Bayer Leverkusen are big favorites to get their season on track this weekend, but Hoffenheim look good value for the draw at the BayArena.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Ahead of the third round of Bundesliga fixtures, the best online sportsbooks clearly rate Bayer Leverkusen as the big favorites. The home side are as short as -149 with some bookmakers, with the visitors rated as big outsiders at +360. And, if you favor the draw, you can get odds of anywhere between +320 and +340, depending on which bookmaker you opt for.
|Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim|
Terrible Start for Leverkusen
Unfairly known as ‘Neverkusen’ because of their lack of silverware (their last win came in the German Cup in 1993) hopes were high going into this season after they finished third last time. Unfortunately, they’ve had a terrible start to the new campaign with back-to-back defeats.
A 1-0 defeat in Dortmund in their first Bundesliga game wasn’t the end of the world, although their head coach Gerardo Seoane would have been hoping that his players could register an early season statement against the club that finished second last season.
But before that game Leverkusen had been dumped out of the German Cup by third-tier club SV Elversberg and then last weekend, they were beaten 2-1 by Augsburg in front of their own fans after a sleepy first-half performance. Bottom of the table two games in was not what Seoane envisaged this season and he will be hoping that his players rectify the situation immediately.
All Action Hoffenheim
The Bundesliga is often entertaining, and Hoffenheim supporters have already enjoyed plenty of action. In their opening game, away to Borussia Monchengladbach, they suffered the worst possible start, having Stefan Posch sent off after 18 minutes, but managed to take the lead and match the hosts until the final twenty minutes of the game, eventually losing 3-1.
For their second league outing they once again had to recover from an early shock, having conceded twice against Bochum in the first twelve minutes. However, they showed considerable resilience, leveling the game within ten minutes and eventually winning it three minutes from time having also missed a second-half penalty. After a chaotic finish to the 2021-22 season, they are once again looking unpredictable but there is plenty of talent here for new coach Andre Breitenreiter to work with.
Bundesliga Team News
The team news for the home side is not encouraging ahead of this game. Goalkeeper Andrey Lunev has sustained a hamstring injury so won’t be available, but Lukas Hradecky will be available again following the one-match suspension he was hit with for his sending off in the opening game against Dortmund.
Florian Wirtz is not likely to be have recovered from a rupture of his cruciate ligament for another month at least so Sardar Azmoun is likely to enjoy an extended run in the team, after starting against Augsburg.
Central midfielder Robert Andrich is also out, having sustained an injury in the season’s opener, and two more players were added to the injured list this week. Right winger Karim Bellarabi suffered a torn meniscus and is likely to be out until the end of September, while another wide attacking player Amine Adli fractured his collarbone on Saturday, adding to the selection headaches for Seoane.
For the visitors, Posch will be available for selection after his disciplinary suspension, so Breitenreiter will have to choose whether he returns to the starting lineup alongside Ozan Kabak and Kevin Vogt, or whether he opts for Stanley Nsoki. Reserve goalkeeper Philipp Pentke develop bursitis this week and won’t be available.
Centre-forward Ihlas Bebou and defenders Benjamin Hubner and Ermin Bicakcic are all still missing with injuries that they picked up in pre-season training, but central midfielders Dennis Geiger and Angelo Stiller may be available this weekend.
Bundesliga Match Betting Pick
Having finished third and ninth respectively last season, Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim were both widely predicted to at least match that level of performance, with some pundits suggesting that Leverkusen might be able to challenge for second place and that Hoffenheim could be Europa League contenders by the end of the campaign.
While both of those outcomes are still possible, neither side has made the start that they were looking for. Leverkusen fans, in particular, will have been alarmed by the Augsburg defeat, even if they had been prepared to overlook the earlier embarrassing Cup exit, and in an ultra-competitive league, Leverkusen can ill-afford to fall too far behind in the opening weeks.
The depletion of their attacking resources is particularly worrying ahead of this game, given how unpredictable Hoffenheim can be. They have already scored four and conceded five, and Leverkusen cannot afford to underestimate them here. The home side is the better team, but the draw looks overpriced here and rates as the best betting pick.