1. FC Nürnberg 2.15, the draw 3.40, Eintracht Frankfurt 3.20
In this meeting of the season’s two surprise sides, the outcome is as open as the door policy in a Leicester Square eurotrash dive. The home side will be slight favourites thanks their excellent support and the outstanding playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake, who has lit up the league so far. Frankfurt, though, have courage, spirit and the midfield duo of Schwegler and Rode to shield the back four. This one should be a cracker, with Dieter Hecking’s side just edging it.
Schalke 04 4.00, the draw 3.45, Bayern München 1.90
The first 'top three' clash of the season will provide a huge test for both sides after their excellent starts. Schalke’s main worry is Jermaine Jones (muscle injury). Should the American not recover in time, Höger or the more attacking minded Holtby will have to deputise in central midfield and the Royal Blues’ solidity would be somewhat compromised. Main striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a cold in midweek. He should be OK to play but keep a look-out for team news, as he’s impossible to replace adequately. As for Bayern, everyone’s on board for the traditionally tough trip to the VeltinsArena. It’ll be a taut, edgy affair and the longer the score stays level, the more both teams will be inclined to settle for a point.
VfL Wolfsburg 1.80, the draw 3.45, Greuther Fürth 4.40
"How good are Wolfsburg?" was one of the key questions before this season. The early evidence suggests that "Just how bad are they?" might be a more pertinent line of enquiry. Felix Magath’s hire and fire policy has become so erratic that centre-back Simon Kjaer, no longer wanted at the beginning of the season, has suddenly started playing regularly in midfield. On paper, the Wolves should still get one over the new boys - who’ll be without midfielder Sebastian Tyrala (cruciate) for a good while - but a gamble on the draw or even away win could well pay off.
Mainz 05 1.70, the draw 3.60, FC Augsburg 4.90
A six-pointer in September? It certainly feels that way. For Mainz, the sensational 'boy band' era is but a distant memory and Augsburg's second season was always going to be a struggle after the departure of coach Jos Luhukay. 05 manager Thomas Tuchel demands a win "come what may" in this bottom of the table scrap. There’s not much between the sides, neither have really been able to play their pressing game consistently. One for the unders, and a narrow home win
Hamburger SV 5.65, the draw 3.90, Borussia Dortmund 1.55
In a clear sign that Hamburg manager Thorsten Fink is still at a loss as who to pick, another round of wholesale changes were announced in midweek. Only defensive midfielder Milan Badelj, mini messiah Rafael van der Vaart and (most of) the back four are expected to survive the cull; Petr Jiracek (suspended) will be missed in the middle of the park. The champions' pressing should pay huge dividends in the Imtech Arena, especially if Sven Bender comes back into the centre after injury. Jürgen Klopp could rest Marco Reus or Mario Götze for the more energetic Kevin Großkreutz. It’s hard to foresee anything but a convincing away win.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2.20, the draw 3.30, SC Freiburg 3.15
The potential return of Daniel Caliguri will bring quality to the middle of the park for Christian Streich’s away side. Freiburg are feeling the love at the moment: the 5-3 win over Hoffenheim has the dressing room buzzing. But new boys Düsseldorf have shown themselves to be surprisingly resilient so far; Norbert Meier’s flexible defence is yet to be breached this season. Fortuna have a bit of firepower and lots of options in attack, but they’ll worry about getting outmuscled by street smart opponents. Smells like a score draw.
Bayer Leverkusen 2.05, the draw 3.40, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3.45
Leverkusen lack cutting edge in the box; Gladbach guile and creativity in midfield. Put together, they’d make a very decent side but they’ll have to play against each other, alas, after disappointing goalless outings in the Europa League. Lucien Favre’s Foals should be the slighly fresher side, the trip to Limassol (Cyprus) notwithstanding: the Swiss manager rested plenty of key players while Bayer fielded a full-strength side v Metalist on Thursday. Leverkusen are favourites but the value will be the away win in this Rhein derby.
Werder Bremen 1.90, the draw 3.40, VfB Stuttgart 3.95
Thomas Schaaf’s men only have three points to show for some pretty good performances so far. But that must be put in perspective: their fixture list has been very tough. Against the much more unconvincing Swabians, who come off a 2-2 draw against Steaua Bucarest at home, they’ll be looking to bring their considerable fire-power to bear. Both sides will be at full-strength. Bar a minor miracle, Werder could well wipe the floor with Bruno Labbadia’s men here.
1899 Hoffenheim 2.55, the draw 3.40, Hannover 96 2.60
Just when you thought Hoffenheim’s troubles couldn’t get any worse, they’ve decided to name Andreas Müller as their new sporting director. Another wave of dodgy player signings from the Rogon agency are surely only a couple of months away. Hannover will do well to start with a more defensive game after a demanding trip to Twente on Thursday, but should then exert control as the game progresses. Oppose the shambolic home side at all cost, even if 96’s Hungarian playmaker Szabolcs Huszti will leave a void. The box-to-box specialist Lars Stindl will come into a slightly rejigged 4-4-1-1 formation.