The game of the week in the Bundesliga takes place this Saturday as seventh-placed Hoffenheim welcome second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach to the Rhein-Neckar-Arena for what is sure to be a highly entertaining match.
As it stands, Monchengladbach are the closest challengers to Borussia Dortmund, who are threatening to run away at the top of the Bundesliga.
Playing in an earlier kickoff than BVB, Monchengladbach have the chance to put a bit of pressure on the league leaders, but in order to do so, they’ll need to win away to Hoffenheim, which will not be easy.
Gladbach lost their last away game in Leipzig as Timo Werner’s brace was enough to secure RB Leipzig a vital win, so Dieter Hecking will be looking for a reaction and a performance similar to the one they produced last weekend, when they beat Stuttgart 3-0 thanks to three goals in the last 20 minutes of the game.
Successive draws, away to Hertha and at home to Schalke, have seen Hoffenheim fall behind in the race for another top four finish, and a defeat could see the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Leipzig extend to six points. Whilst such a deficit would not be insurmountable, it would be a significant gap to bridge, even at this stage of the season.
If you check the odds on the best sports betting sites, you’ll see that, despite being five places lower in the table, the home side are still the favourites for the game, probably due to their own decent home form, combined with Gladbach’s loss on the road to Leipzig last time out.
With the bookies generally going evens for the home win, and 5/2 for the away win, it’s easy to see that many are indeed favouring Julian Nagelsmann’s men to take all three points – and they need it!
A potential advantage for Monchengladbach, however, is that they’ll have a full week to prepare for the game, whereas Hoffenheim’s preparations will be delayed due to their midweek Champions League clash with Manchester City.
Kerem Demirbay, a reported target for Liverpool, will be the man hoping to lead Hoffenheim to a much-needed victory, whilst Alassane Plea will be looking to add to his eight Bundesliga goals and thus, keep Monchengladbach within touching distance of Dortmund.
Bayern Munich have been so dominant in the Bundesliga for so long, but they, by their own ridiculously high standards, are having a poor season, which has opened the door for the likes of Dortmund and Monchengladbach to make a real push for a title win.
Dortmund, under the guidance of manager Lucien Favre, have taken full advantage of the champions’ poor form and are yet to taste defeat in the league.
Monchengladbach are doing all they can to hang on to BVB’s coattails but a loss in Hoffenheim, combined with a Dortmund win over Werder Bremen, could see the gap open up to ten points, which could all but end any chance of Hecking’s men mounting a serious title challenge.
League winners, throughout the course of a season, are always faced with big tests away from home and if Monchengladbach want to truly compete for the biggest prize in German football, then they must find a way to go into Hoffenheim and leave with all three points. If they fail to do so, and if Dortmund get the win at home which many feel they will, then Gladbach’s title dreams will have faded away almost as quickly as they appeared.