Schalke v Borussia Monchengladbach – Borussia-Park at 19.30 live on BT Sport Europe
Matchday 27 in the Bundesliga kicks-off with a pivotal clash between Schalke and Gladbach in the race for a top-four finish and Champions League qualification. Fourth-placed Gladbach are just one point and one place above Schalke coming into this mouthwatering match-up.
Schalke missed the opportunity to leap into third last weekend when meekly going down 2-0 to surprise package Hertha Berlin. Andre Breitenreiter’s boys have now managed just W4-D3-L4 since returning from their winter break.
Returning to their Gelsenkirchen home, the Royal Blues will be bidding to get back on track and enhancing a recent run of W4-D1-L1 at the Veltins Arena in league action. But throw in all competitions and Schalke’s W6-D3-L5 efforts in front of their adoring supporters since early October looks less than impressive.
True, Schalke are on their best run of scoring form as hosts for three years – nine on the spin on Bundesliga duty – and the North Rhine-Westphalia boast a phenomenal record when welcoming league opposition on Friday nights (W12-D1-L0).
But with captain and defensive lynchpin Benedict Höwedes, Matija Nastasic and now Junior Caicara all absent for Friday’s encounter, keeping only a fourth clean sheet in 14 Bundesliga battles under Breitenreiter looks more unlikely.
Schalke’s record against top-10 teams is less than impressive – the Royal Blues have W4-D2-L7 and exclude results against the bottom-three clubs and the guys from Gelsenkirchen have only returned W4-D3-L3 in home league fixtures.
Gladbach have won on two of their last three visits to the Veltins Arena, ending a 22-year barren spell at Schalke and have taken top honours in five of the last six head-to-heads, including beaten the Royal Blues twice already this term.
And the Foals arrive having dismantled Eintracht Frankfurt in impressive style last time out. However, like their hosts, Andre Schubert’s charges are still searching for consistency and have failed to record back-to-back victories in 2016.
Despite losing their first games of the 2015/16 campaign, Gladbach have already reached the 40-point mark but that outstanding fightback has been built up on a fierce home record. The visitors have played five of their last eight as guests and are winless on their travels since October (W0-D2-L4) – their longest winless streak for three years.
The Foals will look to Raffael for inspiration. The Brazilian, who spent six months on loan at Schalke in 2013, is in electrifying form having netted 13 times in 26 Bundesliga games this season, including six in his last seven games. But with Tony Jantschke, Håvard Nordtveit, Oscar Wendt, Álvaro Dominguez and Marvin Schulz all crocked, their prospects of pulling off an away win have taken a hit.
So instead, taking the option of a goals route – specifically Over 2.75 at odds of 1.80 – looks a savvier way of approaching Friday night’s tussle.
Six of Schalke’s last nine matches when entertaining top-six rivals have delivered Over 2.5 Goals winners with eight of their 13 Bundesliga fixtures under Breitenreiter’s watch also breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier – nine of which featured both sides scoring.
The Foals are still yet to record an away clean sheet this season and they tend to be a haven for goals-based bets; 10 of Gladbach’s last 12 as guests have produced three or more goals, with seven of their most recent 10 also seeing Over 3.5 Goals backers collect.
I’ll follow the trends and support Over 2.75 Goals at a more-than-fair 1.80.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 Goals at 1.80
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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