Hertha BSC - Werder Bremen
Werder keeper Raphael Wolf has conceded eleven goals since taking over from Sebastian Mielitz two weeks ago. (4-4 v Hoffenheim, 7-0 v Bayern). The vistors’ coach Robin Dutt can take some solace from the fact that Hertha have only scored one goal at home in the last four games at the Olympiastadion, but his team’s performances haven’t provided much encouragement. Hertha are going for an attacking line-up and will try to take advantage of Werder’s insecurity from the get-go. I like them at 2.14 to be winning at half-time.
Augsburg - Eintracht Braunschweig
Torsten Lieberknecht is still hopeful of avoiding the drop but injury problems don’t make the task any easier. Defenders Ken Reichel (knee) and Timo Perthel (suspended) are definitely out, centre-backs Deniz Dogan (hip) and Ermin Bicakcic (broken nose) are both doubtful. Augsburg have been in excellent form. Only Bayern, Dortmund and Wolfsburg have beaten them at home. Take them at 1.48.
FC Bayern Munich - Hamburger SV
6-0, 5-0, 9-2: the scorelines from Hamburg’s last three visits to the Allianz Arena. It might not be a bad game for Rene Adler to miss; the HSV keeper is out with an ankle injury. Maxi Beister (suspended) and Ivo Ilicevic (personal reasons) and Heiko Westermann (knee) are also unavailable. For Bayern, Jerome Boateng (suspended) will be replaced by Daniel van Buyten. Pep’s men will desperate for a good performance after not covering themselves in glory in the 3-2 defeat by Man City. With Michael Mancienne in as right-back for the away team, another drubbing awaits. Bayern at -2 (1.74).
Hannover 96 - 1. FC Nürnberg
The fifth-best team at home (5 wins, 2 draws, one defeat) hosts Gertjan Verbeek’s still winless side. Nürnberg are improving all the time but the results haven’t, sadly. “There’s fun in training, you can see a development,” said Verbeek, who also joked about a lack of pressure on the Franconians. “We already have the record (of 15 games without a win)”. There’s still pressure on his opposite number, too. Hannover have won only one of the last ten games under Mirko Slomka. Nürnberg are good enough to get a point. X2 at 1.78.
TSG Hoffenheim - Borussia Dortmund
Jens Grahl should keep his place in goal after the 2-1 win at Frankfurt last week. TSG coach Markus Gisdol has a lot of options in midfield and might well introduce the more defensive Tobias Strobl to provide some cover for the shaky defence. Dortmund, fresh from their dramatic win in Marseille, are determined to “press everything out of the last few games” before the winter break, according to Jürgen Klopp. The BVB coach wants to avoid “crappy headlines” but will have re-jig his heavily depleted defence again. Sokratis, the best man, is suspended. Hoffenheim are in with a shot here. 2.02 on the double chance.
Mainz 05 - Borussia Mönchengladbach
The fourth-placed Foals - only goal-difference separates them from Dortmund - have won six games in a row and can count on Max Kruse - he’s overcome a minor injury problem. Lucien Favre’s in-form side will be unchanged at the Coface-Arena. Mainz were a little unlucky to come away with only a draw at Nürnberg but aren’t strong enough to win here. Gladbach at DNB 1.73.
VfL Wolfsburg - VfB Stuttgart
Dieter Hecking is sweating on the fitness of defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo; the Brazilian has a groin problem, just like compatriot Diego. Without those two, quite a bit of class would be missing. Stuttgart look to be unchanged after an eventful 4-2 win over Hannover. The home side have been on a great run - five wins in seven league games - but it’ll be worth having a look at the team news. If the Brazilians don’t make it, Stuttgart at X2 (2.04) is the smart option.
Schalke 04 - SC Freiburg
“One win doesn’t change everything,” said Horst Heldt after Schalke’s 2-0 over Basel in midweek. Translation: coach Jens Keller could still be fired in the winter break. This is the sort of game that the Royal Blues must win in order to get closer to the Champions League places. Freiburg are in disarray defensively and definitely beatable, but the absence of Julian Draxler (hamstring) deprives them of one of their best players in the attacking third. I tip Schalke, but without great confidence. Under 2.5 at 2.55.
Bayer Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
Sami Hyypiä’s team had a fantastic week with three wins in three competitions. At the Bay-Arena on Sunday, the best-ever second-placed team after 15 matches are strong favourites to add three more points to the board. Frankfurt did rest some players in their dead rubber against Nicosia on Thursday, but freshness alone won’t help them. Leverkusen at 1.5.
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