Schalke 04 v Eintracht Frankfurt, Friday 7.30pm
Any hope that Eintracht Frankfurt had of becoming the first team to win at Leipzig this season were foiled quite spectacularly by their own goalkeeper last Saturday. Lukas Hradecky’s bizarre decision to handle outside the box saw him sent off and wrecked his side’s chances after just 131 seconds as they went on to lose 3-0.
Schalke meanwhile lumbered past Ingolstadt thanks to an injury time goal from new signing Guido Burgstaller. Their tally of 21 points from 17 games is their worst at this stage of a season in 17 years. Nabil Bentaleb returning from the Africa Cup of Nations should help them improve though. Frankfurt’s injury problems might just give Schalke the edge here too with a home win at 1.88.
RB Leipzig v TSG Hoffenheim, Saturday 2.30pm
Leipzig weren’t really challenged last weekend thanks to Lukas Hradecky’s kamikaze goalkeeping. So long as Hoffenheim can avoid an early sending off, then there should be a good game in store with Julian Nagelsmann’s side still unbeaten at the halfway stage of the season. Leipzig are yet to lose themselves on their own turf but top midfielder Emil Forsberg is still out suspended. Hoffenheim gave a strong performance away at Augsburg last week. This is likely to be a sterner test but they’re worth backing to get a result. Back Hoffenheim or draw at 1.98.
SV Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich, Saturday 2.30pm
Top of the table is where Bayern remain but they have a lot to thank Robert Lewandowski for. His two goals at Freiburg brought them an invaluable three points after a forgettable team performance.
Werder went down 2-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund last week. Goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny was sent off meaning Felix Wiedwald will start in goal for the home side this time round. As for Bayern, Carlo Ancelotti won’t have Arturo Vidal, Thiago and Jerome Boateng at his disposal in Bremen. The hosts boast some fine attacking prowess but defending isn’t really their thing. Mind you, Bayern looked hesitant enough at Freiburg last time out that it makes sense to back both teams to score here at 2.10.
SV Darmstadt 98 v 1. FC Köln, Saturday 2.30pm
Torsten Frings is likely to hand a Darmstadt debut to loan signings Sidney Sam and Terrence Boyd, both of whom could help solve the Lilies goal scoring issues. A goalless draw against Gladbach in Frings first game in charge was a good start but his side are bottom of the table. They need wins.
Cologne on the other hand can’t stop drawing. They too picked up a point after a 0-0 stalemate at Mainz last weekend. Peter Stöger remains without some key players through long-term injuries but Leonardo Bittencourt could make his first start since September. This could prove similar to both sides’ games last weekend, so back a draw at 3.10.
VfL Wolfsburg v FC Augsburg, Saturday 2.30pm
Wolfsburg are slowly gaining confidence under Valerien Ismael. Their third straight win last weekend was particularly important as it came against relegation rivals Hamburg. The result took them above Augsburg who lost to Hoffenheim – their first defeat under Manuel Baum. He desperately needs some firepower and that is on the way. Raul Bobadilla is back in training but is unlikely to be fit enough to start. Even should he return on Saturday, Wolfsburg should be winning this at 1.93.
FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hamburg SV, Saturday 2.30pm
Ingolstadt’s performance in Gelsenkirchen last weekend probably merited a point but instead they were beaten in injury time. It puts even more pressure on this weekend’s game against Hamburg in what is undoubtedly a six pointer at the bottom of the table.
Hamburg did at least look more reassuring at the back with new signings Mergim Mavraj and Kyriakos Papadopoulous. However, defeat to Wolfsburg means Ingolstadt still remain just a point behind them. Expect an edgy encounter in Bavaria with a draw the most likely outcome at 3.00.
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Saturday 5.30pm
Gladbach’s goalless draw at Darmstadt last weekend showed it might take them a while to find their feet under new coach Dieter Hecking. With their team looking fragile, a trip back to Leverkusen where they lost 5-0 last season probably isn’t the fixture Hecking wanted next.
Leverkusen looked in fairly tasty form too in their 3-1 victory over Hertha. Quite miraculously, they even managed to tuck away a penalty, having missed their previous five. It won’t be all that surprising on current form were they to win again on Saturday, with a home victory priced at 1.85.
SC Freiburg v Hertha Berlin, Sunday 2.30pm
Pal Dardai was not best pleased by Hertha’s defeat at Leverkusen last weekend saying that he didn’t want his team to be so nice. Freiburg were also left aggrieved following Bayern Munich’s trip to the Black Forest. They more than matched the league leaders but could do nothing to stop Robert Lewandowski from winning the game in stunning style come injury time.
Hertha are one of the best teams in the league at staying compact but with the Champions League places lying tantalisingly within their grasp, there’s pressure on them to win games such as this one at Freiburg. The home side are not to be underestimated though. Back Streich’s side to bounce back from the disappointment of last Friday night to win at 2.43.
1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund, Sunday 4.30pm
Despite playing against 10 men for nearly an hour against Werder Bremen, Dortmund only just snuck through 2-1. Thomas Tuchel though is able to welcome back some important players for the trip back to his former club. Roman Bürki should be back in goal having recovered from a hand injury whilst top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has returned from AFCON.
Mainz gave Bayern a good run for their money this season before eventually falling to defeat. They’ll cause Dortmund problems on Sunday. Tuchel’s team have, after all, still not kept a clean sheet away from home this season. Still, the away side’s attacking quality should carry them over the line with a Dortmund win at 1.63.