Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund – Rhein-Neckar Arena at 19:30 live on BT Sport 3
RB Leipzig’s shock loss at Ingolstadt last weekend allowed Bayern Munich to re-take leadership of the Bundesliga but the fascinating tussle at the tip of the table hasn’t been confined to the current top-two.
Unfashionable outfits such as Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and Koln have sandwiched Borussia Dortmund in the European places, leaving the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach ailing.
On Friday night we’ve another opportunity to enjoy the stunning story of Hoffenheim and their 29-year-old head coach Julian Nagelsmann. The hosts are the only club in Germany’s top-tier yet to lose this season (W6-D8-L0), already avoiding defeat against high fliers Leipzig and Bayern.
The rise of the ‘Mini-Mourinho’
Nagelsmann took charge of Hoffe in early February when the Sinsheim side were only off the bottom of the Bundesliga on goal difference and five points adrift of 16-placed Werder Bremen.
The youngster made an immediate impact at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena and since Nagelsmann’s appointment; only Bayern and Dortmund have collected more points. They comfortably cleared the bottom-three last season and in some style too…
The swashbuckling approach employed by Nagelsmann’s saw total goals figures as high as 3.21 per-game as the ‘Mini-Mourinho’ oversaw Hoffenheim fail to score just once whilst performing superbly in all the key performance data metrics.
There was a little sense of negativity following Kevin Volland’s departure and Tobias Strobl will be tough to replace but Hoffe have regrouped and continued their impressive ascent up the Bundesliga ladder. This is no fluke.
Last weekend TSG were held to an unusual goalless draw at Frankfurt – Hoffe have settled for a point in four of their last five but it’s rare to see goals so scare in their encounters under Nagelsmann. Nevertheless, with three successive draws against Dortmund at the Rhein-Neckar, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Hoffenheim repeat the feat on Friday.
Dortmund unconvincing away
BVB pitch up in Sinsheim just a point shy of their hosts following their own stalemate in Koln last time out. Thomas Tuchel’s troops required a late Marco Reus leveller to avoid a fourth away-day defeat in just seven Bundesliga trips this term.
Whilst Dortmund have been prolific and clinical in front of their home fans, their maddeningly inconsistent performances on the road are beginning to frustrate fans and followers. The visitors have claimed only two away triumphs in Bundesliga action – at struggling Hamburg and Wolfsburg.
BVB have been posting absurdly high possession numbers but their attack has been lacking precision and pace whilst defensively they’ve kept only three clean sheets in 14 league outings. It’s just not good enough for a supposed title challenger.
The betting angle
Goals could well be on the cards here – Hoffenheim have seen eight of their last 10 home fixtures feature at least three goals, eight of the last nine Bundesliga meetings between the two teams have seen both sides score whilst only Bayern have notched more league goals than the visitors in 2016/17.
However, the odds are a little prohibitive to get involved and so I’m settling in the Asian Handicap betting market where Hoffenheim are available to support at 2.19 with a +0.5 Asian Handicap start.
It’s a selection that would have paid out in 13 of TSG’s 14 home showdowns under Nagelsmann as well as in exactly half of Dortmund’s 24 away days under Tuchel.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Hoffenheim +0.5 at 2.19
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Prices correct at time of writing.