Eintracht Frankfurt 2.00, the draw 3.35, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3.70
“We’ve lost our virginity,” said Eintracht coach Armin Veh ahead this floodlit clash against the Foals. It’s an interesting admission that doesn’t immediately make a lot of sense: don't 352 minutes without a goal attest to a certain impotence in front of the target instead?
What Veh actually meant was that other teams have got wise to his counter-attacking strategy and are sitting very deep. Gladbach will be happy to do the same. Veh can take some comfort from the return of Srdjan Lakic though; the last Frankfurt player to score (in the 2-0 win over Hamburg) is back in action after back problems. Takashi Inui (left midfield) is also back from suspension, while Lucien Favre can count on Juan Arango again. This will be an edgy, hard-fought game but Gladbach have a decent chance of winning. Oppose Frankfurt.
VfL Wolfsburg 2.40, the draw 3.40, Schalke 04 2.80
Wolves will feel a bit of tailwind after progressing to the semi-final of the DFB Cup. Dieter Hecking might make one or two changes to freshen things up, and is still without the suspended Alexander Madlung. Naldo and Simon Kjaer will partner at the back but the bigger worry is over Josué and Jan Polak, the two central midfielders. Can they keep up with Julian Draxler, Jefferson Farfán and Michel Bastos? Playing a counter-attacking game will suit Schalke here. The big worry is that Roman Neustädter won’t be fit in time (flu), as there would be a knock-on effect. Christoph Metzelder might come in to free Marco Höger for a midfield spot. Keep an eye on the line-up; with Neustädter, Schalke will win. Without him, they will draw.
Hamburger SV 1.60, the draw 3.70, Greuther Fürth 5.75
Thorsten Fink expects his team to show a strong reaction following the 5-1 drubbing by Hannover last week. Ten out of the eleven players who performed so poorly at the AWD Arena will be allowed to redeem themselves, the manager promised; only Slobodan Rakjkovac will be replaced by Jeffrey Bruma at the heart of the HSV defence. New Fürth coach Ludwig Preis had a great start with a 0-0 at home to Leverkusen. Can the Clovers take advantage of Hamburg’s frail confidence? They will have to do it without midfielder Edgar Prib (injured) but can count on the services of the more defensively minded Jozsef Varga again. There won’t be many goals but a 1-0 for the northerners is the likeliest outcome.
Werder Bremen 1.75, the draw 3.55, FC Augsburg 4.65
Werder’s 6-1 defeat in Munich resulted in few former players calling for Thomas Schaaf’s head. There’s no tactical organisation and his insistence on playing only one defensive midfielder is too risky, they say, quite rightly. At home, they are of course still favourites to beat the much-improved Augsburg but a good start from the visitors could unsettle both the crowd and the players in the Weserstadion. Werder can bring in their best defender, Sokratis, for the suspended Sebastian Prödl, but skipper Clemens Fritz is out. With Augsburg striker Sasche Mölders in great form, a score draw is not beyond Markus Weinzierl’s boys.
1.FC Nürnberg 2.60, the draw 3.35, SC Freiburg 3.70
Freiburg made history in midweek: they came back from 2-0 down at Mainz after four minutes to win 3-2 in extra-time. They will now contest their first-ever cup semi-final. Fallou Diagne will come back into the side in defence, and Christian Streich has many options to rotate - tiredness should not be a factor. On the contrary, the feel-good-factor might well take them to another away win. Nürnberg are without regular right-back Timmy Chandler - midfield bruiser Hanno Balitsch will play in his place. They’ve been decent enough five games with only one defeat (and only one win) but will lose here.
Borussia Dortmund 1.32, the draw 5.00, Hannover 96 8.50
The champions were outplayed in the DFB Cup in Munich. They’re heading into this game with a question mark over Mats Hummels, who missed the defeat by Bayern with flu and is still doubtful. Robert Lewandowski is can play, however, after an appeal over his suspension. Tuesday’s Champions League match v Shakhtar could well affect the Dortmund players, even if only at a subconscious level - that game and the upcoming derby against Schalke hold much more importance than Hannover’s visit.
But Hannover also have issues. Key striker Mame Diouf couldn’t train this week with an ankle problem and faces a late fitness test. Playmaker Szabolcs Huszti is definitely out; Christian Pander, his replacement, is less influential. Taking the draw is very tempting here but Hannover’s problems away from home make it difficult to back them.
Bayer Leverkusen 1.55, the draw 3.85, VfB Stuttgart 6.00
The Swabians will be forced to play young Antonio Rüdiger as a centre-back, as Georg Niedermeier suffered a thigh injury in the cup win v Bochum. Vedad Ibisevic scoring again is a massive boost - the Bosnian’s goals have been sadly missed in the league this season. Leverkusen’s results have been just as inconsistent as their opponents’ since the winter break. Lars Bender (calf) missing out could result in a midfield shuffle but they should prove too strong in any case. One for the unders, and home win.
TSG Hoffenheim 9.50, the draw 5.50, FC Bayern Munich 1.28
Hoffe have won only one out of their last ten, Bayern have won nine on the trot. The cup win against Dortmund once again proved that they are in a league of their own this year. Arjen Robben might keep his starting place, but it doesn’t really matter: Hoffenheim have no chance. Away win. Big away win.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2.95, the draw 3.20, Mainz 05 2.40
After four games without a win, Mainz are desperate for three points to keep their Europa League dreams alive. Thomas Tuchel was lucky to escape punishment from the DFB when he insinuated that Bundesliga referees had conspired against his side. His team’s problem is that they often work so hard that concentration levels suffer in both boxes. Düsseldorf are without strike Stefan Reisinger - the more mobile Dani Schahin will come in - and are sweating on the fitness of attacking midfielder Robbie Kruse (bronchitis). Without him in the line-up, Mainz should come away with at least a point.