Friday 21 August
Hertha Berlin 21/20
Werder Bremen 26/10
Hertha Berlin will be pleased to have begun the coming season with three points on the road against tough opposition. Having only avoided last year’s relegation playoff by virtue of goal difference, coach Pal Dardai would’ve earmarked this season as a chance for the men from the capital to reestablish themselves as a top flight entity. A 1-0 win at Augsburg courtesy of a Salomon Kalou penalty in a match in which both sides were reduced to ten men may not have been the most emphatic way to announce their ambitions, but beggars can’t be choosers. Werder Bremen’s 3-0 home loss to Schalke would’ve conjured unwelcome memories of the beginning of last term and having not adequately addressed the departures of key personnel, may struggle to get their season off the ground once again. Hertha Berlin haven’t lost to Werder Bremen in the capital since 2009/10, last year holding them to a draw in this fixture. I fancy Berlin to get up for the win at 21/20.
Saturday 22 August
Bayern Munich 3/10
Steven Zuber put Hoffenheim in front within five minutes at BayArena, only for Leverkusen to equalise on the stroke of halftime and battle back to collect the win with twenty minutes left to play. Hoffenheim were pegged back inside their half for the most part after scoring and it already seems as though it is going to be a long season for Markus Gisdol and his cohorts. Munich were superb in their 5-0 dismantling of Hamburg, sending an early warning sign to all and sundry that an unprecedented fourth straight Bundesliga title is theirs to lose. Medhi Benatia netted to take Bayern into the break one goal to the good. Subsequently, Lewandowski struck before Thomas Muller scored twice in four minutes, the tally rounded out by Douglas Costa on the back of a glittering league debut. They’ll win this one as well, in style. Over 3.5 Goals at 19/20 is the bet here.
Bayer Leverkusen 8/10
Hannover can count themselves lucky to have come away from newly promoted Darmstadt with a point. Having levelled in the second half of their 2-2 draw, Hannover conceded before a weak penalty effort was saved, only for Darmstadt to put the rebound in the back of their own net. Leverkusen battled back to win 2-1 at home against Hoffenheim in a slightly laboured beginning to a potentially fruitful campaign. They fully deserved the three points after conceding early, but the cutting edge to Leverkusen’s attacking threat from last season was missing. No doubt this will be an aspect that Roger Schmidt will address with Leverkusen competing in a Champions League Play-off with Lazio in midweek. I feel that Leverkusen will have enough to get over the line here and are good value for the 8/10 on offer.
New Schalke boss Andre Breitenreiter began his tenure with a convincing 3-0 victory at Werder Bremen, however, the three points came at a price. Central defender Matija Nastasic ruptured his Achilles tendon and will be out for at least six months after undergoing surgery. Still, Schalke’s dominance on the front foot was something that was largely missing from the back end of last season, and Roberto Di Matteo’s reign. They have a talented crop of players and have managed to keep hold of exciting 19-year-old Leroy Sane, who covered the length of the field before offloading to Klaas Jan Huntelaar for Schalke’s third. Darmstadt made a promising start to life in the top flight with a point at home against Hannover and should probably have secured in three in theory. They’ll need a miracle to get anything out of this match. Schalke at 9/20 looks a sure bet.
Eintracht Frankfurt 11/10
Frankfurt may feel slightly hard done by after leaving Wolfsburg without a share of the spoils last weekend. The Eagles went two down but managed to pull back a goal almost immediately through Stefan Reinartz. They then went on to have the better of the second-half against first-rate opposition, but lacked a finisher in the mould of Alexander Meier, missing through injury. Just as in seasons past, Augsburg’s began with a loss. They went down 1-0 at home against Hertha Berlin and lost forward Raul Bobadilla to a red card. They’ve also lost left-back Baba Rahman to Chelsea and it seems that their spot in the Europa League from last season will be feat tough to replicate. Neither side could come up with the goods last week but Frankfurt certainly showed better intent. Back the home side at 11/10.
Having recently scored a hat-trick and made club history for the fastest goal (45 seconds) in the DFB-Pokal, new signing Anthony Modeste netted from the penalty spot to give Cologne the lead on their visit to Stuttgart. Simon Zoller scored a minute later and Osako grabbed a third to secure an impressive 3-1 win, ensuring that Cologne’s proud record of having not lost in Swabia since 1996 continued. Wolfsburg were let off the hook but a Frankfurt side who couldn’t take their chances and secured all three points at home, Ivan Perisic and Bas Dost on the scoresheet. Kevin De Bruyne battled to make an impression on the match as his massive move to Manchester City gains momentum. Although Wolfsburg beat Bayern to the German Super Cup and haven’t lost since, Cologne have looked organised recently and can pose a threat. I’m going out on a limb and tipping the home win/draw Double Chance at 19/20.
It’s been a rough start to the new season for the Bundesliga’s longest serving and currently most tumultuous club. First they crashed out of the DFB-Pokal losing 3-2 to fourth-tier Carl Zeiss Jena. Later that day, sporting director Peter Knebal lost a confidential knapsack and then it was revealed that Hamburg had been selling T-shirts in the club shop with a picture of Hertha Berlin supporters. They missed out on the loan for Barcelona midfielder Alen Halilovic, were thrashed 5-0 by Bayern Munich and the only positive they could take from the whole situation was that it was an improvement on last season’s 9-2 and 8-0 embarrassments. Stuttgart began with a home loss to long time nemesis Cologne and the smiles from last season’s escape would have slowly faded. Under 2.5 goals looks a good value bet here, available at even money.
Sunday 23 August
Borussia Dortmund 9/20
Newly promoted Ingolstadt made a dream start to life in the top flight. Lukas Hinterseer’s historic strike saw the club leave Mainz with all three points in their Bundesliga debut. They took some time to settle in but soon gained the upper hand and made the goal advantage count. Dortmund’s manner in which they thrashed Gladbach 4-0 will bring fans of the club delight. Thomas Tuchel has managed to tweak their playing style into a more possession based brand of football, as opposed to Klopp’s counter-attacking tendencies. This showed in a more assured defensive display and benefitted the side going forward. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has netted six times in four competitive matches this season, which is already one more than all of his 42 appearances last season. There’s no reason not to back Dortmund at the 9/20 on offer.
Borussia Monchengladbach 7/10
Gladbach will still be reeling from their loss at Signal-Iduna-Park but one can expect them to bounce back considering last season’s exploits. In truth, Lars Stindl is still setting into the side and was defensively naive in their last outing, making his central midfield pairing with Granit Xhaka unbalanced. This heaped pressure on two very young centre-backs who replaced the injured Stranzl and Dominguez. Mainz lost at home to Ingolstadt and would have hoped for a much better result considering they managed a finish of relative safety last season. Mainz is one of those clubs that battles to score goals and relies on a physical, stodgy style of play to frustrate opposition. I don’t expect they will be able to stifle Gladbach. Back the home side to collect three points at 7/10.