Bundesliga Predictions, Odds, Preview & Best Bets: Outrights, Longshots, Relegation & Golden Boot for 2021-22 Season
Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images. Pictured: Borussia Dortmund standouts Erling Haaland, left, and Gio Reyna.
The Bundesliga kicks off its season just before the Premier League on Friday, with Bayern Munich facing host Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Bavarians have won nine consecutive league titles, and despite a brief push from RB Leipzig last year, the powerhouse is heavily favored to repeat as champion (-550 odds at DraftKings) this season.
The league features two new sides via promotion — Bochum and Greuther Fürth — but the story of the summer in the German top flight was the managerial merry-go-round that occurred in the offseason.
Bayern manager Hansi Flick left to take the German national team job, with the club replacing him with RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann. Then, Leipzig replaced Nagelsmann with American manager Jesse Marsch, who once led the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
Further down the table, Borussia Dortmund poached Marco Rose from Gladbach. The Foals then hired Adi Hütter from Eintracht Frankfurt.
And what did Frankfurt do? It responded by nabbing Wolfsburg’s Oliver Glasner, which led the Wolves to bring on Mark van Bommel, who recently managed PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Bayer Leverkusen hired Gerarno Seoane from Young Boys in Switzerland after a subpar sixth-place finish.
All those managerial changes have created a lot of uncertainty in an offseason shortened by the European Championships. It takes time for new managers to implement their system on their teams, which could give the mid-table and worse sides some help early on in the year.
The league has a clear top three on paper, with Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig expected to claim the top three spots. Expected goals numbers support this, as all three were more than 0.5 xG per 90 better than the rest of the league.
After that trip is a group of five relatively close to one another in Gladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Frankfurt and Union Berlin. It was Union which over-performed expectations quite a bit last year and now has European football to test its lacking squad depth. Gladbach ran really cold defensively and faced some offensive regression, especially once Rose announced he was leaving the club.
Wolfsburg and Frankfurt have struggled most in preseason friendlies and domestic cup matches under new managers. Both ran really hot to challenge for a Champions League place (Wolfsburg managed to grab fourth) and it could make for a difficult fixture congestion issue for both of them.
While there’s a ton of uncertainty in the Bundesliga, it’s one of the most fun leagues in the world to watch because of high-octane games, plenty of goals and promising young talent. The league also features a handful of top Americans, including Gio Reyna (Dortmund), Chris Richards (Bayern), Tyler Adams (Leipzig) and John Brooks at Wolfsburg.
Favorite Outright Bet
RB Leipzig to Win Title Without Bayern Munich (+225)
I won’t go as far to say Bayern isn’t going to win the league, but it certainly has some flaws that were exposed by direct attacks last year. However, this pick takes the nine-time champion out of the picture.
Leipzig finished the year with the best xG difference per 90 minutes in the league, and made a key addition at striker by adding André Silva from Frankfurt. Silva scored 28 Bundesliga goals last year, which was 20 more than Leizpig’s leading scorer in Marcel Sabitzer.
The Red Bulls lost Dayot Upamecano from the defense, but were still one of Europe’s best with 32 goals conceded and 29.1 xGA during their campaign. A better shot-stopping season in goal from Peter Gulacsi would make up for the loss of Upamecano.
Dortmund is really fun on paper, especially with Reyna, Erling Haaland and Donyel Malen on the attack. Yet, the club has an aging midfield and defense and didn’t do a ton to improve there. Leipzig should finish ahead of it, and certainly finish ahead of Dortmund enough of the time for +225 to show value.
Both teams have new managers, so neither will have much of an early season advantage because of this factor.
Favorite Relegation Bet
Arminia Bielefeld (+140) via FanDuel
Arminia Bielefeld managed to avoid the drop as a Bundesliga newcomer last year, but it was quite fortunate to do so.
The Blues had no player score more than five goals the entire year and had no regular player averaged more than 0.31 xG per 90 minutes. They were second worst in xGF and xGA, only ahead of lowly Schalke.
Neither team coming up from the second division is particularly impressive, but Arminia is just as bad as Bochum and Fürth in my projections, making it a good bet to get relegated at +100 or better. The Blues benefited from above-average goalkeeper play, as well as opponents finishing at a poor rate against them. Neither of those situations are likely to be sustained.
It might come down to a relegation playoff if it finishes in 16th place, but Arminia offered very little to be encouraged about in year one and those teams tend to go down in the second campaign.
Favorite Matchup Bet
Borussia Mönchengladbach (-145) vs. Wolfsburg via BetMGM
If you followed our Euro 2020 coverage at The Action Network, you know about Swiss forward Breel Embolo.
The standout led the entire tournament in expected threat, a stat that measures the quality of chances created from ball progression and passing. He’s poised for a breakout year for Gladbach and will thrive under manager Hütter’s more direct style of play.
Gladbach was the No. 1 xG underachiever in the Bundesliga last year. The Foals were ranked fifth in my power ratings, but finished in eighth place. Their attack nosedived once Rose announced he was leaving and the defense ran unlucky for almost the whole season. Wolfsburg ran really hot to end the year, but lost its manager and now has Champions League to test its squad depth.
Gladbach is out of Europe and well positioned with its whole squad returning to challenge for top four in the table.
Wolfsburg has looked out of sorts under van Bommel in the preseason and will have to adjust without Glasner organizing the press anymore.
Should Bayern Munich Star Lewandowski Be Heavily Favored?
If Haaland stays healthy, he’ll have a very real shot of winning the golden boot over the -200 odds favorite in Robert Lewandowski. At age 20 a year ago, he averaged 0.89 xG per 90 minutes and was close to the Bayern star at 1.16 xG per 90 for the season.
Given their ages, those numbers should only continue to get closer. I can’t recommend a play on Haaland at the current number, but keep a close eye on it. A slow start for Haaland finishing wise and he could be a midseason add for Golden Boot.
If both stay healthy for the whole year, Haaland is north of 35-40% to win the award by the completion of the season.
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