3/8 Recap: So I didn’t get completely shut out by the Europa League, but it didn’t do me the favors I hoped it would. The goals came, and thankfully so, in the Lazio/Dynamo contest, but the spoils were split. Zenit laid an absolute egg in Leipzig, even if a late goal gave me a half-hearted push. Needless to say, I am ready for domestic league games again. But for this Friday night slate, I am going to go a little off-book and stay in one country. That country, if the article title didn’t trigger this in your brain already, is Germany. Time to double down on two levels of Bundesliga.
My picks: Lazio 3 Dynamo Kyiv 1 (Over 2.5 goals)
Zenit St. Petersburg 1 Red Bull Leipzig 0 (Zenit +1)
Actual Results: Lazio 2 Dynamo Kyiv 2
Red Bull Leipzig 2 Zenit St. Petersburg 1
And with the help of Google Translate, Ab in die Bundesliga!
Nürenberg @ Arminia Bielefeld (12:30 PM ET/Fox Soccer Match Pass)
Before we get to Bundesliga proper, where we will deal with a team staving off relegation, let’s check in on a team trying to return to the top flight. That takes us to the SchücoArena in Bielefeld where second place Nurenberg takes on seventh place Arminia Bielefeld.
Nurenberg suffered the drop after the 2013-14 season finishing 17th. They’ve been inconsistent with their form in the second division, seesawing between contention for promotion and obscurity. However, this year has seen them in tremendous form with the division’s leading goal scorer Mikael Ishak. The Swedish international is having his best season as a professional netting 12 times in 25 games. It should be noted though that he has been held off the scoresheet since the calendar flipped to 2018.
Bielefeld is a team known more for quick-fire manager sackings than their football. But they haven’t been horrible this year. The thing is they are actually better on the road than they are at home.
So when I see this game as a pick ’em, I scratch my head. Even if Bielefeld beat them in Nurenberg way back in September, I’d expect to see the higher placed side as favorites especially with a return to the Bundesliga as a carrot in front of them. So with that being said, I’ll go with the over of 2.5 goals option (per Bovada) instead of picking the game, although I’ll give you a score anyway because that’s part of the series. Ramble over.
PREDICTION: Nurenberg 2 Arminia Bielefeld 1 (Over 2.5 goals)
Schalke 04 @ Mainz (2:30 PM ET/Fox Sports 2, FOX Deportes, fuboTV, SiriusXM FC 157)
Our Bundesliga proper affair on this Friday afternoon features two teams in a tremendously different form on opposite ends of the table.
Schalke is the midst of an incredible turnaround campaign. After finishing 10th a season ago, their worst finish since 2010-11 when they finished 14th, Schalke can further cement themselves as the second-best team in Germany with a win at Mainz. The club has done great even with the looming departure of arguably their best player, Leon Goretzka, to Bayern in the summer and the recent rejection of a new contract from another star Max Meyer. Luckily for the Royal Blues, American Weston McKennie and the soon to be returning Breel Embolo can help them reload going forward.
As for Mainz, they could very well be joining the teams in the previous pick in the Bundesliga.2 next year. Right now they are poised for the relegation playoffs, where the 16th placed team in the Bundesliga plays the third-place team in Bundesliga.2 for the final spot in the top flight. Mainz hasn’t beaten Schalke in two years, but have two draws in their last two games.
Overall, I think this game could be drab unless Schalke sends Mainz into panic mode early on with a goal. I’d like to think this game will be low scoring, but I thought the same last Friday and got burned. So I’m going to take a three-bagger in this one with Schalke giving the half a goal, winning outright, and the 2.5 goals over (per Bovada) comes in as well. C’mon Germans help me out, I may just pick you to be World Cup champions again!
PREDICTION: Schalke 3 Mainz 0 (Schalke -0.5, Over 2.5 goals)
If you have any games you’d like me to pick you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!