Schalke 04 have been in awful form since the Bundesliga resumed last month, and will surely be viewing the visit of Champions League-place chasing Bayer Leverkusen this Sunday with a fair degree of trepidation. For the visitors, this game is all about getting another three points and putting pressure on Borussia Monchengladbach, who are currently occupying fourth place in the table. Here, you can read all about how we think the game will turn out, and also where we think you can find the best betting value.
David Wagner’s Schalke team really have been in dreadful form in the five games they have played since the resumption of Bundesliga action in May. The Miners lost four games on the bounce once the league got underway again, and only brought that dreadful run to an end last weekend with a 1-1 draw away at Union Berlin. One thing that will cheer Wagner is that at least now they are conceding fewer goals. In the first three games since the restart they leaked nine goals, but have conceded just two in their last two games.
Bayer Leverkusen reached the final of the German Cup in midweek, comfortably beating fourth-tier outfit FC Saarbrucken 3-0. That was a good way to recover from their setback against Bayern Munich last weekend, when Peter Bosz’s were beaten 4-2 by the Bundesliga leaders at home. Die Werkself will want to bounce back from the league defeat and will surely smell blood in the water ahead of facing a struggling Schalke side. They are currently in fifth place in the table, level on points with fourth-placed Gladbach, who have a testing trip to Bayern Munich ahead of them this weekend.
History would seem to be against Schalke this weekend almost as much as their current form is. The Miners have not won at home against Leverkusen since 2013. To compound the home side’s problems, Leverkusen have lost just one of their last eight Bundesliga games on the road. They also won 2-1 in the equivalent fixture last season, thanks to strikes from Aleksandar Dragovic and Lucas Alari.
This season, Leverkusen are not the best team defensively, however, though there have been recent signs that they are putting things right in this regard. Their 1-0 win over Freiburg in their last away game was their first clean sheet in seven road trips. Given that Schalke have only scored twice in their last five home league games, Leverkusen’s main threat would seem to be falling prey to their own overconfidence. Schalke have a poor goalscoring record overall too, with them being the sixth-worst team in the Bundesliga when it comes to scoring at home.
Schalke also have a worrying tendency to concede the first goal in games. They have done this in four of their last five matches. Coral have Leverkusen priced at 1/2 to score the first goal on Sunday, which might well be a good bet. Bayer have been in the lead at half-time in two of their last three away games. If they score early on Sunday, it would not be too surprising to see Schalke fold and succumb to a heavy defeat.
Now that they have got that tricky game with Bayern out of the way, Bayer have a relatively straightforward last four games to look forward to. That means that winning on Sunday will give them a very good chance of claiming a Champions League spot. Schalke’s woes continue with the news this week that Kai Havertz will be back in action for Leverkusen after missing the match with Bayern. He scored seven goals in six games on either side of the league’s suspension and is attracting major attention from some of European football’s biggest clubs.
Schalke have not won in 12 games in the league, and we don’t see them ending that run this weekend. Our prediction for this game is that Leverkusen will win 3-0, and almost certainly end Schalke’s chances of qualifying for Europe. That result will surely also mean that former Huddersfield town boss Wagner’s time at the club will come to an end when the season finishes. Our recommended tip comes from Coral, who are offering a price of 9/5 on Leverkusen winning to nil. We suggest that you have serious think about taking those odds.