In recent weeks, Bayern’s tenuous lead atop the Bundesliga has turned into essentially no lead at all. They’re still technically in first place, but only by virtue of goal differential. In terms of points, they’re level with rivals Borussia Dortmund, and none other than Union Berlin, their opponents this weekend. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks as two table topping sides meet in Munich this weekend.
Bayern Munich vs. Union Berlin Odds
Bayern are sizable home favorites, with -320 odds, while the visitors Berlin are +700 and the draw is +425. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is heavily favored at -175 and the under is +135.
Bayern Munich vs. Union Berlin Prediction & Pick
It’s not often that we have a legitimate Bundesliga race on our hands this late in the year- and it’s rarer still, by a long shot, that it’s a three-way tie on points. It’s made even more special by the fact that Union Berlin are involved, as they attempt to put an end to Bayern’s decade of dominance and put the finishing touches on a story to rival Leicester 2016. A true Cinderella side, they earned promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2019, and were in the third division as recently as 2009- before that, in the early 2000s, the club were in such dire financial straits that fans had to donate blood to generate the team’s league entry deposit, and complete stadium renovations themselves. So it’s safe to say that their mere presence in this race is a miracle, and incredibly well-deserved by both the team and fans alike.
By virtue of a string of three consecutive draws to kick off the 2023 calendar year, and their customary loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern find themselves in a less comfortable position than usual. The cracks have been showing for quite some time; the reverse fixture between these two clubs was a 1-1 draw, part of another 3-match draw streak for the Bavarian giants. As they’re also entrenched in a massive UCL round of 16 clash with PSG, which currently sits 1-0 in Bayern’s favor after the away leg, it’s safe to say that Julian Nagelsmann’s side are more stretched, and their attention more divided than it’s been in recent years. It’ll be fascinating to see how much mental focus they can give to this match, and how strong of a lineup the young manager picks with such important matches on the horizon.
With -320 odds, I can’t in good conscience tell you to bet Bayern; they should win, but they’re not nearly THAT much of a lock. I’m also not about to tell you that they’re losing at home to a team that recently drew 0-0 with both Schalke and Ajax, so here we are; my moneyline pick is Draw +425, it’s not necessarily my projected outcome, but it’s unquestionably the best value available. For the total, I also like u2.5 goals at +135 from a value perspective, and I’m more confident in this leg; Berlin are inconsistent offensively but defend well, and Bayern’s attack has not been as automatic as we’ve come to expect.
Bayern Attack vs. Union Berlin Defense
Sometimes against top sides, the best defense is to simply hang onto the ball long enough that the other team doesn’t create any chances. That will not be the case for Union, who have the second-best scoring defense in the Bundesliga, but have been the third-worst possession side in the league. At the heart of it all have been centre-backs Robin Knoche and Danilho Doekhi, the latter of whom is perhaps the team’s best player in his first season with the club. Goalkeeper Frederik Rønnow has done a great job as well, as has team captain and right back Christopher Trimmel, who also leads the team with 5 assists.
They’ll be looking to extend their unbeaten 2023 form by shutting down the most potent attack in Germany, and one of the best in the World. After years of going through Robert Lewandowski at striker, the Bayern attack has been driven by Jamal Musiala, who has a much more ambiguous heat map, but leads the team in both league goals and assists. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been the team’s top striker when healthy, while Serge Gnabry is putting together a nice season while playing primarily right wing, but a little bit all over the pitch. This isn’t Bayern of years past, but at their best they can still score a ton of goals and will give Union all they can handle.
Union Berlin Attack vs. Bayern Defense
The Berlin attack snapped out of its mini-slump with an emphatic 3-goal effort that fired them past Ajax and into the Europa League Round of 16. Interestingly enough, all three goals came from defenders; Knoche opened the scoring from the spot, fullback Josip Juranovic fired in the ultimately decisive second goal, and Doekhi put the cherry on top with a third. Sheraldo Becker has been solid as he leads the team with 7 team goals and has fired in 4 assists, while American striker Jordan Pefok has made a real impact with 4 of each of goals and assists. The Berlin attack isn’t the most prolific in Europe, but as they showed on Thursday, they can show up when it matters most.
While Bayern is always best-known for its attack, the defense has a lot of talent as well, especially at the fullback position; Alphonso Davies and newcomer João Cancelo form one of the most fascinating duos of its kind. Centre-back Matthijs de Ligt has a ton of talent, but has struggled to find consistency, he’ll be one to keep an eye on if he gets the start in this one. Bayern will be without team minutes leader Dayot Upecameno, after he picked up a red card against Mönchengladbach, so his teammates will need to pick up the slack. Lastly, the Bavarians will need a strong day out of goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who has yet to find his best form after coming over from none other than Gladbach themselves.