Greuther Fürth 2.35, the draw 3.45, Hannover 96 2.85
Frank Kramer’s Clovers have been on top of the world this week - the top of the world in Franconia, that is. The derby win at Nürnberg has done much to sooth Fürth’s bruised egos and salvage a bit of pride after a disheartening debut season in the top flight. The match on Friday night offers up the penultimate chance to register their first ever win in the Bundesliga, and they will therefore be more motivated than the visitors, who have looked strangely apathic (four wins in 15 in all competitions) since the winter break. Johan Djourou has lost his starting place to Karim Haggui at the back for 96 but that in itself won’t be enough for them to get a point. A historic first for Fürth can happen here.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1.42, the draw 4.40, Werder Bremen 7.60
Werder are teetering on the brink. Manager Thomas Schaaf will see out the campaign but there’s a chance that new sporting director Thomas Eichin will soon pull the plug on the longest-serving manager in the Bundesliga. The northerners are still a little light in central midfield due to injuries, while Chelsea loanee Kevin De Bruyne, their most consistent performer this season, is doubtful after pulling out of training on Thursday. Their cause will not be helped by the fact that attackers Arnautovic and Elia have been suspended after being caught speeding on Thursday night. Leverkusen, are in a much happier place. With third spot all but guaranteed, they can play with confidence. A home win, for sure.
VfL Wolfsburg 2.20, the draw 3.40, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3.20
Wolves coach Dieter Hecking will be in no rush to make changes in the wake of his side’s excellent 3-0 away win at Werder last week. There’s a chance that defender Simon Kjaer and holding midfielder Jan Polak won’t make it, which would make it more difficult for them to keep a clean sheet. The Foals are trying to register back-to-back Bundesliga wins for the first time this season. Coach Lucien Favre will once again pick midfielder Granit Xhaka, who’s finally started to play well after his move from Basel. Gladbach are good enough for the away win.
TSG Hoffenheim 1.95, the draw 3.40, 1.FC Nürnberg 3.90
Nürnberg are hurting after their 1-0 derby defeat at home to Fürth - expect a strong reaction from them. But Michael Wiesinger can’t play his strongest team: his best two centre-backs, Per Nilsson (suspended) and Timm Klose (concussion), are both out. Hoffenheim need to win this game in order to make it to the play-off spot, and their attacking game will leave gaps in front of a fairly ordinary back four. Nürnberg will take a point.
FC Bayern Munich 1.22, the draw 6.25, SC Freiburg 12.00
Okay, you know the drill by now. Bayern have won 35366 games in row. Jupp Heynckes will make plenty of changes to rest tired legs and will play assistant coach Hermann “Tiger” Gerland in the enforcer role in central midfield. (He won’t really.) After the highs of the 4-0 defeat of Barcelona, Freiburg’s pressing game will make it uncomfortable for Bayern, but who in their right mind would bet against them continuing their 100 per cent record in the league since the winter break? I certainly wouldn’t. The odds are so short, however, that betting on plenty of goals would be the wiser move.
FC Augsburg 2.15, the draw 3.40, VfB Stuttgart 3.30
No changes for either side, apart from Klingon defender Ragnar Klavan returning to the Augsburg defence after his suspension. What? Oh, he’s actually Estonian. Big deal. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Augsburg: still down, but still not out. Markus Weinzierl has a big chance to get out of the drop zone with a win against Bruno Labbadia’s side. Unfortunately for Weinzierl, Stuttgart have belatedly found consistency with three wins in as many games. The Swabians love playing on the counter and should pick up another win here.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 4.70, the draw 3.75, Borussia Dortmund 1.70
Andreas Lambertz, the captain of Fortuna, has promised that his team won’t be involved in the relegation play-offs again this season. The form guide suggests otherwise, though: Norbert Meier’s men haven’t won any of their last eight games. Dortmund come into this game on the back of the fantastic 4-1 win over Real Madrid but overwhelmed by rumours. Lewandowski to Bayern, Hummels to Barca, Gündogan to Man Utd, Mario Gomez having a medical at a Dortmund hospital? “I’m cool, let’s chill,” said Jürgen Klopp. He’ll rest a few players, of course, but BVB will win anyway.
Mainz 05 2.00, the draw 3.40, Eintracht Frankfurt 3.70
Both sides will be able to play strong teams after the return of key injured players. Mainz need to put a stop to a run of three defeats but Frankfurt won’t be overawed by the home side’s pressing game. Thomas Tuchel’s team aren’t exactly easy on the eye but they’re effective, especially when it comes to flooding the midfield. Seven of their last ten games have produced two or fewer goals, so getting on the unders looks like a cute way to get involved here.
Schalke 04 1.60, the draw 3.70, Hamburger SV 5.95
There’s an outside chance that Schalke winger Jefferson Farfan might be fit in time. If that’s the case, Julian Draxler would be able to move into the number ten spot, where he’s most effective. The S04 players were criticised for not wanting it enough by sporting director Horst Heldt when they lost 1-0 at Frankfurt last week. In order to defend fourth spot, they need to show a lot more commitment - there’s no doubt that they are the better side compared with Thorsten Fink’s gang. HSV go into this one on the back of good wins at Mainz and at home to Düsseldorf but no Dennis Diekmeier on the right side of defence spells trouble. Home win.