Eintracht Frankfurt 1.67, the draw 3.65, Greuther Fürth 5.00
Frankfurt were desperately unlucky not to get a draw in Stuttgart; they had a perfectly good goal chalked off. To add injury to insult, they also lost Peruvian centre-back Carlos Zembrano with a broken toe: the 23-year-old is likely to miss most of the games before the winter break. Eintracht will struggle to play their counter-attacking game in his absence. Vadim Demidov will come in for Zembrano, but he’s still finding his feet in this league. Veh also has worries in midfield. Rode and Schwegler, the excellent double pivot, are both doubtful. Losing even one of them will hamper their chances considerably. Fürth go into this Friday night match with renewed confidence following their 1-1 draw with Werder and have no new injury problems. The visitors should be good for a point.
Borussia Dortmund 1.40, the draw 4.10, VfB Stuttgart 8.75
The champions are firmly back in the groove after three wins on the trot in all competitions. Sebastian Kehl and Marco Reus, who were bothe rested in the 4-1 win over Bundeslig 2 club Aalen will be back in starting XI. Stuttgart have stabilised, results-wise, but they’re likely to be without right-back Gotuku Sakai and could also be forced to replace Serdar Tasci at the heart of the defence. It would be a huge surprise if Bruno Labbadia’s men were to withstand the Black and Yellows in the Signal Iduna Park but they will create chances, especially if Mats Hummels (thigh strain) misses out.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 2.15, the draw 3.30, SC Freiburg 3.30
It’s been a frustratingly stop-start season for the Foals so far. This week was a perfect example: they followed up their excellent 3-2 comeback win at Hannover with a demoralising 1-0 home defeat to Düsseldorf in the cup. Lucien Favre’s team isn’t playing the well organised, tactically disciplined football of the previous season, even if they’ve become less predictable up front: Patrick Herrmann and Igor De Camargo make for an interesting strike partnership. The visitors are likely to rotate in attack again and at the back - there are plenty of options if Matthias Ginter (back problems) and Sorg (dead leg) don’t make it. Freiburg are the weaker side but their togetherness makes them another good outside bet this week.
Hannover 96 1.67, the draw 3.60, FC Augsburg 5.10
Losing 3-2 to Gladbach after a 2-0 lead at home was totally out of character for 96, and they’ll surely do better against Markus Weinzierl’s side on Saturday. Mirko Slomka can happily chose from full-strength squad; Augsburg welcome back the hugely important Sascha Mölders and Ja-Cheol Koo to give the attack a much-needed boost. Chances are both will start on the bench, however. The visitors will make life difficult but Hannover have shown that they (usually) find a away. Tough to see anything but a home win.
1. FC Nürnberg 2.50, the draw 3.40, VfL Wolfsburg 2.65
The Club from Franconia are without a win in six home games. The fixture list hasn’t been kind to them, either: two weeks ago, a match against Felix Magath’s toothless, disjointed Wolves would have been a banker. But since Lorenz-Günther Köstner took over at the Volkswagen-Arena, Wolfsburg have won two games and looked like a proper side.
It’s amazing how much playing your best players in their natural positions can do for you. The away side must be favourites here, as well. They have the momentum, while Nürnberg are without keeper Raphael Schäfer and left-back Javier Pinola.
Hoffenheim 4.00, the draw 3.60, Schalke 04 1.83
Markus Babbel’s weary criticism of a lack of effort is beginning to sound suspiciously like the dying days of the Holger Stanislawski regime. His predecessor never managed to foster the right attitude in a dressing room full of talented but difficult players and Babbel looks increasingly exhausted, too. Huub Stevens’ gang have emerged as Bayern 'hunters' at large. Sporting director Horst Heldt is not keen on the tag but the team’s consistency and Bayern’s defeat to Leverkusen have brought Schalke within touching distance of the summit. Talk of a first championship since 1958 will only intensify after this weekend - Schalke, with plenty of options on the bench, will surely win this one.
Hamburger SV 9.00, the draw 4.10, FC Bayern Munich 1.40
The notherners have gone from total no-hopers to a side that can even win games when the other team are dominating in the space of two impressive months. Korean midfielder Heung-Min Son has been key with five goals. There are suggestions that Thorsten Fink could opt for a more defensive 4-3-2-1 with Tomas Rincon as an extra central midfielder for this game. Bayern are adamant that their 2-1 home defeat to Leverkusen should be seen as freak accident rather than the start of another wobbly autumn like the one they suffered last season. David Alaba will play in the left-back spot for the injured Holger Badstuber, Franck Ribéry is back in contention after his thigh strain and good performances from Claudio Pizarro and Arjen Robben in the 4-0 win against Lautern in the cup make them contenders for the starting XI, too. The Reds should win this potential cracker, a good effort from HSV notwithstanding.
Bayer Leverkusen 1.45, the draw 3.90, Fortuna Düsseldorf 7.85
Bayer followed up their well-deserved 2-1 win at Bayern Munich with a nervy 3-2 over third division side Arminia Bielefeld. They paid a heavy price though: centre-back Ömer Toprak broke his nose and left-back Daniel Schwaab ruptured knee-ligaments. Toprak will recover in time for Sunday’s game but Schwaab, keeper Bernd Leno, attacking midfielder Karim Bellarabi and Michal Kadlec won’t. The depleted squad will probably struggle to create too many chances against a Fortuna side who bounced back from two heavy defeats to register a confidence boosting 1-0 win at Gladbach in the cup. Opposing Leverkusen is advisable.
Werder Bremen 2.10, the draw 3.40, Mainz 05 3.30
Lukas Schmitz will continue as left-back for the injured skipper Clemens Fritz but otherwise Schaaf’s team are at full strength. There’s a lingering sense that the 4-1-4-1 formation is still not working properly - but then again, defence has never ben their strength, regardless of the formation employed. A Bild story about six players arriving late for training hints at a lack of discipline, too. Hat-trick hero Adam Szalai, the man of the match in the 3-0 win over Hoffenheim, seems to have solved Mainz’s problems in attack. “We want to get a result in Bremen,” said the Hungarian attacker following the 2-0 win in the cup against Aue. This is another “better individuals” v “better team” match-up that promises plenty of goals. And 05 could be worth a crafty away win bet.