Hamburger SV - Bayer Leverkusen
The home side are fighting for their lives. The support in the Imtech Arena should be great on Friday night, the spirit has been good as well in recent weeks, but one look at the expected line-up tells you why HSV are in such bad shape: the defence is badly depleted and main striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is out injured.
Leverkusen are at the other side of the table and yet, they’ve been in crisis, too.
Sami Hyypiä’s side have won only two league games since the winter break. The poor results have put a big question mark behind the Finn’s future on the Bayer bench. Leverkusen are still favourites but HSV’s determination could see them win a point. The draw is 3.50.
VfB Stuttgart - SC Freiburg
The “little” Baden-Württemberg derby (as VfB sporting director Fredi Bobic called it) is usually not as heated as Stuttgart v Karlsruhe. This time, it’ll be different.
Both sides are battling to avoid the drop, and a capacity crowd of 55,000 people are expected at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena on Saturday afternoon. Freiburg will feel confident after their 3-2 win over Nürnberg whereas the Swabians were a bit unlucky to lose 3-2 to Dortmund at home last week.
Karim Haggui will come in for the suspended Georg Niedermeier for the home side; Christian Streich will field Gelson Fernandes for the suspended Julian Schuster in midfield. Neither team look solid at the back so it’ll be lively. Over 2.5 goals is 1.75.
Werder Bremen - Schalke 04
Werder’s last-minute 2-1 win at Hannover enabled Robin Dutt and his men to breathe a lot easier. Bremen (12th, eight points clear of the relegation places) have probably done enough to be safe this season. Dutt has no new injury worries ahead of the game against the Royal Blues, who have won four out of their last five Bundesliga games and have been in very decent form.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will lead the line; Kevin-Prince Boateng will come in as a number 10 because coach Jens Keller wants to give teenage prodigy Max Meyer a breather.
Schalke should have the upper hand and win at 1.95.
Nürnberg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Midfielders José Campana (injured) and Niklas Stark (suspended) miss out for Nürnberg, alongside defender Emanuel Pogatetz after his red card against Freiburg. Gertjan Verbeek might also be forced to replace centre-back Ondrej Petrak (ankle).
The Dutchman’s attacking style will leave plenty of space for Gladbach to enjoy. The Foals also need to make changes at the heart of defence, where Martin Stranzl will be missing. The Austrian picked up an ankle injury in the 3-1 win against Hamburg and will out for the rest of the season.
It should be a topsy-turvy affair, with over 2.5 goals at 1.85.
FC Augsburg - FC Bayern Munich
“I’m not sure if we need to put all our power into this game,” Arjen Robben said at Old Trafford when he was asked about the trip to the SGL Arena. Pep Guardiola, too, admitted that the Champions League second leg against Manchester United on Wednesday will take precedence over the Bundesliga fixture against Markus Weinzierl’s fellow Bavarians.
Bayern will rotate, once again, but will have to make do without the injured Diego Contento. The home side are without key winger André Hahn and one or two other strikers but they’ll probably find a way to score against a Bayern side with other things on their mind. Both teams to score is 1.80.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Mainz 05
Armin Veh will have Alex Meier and Marco Russ back for this derby. Thomas Tuchel is still sweating on the fitness of defender Nikolce Noveski.
The away team missed a big chance to make up ground in the race for a European space when they went down 3-1 at Braunschweig but that was only the second time this season they have lost two league games on the bounce.
They’re good enough to come back with an away win against their bigger neighbours at a price of 2.75.
Borussia Dortmund - VfL Wolfsburg
The demoralising 3-0 defeat at Real Madrid for Dortmund won’t have helped Wolves too much: Jürgen Klopp’s team will be determined to bounce back and there’s little reason to rest key players now that the tie is effectively over.
There are always a few bad vibes when these teams meet, as Dortmund see the Lower-Saxons as a somewhat artificial club and haven’t been shy to about their views. Injuries to Diego Benaglio (finger) and Timm Klose (ankle) won’t make life easier for the Dieter Hecking’s team in the Signal Iduna Park.
Take Dortmund to win quite big, with the hosts -1 at 2.33.
Eintracht Braunschweig - Hannover 96
“It’ll be an extreme game,” said Thorsten Lieberknecht ahead of the Lower Saxony derby. The build-up has been quite extreme alright: Braunschweig supporters strung up a dead lamb next to the 96 training ground this week.
The “Lions” as Braunschweig are known have belatedly found their teeth. The 3-1 win over Mainz gives them a fighting chance for survival. Quite a few players (Vrancic, Bicakcic, Bellarabi) are doubtful for Sunday though.
The visitors don’t have Manuel Schmiedbach (suspension) but they should have enough quality to emerge with all three points at a price of 2.60.
Hertha BSC - TSG Hoffenheim
Last week (3-3 in Munich), Hoffe took their total goal tally (goals scored and conceded) to 125 in 28 games this season. They can’t seem to get the balance between attack and defence right, but maybe they simply don’t care anymore now that they’re in mid-table with no place else to go.
Hertha are in a lean spell. They haven’t won any of their last six and only scored two goals in the process. Against Markus Gisdol’s perennially open side, they will surely get some joy but whether that’ll be enough is anyone’s guess. Over 2.5 goals is 1.53.
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