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Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin (Sat 2.30pm)
“I spent more time in the library this week,” joked Hertha coach Pal Dardai ahead of his side’s trip to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
“I was looking for the book: ‘How do you beat Bayern?’ but I couldn’t find it.”
Neither indeed could Besiktas on Tuesday evening as the early sending off of Domagoj Vida did for their chances against Bayern. The home side won by a crushing 5-0 scoreline in the end but Thomas Müller, scorer of two, played down the performance.
“One has to be careful not to get carried away after a good result. In the first half especially, things weren't as we wanted them to be. We have to address some of these things in order, if we want to be ready for when there'll be a much tighter game, without us being one man up.”
Added to that, you had Arjen Robben’s thinly veiled displeasure at being left on the bench: “If I say what I’m feeling now, then I’ll be in front of [the chairman] Mr Rummenigge tomorrow.”
Robben came on after James Rodriguez came off with a calf injury on Tuesday. Both he and Ribery are likely to start on Saturday against Hertha, who looked to have turned a corner before their dismal display against Mainz last week.
Hertha last beat Bayern in Munich back in 1977 and that’s a statistic that is likely to remain after this weekend, even if Bayern haven’t been at their best of late.
Stuttgart v Eintracht Frankfurt (Sat 2.30pm)
Amidst the whistling and the hundreds of tennis balls that rained onto the pitch on Monday night, Eintracht Frankfurt produced an impressive performance and result to boot against Leipzig.
Their 2-1 victory saw them move up to third in the division as they beat off a fellow contender for a Champions League place too – something that they weren’t expected to be challenging for at the beginning of the season.
They can be more than a little abrasive at times but Frankfurt’s all action approach is impressive and for that Niko Kovac deserves credit.
His former team-mate at Hertha Berlin, Kevin-Prince Boateng, has been a key cog in their success too. He said this week that a recent 3-0 defeat to Augsburg helped to rattle Frankfurt awake again in the new year, which so far has only seen Bayern Munich take more points than them.
Last weekend though, Stuttgart did exactly what Frankfurt couldn’t by going and winning at Augsburg. The 1-0 scoreline was generous on the hosts with Stuttgart carving out plenty of opportunities to finish off Augsburg.
That made it seven points from three games so far under new coach Tayfun Korkut, written off by almost everyone after less than impressive spells at Leverkusen, Kaiserlautern and Hannover.
He won’t have to face Boateng this weekend which is a bonus, but Frankfurt are still likely to be a force going forward. These are two sides on the up and whilst Stuttgart don’t score many, a few goals should go in here.
- Stuttgart 1, Eintracht 2 (19-2, Unibet)
- Wolf to score first (21-2, Unibet)
- Over 2.5 goals (123-100, Unibet)
Werder Bremen v Hamburg (Sat 5.30pm)
The battle of Germany’s two biggest giants in the north has even greater significance this weekend such is the predicament of both sides.
Werder Bremen had been delivering consistent performances under coach Florian Kohfeldt before they went to Freiburg and lost 1-0.
“That wasn’t the team we’ve been this year,” said midfielder Thomas Delaney after the defeat which included “one of our worst first halves in a long time”.
That leaves them outside the relegation playoff position merely on goal difference but it could be worse. They could be Hamburg who are six points off that relative safety after a dire display of their own against Leverkusen last weekend.
Some of the Hamburg hardcore tried to get on the pitch after the game such was their fury with the team’s performance.
They’re yet to win in their four games under new coach Bernd Hollerbach, a cult figure for the club in his playing days but this challenge looks beyond him at present.
Both sides have injury worries ahead of Saturday’s game – something which Hamburg were perhaps trying to check on with Werder claiming to have identified a Hamburg spy at their open training session on Wednesday who, when approached, said he just wanted autographs.
The absence of Werder captain Zlatko Junuzovic at Freiburg was keenly felt in midfield last weekend but he’s only likely to be fit enough for a place on the bench. The same can be said too of Hamburg’s Albin Ekdal but Werder look much better placed to cope on Saturday evening.
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.