Don't allow this week's numbers to lead you astray, the path to true enlightenment can only be found with repeated Bundesliga watching, as you may be about to learn on Matchday 31.
While keenly scrutinising this week’s stats under giant magnifying glasses at Bundesliga Towers, we were collectively struck by a revelation: we could print the Matchday 31 digits in a larger font, thus negating the use of our looking glasses.
Watch: Schalke end Leipzig's winning run:
The numbers now larger before our naked eyes, a definite pattern began to emerge; a theory started to form. In many cases, the figures backed up the hypothesis that certain teams could be regarded as favourites going into their respective games this weekend. Yet in this, the most unpredictable of Bundesliga seasons, we’re no longer fooled by an apparent foregone conclusion. As Watson to our Sherlock Holmes, let us lead you through the numerical evidence.
Take this Friday night’s footballing festival at the BayArena, for example. Hosts Bayer Leverkusen are unbeaten in three home games and undefeated in their last five against opponents Schalke, winning four of those contests. Historically, Die Werkself’s 30 wins against the Royal Blues is second only to their record of 34 victories against Stuttgart. Schalke coach Markus Weinzierl, meanwhile, has never gotten the better of Leverkusen in nine attempts, losing six. So, the trail here clearly leads to home win, right? With the home team under increasing pressure for points given their precarious predicament in the standings, our advice would be to suspend your judgement and monitor this one very closely.
‘Exhibit B’ presents a clear-cut case of Borussia Dortmund dominance and Cologne coming a cropper. BVB are 35 games – or two years - without a home loss in the Bundesliga; Cologne have won just two of their last 11 matches. Dortmund are gunning for a Champions League group stage spot, an imperious boast against a team who have lost four of their last five on the road. But before jotting down your outcome, we’d like you to consider that the Billy Goats have yet to lose against Die Schwarzgelben in five matches with coach Peter Stöger at the helm, even winning two of those games.
Watch: Bayern suffer slip-up against menacing Mainz:
Now ponder this next episode, if you will. Bayern Munich could win the Bundesliga this weekend at Wolfsburg, a venue the reigning champions have celebrated a title victory on two occasions in the past (2003 and 2008). To do so, RB Leipzig would have to fail to win and Carlo Ancelotti’s team gain maximum points at the Volkswagen Arena. And the cold facts strongly back Bayern to do their part in such a scenario. The Bavarian giants are 37 points ahead of a Wolves outfit who have suffered at the hands of striker Robert Lewandowski to the tune of 12 goals in 17 games. Yet could the threat of relegation raise Andries Jonker’s men to formidable feats in Lower Saxony?
It matters little what happens there, we here you cry, for Leipzig are certain to see off second from bottom Ingolstadt, a team devoid of points in their previous two outings. If we encouraged you to go on with your train of argument, you might say that Leipzig are unbeaten in their last five, four of which have brought maximum points while coach Ralph Hasenhüttl is one win shy of leading his team to a record number of victories (20) for a newly promoted team. Wise words indeed. However, we urge you to cast your mind back to Matchday 14, when last place hosted first. That was the day Ingolstadt inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Saxony-based surprise package Leipzig, a game in which they also failed to score for the first time in the Bundesliga. The plot thickens, eh Watson?
More numbers next week!