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Leverkusen v Dortmund (Sat 2.30pm)
As Raphael Guerreiro crashed in Dortmund’s fourth goal against arch-rivals Schalke last weekend, it looked like BVB’s bad run was well and truly over. Four up after 25 minutes – what could possibly go wrong?
Well, as Borussia Dortmund fans discovered to their horror, quite a lot actually. Schalke ended up coming back in the second half to draw 4-4 and extended Dortmund’s winless run in all competitions to six games.
“That was a big shock,” said Dortmund coach Peter Bosz in something of an understatement. He managed to survive the derby debacle but such is the way his side continue to run out of gas in the second halves of games, it may not be too much longer until he is on his way.
This weekend sees Dortmund face Leverkusen, coached by a former striker of theirs in Heiko Herrlich.
In contrast to Dortmund, they’re unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions. The latest result in that sequence was an impressive 1-0 win away at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.
“We’re more stable than we were before,” said goalkeeper Bernd Leno after only his and the Leverkusen backline’s third clean sheet of the season.
Top scorer Kevin Volland scored his eighth goal of the campaign, making him the leading German marksman in the division this season.
Such is the erratic way that Dortmund have defended in recent weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising if he or his in-form team-mate Leon Bailey were to wreak havoc on Saturday.
Roman Bürki will return in goal for Dortmund, replacing Roman Weidenfeller after recovering from a head injury. However, the visitors will be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he was sent off against Schalke last weekend. What’s more, Mario Götze, arguably Dortmund’s player of the season thus far, has been ruled out until the new year with ankle problem.
The current form of both sides suggests a home win is on the cards.
- Correct score: Leverkusen 3, Dortmund 1 (13-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Volland (23-4, Unibet)
- Leverkusen win (32-25, Unibet)
Hoffenheim v Leipzig (Sat 2.30pm)
Julian Nagelsmann’s second full season in charge isn’t going quite as smoothly as his first. “We find ourselves in a results crisis,” said the Hoffenheim coach after his side went down 3-0 away at Hamburg.
That made it just two wins in Hoffenheim’s last twelve games. The team undoubtedly misses the likes of Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle who left in the summer. The depth of the squad has also been tested with playing in the Europa League and found wanting.
Centre-back Benjamin Hübner, “one of the most important players in the squad” in Nagelsmann’s words, has been out injured for the last month and his presence too has been sorely felt. It looks like he won’t make the visit of Leipzig either.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side are proving to be Bayern’s closest challenger for the title, sitting in second place just three points off the top of the table. They weren’t necessarily at their best last weekend against Werder Bremen but goals from Naby Keita and Bernardo were enough to see them to a 2-0 win.
Marcel Sabitzer is set to miss the trip to Sinsheim this weekend but otherwise, Hasenhüttl has no real injury concerns.
Nagelsmann on the other hand will have to make do without captain Kevin Vogt who is suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card against Hamburg. It leaves Hoffenheim looking a little short at centre-back, particularly with how pivotal Vogt is for their build up play.
Leipzig have been a little inconsistent on the road this season but if they are to truly challenge Bayern for the title, then they need to win these sorts of games.
Bayern lost at Hoffenheim earlier this season but the attacking prowess that Leipzig possess in the likes of Emil Forsberg, Timo Werner and Bruma to name but three could well be the difference on Saturday.
- Correct score: Hoffenheim 1, Leipzig 2 (15-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Werner (9-2, Unibet)
- Leipzig win (33-10, Unibet)
Bayern Munich v Hannover (Sat 2.30pm)
After nine straight wins, Bayern suffered their first defeat this season under Jupp Heynckes last Saturday. They were edged out 2-1 away at his former club Borussia Mönchengladbach.
“We lost it in the first half,” said Heynckes after the defeat, adding that Bayern had played too slowly in the first half and that they hadn’t invested enough in the game.
He wasn’t helped by the seemingly ever growing list of injuries. Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thiago and Manuel Neuer will all still be out this weekend.
However, David Alaba could return at left-back this weekend against Hannover. Slightly further forward, Thomas Müller should be back having missed Bayern’s last seven games in all competitions.
As the games against Gladbach and Anderlecht have shown, Bayern are certainly there to be got at – but do Hannover have what it takes to do that at the Allianz Arena?
Two wins in their last 10 games suggests not, yet their performance away to Leipzig at the start of November showed they can compete with the division’s best even if they lost 2-1.
Their 4-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund earlier this season showed how dangerous they can be on the counter as well.
The lightning-quick Ihlas Bebou was an important cog in that victory but he’s a doubt for the trip to the Allianz Arena with a thigh problem. Record signing Jonathas is also out but defenders Salif Sané and Waldemar Anton should both be back in the starting line up.
You’d expect Hannover to put up a fight on Saturday afternoon. Like most teams who visit the Allianz Arena, they’re still likely to leave empty handed, so long as Bayern improve on last week’s showing.
- Correct score: Bayern 3, Hannover 1 (9-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Hummels (18-1, Unibet)
- Over 3.5 goals (37-50, Unibet)
Schalke v Cologne (Sat 5.30pm)
Schalke were understandably euphoric after last Saturday’s incredible 4-4 draw against Dortmund. That comeback was the first time in 41 years that any Bundesliga team had come back from four goals down to claim even a point.
Coach Domenico Tedesco though has tried to calm things ahead of Cologne’s visit.
“After the game in Dortmund it would be careless to think that we just have to turn up against Cologne to beat them.”
In Tedesco’s opinion, the rock bottom visitors have “a few points too few” for how they’ve played this season but he’s perhaps being a little generous.
Their defeat to Hertha Berlin last Sunday showed little signs of attacking life but in fairness to Cologne coach Peter Stöger, he was missing 11 first team players through injury and suspension.
With just two points from 13 games, there has understandably been a lot of chatter about how much longer Stöger will last.
He said in his press conference on Thursday that he wants clarity from the club’s hierarchy as to whether they still want him or not.
In fairness to him, the club’s poor summer transfer business have dealt him a rough hand. The failed attempt to sign Hannover’s sporting director Horst Heldt this week epitomised how nothing is going right for Cologne at present.
Schalke will be without defender Thilo Kehrer due to a shoulder injury but Amine Harit and Leon Goretzka are likely to start after coming off the bench and doing rather well against Dortmund. Cologne on the other hand still have 10 players out injured. It’s difficult to see anything other than a comfortable home win here.
- Correct score: Schalke 2, Cologne 0 (11-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Burgstaller (16-5, Unibet)
- Schalke -1 (11-10, 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.