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This has to be one of the oddest seasons in the history of Germany's Bundesliga. There will be plenty of words written about how the Premier League is having a terrible performance in Europe this season (I wrote about it last week, too), but we shouldn't let England's problems overshadow the success elsewhere.

Bayer Leverkusen haven't lost a match this season and wrapped up the league title last week. This week, they knocked West Ham United out of the Europa League, a competition in which Leverkusen should be favored to win at this point.

Despite their struggles in league play, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have shown remarkable resilience in European competitions. This year's iteration of Bayern are probably the worst of the century (if not longer), but still managed to knock Arsenal out of the Champions League. Similarly, Borussia Dortmund, a club that has been tripping over its own feet in league play, took out Atletico Madrid. 

Using European competitions isn't the best way to measure a league's strength, though it is the easiest since they're in direct competition with each other. Right now, those weeknight matches are doing a lot to help the Bundesliga save face.

It's possible Leverkusen will win the Europa League, while Bayern and Dortmund will meet in the Champions League final. It's also possible I'll end the coldest soccer betting streak of my life this weekend.

Which scenario is more likely? I have to go with Germany's domination, but don't let my pessimism keep you from reading further.

Hellas Verona vs. Udinese

Date: Saturday, April 20 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Here's a question you don't get asked much: Have you been paying attention to the relegation battle in Serie A? It's thrilling! While the top of the league is settled for the most part, only one of the three relegation spots is secure, as Salernitana would need the miracle of miracles to survive. But the teams from 15th to 19th place are separated by only two points, and not even 13th-place Lecce should feel comfortable, as they're only six points above the drop zone.

Verona and Udinese enter the weekend with 28 points, tied with Empoli and one point above 18th-place Frosinone. This is a huge match for both, and while stereotypes about Italian soccer are largely outdated, I don't care what country you're playing in, when it comes to these six-pointers at the bottom of the table late in the season, teams get extremely conservative. Nobody wants to make the mistake that leads to relegation. Neither of these teams are potent in attack, and both will keep things close to the vest in this spot. The Pick: Under 2.5 (-140)

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Date: Sunday, April 21 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET | Watch: ESPN2

There's a reason you don't see teams going through entire seasons undefeated very often: it's really freaking hard to do. Bayern Leverkusen are trying to do so, but it's far more likely they'll lose a match than they won't. And if ever there was a spot for them to lose concentration, this feels like it. As I mentioned earlier, last week's win over Werder Bremen clinched the league. Four days later, Leverkusen were in London in a tight battle with West Ham to advance to the next round of the Europa League.

This team must be getting tired mentally, and nobody would blame them if they relaxed. Toss in the fact that this match is being played at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park, a very difficult place to play, and that Dortmund is in a dogfight with Leipzig for a Champions League spot (it's likely the Bundesliga will get five spots next year, but it's not a certainty), and I can see the home team dashing Leverkusen's invincible dream. The Pick: Borussia Dortmund (+140)

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Date: Sunday, April 21 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: ESPN+

The odds of Barcelona catching Real Madrid in La Liga are slim to none, and they'll be much closer to none if Barcelona don't come away with three points this weekend. We've talked about Leverkusen's unbeaten run, and it's overshadowed the fact Real Madrid have lost only twice all year, and both losses came to Atletico Madrid (once in league play and once in the Copa del Rey).

Neither loss came against Barcelona, which Madrid have beaten twice this season, outscoring the Blaugrana 6-2. I don't estimate things will look much different in the third meeting. Barcelona's overall numbers on the road this season are solid, but when you look closer, you see matches against lesser competition skew the numbers. Typically speaking, the better the team Barca have faced on the road, the worse they've performed. The Pick: Real Madrid (-115)

Weekend Parlay

It'd be super cool if this week's parlay hit. It pays +146.

  • RB Leipzig (-250)
  • Girona (-265)
  • Sporting Lisbon (-360)


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