A solid 2/3 winners for Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) in last week’s Bundesliga action. He’s lined up four beauties this weekend…
Dortmund v Hertha Berlin | Sunday 14.30 | BT Sport Europe
Hands up, I didn’t expect Dortmund to make quite as big an impact so soon under Thomas Tuchel. It’s been utterly mesmerising and refreshing to see the Black & Yellows in full flow once more and their back-to-back 4-0 wins in the Bundesliga against Gladbach and Ingolstadt have been totally dominating.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s reborn, Marco Reus is fit and firing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sharp and scoring goals whilst even Shinji Kagawa has shown he’s more than capable of picking up where left off at Signal Iduna Park before leaving for Manchester United. Honestly, it’s been a joy and pleasure to see this side back playing to their potential.
On Sunday they face an interesting test. Hertha Berlin have equalled their best ever start from two games (W1-D1-L0, yeah, nothing to get too excited about) but Pal Dardai's side are no longer a soft touch. Include the DFB Pokal and the capital club have leaked just one goal in their first three outings in 2015/16 and their resolute backline is certainly cause for optimism in Berlin.
Hertha have been ugly, dour and pretty boring for a long time now but at least they have a purpose under Dardai. The Hungarian has drilled the defence superbly and whilst they rode their luck against Augsburg and Werder Bremen, they’ve not leaked more than two goals in a game under Dardai, shutting out their opponents in eight of 17 league matches under his watch.
So rather than dabble in any handicap bet, I’m happier investing in Coral’s 8/11 for Dortmund to be ahead at half-time and full-time in the Double Result market. The Black & Yellows have led at the interval in four of their seven successive wins to start 2015/16 and smashed 16 goals in their three Signal Iduna Park appearances. Hertha will aim to frustrate but seven defeats in eight trips to top-six sides suggest they’ll not be strong enough to stop Tuchel’s slaying army.
Augsburg v Ingolstadt | Saturday 14.30
Augsburg have never been fast out of the blocks since promotion to the Bundesliga and their 2015/16 campaign has followed a similar theme. Markus Weinzierl’s man have collected a solitary point from their opening two games but there’s no need for panic stations yet.
In both fixtures the Bavarians were impressive in forward areas; in a 1-0 loss at home to Hertha on week one, Augsburg hit the woodwork three times and also had Raúl Bobadilla sent off in the first-half. The barrel-chested forward is back this weekend and his finishing skills are certainly required as the Fuggerstädter squandered a whole host of goalscoring opportunities in their 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt last time out.
The home side are generally very strong when posed with newly-promoted sides. In 12 meetings they’ve returned W7-D4-L1 with victories recorded in five of their last eight when entertaining the same sort of opposition at their WWK Arena base – all five wins came by a margin of two goals or more.
In 2014/15, Augsburg racked up nine Bundesliga victories in front of their home supporters and they defeated all of their visitors from the bottom-five on their way to an exemplary fifth-placed finish. At 21/20 (BetVictor) the hosts look excellent value to grab their first win of the season on Saturday.
Ingolstadt bagged maximum points from Mainz in their Bundesliga bow but last week’s 4-0 stuffing by Dortmund will have been tough to take. It was their heaviest competitive defeat for almost four years and although Ralph Hasenhüttl's side have lost just two of their 10 competitive away games in 2015 (W4-D4-L2) the step up in class is noticeable from the second tier.
After 180 minutes of league football, Ingolstadt are the only side yet to create a clear-cut chance this season and I’m not sure they have enough dogged and resilient features to hold off the Bavarians. Home win.
Mainz v Hannover | Saturday 14.30
I’ve been eager to take on Hannover this season but I’ve had to wait my turn. Saturday’s trip to Mainz looks the best opportunity to oppose the 96ers who I believe will be fighting against relegation when May rolls around in 2016.
Michael Frontzeck's now in charge but it’s a tough gig. Hannover have won just twice in 20 Bundesliga outings, W1-D6-L5 in their most recent 12 road trips and have now gone 20 games without recording a clean sheet. The visitors have failed to record three points in their opening two matchdays for the first time since 2009/10 and they make the journey without the still injured playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake.
