Bundesliga 2018/19 Title Race and Betting Odds

Contrasting form for Dortmund and Bayern suggest that a run of six consecutive Bundesliga titles for the Bavarian giants could be coming to an end.

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Bayern arrived at the last international break in crisis and though many were already predicting their demise, we weren’t quite brave enough to sling our weight behind Dortmund just at that point with gap only at four points with 27 games still to play. However, the distance between the two sides has grown since then and now stands at seven points, with less time for Bayern to repair the damage.

Dortmund might only be four points clear of Borussia M’gladbach and five ahead of RB Leipzig in 2nd and 3rd respectively, but realistically this is a two horse race and if anyone is going to dislodge the Bavarians’ crown it’s them.

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Borussia Dortmund Remain Unbeaten

BVB remain unbeaten domestically as their sole defeat this term has come away at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, but the Wanda Metropolitano is a tough place to visit with Diego Simeone’s side losing just three of 37 games there across all competitions since they moved in at the start of last season – keeping a clean sheet in 23 of their 26 victories over this period. Not many teams can shut Dortmund out, but having won the reverse fixture 4-0, Lucien Favre can be pleased with his sides’ efforts in Europe as they top Group A and qualification appears a mere formality.

One of our core concerns surrounding the Black and Yellows was their tendency to fall behind. Excluding a goalless stalemate with Hannover early on in the season, Dortmund conceded first in five of nine outings across all competitions prior to the last international break, as well as four of seven league fixtures. However, they’ve since opened the scoring in five of seven matches, with the exceptions versus Atletico and Bayern, but even against Niko Kovac’s men they still showed that strength of character to fight back twice and take maximum points after facing an initial onslaught.

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Bayern Munich On Course For Record Losses

That was Bayern’s third defeat of the season and they appear set on course to suffer more losses than in years gone by. They were only downed twice in both 2015/16 and 16/17, which doubled to four games last term, but while the most recent defeat against BVB was hardly an embarrassment, it does pile the pressure on the Bavarians as that’s not been their only poor result recently.

Victories over Wolfsburg, AEK Athens and Mainz in the wake of the last break appeared to steady the ship, but they’ve since struggled to overcome fourth-tier outfit Rodinghausen in the DFK Pokal as they ran out 2-1 winners, drawn at home to Freiburg and lost to Dortmund all within their last four. They even fielded the likes of Manuel Neuer, David Alaba, Thiago Alcantara and Thomas Muller against Rodinghausen, so while they did rest numerous players, it was hardly a weak team they put out either.

Niko Kovac hasn’t managed to stamp his authority on the team as he’s been muddled in his approach. He’s constantly switched between 4-3-3, 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 throughout the season, with even post-match reports differing in their assessment – highlighting how indeterminable the systems used have been. The players must be thinking the same at this point, and although there’s no suggestion that the coach has lost the dressing room, the rumour mill is suggesting club president Uli Hoeness is seeking out Zinedine Zidane.

Bayern Lack Of Goals

While five teams hold a better defensive record than Bayern this term, only RB Leipzig have conceded significantly fewer as the other four sides have shipped 12 or 13 compared to the Bavarians’ 14. It’s the lack of goals that’s been most surprising as five teams have also netted more, and three of these sides have scored at least six goals extra, while Dortmund lead the way with 33 to Bayern’s 20. Indeed, whereas Robert Lewandowski has been Mr Reliable with 30, 30 and 29 league goals in the past three seasons, he’s languishing with just seven strikes so far this term, with no one else managing more than three.

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Lewandowski isn’t the only one failing to meet past expectations. The old guard of Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery have been so important to Bayern’s success in recent years but are failing to produce their best, while Thomas Muller has been increasingly ineffectual with just two goals and two assists, with none of them coming in his last eight appearances. Either Ribery or Muller could have been replaced by James Rodriguez as they toiled against the vim and vigour of Dortmund as the game progressed, but clearly all is not well with Niko Kovac opting to ignore him as he spent the full 90 minutes stuck on the bench – despite being joint-second for goals with Robben after Lewandowski this term.

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Time Catching Up With Ribery And Robben

Frank Ribery has had to accept reduced playing time in recent years. He’s only once hit double figures for goals or assists over the past four seasons as he set up 11 in 2016/17, with age catching up with the Frenchman significantly. The 35-year-old manged five goals and one assist from 20 appearances last term, but he’s managed just the solitary assist in nine appearances in the new campaign, and so the decision to allow Douglas Costa join Juventus at first on loan an then permanently looks more curious by the day.

Arjen Robben is almost a year junior than Ribery, but the Dutch winger has surprisingly aged well when considering the lengthy injury problems he’s suffered throughout his career, particularly as a youngster during his time with Chelsea. However, he’s not totally immune to the effects of time and after netting 13 goals and 11 assists in 26 appearances in 16/17, he produced just five and seven respectively last term. He only has three goals and no assists from eight games this season, and the ability of ‘the man of glass’ to replicate previous standards over the course of a whole season seems doubtful.

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These two would be the other side of each other based on expected points. Indeed, Bayern would triumph by 23.09 to Dortmund’s 21.31 at this stage, while xG and xGA would both be better for Bayern and worse for Dortmund. However, expected goals for/against and expected points are not the be all and end all.

Monaco’s goal tally of 107 in 2016/17 would be down to 76.04 on that basis, while the 16.94 points that would have been shaved off their total would have resulted in PSG wrapping up a fifth consecutive title. It was a similar story for Juve last term as they too would have seen their total goals vastly reduced from 86 to 59.23, while they would be 21.49 points worse off as Napoli would have claimed the title comfortably.

Dortmund Look Well Placed

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre can also point to a history of defying expected goals and points. The last time he coached in the Bundesliga, with Gladbach back in 2014/15, his side would have been worse off on all accounts. Meanwhile, his Nice team over performed that same year Monaco won the title, as the 24.53 drop in points would have seen them finish 7th rather than 3rd.

This century, only 12 teams have been seven points or greater behind the leaders after 11 rounds and still managed to finish in the top three. However, while Leverkusen and Dortmund managed to finish 2nd in 2010/11 and 12/13 respectively, only Wolfsburg’s shock title in 08/09 saw such a deficit overturned. With that in mind, Dortmund look the real deal.

Dortmund To Win The Bundesliga At 1.86 Here

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