Borussia Mönchengladbach - Eintracht Braunschweig
Captain Filip Daems is doubtful for the Foals but Oscar Wendt could do a decent job on the left side of defence, too. Lucien Favre doesn’t have any other injury problems to worry about. The Swiss manager will rely on Borussia’s good home-form - two wins in two - agains Thorsten Lieberknecht’s relegation favourites. Braunschweig are likely to field a very defensive formation with three holding midfielders, and confidence will just be that little bit higher after they managed to claim the first point of the campaign v Nürnberg last Sunday. The odds for Gladbach are short, so I’d recommend over 2.5 (1.78) instead - their first five matches have brought 23 goals in total.
1. FC Nürnberg - Borussia Dortmund
Everything that could have gone wrong for Borussia in Naples did but how will they react after their horror show at the San Paolo? Mats Hummels is doubtful after getting kneed in the back, Sokratis might not be fit enough for play either. That would leave Sven Bender as a makeshift defender - and a midfield without a defensive specialist. (Captain Sebastian Kehl is also out) Nürnberg, who held the visitors to a 1-1 draw in the same fixture twelve months ago, have also experienced a rocky build-up. Coach Michael Wiesinger’s job prospects have become the subject of speculation in Franconia and veteran Hanno Balitsch has been banished to the stand because of poor form. Take the home side in the double chance at 3.1.
Hamburger SV - Werder Bremen
It’s the “Nordderby” - and the meeting of two clubs in crisis. Hamburg are without a manager after getting rid of Thorsten Fink, former HSV player Rodolfo Cardoso will be on the bench as interim manager. Bremen are without Franco Di Santo (suspended after a red card), Nils Petersen should be up front in his place. (He’s much better, in any case). Confidence is extremely low on both sides, to this one could be decided by whoever strikes first. Hamburg will be favourites due to home advantage and their excellent support but they are too short considering their shambolic performances. There’s better value to go with Werder DNB at 2.67.
Hannover 96 - FC Augsburg
Hannover played some good stuff in the 2-0 defeat in Munich last week and are always strong at home. The return of playmaker Szabolcs Huszti should also make it easier for them to break down a spirited side who are high on confidence after three wins in a row. Markus Weinzierl is expected to persist with the starting XI from last week’s win over Freiburg but I can’t see past a Hannover win (2.4) , even if the absence of their key striker Mame Diouf is taken into account.
Mainz 05 - Bayer Leverkusen
It’s a tough assignment for Leverkusen. “Physical power is always a factor,” said Bayer striker Stefan Kiessling when asked about the trip to the Coface-Arena in the Old Trafford mixed-zone. All Bayer players insisted that the 4-2 defeat v Man Utd would not damage them mentally nor take away from the focus on the Mainz game. Thomas Tuchel’s men lost 1-0 at home to Schalke last week, lacking firepower up front. That story could repeat itself against a side who can defend much better than they did on Tuesday night. I like under 2.5 at 2.15.
VfL Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
Luiz Gustavo misses yet another again for Wolves due to suspension. Ivan Perisic, a more attacking midfielder, is likely to replace the Brazilian in midfield. Up front, coach Dieter Hecking has experimented with Vierinha as a centre-forward in training but Ivica Olic should keep his place. Wolfsburg strong form at home (two wins in two) makes them appear as strong favourites but both teams are on very similar level in terms of quality. Markus Gisdol still can’t play the creative fulcrum Roberto Firmino but in Kevin Volland, he’s got one of the best German strikers at the moment (four goals in four games). The visitors have their tails up in the wake of their 2-1 win over Gladbach and will cause problems at the Volkswagenarena. 1.92 in the double chance is a fantastic price for them.
Schalke 04 - Bayern Munich
Schalke have lost their last five league games against the champions, without scoring so much as one goal in the last four. “We need to rectify that,” said sporting director Horst Heldt. His players were careful not to sound too boisterous, however - their 3-0 win over a poor Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League was convincing, but not much more. Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to start from the bench again, so Philipp Lahm will keep his place in midfield. Rafinha’s inclusion as right-back will please Schalke youngster Julian Draxler. Schalke will create chances but can’t expect to keep a clean sheet either, their full-backs in particular are ill-equipped to deal with Robben and Ribery. Bayern will come out on top (1.54).
SC Freiburg - Hertha BSC
Freiburg started brilliantly against Slovan Liberec on Thursday night but somehow ended up with a disappointing 2-2 draw after calamitous mistakes at the back. Manager Christian Streich fears that their tough run in the league (only two points) might continue. “This won’t be the last blow for us,” he said. Hertha will finally be able to field Sebastian Langkamp in defence again, he makes a big difference to the side. Another positive effect of Langkamp’s return: Fabian Lustenberger, the captain, can assume his regular role in midfield. The home side are too unsettled to turn it around against Jos Luhukay’s well-organised team. Take Hertha DNB at 2.02.
VfB Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
After party time in the Europa League, it’s back to Bundesliga reality for Frankfurt. Will they be able to handle it? “Mentally, it will be difficult to play these kind of Bundesliga games,” admitted Armin Veh after his side destroyed Bordeaux 3-0 in the heaving Commerzbank-Arena. The visitors have also injury problems: midfielder Sebastian Rode will probably miss the game; Alex Meier, Jan Rosenthal and Bastian Oczipka are definitely out. Stuttgart can’t field Moritz Leitner in midfield but should be the fresher side. The Swabians, 1-0 winners at Hertha, look like they have turned a corner under coach Thomas Schneider. Stutttgart to win (2.2).
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