Kyotake’s missed seven games since the start of last season and Hannover have managed just one win without him and seven goals. Following the summer sales of Joselu and Lars Stindl, the Japanese midfielder was the 96ers top-scoring player and Frontzeck's charges looked bereft of final third quality in their 1-0 loss at Leverkusen last week.
Mainz were surprisingly beaten by Ingolstadt at home on a sweltering opening day and some pundits suggested Martin Schmidt's side could be in for a rough campaign with bright young talent Johannes Geis and top goal-getter Shinji Okazaki leaving in the off-season. But the 05ers reacted superbly, beating Monchengladbach 2-1 on their travels last Sunday.
Sure, Mainz were under the cosh for large parts but they showed terrific bravery, a clinical touch on the counter and were organised when in defence. The hosts have lost just once in nine meetings with Hanover including W2-D2-L0 at the Coface Arena and I reckon they’re well worth a poke at 21/20 with BetVictor.
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen | Saturday 17.30 | BT Sport Europe
It’s easily the biggest game on the Bundesliga coupon this weekend as both Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen arrive at the Allianz Arena to defend their 100% starts. Bayern are understandably strong favourites to blast their way to another three points but I don’t believe this is going to be easy nor comfortable for Pep Guardiola’s troops.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the positives for FC Hollywood. The German giants have now W36-D8-L0 of matches played before Christmas, dating back to October 2012. Pep’s men have recorded victories in 30 of their last 35 league fixtures as hosts and won by two or more goals in 11 of their last 17 Bundesliga fixtures in Munich.
They’re seriously strong trends but the hierarchy at Bayern haven’t been overly impressed by their start. Sure, they swallowed up Hamburg with ease but last weekend they fell victim to the fastest goal in Bundesliga history. David Alaba’s sloppy back-pass allowed Kevin Volland to sneak in and give Hoffenheim a lead after just nine seconds. In typical Bayern fashion they fought back to claim the win with Robert Lewandowski scoring in second-half stoppage-time.
Hoffe even missed a penalty in that 2-1 loss whilst centre-half Jerome Boateng was also sent off. Throw in an injury suffered to fellow defender Mehdi Benatia and suddenly a case is building against the all-conquering Bavarians. Want more? Well in 2014/15, Bayern only W3-D3-L4 in their 10 encounters against fellow top-six sides – that would have seen Pep’s charges finish bottom of a table representing just those teams! Golly.
Bayern are off the top of the table for the first time since matchday four last season and Leverkusen have a super chance to make this match-up more interesting than the pre-match odds suggest. The visitors have ground out a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim and 1-0 success at Hannover sandwiched between their Champions League commitments but their performance in beating Lazio 3-0 in midweek was extra impressive.
Heung-Min Son might have joined Spurs but Kevin Kampl’s arrived from Dortmund to team-up with Roger Schmidt once more and Admir Mehmedi has flourished in the front-three since his move from Freiburg. Jonathan Tah’s been strong in central defence whilst captain Lars Bender and Christoph Kramer are as solid a central midfield as you’re likely to come across.
Die Werkself have kept clean sheets in nine of their past 14 league fixtures and I see absolutely no reason why they can’t say within one-goal of Bayern on Saturday night. 888 Sport have chalked up the visitors at 22/23 with a +1.5 Asian Handicap start and that looks an excellent option.
In 11 of the past 13 meetings, including the last eight head-to-heads, Leverkusen have stayed within a goal of Bayern and I’d be surprised if Pep’s men ran away with a win by two goals or more. Since Schmidt arrived in the Die Werkself hot-seat, his team have only twice lost by the same margin. Leverkusen +1.5 please.
Dortmund v Hertha Berlin – Dortmund-Dortmund double result (8/11 BetVictor)
Augsburg v Ingolstadt – Augsburg to win (21/20 BetVictor)
Mainz v Hannover – Mainz to win (21/20 BetVictor)
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen – Bayer Leverkusen +1.5 Asian Handicap (22/23 888 Sport)
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