Mainz 05 - Borussia Dortmund
For the first time since leaving the club in acrimonious fashion last summer, Thomas Tuchel returns to Mainz on Friday night. “We have different ideas about respect,” said Mainz President Harald Strutz ahead of the game, whilst Tuchel aims to end Dortmund’s three game winless run in the Bundesliga.
Last time out, they were taken apart by Bayern. Marcel Schmelzer missed out through injury then and will do so again on Friday. Mainz have the look of a top half side and have the attacking weapons to pose Dortmund’s problems. The international break though came at a good time for BVB and expect them to be revived for Tuchel’s return home, with an away win at 1.50.
FC Augsburg - SV Darmstadt 98
Saturday sees last season’s surprise package take on the contenders to follow in their footsteps. Darmstadt’s ten points from eight games might be considered a mediocre start by most clubs in the league. Yet their low budget brought with it low expectations, so things look quite rosy for the Lilies.
Augsburg meanwhile have wilted with their weight of European football so far this season, though they did claim a point at Leverkusen last time out. They are still a shadow of the team that finished 5th last season but Markus Weinzierl’s side should still be able to get past plucky Darmstadt at 1.80.
SV Werder Bremen - Bayern Munich
Werder Bremen are approaching their encounter with Bayern Munich a little pessimistically. Sporting director Thomas Eichin has said that Viktor Skripnik will still be the club’s coach even if they lose 12-0. That speaks of the way both sides have played recently. Werder have lapsed into crisis mode after four straight defeats.
Bayern meanwhile demolished nearest challengers Dortmund in their last game. Robert Lewandowski made it 15 goals in his last 6 games with Poland during the international round of fixtures. The positive news for Werder fans is that it probably won’t be 12-0. The bad news is that Bayern will still win – and comfortably too with a victory -2 at 2.28.
Hamburg - Bayer Leverkusen
Complacency seems to be a recurring theme in Leverkusen’s campaign to date. A howler from keeper Bernd Leno and a penalty miss by Hakan Calhanoglu meant they only drew with Augsburg last time out.
Next up is a trip to Hamburg, who around a month ago were threatening to have a quiet season in mid-table by their standards. Two defeats in a row though have posed a threat to that harmony. Gojko Kacar has a back problem and will miss out against Leverkusen. Lewis Holtby and Nicolai Müller have recovered from midweek bouts of flu and should return to help Hamburg to a point against Leverkusen at 3.65.
Schalke 04 - Hertha BSC
It’s progress for Schalke and Hertha that this game is third taking on fourth in the Bundesliga. Defeat to Cologne, though, was a shock for André Breitenreiter’s Schalke, especially having not played all that badly in the first half, and Hertha will offer another counter attacking threat on Saturday.
Pal Dardai has his Hertha team very well organised and it’s no accident that they’ve done so well in their first eight games. It’s still hard to see Schalke being defeated for a second home game in a row with their quality up front, so pick a home win here at 1.75.
VfL Wolfsburg - TSG Hoffenheim
The last weeks have been forgettable for Wolfsburg, with bad results for Dieter Hecking’s side on the pitch and a tough time for parent company Volkswagen off it. There’s a positive in that Luiz Gustavo could well be ready to return to the starting line up this weekend with Hoffenheim are the next team to turf up at the Volkswagen Arena.
They conceded a late equaliser to Stuttgart to deny them a first home win of the season but performances have improved markedly from August. However, “Wolfsburg away” is not a game which has proved fruitful for any visiting Bundesliga team in the last year. Bas Dost has struck in every home league game so far this season and it’s perhaps worth picking him to come good again here. Dost to score in a Wolfsburg win is at 2.95.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Heading into the international break, Gladbach seemed to be their old selves again in a great performance against Wolfsburg. That made it three league wins from three for interim coach André Schubert but since, long term injuries to Patrick Herrmann and Nico Schulz have threatened to disrupt that start. There’s better news in that Granit Xhaka’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared whilst goalkeeper Yann Sommer will return in goal in Frankfurt.
The usually goal crazy Eintracht have run dry in the past few games, scoring just one goal in their last four. However, the freedom with which Gladbach have played under André Schubert suggests this will be an open game, so back a few goals here with over 2.5 at 1.75.