Bayern Munich 1.12, the draw 9.50, Borussia Mönchengladbach 17.00
The Pep era gets underway in earnest in Friday night’s curtain-raiser at the Allianz Arena. If the final of pre-season Telekom Cup is anything to go by, it’ll be a one-sided affair: Bayern beat the Foals 5-1 on that occasion. But Gladbach, despite suffering a DFB Cup upset at third-division Darmstadt last weekend, will be quite hard to beat - Lucien Favre is the master of putting out counter-attacking teams, especially against Bayern. (Last season, the Bavarians only mustered a 1-1 draw at home.) The home side are likely to without new signing Thiago in midfield but won’t worry too much about that. Gladbach don’t have any significant injury problems either. A sizable section of the Bayern fans are unhappy about new security measures, so the atmosphere might suffer a bit. That slow start makes X/1 for half-time/full-time (4.4) a juicy bet.
Bayer Leverkusen 1.45, the draw 4.30, SC Freiburg 7.15
Former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin is set to start for the away side, who have had to make wholesale changes after the departure of half a dozen of regulars. Leverkusen, who have brought in exciting South Korean midfielder Heung-Min Son for Andre Schürrle, are always happier to play against more attacking sides. There’ll be plenty of hard-pressing from the visitors, and probably not that many goals. I like the Under 2.5 at 2.20.
FC Augsburg 7.25, the draw 4.30, Borussia Dortmund 1.42
Dortmund look very strong and have managed to gather a sense of momentum before the league has even started. Mario Götze replacement Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be missing from the line-up with injury, but French signing Pierre Aubameyang could feature on the right side of attacking midfield. Ilkay Gündogan, outstanding in pre-season, will move into the playmaker slot. The home side have to get used to life without Dong Won-Ji and Ja-Cheol Koo, who were key players last season. Don’t be surprised if Markus Weinzierl’s boys find themselves at the bottom of the table from the outset. This should be a high-scoring win for Dortmund. Take Over 2.5 for the away team (2.75).
Hannover 96 2.60, the draw 3.40, VfL Wolfsburg 2.60
The two teams from Lower Saxony are hard to split, as evidenced by the odds. 96 key striker Mame Diouf has been a little unsettled in pre-season, while there’s new optimism at Wolfsburg, who are slowly but surely getting rid of tons of the dead wood bought by former manager Felix Magath. Wolfsburg DNB at 1.85 looks like a great way to tackle this match.
Hertha BSC 2.30, the draw 3.40, Eintracht Frankfurt 2.95
It’s amazing to think that Frankfurt finished in sixth place without a functioning forward line last season. Armin Veh’s team has brought in Jan Rosenthal and Joselu to relieve veteran midfielder Alex Meier of the pressure of goal-scoring. On paper, they look a better side. The odds on an away win (2.95) at newly promoted Hertha look incredibly generous. The club from Berlin should have little problem staying up but might take some time to adjust their attacking game to the demands of the top flight. Frankfurt can capitalise (lame pun intended) at the Olympic stadium.
TSG Hoffenheim 2.10, the draw 3.35, 1. FC Nürnberg 3.45
A DFB Cup defeat at second-division Sandhausen (on penalties) has upset Nürnberg’s preparations but they’re still a useful side adept at getting results, especially at a place like Hoffenheim. The home team has not yet managed to fully integrate some of their new signings, like highly-rated striker Anthony Modeste. Aston Villa target Hiroshi Kiyotake will pull the strings for the visitors, who are underrated at 3.45 for the away win. Alternatively, taking them in the Double Chance market at 1.67 is a more cautious way to profit.
Eintracht Braunschweig 3.00, the draw 3.40, Werder Bremen 2.30
A veritable horror show from Werder in the cup (defeated by third-division Saarbrücken) was the worst possible start to Robin Dutt’s managerial career. The game suggested that it will take a lot of time for the team to understand the principles of proper defending after a decade and a half of Thomas Schaaf’s reign. But in midfield and in attack, Werder have real quality. The enthusiasm of the crowd in Braunschweig’s first Bundesliga game in 28 years will provide a stern test for the visitors, but their quality should come through. Take the away win at 2.3.
Mainz 05 2.35, the draw 3.40, VfB Stuttgart 2.90
There was some feel-good factor at Stuttgart earlier this summer, but Bruno Labbadia’s cautious words (“it’s not as if we signed Messi and Neymar”) have put a dampener on things, along with an unconvincing, nervy Europa League tie with Plovdiv of Bulgaria (1-1, 0-0). The good news is that striker Vedad Ibisevic should recover in time to start for the visitors, who are probably happier to play away from home - creating chances from open play remains a problem. Mainz will press and hustle but goals will be at a premium. Back Under 2.5 at 1.90.
Schalke 04 1.45, the draw 4.40, Hamburger SV 6.70
The Royal Blues have enjoyed a quiet, settled pre-season without any noteworthy problems. And they look very strong, with new teenage sensation Leon Goretzka and Julian Draxler in midfield behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The home side are huge favourites to win their opener against a Hamburg team who rely too much on Rafael van der Vaart and come into this match with a bit of trepidation. Austrian defender Paul Scharner, of Wigan fame, has threatened “warfare” against the club and was banished to the U23s recently. Home win, no doubt.