FC Augsburg 2.50, the draw 3.40, Wolfsburg 2.70
Friday night in the SGL Arena will see an interesting clash of styles: Augsburg’s high pressing v the much slower Wolfsburg build-up. The hosts, still without a point, have to bring in the less reliable Mo Amsif for regular keeper Simon Jentzsch (finger injury). Following the 4-0 home defeat by Hannover, Felix Magath is expected to adopt a more defensive 4-3-1-2 side. Unlike Augsburg, the visitors have plenty of quality upfront but little cohesion, which makes this one very tough to call. A score draw, perhaps?
Borussia Dortmund 1.50, the draw 4.00, Bayer Leverkusen 6.35
Both sides should field their strongest XIs, so we should be in for a cracker. Dortmund wobbled unexpectedly away to Nürnberg but can be trusted to show a huge reaction in front of their fanatical home support. Leverkusen’s new(ish) 4-3-3 system is designed to create space for the likes of Andre Schürrle and Stefan Kiessling up front and Sami Hyypiä’s men will look to expose Dortmund’s full-backs on the break. Look out for the line-ups: if Bayer skipper Simon Rolfes (achilles issues) doesn’t make it, the visitors will be forced to play a slightly more expansive game. Goals, goals, goals.
FC Bayern Munich 1.18, the draw 6.50, Mainz 05 15.00
It’s fair to say that “Arjen Robben injured in international week” was not the most surprising headline of the season. The Dutch winger has recovered but could still be rested ahead of the Champions League. It's not really a grave problem either way though: in Thomas Müller and Xerdan Shaqiri, Jupp Heynckes has plenty of options, even if Toni Kroos (muscle) can’t play. There will also an appearance from Javi Martinez, most likely in the second half.
Mainz’s intense pressing traditionally bothers Bayern and they will also be fresher due to a lack of international players. But with more technical ability (Kroos, Dante) on the pitch than in recent seasons, the home side’s fire-power should just prove too much.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1.80, the draw 3.45, 1. FC Nürnberg 4.45
A war of attrition awaits the crowd in the Borussia Park: Nürnberg showed against Dortmund just how capable they are when it comes to stifling more talented opposition. Gladbach are still a counter-attacking side at heart but have yet to adapt fully to life without Marco Reus. Dutch striker Luuk de Jong in particular is under huge pressure to open his account after his record move from Twente. The Foals could struggle to create too many chances against Dieter Hecking’s unchanged side. A point for Nürnberg looks the value bet here.
VfB Stuttgart 1.65, the draw 3.65, Fortuna Düsseldorf 5.25
Main striker Vedad Ibisevic (banned) will be sorely missed by the Swabians - Cacau doesn’t have the same presence up front and prefers to play on the counter. Stuttgart’s defensive problems against Bayern will tempt them to play “with the handbrake on”, as Arsene Wenger would have it, while Düsseldorf will look to score from dead-ball situations and try to hit striker Nando Rafael early. A few VfB players came back late from their internationals - Düsseldorf, by contrast, should be well rested. This could well end with a surprise away win.
Hannover 96 2.30, the draw 3.40, Werder Bremen 2.90
Mirko Slomka would love to play an unchanged side after the 4-0 win at Wolfsburg but will have to look closely at the fitness level of US international and skipper Steve Cherundolo after tiring mid-week trips. Werder also had a few key players in action so the opening period might be fairly sluggish. Backing the draw at half-time and overs could be a good way to approach a game that will certainly see goals.
Greuther Fürth 3.75, the draw 3.45, Schalke 04 1.95
There’s a chance Huub Stevens will rotate his squad to freshen things up a little, with an eye on the Champions League. The Royal Blues’ squad is easily deep enough and the away trip to newly promoted Fürth will also see a first start from Ibrahim Afellay. The Dutchman is expected to start in the hole behind Huntelaar. Fürth will feel confident after their away win at Mainz but they’re huge underdogs. Schalke should be comfortable.
SC Freiburg 2.25, the draw 3.40, TSG Hoffenheim 3.00
Markus Babbel’s team are in full-blown crisis mode and won’t relish a trip to the Mage Solar Stadion, where Freiburg are formidable. There’ll be plenty of changes in the Hoffenheim line-up but you wonder whether Babbel himself knows what his best team is. The individual class of players like Eren Derdiyok cannot be underestimated but there’s no doubt that Freiburg are much stronger in a collective sense. A high-scoring game is on the cards here.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2.05, the draw 3.45, Hamburger SV 3.40
Frankfurt could be unchanged after two wins, while Hamburg have to accommodate Rafael van der Vaart, who’ll be under huge pressure to turn the northerners’ fortunes around on his (return) debut. HSV coach Thorsten Fink will field a fairly attacking line-up but will surely like to play it cool first and foremost: god knows his back-four need all the protection they can get. A low-scoring and fairly joyless affair awaits.