Borussia Mönchengladbach 2.25, the draw 3.25, FC Augsburg 3.25
The Foals looked to have turned a corner but their 2-0 defeat at Stuttgart last Sunday once again showed the reasons for their relative lack of success: they’re too timid in attack and lose too many balls in midfield. Coach Lucien Favre has warned that last season’s fourth place should not cloud the supporters’ judgement. "We were dead two years ago, that’s easy to forget," said the Swiss manager. Qualification for the Europa League is still possible, but there are worries in the defensive department (Stranzl has the flu, Nordtveit a head injury), and admirably resilient Augsburg will put up a lot of resistance. One for the unders and a draw.
Borussia Dortmund 1.47, the draw 4.30. Mainz 05 6.70
Jürgen Klopp has said that his players will not take it easy against his former club. But with Real Madrid coming to town on Wednesday, one or two changes to the starting XI are inevitable. Dortmund should still have enough to beat a Mainz side that have only won twice since the winter break, and both times at home. If Thomas Tuchel sticks to his diamond formation, Dortmund will cause huge problems on the flanks, even though Marco Reus is unlikely to feature from the start. Home win.
Hannover 96 5.75, the draw 3.80, Bayern Munich 1.60
Jupp Heynckes will mix things up again after another easy win in the cup against Wolfsburg. In terms of motivation, Hannover should be clear favourites: Mirko Slomka’s men still have a realistic chance of squeezing into the Europa League places but they need a win here. The sacking of sporting director Jörg Schmadtke strengthens the coach’s position inside the club but whether that’ll be enough of a boost to beat a side that is yet to drop a single point in 2013 is another matter entirely. The odds for the overs will be very, very short here, but Hannover’s strength at home, Bayern’s possible lack of concentration (they’re playing Barcelona on Tuesday) and the visitors’ ability to score at any given moment make this the right call.
Eintracht Frankfurt 3.10, the draw 3.40, Schalke 04 2.25
The home side are on a slippery slope towards midtable, with only one 3-2 win over Fürth from their last nine games. Worse still, the injury problems show no sign of abating: leading goalscorer Alexander Meier is very doubtful with a thigh strain, central midfielder Pirmin Schwegler is definitely out and right-back Sebastian Jung is suspended. Local paper Frankfurter Rundschau has called the expected line-up an "emergency XI", and there’s a sense that they’re fearing the worst. Schalke, on the other hand, are looking good. They’re without Jefferson Farfan but should certainly win this one.
Werder Bremen 2.15, the draw 3.40, VfL Wolfsburg 3.30
A 2-2 draw at Düsseldorf brought little relief for Thomas Schaaf but the last few days have been a bit more encouraging. Lukas Schmitz, Sokratis, Mehmet Ekici, Nils Petersen, Aaron Hunt and Clemens Fritz have all come back to training after various fitness problems. Wolfsburg gave it a go against Bayern in the cup in the first half but ended up on the end of a 6-1 drubbing - not the ideal preparation for this match. It’ll be a close but eventful contest, with plenty of goals. Back the overs.
Hamburger SV 1.80, the draw 3.45, Fortuna Düsseldorf 4.60
The fact that HSV are still in with a shout for a Europe League place is not exactly testament to the Bundesliga’s strength this season - Thorsten Fink’s forever-changing, bafflingly incoherent side have been mediocre at best. But here they are, with a bit of confidence following their 2-1 win at Mainz and, for once, an unchanged line-up - probably. The home side are big favourites against Düsseldorf, who have seen trouble creep up ob them on recent weeks. Hamburg, however, have been in a very similar position over the last few weeks, and they have always found a way to blow it (0-1 v Augsburg, 1-1 v Fürth, 0-1 v Freiburg) so some caution is advisable. Düsseldorf are good enough to get a draw.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1.50, the draw 4.25, TSG Hoffenheim 6.25
Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol has found a novel way to motivate his players in the relegation fight. “Going down to the 2. Bundesliga is not that bad,” he said, in an effort to take the pressure off his side. They have responded well. Unfortunately, defender David Abraham and midfielders Tobias Weis and Daniel Williams are extremely doubtful for the trip to the BayArena. Leverkusen somehow missed out on a win against Schalke after an excellent performance and surely won’t lose their concentration again - despite Andre Schürrle’s imminent defection to Chelsea. Bayer will win this one.
VfB Stuttgart 2.55, the draw 3.40, SC Freiburg 2.65
It wasn’t pretty. No, scratch that - it was downright ugly. But Stuttgart didn’t care one bit. They celebrated the 2-1 win over Freiburg in cup semi-final like a trophy. They’re guaranteed a place in the Europa League since Bayern are the opposition in the Berlin final, so the pressure is off for them. Freiburg were distraught by the defeat; worries about the break-up of the team are coming to the fore. But they’re still in with a chance of finishing in a sensational fourth spot, so they’ll have much more to play for in this “revenge” fixture. Stuttgart’s confidence should see them through though. Home win, again.
1 FC Nürnberg 1.80, the draw 3.50, Greuther Fürth (18th) 4.50
The Franconian derby is possibly Fürth’s last chance to salvage a little dignity from a disappointing debut season in the top flight. “But what good is win in the derby if you’re going down?” sneered FCN keeper Raphael Schäfer, preemptively. Fürth coach Frank Kramer has promised a moratorium on experiments for this fixture. But even his best XI - if there is such a thing - won’t be able to trouble Michael Wiesinger’s team too much. Nürnberg will keep cool and take all three points.
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