1899 Hoffenheim 1.80, the draw 3.45, Greuther Fürth 4.40
“We have lost our confidence and lightness of touch,” Fürth president Helmut Hack said in midweek. In fact, the Clovers have lost just about all the qualities that helped them to win promotion last season - Mike Büsken’s side have been looking out of their depth in their first-ever Bundesliga season. Up front, the problems are particularly acute: a record of two goals in seven games is simply not enough to stave off fears of relegation. Hoffenheim, however, look in fairly decent nick after their horror start. Sejad Salihovic is suspended and perma-tanned Conan The Barbarian impersonator Tim Wiese will be back in goal for the hosts but they should still go on to win this fairly comfortably.
Borussia Dortmund 1.70, the draw 3.55, Schalke 04 4.95
It’s derby time in the Ruhr and for once, the Royal Blues are the more settled side. They visit the Signal Iduna Park in the knowledge that a humble draw will do much to damage their local rivals’ championship credentials. Key central defender Kyriakos Papadopolous (virus) will be replaced by the less-imposing Joel Matip and there are worries about left-back Christian Fuchs (bruised foot), but Schalke haven’t been this confident about this derby for quite a while. The Dortmund players have Real Madrid on Wednesday to look forward to and will do well to beat the visitors without Mario Götze and Jakub Blaszczykowski. Ivan Perisic and Kevin Großkreutz will come in, but a whole raft of other players are carrying knocks. No wonder Jürgen Klopp looked uneasy in the press conference; this game comes at the wrong time for his team. Schalke will get the draw.
Bayer Leverkusen 1.68, the draw 3.65, 1. FSV Mainz 05 5.00
Thomas Tuchel’s team have lost centre-back Niko Bungert (cruciate ligament) for most of the season; Jan Kirchhoff will come in instead. Problems in attack, where Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Ivan Klasnic are missing, have led Tuchel into Stuart Pearce territory in midweek: he tried out keeper Christian Wetklo as a striker in a test match. The goalie scored twice but is unikely to feature outside his own box against a Leverkusen side who are still one or two wins short of hitting their stride. Sidney Sam, a useful impact sub in recent weeks, is out and one or two others (Lars Bender, Stefan Reinarzt) are doubtful but Bayer’s attacking prowess should still make the difference here.
VfL Wolfsburg 2.25, the draw 3.40, SC Freiburg 3.00
The Wolves are in free-fall. Supporters protested against Felix Magath this week but the coach blamed the terrible results on his players. Centre back Naldo has been making too many mistakes, he noted acidly. Former Middlesbrough man Emanuel Pogatetz hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory either, so there’s a suggestion that Felipe might come in for either of them at the heart of the defence. It’s almost impossible to predict Magath’s exact line-up for midfield and attack, where the squad provides plenty of options but few automatic starters. Freiburg, still without the suspended Karim Guedé, will be the more organised side and will look to congest the midfield against the very narrow hosts. The resolute visitors should emerge with at least a draw and might even warrant a small away win bet.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2.20, the draw 3.45, Hannover 96 3.05
Has Frankfurt’s bubble burst? They looked rather less impressive in the 2-0 defeat at Gladbach that ended their unbeaten run before the international break. Hannover, on the other hand, put in another strong performance when they fought back to rescue a well-deserved point against Dortmund. Neither team have significant injury trouble but 96’s very influential central midfielder Sergio Pinto is in doubt with some persistent back trouble. It’ll be worth looking at the line-ups before committing to a bet but if everyone plays to their usual level, Hannover have enough to come away with a win.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 9.75, the draw 5.00, Bayern München 1.30
The surprisingly solid hosts have to cope without defender Stelios Malezas, who picked up a thigh injury playing for Greece. Spanish centre-back Juanan will have his work cut out against the league leaders, and Fortuna captain Andreas Lambertz is doubtful. Jupp Heynckes is still without Arjen Robben (muscular problems) and might rest Franck Ribery but left-back David Alaba is making a welcome return to the bench after overcoming his injury. Bayern often struggle after international week and will have one eye on the game against Lille on Tuesday but they’ll be motivated by the chance of a record-breaking eighth successive win. They should narrowly succeed.
Werder Bremen 2.10, the draw 3.40, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3.30
Kevin de Bruyne’s critical comments about Werder, Germany and coach Thomas Schaaf have led to much disquiet in recent days but the bigger issue is Werder’s worst start to a season in the manager’s time at the club. A new 4-1-4-1 system has brought plenty of attacking verve but the same old fragility at the back; Bremen always like conceding a goal or two, even when they’re playing well. Gladbach will feel that they can get at least a point and possibly more after their convincing 2-0 win over Frankfurt. Even though Lucien Favre’s team isn’t as devastating as last season on the break, they will be tactically superior to the hosts. With a bit of luck, the Foals will clear this hurdle, too.
FC Nürnberg 2.05, the draw 3.40, FC Augsburg 3.45
This is a classic relegation battle six-pointer, and chances are it will be low-scoring and pretty unsightly. Nürnberg will take some heart from the return of Per Nilsson to the heart of the defence - they have looked shambolic at the back in recent weeks. Augsburg might give Thorsten Oehrl a chance in the hole but Nürnberg can surely not play worse than they have done and must be favourites for an edgy win.
Hamburger SV 2.15, the draw 3.40, VfB Stuttgart 3.20
“I can play,” Rafael van der Vaart declared on Friday morning. That’s come as a huge relief, for the Dutchman has been a key factor in HSV’s comeback in recent weeks. They’re already eighth in the league and are secretly dreaming of the Europa League, in spite of captain Heiko Westermann’s warnings; “We haven’t come that far yet,” said the defender. Holding midfielder Milan Badelj is doubtful with an ankle knock and would be a loss but such is the renewed confidence in the side that a win against the under-pressure Swabians is more or less seen as a given. It’s hard to back Stuttgart, to be fair, especially after coach Bruno Labbadia went on an emotional rant that betrayed his nervousness. Striker Cacau damaged his knee badly and will be out for a few months, and yet VfB have decent options up front. This could be a rather less clear-cut affair than form suggests, so overs might be the best bet here.