Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen Betting Preview: Target Total in Bundesliga Clash

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen Betting Preview: Target Total in Bundesliga Clash article feature image

Picture Alliance/Getty. Pictured: Thomas Muller.

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen Odds

Bayern Odds-290
Leverkusen Odds+600
Over/Under3.5 (-142 / +116)
Day | TimeFriday | 2:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

The Bundesliga returns to action from the international break on Friday as the heavy title favorites Bayern Munich host Bayer Leverkusen.

Both teams have vastly underperformed preseason expectations thus far with Bayern settling for three consecutive draws and then a defeat in the league while Leverkusen won just one of their first seven matches in the league.

Each time it has seemed that Leverkusen are starting to turn a corner in their results — a 3-0 win against Mainz and 2-0 win against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League — Die Werkself has followed that up with a lackluster showing the following match.

Bayern have settled for draws in various weird ways — the underlying numbers remain excellent but they've conceded late goals and the pressure is mounting on manager Julian Nagelsmann to produce better results to save his job.

The defending champions won the first meeting between the two clubs last season, 5-1, but they was outplayed and settled for a 1-1 draw in the second meeting at home in March.

Bayern Munich Undergoing Attacking Transition

If you just look at Bayern's underlying expected goals (xG) and actual goals for and against numbers, you wouldn't think anything was wrong with how they are playing. Bayern has a +1.62 xG difference per 90 minutes this season — and they've won the xG battle by at least 0.5 in every Bundesliga match this season.

The defense has certainly shown some cracks — they had a back pass miscue to concede to Gladbach, conceded a last minute penalty to Stuttgart and have allowed at least one xG in the last four matches in all competitions.

The narrative angle is simple: Bayern is struggling to replace Robert Lewandowski's production at striker. The reality is that the team is no longer vastly overperforming its xG totals by unsustainable margins. The club's top players were all due for some regression in the finishing department and the team has run even with its xG thus far this year.

I think there is some merit to the idea that the whole attack was built around one key focal point for all of the crosses and interchanging in and around the penalty area. Now that he's gone, it's taken a bit of an adjustment period since the attack is more evenly spread out across the board.

Bayern could explode at any moment, but I think the focus for both clubs in this match will be shoring up the defensive flaws that have cost them games and points in the early part of the season.

Bayer Leverkusen Regressing to the Mean

One year after being one of the most fortunate teams by finishing variance in all of Europe, Bayer Leverkusen have been one of the more unfortunate teams. Funny how that works.

Leverkusen kept most of their core group of talented players together and thought it would propel them to the start in the league given all of the turnover with the rest of the top clubs. Instead, Leverkusen have one win, two draws and four losses in the first seven games of the league year.

They finished the second half of last season with a +1.1 xG difference per 90 and through seven games, Leverkusen is just +0.23 xGD per 90. That's not a good enough level to qualify for the top four either, so the poor start hasn't exactly been all variance either. The performances in attack have dropped off considerably and the finishing has leveled off.

Last season, Leverkusen over-performed their xG for by more goals than everyone in Europe's top five leagues except Lazio, Napoli, Dortmund and Rennes.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Bayern are used to dominating both shot total numbers and shot quality in the Bundesliga. Thus far, they're dominating the shot totals and the field tilt, but the average shot distance has risen considerably.

They could improve on that going forward and probably will, but for now they rank middle of the pack in average shot distance at 17 yards. That's more than a full yard worse than last season's number.

When you aren't generating as many shots close to the goal and are reliant on shooting from distance more to generate clear chances, you're less likely to run well compared to xG. There's usually more defenders in the way and more time for the goalkeeper to react.

The Bayern defense is still preventing big chances — average shot distance allowed is second best in the league — but the attack isn't always the juggernaut it's been in year's past. It still can be and is at times, but the consistency is lacking.

Leverkusen's attack has looked more pedestrian this year, like the one that finished last season seventh in shots and seventh in big scoring chances created. As a result, they've regressed and this total is a bit inflated on Friday.

The Pick: Under 3.5 goals (+110 or better)

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