MAINZ are today on the cusp of history. Not content with an absolutely stonking start to the campaign, the Bundesliga shock troops are going for the best opening ever.
If they somehow maintain their phenomenal form and beat Hamburg at home, they'll move onto eight straight wins and surpass the previous record first set by Bayern Munich in the 1995/96 season.
We've watched them continue to survive and surprise – test after test – so this is perhaps the point where we start to edge towards them being favourites, wind at their tails and momentum flowing. Especially against a stuttering Hamburg side who have mustered just 11 points from their first seven ties.
There's also a growing number of injury concerns for the Redshorts with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, flying Dutchman Eljero Elia and, more importantly, first-choice striker Mladen Petric out. On that note, I'm going all in on an unchanged Mainz winning with bet365 offering 5-4.
For scorers, look to the O-Fives' Sami Allagui (7-5) or Adam Szalai (7-4).
In Spain, the hot ticket is a top of the table clash between Barcelona and Valencia. It's been a strange few months for Los Che – biting the bullet and finally letting go of David Villa AND David Silva was the heartache half a decade in waiting but they've come back just as strong…or even stronger. A unity has prevailed around the squad, one that has seen Unai Emery's side go unbeaten in La Liga thus far to sit in first.
In interesting fact, though, is that in the last three games between the clubs, Barcelona have thumped in a mind-boggling 13 goals to Valencia's…zero.Barca at the Nou Camp is among the chief claims for “world's most difficult match” but that coat of invincibility around the Catalans has slipped ever so slightly this season.
I'd err on the side of caution with this one and if the Blaugrana aren't burning hot then I can see this being a draw. The best odds on that fall with Stan James at 4-1. A Barca win is best priced at 2-5 with bet365 while Valencia are 15-2 with Stan James.
A quick skim elsewhere sees Real Madrid beating Malaga (2-5 with bet365, they've never beaten Los Merengues!) while I reckon Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will continue his red-hot streak for club and country by firing Schalke to a home win over Stuttgart (Betfred offer 21-20 on that). Die Roten have indeed been rotten, losing six of their first seven games to see Christian Gross sacked in mid-week.
- I'll go with Huntelaar to score, 5-4 with bet365.
- Mainz, Schalke and Real Madrid. Just under 6.5-1 with William Hill.