There’s hardly a dull moment to blemish the German opening weekends...and that statement is made with no less than four 1-1 draws occurring last time out. Dortmund’s rise from the ashes of last season continued with a 4-0 thrashing of Bundesliga new boys Ingolstadt, while Bayern Munich conceded the quickest goal in league history at the hands of Hoffenheim forward Kevin Volland. It took the German a mere nine seconds to intercept a David Alaba pass and fire past Manuel Neuer. This weekend not only ushers in the final set of fixtures before the end of the summer transfer window, but the prospect of a few classic clashes with Bundesliga giants meeting on all three days of action.
Friday 28 August
Kevin De Bruyne played ninety minutes for Wolfsburg despite the ongoing speculation of his move to Manchester City. The Bundesliga 2014/15 Player of the Year missed a gilt-edged opportunity to win the match for his current club and Wolves were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw on their trip to Cologne. It seems the Belgian is a tad distracted on account of the recent transfer saga. Wolfsburg left it late to get the equaliser last weekend and cannot afford complacency against a Schalke side making improvements under Andre Breitenreiter. A win on the road against Werder Bremen was followed by a rather disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Darmstadt last weekend. Summer recruit Franco Di Santo crossed for Julian Draxler to open his account for the season, pricking the ears up of the powers that be at Juventus. Both Teams to Score is rather short at 11/20 but where I’ll be heading in a difficult match to pick a winner.
Saturday 29 August
Eintracht Frankfurt 28/10
Stuttgart have begun what many believed could be a season full of potential in disappointing fashion. Cologne outplayed the hosts at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena before two late goals saw the Swabians give up a lead away from home. Daniel Ginczek scored a brace in the first half but after losing Florian Klein to a red card with a half hour still left to be played, Stuttgart caved under the weight of the extra man. Eintracht Frankfurt picked up their first point of the season as captain Marco Russ scored a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw with Augsburg. Frankfurt were put under a great deal of pressure for much of the game and can count themselves lucky to have emerged unscathed. Stuttgart did the double over Frankfurt last season, one match a nine-goal thriller with Stuttgart edging it 5-4. Over 2.5 Goals looks a certain bet at 11/20.
Promoted Darmstadt continued their unbeaten run in the top flight by grinding out a draw away from home at Schalke, their first away game in the Bundesliga in 33 years. Two points from two matches will be considered a job well done by manager Dirk Schuster. Hoffenheim’s record early goal from Kevin Volland gave them the perfect platform to get something from their game against three-time consecutive champions Bayern Munich. Although the Bavarians equalised just before half-time, Hoffenheim had the chance for a potential winner when Boateng handled in the area and was given his marching orders. Polanski’s penalty was saved and Hoffenheim were made to pay as a ten-man Munich scored in the ninetieth minute. They gave away a similar lead the week previous at Leverkusen. Hoffenheim will be aware that picking up three points against side like Darmstadt is paramount for successful season. I’m tipping them to do just that 31/20.
Brazilian Caiuby gave Augsburg the lead away at Frankfurt but the visitors were denied victory by conceding a late goal. Augsburg wasted numerous opportunities to put the match beyond their hosts but will probably still be pleased to have picked up their first point of the season. Augsburg kicked off the campaign by losing at home to Hertha Berlin and they will be intent on pleasing the fans with the visit of newly promoted Ingolstadt to the WWK Arena. Die Schanzer were given an awakening to the harsh realities of top flight football as they were thrashed 4-0 by Dortmund in their last outing. They’re certainly no pushovers but are tipped to struggle against an entrenched Bundesliga force. Back the home side at 17/20.
Mainz constructed the perfect response to their opening weekend loss to newly promoted Ingolstadt by picking up all three points away from home at Gladbach. After Jairo Samperio gave Mainz the lead it was a case of damage limitation, as their hosts not only equalised but spurned chance after chance to put the game to bed. As it happened, Mainz collected the three points from a fast break and now host Hannover with another win a real opportunity. Hannover drew with Darmstadt first up and lost to an unimpressive Leverkusen last weekend, barely putting up a fight after conceding within the first twenty minutes. It was a sorry display in front of their home fans and Hannover can be considered relegation candidates until they begin to show some ambition. It’s unlikely to be on display here. Take Mainz to win at 19/20.
Hamburger SV 7/2
Cologne have made an impressive beginning to the campaign. They left Stuttgart 3-1 winners in the opening gameweek and consolidated to draw against Wolfsburg in their last outing. Simon Zoller opened the scoring, his second in two weeks, while Cologne’s defence proved difficult to break down. This is bound to be a hard-fought encounter as the Goats host a Hamburg side fresh off a last gasp win against Stuttgart. It was an impressive response to their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich and having the steel to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat will hold them in good stead given the recent turmoil. This encounter didn’t produce many goals last season so play Under 2.5 Goals at 19/20 at good value.
Bayern Munich 7/20
Bayer Leverkusen 7/1
Munich’s last minute winner saved the champions some blushes on their travel to Hoffenheim. A fresh injury crisis has struck the Bavarians despite Guardiola’s careful transfer workings to prevent such an occurrance. Centre-backs Javi Martinez and Holger Badstuber are sidelined with injury while Medhi Benatia pulled up with a hamstring problem in Munich’s last outing. Jerome Boateng faces a suspension for his red card, leaving Dante as the only recognised available central defender. Bayer Leverkusen did just enough to secure three points at Hannover after Hakan Calhanoglu opened the scoring in the eighteenth minute. They’ve picked up two wins in their opening exchanges but Leverkusen haven’t looked convincing in doing so. It begs the question of whether they are ready to cause some problems for the champions, especially with a resounding performance required in midweek against Lazio in Champions League qualification. The 7/20 seems enough value to back Munich for the straight win at home.
Sunday 30 August
Borussia Dortmund 2/9
Hertha Berlin 11/1
Dortmund currently top the table on goal difference for the first time since September 2013 as Thomas Tuchel’s charges have romped to two consecutive 4-0 victories over Gladbach and Ingolstadt respectively. Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have scored in back-to-back gameweeks while Matthias Ginter scored his first goal for the club against Ingolstadt. Scoring goals against sides who park the bus in the Bundesliga is never easy and must be attributed to the shrewd managerial style of Tuchel. Hertha Berlin most certainly face a battle against the odds. The Old Lady began their campaign with a 1-0 win against Augsburg and took the lead last week against Werder Bremen. In the end they would settle for a point and will be pleased to walk away from Signal-Iduna-Park with the same result. I wouldn’t bet on it though. Dortmund are available on the halftime-fulltime double at 6/10.
Werder Bremen 22/10
Borussia Monchengladbach 11/10
Anthony Ujah levelled to score his first goal for Werder Bremen against the run of play and ensure the club picked up a point from their travel to the capital. USA international Aron Johannsson made his first start for Werder Bremen but had little impact and was eventually swapped for a more defensive-minded replacement. Gladbach’s poor start to a season with much expectation continued as they went down 2-1 at home to Mainz. It equates to their second loss in a row and having finished third in the league last year, are now rooted to the bottom. It is too early to write Gladbach off this season but they will need to improve on taking chances in front of goal if they hope to equal the success of last term. This could well be closer than the bookies indicate and I prefer Both Teams to Score at 6/10 as the play here.