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Werder Bremen v Mainz (Sat 2.30pm)
Mainz started brightly against Borussia Dortmund with Suat Serdar even hitting the crossbar early on. Albeit against a team that vastly outstrips them in terms of squad depth and resources, they ended up folding in the end, losing 2-0.
Werder Bremen were also defeated during the week but they struggled to create much against Leverkusen. A shot tally of 1-11 tells you just how tough they found it in the first half alone at the Bay Arena.
Having taken nine points in their previous four games, perhaps they could be forgiven for such a performance but expectations will be altogether greater for Mainz’s visit.
Sandro Schwarz’s side have won just one of their last eight games in total, even if they have troubled their opponents away from home of late. Just last weekend, they took a point at Leipzig but previous performances at Gladbach and Freiburg show that was no coincidence.
The problem has been their concentration letting them down at key moments meaning they’re still without an away win this season.
Their chances of improving that record aren’t helped by midfielder Jean Philippe Gbamin missing the trip to Bremen having come off injured at half time against Dortmund.
As for the home side, knocks to Zlatko Junuzovic and Philipp Bargfrede saw them start on the bench at Leverkusen but Junuzovic is likely to return for what is a big game for both sides.
Werder have the added incentive that they can go above Mainz with a win. The two victories from their two homes games under Florian Kohfeldt so far have both been encouraging displays.
They also boast greater quality going forward in the form of Max Kruse and it should help them to a vital win on Saturday afternoon.
Stuttgart v Bayern Munich (Sat 2.30pm)
Neither Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes nor his opposite number this Saturday Hannes Wolf were particularly happy after their side’s midweek showings.
Heynckes was left bemoaning how long it took his side to break down bottom side Cologne. Many, (and this column included), had expected them to tear through their opponents with ease. Yet in the end, it was just a single goal from Robert Lewandowski that ended up separating the two sides on Wednesday evening.
“I didn’t think it was a very good performance from us,” was Wolf’s appraisal of Stuttgart’s 1-0 defeat to Hoffenheim a little earlier on Wednesday.
The amount of chances Stuttgart created going forward particularly concerned Wolf but injuries did not help his side on the evening.
Chadrac Akolo and Anastasios Donis, their two liveliest attackers not just on the evening but this season, were both forced off with injuries and are now doubts for Saturday’s game against Bayern.
That, along with the injury keeping out striker Daniel Ginczek, does not give Stuttgart ‘an alibi’ as Wolf put it but it does harm Stuttgart’s chances. The speed of thought between Donis and Akolo to create Stuttgart’s best chance of the evening at Hoffenheim was lacking from their replacements.
Jupp Heynckes will no doubt rotate his line up once again, particularly with Dortmund coming up in the DFB-Cup the following Wednesday.
The performance against Cologne wasn’t encouraging but with Stuttgart playing at home, they are likely to offer more space to Bayern and a little more initiative going forward. This should nevertheless still be a tight game.
- Stuttgart 0, Bayern 2 (6-1, Unibet)
- Muller to score first (21-5, Unibet)
- Under 2.5 goals (6-4, Unibet)
Dortmund v Hoffenheim (Sat 5.30pm)
Just a point separates Dortmund and Hoffenheim prior to their game on Saturday, with both sides winning their midweek fixtures.
Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim edged past Stuttgart 1-0 on Wednesday night whilst the evening before saw the 30-year-old coach watching on in Mainz as Peter Stöger won his first game in charge as Dortmund boss.
Stöger paid tribute to the work done by his predecessor Peter Bosz after the game. Dortmund’s shape didn’t change all that much from how they’d played under Bosz but they did defend slightly deeper.
That helped to bring out the best in midfielder Julian Weigl again, with the 22-year-old midfielder having looked a shadow of his former self so far this season.
The victory against Mainz ended a run of nine competitive games without a win and will have boosted the squad’s fragile confidence.
Hoffenheim are likely to challenge that once again on Saturday. They didn’t exactly look stellar against Stuttgart, particularly in the first half as they struggled to escape the visitors’ high press but Nagelsmann’s side did improve after half time.
They will be without teenage midfielder Dennis Geiger on Saturday as he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Stuttgart. Florian Grillitsch is likely to replace him.
Stöger could well stick with the same eleven which won in Mainz during the week but should be able to have André Schurrle and Jadon Sancho at his disposal too with both returning from injury.
Hoffenheim will provide a sterner test than Mainz on Saturday. Nagelsmann’s side have already beaten the likes of Bayern, Leipzig and Schalke so far this season but those were all at home. This should nevertheless be close on Saturday.
- Dortmund 1, Hoffenheim 1 (17-2, Unibet)
- Yarmolenko to score first (11-2, Unibet)
- Hoffenheim double chance (33-20, Unibet)
Munich-born Raphael Honigstein writes about football for Germany’s biggest broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, ESPNFC and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.