Hannover 96 - Hertha BSC
Friday night’s fixture at the HDI-Arena is one of these rare occasion where both sides are happy to play at Hannover. The Mirko Slomka-coached side have won all four games in Lower Saxony this season and always play that much stronger at home. Hertha will be relieved to be away from their own Olympic stadium since there’s tension with some sections of the fans, the good start to the season by Jos Luhukay’s men notwithstanding. Watch out for team news: if Ya Konan (hamstring) can’t play, Hannover will be thin up front - Mame Diouf is out with a thigh strain. Hertha have good options in attacking midfield. Unless Ya Konan recovers, it will make sense to oppose Hannover (for once). Take the Berliners on the double chance at 1.55.
VfB Stuttgart - Werder Bremen
It’s a rare Saturday outing for the Swabians who have made up good ground since Thomas Schneider took over from Bruno Labbadia. Bremen should have never thrown away their 2-0 and 3-2 lead to draw 3-3 at home to Nürnberg last week but the game showed that Robin Dutt still has some way to go to sort out the notoriously leaky defence. The visitors are weakened by injuries to defender Lukimya and defensive midfielder Cedrick Makiadi, Sebastian Prödl and Felix Kroos will come in for them. Stuttgart still have Thorsten Kirschbaum standing in for the injured keeper Sven Ulreich but no other serious issues. Back VfB at 1.72.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - Borussia Dortmund
It’s 7th v 1st but the two Borussias are not that far apart - the Foals carelessly dropped two points away to Augsburg that would have seen climb to the fourth spot. Midfielder Granti Xhaka will come back after his suspension, more changes are not anticipated from Lucien Favre’s side. Jürgen Klopp will mix it up a little: Blaszczykowski will probably come in to allow tired legs a rest. Dortmund expended a lot of energy in their 3-0 win over Marseille in midweek. This is the sort of game they couldn’t win last season and Gladbach with a 2-0 start is a fantastic price at 1.34.
Mainz 05 - TSG Hoffenheim
Both sides have the exact number of points (9) from seven games but Mainz scored less and conceded more goals. While Mainz have lost four in a row in the league (plus their cup game v Köln), Hoffenheim have shown classic mid-table inconsistency, especially away from home. In terms of available personnel and squad depth, Markus Gisdol’s team are in better shape. Take TSG at DNB 2.06.
Schalke 04 - FC Augsburg
The Royal Blues came away with an excellent 1-0 win at Basel in midweek to ease the pressure on manager Jens Keller (for the time being) The bad news is that winger Jefferson Farfan will be out for a month, so Max Meyer (18) will have to fill in for him. In attack, Adam Szalai is ready to play again. Augsburg can field their strongest XI and Markus Weinzier’s team have had a great start to the season (10 points from seven games) but they’ll come unstuck here. Schalke to win at 1.75.
VfL Wolfsburg - Eintracht Braunschweig
It’s the first Lower Saxony derby in the top flight - and “the easiest game of the season for Braunschweig,” according to Wolves coach Dieter Hecking. That’s one way to look it. The table tells a different story, though. Eintracht have only won one point so far and manager Thorsten Lieberknecht himself seemed to suggest that a change was needed to stop the rot. Hecking, however, feels that this was just a clever ploy to take pressure of the team. Braunschweig hope that striker Dombi Kumbela will recover from flu (he’s on antibiotics) but it’s hard to feel confident about their chances. Take Wolfsburg at -1 for 1.77.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bayern Munich
Both sides won in the Champions League but Leverkusen’s last-minute 2-1 v Real Sociedad wasn’t quite as impressive as Bayern’s 3-1 demolition of Man City at the Etihad. There are no new injury worries for Sami Hyypiä. If he’ll make any changes, it’ll be at the back, simply to keep things fresh. Pep Guardiola could be forced to play without right-back Rafinha - Philipp Lahm might have to move back into his traditional position. Up front, Mandzukic is expected to come back in for Müller. Leverkusen, with their defensive midfield and excellent counter-attacking set-up, are exactly the sort of side that could cause Bayern trouble, but the visitor’s form is just too good at the moment. In view of Bayern’s short-odds, I’d recommend taking both sides to score at 1.53.
FC Nürnberg - Hamburger SV
Bert van Marwijk needed a lot of luck (last minute equaliser by Marcell Jansen) to rescue a point in his first game in charge (2-2 at Frankfurt). The result has done enough to lower a bit of pressure. Hamburg are expected to field an unchanged side, while Nürnberg should be stronger due to the return of Markus Feulner (midfield) and Per Nilsson (centre-back) to the starting XI. The northerners won’t be beaten at the Frankenstadion. 1.50 on the double chance.
SC Freiburg - Eintracht Frankfurt
Christian Streich’s problems are mounting. They lost again in the Europa League (2-0 at Seville) and have still only won one game this season (v Stuttgart in the DFB Cup). To make matters worse, Freiburg’s best defender Fallou Diagne is suspended. Jan Rosenthal and Alex Meier are unlikely to get fit in time for Frankfurt but Armin Veh’s team has shown that they can cope with international action well. They played well in the 3-0 win at Apoel Nicosia on Thursday. Freiburg’s troubles will continue. Frankfurt DNB at 1.75.
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