Bayern Munich - TSG Hoffenheim
Bayern are four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga but the international break brought mixed news in the way of injuries. Whilst Bastian Schweinsteiger finally looks ready to make his Bundesliga bow for the season, club captain Philipp Lahm fractured his ankle and will miss the next three months.
Hoffenheim certainly have the potential to hurt Bayern on the pitch. Going forward, the Champions will need to be wary of forward Roberto Firmino who scored on what was his first call up to the Brazil squad earlier this week. Even though Bayern will be missing their skipper, they should have enough but it shouldn’t be a thumping. Bayern to win 2-1 is 9.00.
Hannover 96 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Neither of these sides have been particularly consistent so far this season and yet both find themselves in the top six. Hannover have won their last three in the Bundesliga but hidden in between that was a dismal display in the cup as they were knocked out at second tier at Aalen.
Roger Schmidt’s Leverkusen have struggled to score of late, with just one goal in their last three games. The usually ever-reliable Stefan Kiessling is without a goal in over 13 hours, too. Both sides may just cancel each other out here with the draw at 3.50.
FSV Mainz 05 - SC Freiburg
It’s funny how runs of form can be framed – a month ago, Mainz had enjoyed an eight match unbeaten start to the season. Now, two losses and a draw later, its one win in seven. Either way, given that Kasper Hjulmand took over from Thomas Tuchel at the start of the season, a place in the top half is still laudable for Mainz.
Freiburg go to the Coface Arena off the back of two straight wins, against Cologne and Schalke respectively. They may just be toppled by Mainz on Saturday though, who are 2.10 to win.
SC Paderborn - Borussia Dortmund
Nine years ago, Paderborn were playing Borussia Dortmund’s second team in the fourth tier of German football. On Saturday, they play the first team with the pressure off after an excellent start to the season by André Breitenreiter’s side.
As for BVB, they will continue to be under pressure to win every domestic game until they’re well ensconced again in the top four, which may take a while. Mats Hummels will be missing for the away side but Marco Reus could return from his latest injury. Even if they’re without both, this should be a second win in a row for Jürgen Klopp at 1.38.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - Eintracht Frankfurt
Gladbach lost for the first time this season last time out thanks to a superb own goal by Christoph Kramer, which in turn ended Borussia Dortmund’s wretched run. Still, it will be a good test for Lucien Favre’s side to see how they respond against an ailing Eintracht Frankfurt.
Thomas Schaaf has seen his side beaten in their last five in all competitions, including a cup defeat to Gladbach just a few weeks ago. A similar result is on the cards on Saturday – expect Gladbach to be comfortable too, at 2.04 with a one-goal handicap.
Schalke 04 - VfL Wolfsburg
A big week lies ahead for Roberto Di Matteo. On Tuesday, former club Chelsea visit the Veltins-Arena in the Champions League but first he must face the Bundesliga’s form team. No, it’s not Bayern Munich but second placed Wolfsburg who have won six on the trot under Dieter Hecking.
Schalke have been inconsistent under Di Matteo so far with two victories from two at home but a disappointing two defeats in two away. Whilst Hecking is yet to win at Schalke in his coaching career this may be the weekend that changes, with Wolfsburg 2.25 to win.
FC Köln - Hertha BSC
The pressure is increasing on coach Jos Luhukay at Hertha. They’re without a win in 11 away from home and have struggled to get out of the bottom half this season. On their return to the division, Cologne meanwhile have been steady enough.
Their third win in four at Hoffenheim last time out was particularly impressive, if not merely for the fact that they scored four times in one game, having previously been goal shy this season. Cologne have the momentum and are likely to see off Hertha here at 2.12, which could prove problematic for the capital club – they play Bayern, Dortmund and Gladbach next.
Raphael’s previews for Sunday’s two matches will be published over the weekend