WE'RE delighted to welcome German Football expert Raphael Honigstein to the site for the new season thanks to our partner Unibet.
You may know Raph from his excellent work on BT Sport where he shares his knowledge of the European game and we're hoping he can make some of that know-how pay for us on MrFixitsTips. Best of luck Raphael!
Leverkusen v Cologne (Sat 2.30pm)
Sehrou Guirassy's stunning last-gasp miss from a matter of yards against Werder Bremen showed once again where Köln's biggest problems have been this season.
Three Bundesliga goals from 48 chances created gives you a more detailed insight into just how bad Peter Stöger's side have been at scoring this season.
A head rolled earlier this week after sporting director Jörg Schmadtke left the club by mutual consent. On the pitch, things then improved on Wednesday night in Berlin. After a twelve game winless run of 10 defeats and two draws, Köln beat Hertha 3-1 in the second round of the DFB-Cup.
It gives them a much-needed confidence boost before their Rhine Derby at Leverkusen on Saturday, where Köln are going to need to score if they want a result.
Leverkusen's 4-1 win over Union Berlin made it nine goals in their last two games. Their last Bundesliga outing saw them thrash Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-1 last Saturday, with all five of their goals coming in a mad second half. That Gladbach could have been out of sight themselves by half-time tells you that there is still significant work defensively to be done.
Leverkusen's top scorer so far this season Kevin Volland is a doubt for the derby but teenage prodigy Kai Havertz would provide good foil for Lucas Alario up front. Köln, meanwhile, have no fresh injury worries and at least a bit of momentum on the side but they still desperately need a win to kickstart their season.
Leverkusen have been good value for chances at both ends so far this season and expect that to remain the case at the BayArena on Saturday.
- Correct score: Leverkusen 3, Cologne 1 (9-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Alario (4-1, Unibet)
- Over 3.5 goals (27-25, Unibet)
Hertha Berlin v Hamburg (Sat 2.30pm)
Defeat to Köln on Wednesday made it just one win in Hertha's last 12 games in all competitions. Coach Pal Dardai reasoned on Thursday that such dips in form are to be expected with the younger players in his team finding their feet.
He did not, however, put it down to the added burden of Europa League, saying that fitness was not the issue for their poor recent form. He could perhaps do with a few players being back fully fit, particularly with midfielder Vladimir Darida joining top scorer Mathew Leckie on the sidelines this week.
Japanese forward Genki Haraguchi will also miss out as he continues to serve a suspension for his red card against Schalke from just under a fortnight ago.
Hertha are certainly there to be attacked on Saturday but it's just a question of whether Hamburg are the team to do it. They too have a player out suspended, after Gideon Jung was sent off against Bayern last week, with Albin Ekdal expected to deputise for him in midfield. Their performance against the champions was certainly better than many would have anticipated, with the 0-1 scoreline all the more surprising given that Bayern had a man more for the entire second half.
Gisdol went with a back three against Bayern but it's likely that full-backs Dennis Diekmeier and Douglas Santos might be given a bit more attacking license in Berlin. Mentally though, it's a different scenario for Hamburg. No one expected them to get anything against Bayern but the game against Hertha will be seen as a real opportunity to move back towards mid-table.
Even though Hertha aren't on a great run themselves, it's worth bearing in mind that neither are Hamburg having taken just a point from their last seven games. A tight game is to be expected, with an edgy win for Hertha come the end of it.
- Correct score: Hertha 2, Cologne 1 (8-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Kalou (5-1, Unibet)
- Hertha win (49-50, Unibet)
Schalke v Wolfsburg (Sat 2.30pm)
Schalke are quietly building up a head of steam under Domenico Tedesco. Back-to-back wins against Hertha and Mainz in the Bundesliga has even pushed them to within four points of the league's summit where arch-rivals Dortmund currently reside.
They won 3-1 at lower league Wehen Wiesbaden during the week in the DFB-Cup and that was without Leon Goretzka. The 22-year-old midfielder has begun to fulfil his potential both at domestic and international level, after an impressive showing for Germany at the Confederations Cup in the summer.
He's been Schalke's star man so far this season with four goals in nine games. The confidence he's currently oozing was on full show with his dinked finish over Rene Adler last Friday.
As for Wolfsburg, you would be correct to say that they are unbeaten so far under coach Martin Schmidt. On the other hand, it's worth pointing out that they are still yet to win a Bundesliga game since his arrival with Felix Uduokhai's injury time equaliser against Hoffenheim securing a fifth consecutive draw. After a shaky start, they did manage to beat Lower Saxony rivals Hannover in the cup during the week but as the results suggest, they are still yet to produce a convincing display under Schmidt.
After a spell on the sidelines, Mario Gomez is in contention to start again for Wolfsburg but Schalke's recent form suggests the Royal Blues may just have too much for the away side.
- Correct score: Schalke 2, Wolfsburg 1 (7-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Goretzka (11-2, Unibet)
- Schalke win (73-100, Unibet)
Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig (Sat 2.30pm)
For the second time in four days, Bayern take on Leipzig. Hopefully it will be as thrilling as Wednesday night when Bayern knocked Leipzig out of the DFB-Pokal on penalties but for the first time since Jupp Heynckes's return, they were truly tested by their opposition.
The refereeing decisions of Felix Zwayer dominated the discussion both after and during the game. Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick marched onto the field at half-time to remonstrate with Zwayer who changed his mind to give Leipzig a free-kick instead of a penalty after a clumsy foul on Emil Forsberg from Arturo Vidal.
That moment summed up the first 53 minutes of the game, with Leipzig one step ahead of their visitors. Bayern were struggling to create chances until Naby Keita was sent off. Even though Leipzig scored soon after, Bayern steadily took control of the game with only a string of superb saves from Peter Gulacsi making sure the game went to penalties.
So then to the return game in Munich, where both teams might be a little tired after their midweek exertions. Naby Keita's sending off might prove to be something of a blessing in disguise with his subsequent suspension only applying in the DFB-Pokal.
Bayern undoubtedly have the strongest squad in the league but Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhüttl has shown that his isn't too shabby either when he's rotated.
Bayern will still be without long term absentees Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery, along with Thomas Müller. Jean-Kevin Augustin might get a break up front for Leipzig with Timo Werner replacing him. Such was the control that Leipzig had on the game on Wednesday, don't be surprised if they take at least a point in Munich – that is, if they can keep 11 men on the pitch.
- Correct score: Bayern 2, Leipzig 2 (15-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Werner (17-2, Unibet)
- Leipzig double chance (49-20, 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.