Mönchengladbach 1.80 - The Draw 3.60 - Hamburger SV 4.20
Northerners Hamburg have found new hope, thanks to Rafael van der Vaart, the brilliant return to form of goalkeeper Rene Adler and a nervy 3-2 win over Dortmund that’s lifted the gloom. But their new-found confidence should not be confused with an end to all their worries. They’re pretty ropey at the back and have little by way of top class striker. Gladbach are also still a work in progress after the loss of Reus and Neustädter, albeit from a much better starting point. The Borussia Park should see an open game, but a score draw is the absolute best HSV can hope to achieve against more coherent hosts. Back 2-2 at 15.00.
VfB Stuttgart 1.80 - The Draw 3.60 - Hoffenheim 4.20
Both teams took some heart from their results at the weekend - but a look at the table shows just how bad the situation still is for these two crisis clubs. Stuttgart boss Bruno Labbadia will sorely miss Austrian Martin Harnik, the live-wire wide forward - he’s suspended after a silly sending-off at Werder. The good news is that Vedad Ibisevic will return to lead the home line after his ban. Hoffe, meanwhile, believe their fortunes might have been turned during the unexpected 3-1 win over Hannover, but the revival will be tested at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena tonught. Stuttgart should shade this, but the locals will get very restless - and on the players’ backs - if VfB are not in the lead by the middle of the second half, so a 0-0 draw at 15.00 could be a worthy wager. You feel another public revolt is only a couple of defeats away in Swabia.
Hannover 96 2.20 - The Draw 3.40 - FC Nürnberg 3.10
Tiredness could be a factor for the home side here after a difficult match schedule with few changes by coach Mirko Slomka. A lack of concentration was certainly missing in the defeat to Hoffenheim at the weekend, along with the right attitude. Hungarian playmaker Szabolcs Huszti, back from his sending off for over-exuberant celebrations, will add some guile and composure in the middle of the park, however. As such, the home side will have more of the ball and better options all over the pitch, but Nürnberg defend well and are extremely dangerous from free-kicks in wide areas. A draw wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world, even if 96 are much fancied. I'd go 1-1 at 6.75.
FC Augsburg 3.20 - The Draw 3.40 - Bayer Leverkusen 2.15
It’s official: Augsburg are suffering from second season syndrome. One point from four games and 1 goal scored, 7 conceded makes for pretty scary reading. Nothing’s going quite right for Markus Weinzierl but upfront, the malaise is most pronounced: the injured Koo and Mölders are not being adequately replaced. Bayer, too, have struggled in front of goal; the reliable Andre Schürrle even missed a penalty v Gladbach. For all their ability, Sami Hyypiä’s men seem to be lacking the killer instinct, both in the box and in their heads. Playing on the counter will suit them here, however. They have the much stronger squad and no significant injury worries. A 2-0 away win is the tip and it can be backed at 10.50.
Freiburg 2.45 - The Draw 3.40 - Bremen 2.75
Werder can’t quite believe they’ve only collected four points from as many games. The 2-2 draw with Stuttgart was indicative of the season they’re having: superb movement upfront was offset by youthful naivety and the inherent weakness of the 4-1-4-1 system - too much space behind the wide attacking players - at the other end. The Mage Solar Stadion, its ridiculous name notwithstanding, is an intimidating place. But that’s exactly what Werder need: a slightly more defensive, cautious mindset to go with the devastating options up front and with this in mind I'm going for the away win.