Second-place Werder welcome third-placed Schalke in the Bundeliga

Second place Werder welcome third placed Schalke in the BundeligaWerder Bremen v Schalke, Bundesliga, December 12, 2009

Werder Bremen 17/20; Draw 23/10; Schalke 29/10

The teams in second and third in the German Bundesliga face off with both teams three points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen. With a resurgent Bayern Munich just a point behind in fourth, this match could have far reaching consequences for the title race.

Bremen (5/1 to win the Bundesliga) are on a great run and this is set to be a tough match for Felix Magath’s Schalke side (8/1 to win the Bundesliga). After losing their opening game of the campaign, Werder are unbeaten in 23 matches in all competitions and are currently the top goal scorers in the Bundesliga with 31 in 15 matches.

Although Claudio Pizarro may be the top goal scorer at the club this season the main man is undoubtedly Mesut Ozil. (Werder are 4/7 to score first.) The young playmaker has stepped into the boots of the departed Diego and has been the catalyst behind the sides title challenge. Seven goals and nine assists in 18 appearances this season tells its own story and Schalke will hope the pre-match reports that he is a doubt for the match are true.

Fellow forward Aaron Hunt, who has been in excellent form this season, is also not certain to play but Bremen do have goalkeeper Tim Wiese and striker Claudio Pizarro available after overcoming illness and injury respectively. (Werder are 19/10 to win to nil.)

Schalke also come into this match in decent form after beating Hertha Berlin 2-0 (18/1 to repeat that scoreline) last week. Their main man this season has undoubtedly been striker Kevin Kuranyi. The veteran hitman has scored seven goals and is second behind Bayer Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling in the top goal scorers table of the Bundesliga.

Felix Magath’s side have quality throughout. Manuel Neuer is a class act in goal (Schalke are 17/5 to keep a clean sheet), Heiko Westermann is a solid defender and up front Jefferson Farfan and Kuranyi are a dangerous pair. Westermann in particular will be key as centre back Marcelo Bordon is suspended for this match.

Last season there were only three goals in the two Bundesliga matches between these two sides. (21/20 to be under 2.5 goals in the match.) Werder Bremen will though remember fondly their 5-1 mauling of Schalke in April 2008 and there could be plenty of goals in this one. (7/10 to be over 2.5 goals in the match.)

101gg predicts: Werder Bremen 3 – Schalke 2 (20/1)

Werder Bremen 17/20; Draw 23/10; Schalke 29/10

Full match odds here.