Last season Schalke04 and Hamburg were separated by only seven points at the end of the year, but those points were crucial as Schalke04 is now playing for the Champions League while Hamburg won’t even make Europa League. Both teams are counting on a strong start in 2013 but one of them will have their hopes crushed.
Bet: Hamburg +1.5 goals
Odds: Pinnacle Sports 1.72
Schalke04 played no less than 10 friendly games after the domestic championship ended, winning nine of them and losing just one to Salzburg. The numbers are impressive and they explain why the hosts are regarded as overwhelming favorites to win tonight, despite the fact that the two teams were evenly matched in previous encounters. The trick is that Schalke04 carefully chose its opponents and competed mostly against teams from lower German leagues or week opponents from abroad.
By contrast, Hamburg played against former Champions League winners and lost to Bayern Munchen while drawing at home with Inter Milan. Coach Fink is trying to build a team from scratch and he did a fine job at reinforcing the midfield and defense, but has few options up front. Rudnevs and Zoua are expected to pair up in the attack after they scored a combined three goals in the last friendly game. On the bright side, the midfield features no less than 15 players including Rafael van der Vaart and Jiracek who don’t hesitate to advance when the opportunity arises.
Schalke04 has a slightly better team and definitely one more offensive minded, but this doesn’t warrant odds of 1.50 a home victory. On the other hand, there is plenty of value in the 1.72 presented by Pinnacle Sports for Hamburg not to lose by two goals or more.