Bayern Munich v Hamburger SV
The Bundesliga season hasn’t even started and Hamburg, who just squeezed themselves to safety again in May, look set to tumble back into crisis mode. Bruno Labbadia’s team were defeated by fourth division Carl Zeiss Jena in the DFB-Pokal first round last weekend whilst a series of PR gaffes off the pitch have followed.
Opening the season then at the Allianz Arena, where they have conceded 31 goals on their last five visits, isn’t ideal to say the least. Bayern are unlikely to have mercy on HSV as they set out on yet another title defence, with a -2 home win at 1.80.
FSV Mainz 05 v FC Ingolstadt
German football magazine 11Freunde recently described Mainz as the biggest small club in the Bundesliga. That’s a compliment to the way that they have continually held their own in the top flight – something that newly promoted Ingolstadt will aspire to do.
They are the 53rd different club to play in the Bundesliga and coach Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side will bring a brand of aggressive pressing with them. Mainz lost key players Johannes Geis and Shinji Okazaki over the summer but should still have enough here to spoil Ingolstadt’s first top flight day out, with Mainz to win at 1.95.
FC Augsburg v Hertha BSC
Augsburg’s fifth place finish in May was as remarkable as it was unlikely. Coach Markus Weinzierl resisted going to Schalke in the summer to stay down south. Now comes the hard part – following up on the best season in the club’s history.
Hertha meanwhile only stayed up on the final day of last season. The campaign ahead could prove tricky again with the squad still lacking. Augsburg should be able to get off to a good start here, with a home win at 2.00.
SV Darmstadt 98 v Hannover 96
Both of these clubs are relegation candidates but for different reasons. Hannover went 16 games without a win before victory in their final two games last season secured safety. Lars Stindl, their captain and best player, has left for Gladbach and coach Michael Frontzeck doesn’t have a good record in the Bundesliga.
Minnows Darmstadt arrive in the top flight after back-to-back promotions and are described as “the smallest trumpet in the concert” by club president Rüdiger Fritsch. That doesn’t mean they can’t play though and home advantage at the rickety Böllenfalltor might just allow for an opening day victory at 2.65.
Bayer Leverkusen v TSG Hoffenheim
Leverkusen look well balanced ahead of the coming season. Defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer has returned from a two year loan to Gladbach, key players like Hakan Calhanoglu and captain Lars Bender have been retained in the summer whilst this week, the club signed Chilean midfielder Charles Aranguiz.
Hoffenheim on the other hand lost arguably their star man over the summer but to be fair, Liverpool handed over €41 million for Roberto Firmino to ease the pain. Both sides are likely to retain attacking inclinations which could result in first day entertainment at the BayArena with over 3.5 goals at 2.43.
SV Werder Bremen v Schalke 04
Former Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo won’t receive a warm reception when he returns to the Weserstadion on Saturday. He had seemed set to stay with Werder but just a few weeks ago, Schalke activated his release clause and off he went.
Di Santo scored on his Schalke debut last week in what was an impressive team performance in André Breitenreiter’s first match in charge. Despite the promise of an offensively-minded new dawn at Schalke, Werder have proven themselves capable under Viktor Skripnik, so a draw beckons at 3.45.
Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Borussia Dortmund haven’t been that active in player recruitment this summer but they have still undergone a sizeable change, with Thomas Tuchel taking over from Jürgen Klopp as coach. On last season at least, we should see a big improvement from BVB.
Klopp was the longest serving coach in the division – a title which now falls to Gladbach’s Lucien Favre, a coach renowned for his attention to detail with his players. Marco Reus though faces up to his former club here and a good performance from him may give BVB the edge for a home win at 1.70.