FRIDAY NIGHT: Bayer Leverkusen - Werder Bremen
The home side aren’t just league leaders after two games, they have also looked thoroughly convincing in each and everyone of the five competitive games. They have won all of them. A sixth success should follow on Friday night at the BayArena. Leverkusen play with a new-found urgency and a collective sense of purpose, whereas the visitors from the north of Germany seem to be treading water, still. Robin Dutt’s efforts to rebuild the side are slow to make any progress; they are a bit of faceless, shapeless mess. Bayer -1 at 1.76
SATURDAY: Bayern Munich - VfB Stuttgart
The Allianz Arena could witness the club debut of new defensive recruit Mehdi Benatia. The Moroccan is expected to line-up in a back three but Xabi Alonso is doubtful with a foot injury. Either Philipp Lahm or David Alaba will have to help out in central midfield, where Sebastian Rode could feature again. Franck Ribéry has declared himself fit again after four months on the side-lines with a back complaint; Arjen Robben (ankle) is probably not quite ready yet though.
The Swabians are searching for their first win in the second spell of Armin Veh in charge. The VfB coach has spent the build-up complaining about Bayern’s dominance of the league, which doesn’t bode well. Robert Lewandowski to score at 1.52
SATURDAY: TSG Hoffenheim - VfL Wolfsburg
Both sides have been relatively goal-shy by their own standards since the start of the season but that had more to do with plethora of missed chances than new, overtly defensive set-ups. Junior Malanda, one of the key culprits in front of goal in recent games, might get the nod ahead of Luiz Gustavo after the Brazilian’s international exploits at the other side of the planet.
Hoffenheim are likely to be still without Kevin Volland although the German international might be fit enough to start on the bench. Hoffenheim are the favourites but I like Wolfsburg for a bit a of surprise here at 2.85
SATURDAY: Borussia Mönchengladbach - FC Schalke 04
The pick of the match day pits another two teams in search of their first win against each other. The Foals welcome back forward Max Kruse, who goes straight into the starting XI; Branimir Hrgota will have to make do with a place on the bench.
Schalke have half a team out with injuries. But there’s decent depth in the squad this season, and one or two problems at the back apart, the Royal Blues can field a very strong team that will line up in a 4-3-2-1 system at the Borussia Park. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who’s reportedly willing to end his career at the Veltins-Arena, leads the line for Jens Keller’s side. I expect a low-scoring, attritional game. Under 2.5 goals at 2.20
SATURDAY: Hertha BSC - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Mainz added three players shortly before the transfer window closed shut - perhaps in recognition that the first season without Thomas Tuchel in charge will prove very demanding. The new trio of centre-back Philipp Wollscheid (formerly of Leverkusen), attacking midfielder Jonas Hofmann (Dortmund) and winger Jairo (Sevilla) all look set to start in the Olympic stadium.
Hertha, like their opponents, are looking for their first three points of the campaign. Adrian Ramos is being sorely missed, his replacement Julian Schieber isn’t at the same level. Mainz to escape with a point. Double-chance 1.59
SATURDAY: SC Paderborn 07 - 1. FC Köln
Fresh from their first-ever Bundesliga win - 3-0 away to Hamburger SV, no less - Andre Breitenreiter’s men face off against fellow new boys Cologne. The Geißböcke (Goats) also had fantastic result, a 2-0 win at Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz-Arena, last weekend.
While Paderborn don’t have serious injury worries, Köln might have to do without Japanese striker Yuya Osako due to his tiring travel schedule after the internationals. The visitors have a better squad, and arguably the better coach in rising star Peter Stöger but they couldn’t beat Paderborn last season in Bundesliga 2. The home side will continue their good run with a draw at 3.30
SATURDAY: Borussia Dortmund - SC Freiburg
Marco Reus is injured again (ankle, four weeks), Ciro Immobile came back from international duty with a bruised hip. Kuba Blaszczykowski suffered a relapse in training. And yet, the mood is almost euphoric at Signal Iduna Park, due to the arrival of “lost son” Shinji Kagawa. After a two-year spell at Manchester United, the Japanese attacking midfielder will go straight into the starting eleven as a playmaker in a 4-4-2 diamond formation. “We need him,” Jürgen Klopp has said.
Freiburg are yet to score their first goal in the current league campaign. They will try to frustrate Dortmund and could hold on until late in the game. Under 1.5 goals at HT at 1.69
SUNDAY: Eintracht Frankfurt - FC Augsburg
Eintracht manager Thomas Schaaf - it still sounds wrong, doesn’t it? - is sweating on the fitness of key attacking midfielder Alex Meier and, to a lesser extent, of Stefan Aigner. Both might yet make the starting XI against Augsburg. Last season’s biggest surprise success are yet to register a single point this campaign.
Markus Weinzierl hasn’t been able to train properly with his squad this week, either - a raft of injury complaints and international call-ups have made life difficult. Augsburg’s troubles look set to continue for a little longer. Home win at 2.25
SUNDAY: Hannover 96 - Hamburger SV
Rafael van der Vaart can’t make the trip to the “small” derby against the Lower Saxons. But that might not be such a bad thing tat the moment. A more robust playing style might serve them well. Mirko Slomka and his men are already under pressure following a start with only one point and no goals against two newly promoted sides. They have targeted a draw against Tayfun Korkut’s side, a lot of the new recruits like Lewis Holtby are supposed to start.
Hannover have been miffed by the leaking of a written offer for Getafe’s Pedro Léon. “We’ve been taken advantage of,” said 96 president Martin Kind. The manager is more concerned with the effect of the international break on his players but his outlook is extremely positive. “I’m not worried,” he said. Hannover to continue HSV’s winless streak. Home win at 2.20