Chuba Akpom for some reason priced at shorter despite being second fiddle to Brobbey. The Netherlands international has eight goals across his last eight club appearances in all competitoons. It is a no-brainer bet.
Holstein Kiel v Braunschweig – Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals (1.91 BoyleSports)
Bromley v Boreham Wood – Bromley (1.97 SBK)
Ajax v Waalwijk – Brian Brobbey Anytime Goalscorer (2.20 Bet365)