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What bettors can learn from Bundesliga's return

By Nicholas Hennion  () 

If it weren’t for empty stadiums, socially distant celebrations and substitutes sitting 6 feet apart, it would have felt like a normal Bundesliga weekend.

 

Of course, that wasn’t the case. The Bundesliga proceeded with caution and implemented rules to adhere to our new reality.

 

However, these new regulations paint a clear picture of how bettors should proceed for the final eight weeks. With that imagery in our minds, we can learn three lessons on where our money should go and where opportunities lie.

 

Lesson 1: No Fans Benefits Favorites Regardless of Game Site

 

For the top five teams in the league — Bayern, Dortmund, Monchengladbach, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen — it was mostly business as usual.

 

Take out RB Leipzig, which as a friend so eloquently put it “forgot how to play soccer” in its draw against Freiburg, and the total margin of victory for the other four teams was 13-2.

 

Three covered their goal-line spreads, and a fourth, Bayern, pushed its two-goal line.

 

Banning fans has eliminated a massive advantage for underdogs. Considering three of the top five played away from home last week, bettors are left with a situation in which home-field advantage isn’t as important.

 

Expand that trend to all nine fixtures last weekend, and six of nine favorites covered or pushed their goal-line spreads, a 67% mark.

 

Curiously, the three favorites that failed to cover played at home. Time will tell whether that’s meaningful or not, but only one of those teams, Leipzig, really has anything to play for.

 

What’s the lesson for bettors? Lean on favorites, and don’t be afraid to lay a few bucks on the three-way moneyline if that’s your preference.

 

Lesson 2: Pay Close Attention to Line Moves

 

While not entirely derived from last weekend’s action, this lesson was exacerbated by watching how books took in money on certain fixtures.

 

Dortmund moved from -1/2 on the GL to -1 — and covered.

 

Leverkusen moved from -1/2 to -1 — and covered.

 

Bayern saw its odds on a -2 GL move from -110 to -130 — and pushed its GL.

 

So we can learn that the makeup of this market is mostly sharp bettors who can heavily influence line moves and force books to adjust their goal lines. And if you pay close enough attention, it can create some prime plus-money opportunities.

 

I grabbed Leverkusen at a goal line of -1 after it opened at -1/2. At the opening number, you had to lay -150. When I grabbed the GL, it had jumped all the way to %plussign0.

 

Under normal circumstances, I generally avoid laying whole numbers with road favorites out of fear that I really need the next-highest number to cash the GL. And no dog wants to be embarrassed at home.

 

But following the line move did me a solid. I hopped on the side of Peter Bosz’s squad, who obliterated Werder Bremen 4-1.

 

The subplot is that half-goals are worth that much more and should be examined even more closely.

 

Of the four contenders that covered last weekend, three had half-goal lines at some point before kickoff. Monchengladbach was the only team that stayed a PK up until the ball started rolling.

 

The same goes for totals, especially on matches for which books are setting the total at three. I consider three a dead number in soccer totals, reinforced by the fact that in the Bundesliga this season, nearly 26% of games are finishing on three goals.

 

Try to find a half-goal here or there. Otherwise, I might look elsewhere.  

 

Lesson 3: Offense Is More Immune to a Break Than Defense

 

My operating assumption heading into the weekend was that offenses would be able to pick right back up, whereas defenses would need time to get their feet under them.

 

That proved somewhat true. For the third straight matchweek, bettors saw Over 3.5 goals cash in four of nine matches, all of which had three as the closing number.

 

Two other matches pushed their three-goal totals, meaning the last three finished Under both three and 2 1/2 goals. Even better for those with the theory there would be no shortage of goals, Over bettors were rewarded with some plus-money payouts.

I got Dortmund-Schalke Over three at %plussign0 and Monchengladbach-Frankfurt Over three at %plussign0. And while I didn’t bet it, Over 3 in Leverkusen-Werder Bremen closed at %plussign0 (the game finished on five goals).

 

Am I saying every match will be a goal fest? No. But at least to the naked eye, matches look more wide open, with opportunities aplenty to put the ball in the back of the net.

 

If you can find plus money on Overs — a rare instance — you should seriously consider taking a flyer.

 

In the last five matchweeks combined, 62% of matches have cashed or pushed three-goal totals. In the last 10 matchweeks, that number comes in at 63.3%.

 

For the whole season, bettors are cashing or pushing three-goal totals in just under 67% of matches. Half-goals appear to be worth a little more nowadays, but recent data does suggest some added value with plus money on three-goal totals.

 

Opportunities for Matchweek 27

 

Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt: Bayern was embarrassed 5-1 on the road in the reverse fixture. If this goal line comes in at 1.5 goals, play it. If it comes in at 2.5, it becomes a stayaway for me. Believe it or not, Frankfurt has accumulated the fewest road points, seven, in the league. And in the five matches it has played against the bottom seven, Bayern has covered a 1.5 GL three times.

 

Schalke 04 vs. Augsburg: If you can get an alternate GL of Schalke +0.5, I love that option. If not, expect a Schalke GL of -0.5. After being obliterated by Dortmund last weekend, I like Schalke to bounce back. It’s unbeaten in its last eight against Augsburg, the second-worst road team in the Bundesliga this season.

 

Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund: Bettors might get lucky here if books make the Dortmund ML plus money as it travels to sixth-place Wolfsburg. If it is, take it: Dortmund has won four straight at the Volkswagen Arena. Lucien Favre’s side also dispatched Wolfsburg 3-0 at home earlier this season and won’t want to stumble the week before it faces Bayern at Signal Iduna. Take Dortmund’s high-powered offense to win.

 

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