TSV Mainz 05 - TSG Hoffenheim
Hoffe are at it again: the league’s “goaliest” team from last season played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Freiburg on Tuesday. Mainz, too, come into the game off a high-scoring draw (2-2 in the derby at Frankfurt). The visitors have more fire-power now that Kevin Volland is back in the fold but Mainz have exactly the same goal tally (F9 A5) which suggests that goals will be the order of the day here as well. I like over 3.5 at 2.50.
Schalke 04 - Borussia Dortmund
It’s the 145th Ruhr derby - and it will be feisty. Mats Hummels and Benedikt Höwedes, the two captains, have issued a plea for peace but it will be heated affair, on and off the pitch. Schalke have steadied the ship somewhat with a 3-0 win at Werder but Jens Keller knows that he’s only ever one convincing defeat away from being at the centre of the debate again.
The S04 coach needs to decide whether he’ll play Kevin-Prince Boateng; Julian Draxler remains suspended. Hummels should be fit enough to start for a Dortmund team under pressure to win in the wake of the 2-2 draw with Stuttgart. Dortmund’s superior tactics should win the day at 2.05.
SC Freiburg - Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Christian Streich’s men have been in fine form. Unfortunately, very late goals by Hertha (2-2) and Hoffenheim (3-3) have robbed them of four points. They have to take on Leverkusen without midfielder Vladimir Darida, who was sent off for a reckless bicycle kick in the Hoffenheim draw. Roger Schmidt’s team desperately needed the 1-0 win over Augsburg after three games without a win. Leverkusen didn’t set the world alight, though, and it will be similarly hard task to break down Freiburg here. Worth gambling on under 0.5 goals at half-time at 3.55.
VfB Stuttgart - Hannover 96
Sporting director Fredi Bobic has been dismissed, Jens Lehmann might become his successor. Stuttgart played very well at Dortmund but it’s probably simplistic to see an obvious connection between these things. At home, they tend to struggle against well-organised, fairly deep opposition and Hannover will certainly cause problems in that respect. I’m a huge fan of Daniel Didavi. The Stuttgart midfielder scored twice against the Black & Yellows and his shots from distance will be an appropriate weapon on Saturday as well. You can get 3.95 for him being on the scoresheet again.
1. FC Köln - Bayern Munich
Köln’s series of four clean sheets found an end in the 1-0 defeat at Hannover in midweek. Not conceding goals is one thing, not scoring them another: Peter Stöger’s men have only found the net two times in five attempts. A Bayern team who might have to make do without Mehdi Benatia and Jérôme Boateng - both have muscle problems, according to sporting director Matthias Sammer - might present the home side with an opportunity to rectify that.
But the Bavarians have looked much more dangerous now that Arjen Robben is back in the squad. There will be some rotation, so perhaps Köln can hold out for a draw or low-scoring defeat. Under 2.5 goals is at 2.23.
SC Paderborn - Borussia Mönchengladbach
It was fun while it lasted. Paderborn, unlikely league leaders before their 4-0 drubbing in Munich, plunged six places to seventh but are still well ahead of schedule, points-wise. “You wouldn’t expect getting anything from playing either, normally” said coach André Breitenreiter. But his side is capable of upsets. Gladbach have more class but struggle to bring to it bear at times. The Foals won’t necessarily run away with it at the Benteler Arena either. I’d still take them at DNB at 1.52.
VfL Wolfsburg - Werder Bremen
It’s the small northern derby - and a game of two under-pressure teams. Werder are once again flirting with relegation, that much has been made clear by the 3-0 home defeat v Schalke. Wolfsburg have played much better football on the whole but five points from five games point to deficiencies in defence as well as in front of goal. There should be plenty of goal-mouth action in this one. Over 3.5 strikes is at 2.02.
Raphael’s previews for Sunday’s two matches will be published over the weekend
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