Borussia Dortmund - VfB Stuttgart
Christmas came early for the Borussia supporters - coach Jürgen Klopp extended his contract until 2018 in midweek. There’s a bit of an issue with the Ultras - their planned choreography was banned as a result of the trouble in Gelsenkirchen, but otherwise, there’s a buzz around the place following the derby win and the home side have no new injuries to contend with. The same XI who won at Schalke should play on Friday night. Stuttgart, still unbeaten under new manager Thomas Schneider in the league, can bring back Gotoku Sakai (RB) and Daniel Schwaab (CB) in defence but Antonio Rüdiger (CB) is still suspended. I like both teams to score at 1.7.
FC Nürnberg - SC Freiburg
The Gertjan Verbeek era got off to good start with a 1-1 draw at Stuttgart last week. The new Nürnberg coach has promised a more attacking style and will try his luck with a 4-3-3 system. The return of Daniel Ginczek up front is a real boost as well. Freiburg have only won one game the whole season (v Stuttgart in the cup) and Christian Streich needs to stop the rot urgently. Unfortunately, his rotation policy is yet to bear fruit. Goals have come at a premium for both teams. Take under 2.5 at 1.9.
Hamburger SV - Borussia Mönchengladbach
The northerners are poor at home (four points), the Foals terrible away from home (1 point). But recent form has been good, especially for HSV: they’re unbeaten in four since Bert van Marwijk took over and look like a completely different side. Lasse Sobiech will come in for the injured Djourou at the back, that’s not the worst thing that could have happened. Otherwise, there are no problems. Gladbach need to make a couple of changes at the back - Martin Stranzl returns after suspension, Roel Brouwers is injured - but have all their big players ready and primed. This could be a cracker. Gladbach on the double chance at 1.63.
Eintracht Braunschweig - Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen are in excellent shape with six wins and one draw (v Bayern) since getting beat 4-2 at Old Trafford. The phantom goal controversy has had no negative impact and in Lars Bender, they have an important player ready to play again, too. Thorsten Lieberknecht, the Braunschweig coach, was basically told he’d be kept on in the (likely) case of their relegation. It’s tough to see the bottom team get anything out of this game, Leverkusen will kill them on the counter. They’ll win at 1.5.
Hoffenheim - Bayern Munich
Dante is back in contention after overcoming his foot injury. Both Robben and Kroos could probably play but are likely to be rested after recent groin problems. Javier Martinez is expected to make his Bundesliga debut as a starter this season, Lahm should drop back into the right-back spot and Mario Götze has a good chance of starting. TSG coach Markus Gisdol has plenty of options but will probably keep his excellent attack (25 goals, best in the league with Dortmund) unchanged. Betting on Bayern or the overs isn’t really profitable, so I’d recommend doing things a bit differently: take both a 2-1 (8.5) and a 3-1 (11) win for Bayern.
Hertha BSC - Schalke 04
Despite losing 3-2 in Munich last Saturday, Hertha couldn’t be happier with their start to the season. Jos Luhukay’s men pushed Bayern all the way and are favourites to make life difficult for a Schalke side low on confidence (3-1 home defeat in the derby by Dortmund) and options up front. Kevin-Prince Boateng will be able to play against his former team but Hertha should get at least a draw in the Olympiastadion. Berlin on the double chance 1.4.
Eintracht Frankfurt - VfL Wolfsburg
Neither side has any new injury worries, and in Bas Dost, Wolfsburg finally have good alternative to Ivica Olic in the squad again. Wolves’ 3-0 at home to Werder felt like a very big win for Dieter Hecking; Frankfurt, who were battered 4-1 at Gladbach, are also poor at home this season (no win in four) so the away side might well spring a surprise at the Commerzbank-Arena. Back Wolfsburg at 2.12 DNB.
FC Augsburg - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Beating Braunschweig was a very important result for Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz - they hadn’t won in six games before. Augsburg’s sensational start to the campaign seems to have fizzled out a little - Markus Weinzierl and his hard-working, hard-running bunch have lost the last three, albeit against pretty good opposition (Schalke, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen.) The home side are seen as favourites but Mainz have the better side. I’d take them on the double chance at 1.75.
Werder Bremen - Hannover 96
Robin Dutt still hasn’t got a recognised striker available - Franco Di Santo and Nils Petersen are injured. The Werder coach might be forced to play 19-year-old Martin Kobylanski from the second team on Sunday, as the experiment without a centre-forward didn’t really work in the 3-0 defeat at Wolfsburg. Hannover felt very hard done by in the 4-1 home defeat to Hoffenheim, when both striker Mame Diouf and and defender Marcelo were sent off. Artur Sobiech will lead the line, Salif Sane comes in at the back at the Weserstadion. Neither side inspire too much confidence at the moment. Under 2.5 at 2.15.
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