Hamburger SV 2.00, the draw 3.40, TSG Hoffenheim 3.60
Frank Kramer, the U23 coach, has taken over the reigns from Markus Babbel at Hoffenheim. Will there be a new-coach bounce? TSG can’t surely play worse - especially at the back - than in recent months, but whether that will be enough at the Volksparkstadion is another matter. Hamburg are without Maximilian Beister (thigh) in attacking midfield and youngster Zhi-Gin Lam might have to help out at left-back. The northerners are obvious favourites. All things considered, however, opposing them with a small bet will offer more value - the difference in quality is not as high as the odds would suggest.
Borussia Dortmund 1.30, the draw 5.00, VfL Wolfsburg 9.50
Borussia managed to give their Polish triumvirate and Mario Götze a well-deserved break in the 1-0 win over Man City. They will all return against Wolves, but centre-back Neven Subotic is doubtful with a bruised hip. Felipe Santana is a very decent deputy, however. CEO Watzke wants the champions to reclaim second spot and they will make the first step towards that here. With the Champions League gone until February, Klopp’s boys will have the necessary focus to beat Lorenz-Günther Köstner’s much-improved but unspectacular team.
Stuttgart 3.00, the draw 3.40, Schalke 2.25
Bruno Labbadia is unhappy about the league’s “inflexibility” - the Swabians have only 43 hours to recover from their frankly awful 1-0 home defeat to Molde on Thursday night. Captain Serdar Tasci is out suspended, to make matters worse. The Royal Blues managed to stem the tide of a bad vibes with their 1-1 draw at Montpellier. They will probably still be without Ibrahim Afellay and Kyriakos Papadopoulous but Jefferson Farfan should be back. It would be much easier to back Huub Stevens’ side if Klaas Jan Huntelaar was playing any better but against the VfB’s shaky back four, they should succeed anyhow. Away win.
1. FC Nürnberg 1.95, the draw 3.35, Düsseldorf 3.80
13th-placed Fortuna are on a excellent run. Plenty of injuries at the back have not stopped them picking up points in the last few games; no wonder that coach Norbert Meier feels that his team can be proud of their achievements. “We don’t have to put ourselves down,” he said this week. His one worry is Robbie Kruse’s back spasm, but the striker received injections and should be able to play. For Nürnberg, the hugely influential midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake is set to miss the game with a bad bout of flu. Only two points separate the teams but the visitors have momentum. Take the away win.
SC Freiburg 1.70, the draw 3.60, Greuther Fürth 4.80
Mike Büskens, boss of newly-promoted, likely-to-get-relegated Fürth, has shaken things up with a controversial change in goal. Regular keeper Max Grün has made way for Wolfgang Hesl, for no obvious reason. The local press are wondering if Büskens wanted to send a “nobody is safe” signal to the squad, so it’s tough to predict exactly who will line up in a match that Fürth can’t afford to lose. Freiburg are the better side but the odds are a little short considering that they have a lot of injuries and concerns over midfielder Jan Rosenthal (broken nose) Take the draw for value.
FC Augsburg 13.00, the draw 5.25, Bayern Munich 1.25
The league leaders were able to rest half their squad in the 4-1 win over BATE and are determined to win their next three games (Augsburg, Gladbach, Augsburg in the cup) to make it a peaceful Christmas in Bavaria. Jerome Boateng will replace the injured Holger Badstuber (cruciate ligament) despite his stupid red card in the Champion League. Otherwise, it’ll be Bayern’s best XI, with Mandzukic and Gomez tussling for a starting berth. Markus Weinzierl has to play Marcel De Jong as left-back (Matthias Ostzrolek is injured). The 1-1 draw with Freiburg has brought some confidence back but it’s impossible to predict anything but an away win.
Frankfurt 2.40, the draw 3.45, Bremen 2.75
Armin Veh has announced changes at the back following two heavy defeats (3-1 v Mainz, 4-0 v Düsseldorf). Youngster Marc-Oliver Kempf will be replaced by veteran Heiko Butscher. Up front, the suspension of Karim Matmour will open the door for Olivier Occean. The Canadian has been criticised for his lack of work in recent months. Midfielder Pirmin will add much-needed solidity in the middle of the park. Schaaf will persist with his attacking 4-1-4-1 line-up and will hope that Marko Arnautovic, the hat-trick hero against Hoffenheim, will be in the mood again. Werder should win.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 2.40, the draw 3.40, FSV Mainz 2.80
The Foals gave the B team a run out in Istanbul (3-0 win over Fenerbahce). The return of striker Luuk de Jong after a lengthy injury lay-off has increased the options up front, but the in-form Igor de Camargo is likely to lead the line again. Mainz have the fourth-best defence in the league, and a fine run has seen Thomas Tuchel’s all-action outfit climb all the way to sixth in the table. They need to make do without keeper Christian Wetklo (suspended) but have excellent deputies in young Loris Karius and veteran Heinz Müller. This is a tough one to call: Gladbach have more individual quality and are at home, but Mainz function perfectly as a team right now. Sitting on the fence - and on the side of a draw - might be the best way out of this conundrum.
Hannover 96 2.85, the draw 3.40, Bayer Leverkusen 2.35
Mirko Slomka’s team have looked knackered in recent weeks and only three points from four games have seen them slump to 12th place. The Europa League on Thursday night (2-2 at Levante) brought some relieve from their poor domestic form, but they haven’t been able to rest players to the extent that Leverkusen were able to in their 1-0 win over Rosenborg on the same night. Tireless midfielder Lars Stindl picked up an ankle injury as well and will be missing for a couple of months. Bayer are not without flaws of their own but they will take some shifting from second spot. It won’t happen this week. Away win.