VFL Bochum v Eintracht Frankfurt
Sandwiched between Champions League games against Tottenham Hotspur, Eintracht Frankfurt make the trip to Bochum as they look to build on their impressive 2-0 win against Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin last weekend. With four wins in their last five league games, expect Oliver Glasner to rotate with a place in the Champions League knockout stages still possible after three games. One forced change Glasner will make is Randal Kolo Muani, who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card against Union. Expect Rafael Borré or Lucas Alario to come in for Kolo Muani, but for Glasner to favour his 3-4-3, with Jesper Lindstrom and one of Mario Götze or Daichi Kamada playing behind a No. 9.
Sitting sixth, Eintracht failed to win any of their opening three Bundesliga games and questions were starting to be asked about Glasner. But under pressure, Eintracht Frankfurt have significantly improved in their last four games, starting with their 1-0 win at Marseille in Europe. Eintracht (5.6 per 90) don’t seem to create many chances per match and are ranked 11th in that metric. One thing they are though is clinical. From an xG of 11, Eintracht have scored 16 league goals, Kamada scoring 4, 25% of Eintracht’s goals.
The problem that Bochum potentially cause for Eintracht is the appointment of Thomas Letsch, who replaced Thomas Reis. Bottom and winless after eight games, Bochum are already four points adrift from Stuttgart, who occupy the relegation playoff. But despite Letsch losing his first game in charge against RB Leipzig, Bochum playing at home in front of a sold out Ruhrstadion may just spur the hosts on. They will though be without Takuma Asano. ‘Keeper Manuel Riemann tends to busy, expect SGE to test him on Saturday.
With a strong squad despite Glasner having one eye on the upcoming Champions League games against Tottenham Hotspur, Eintracht Frankfurt are the much better team, are in good form and are excellent value on Betfair with odds of 1.91.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
The first Klassiker of the season sees Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich on Saturday in the Bundesliga’s Topspiel for MD9. Level on points, Bayern have won their last four games at the Signal Iduna Park and face Dortmund with 24 hours more rest after playing on Tuesday night, opposed to BVB, who played the following night.
Coming into this game, Julian Nagelsmann has been given a timely boost with Kingsley Coman returning to training. Leroy Sané is in-form with eight goals and three assists in 13 games across all competitions and after six games without a goal, Sadio Mané scored in Bayern’s emphatic 4-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend and added a second in as many games against Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday – the Senegalese forward has returned to form at a vital time with Bayern playing eight games in 25 days.
Operating in a 4-2-3-1, Nagelsmann also has generational talent Jamal Musiala at his disposal. The Germany international is an absolute joy to watch with his ability to invite pressure, progressing the ball and remaining decisive in the final third at such a young age. With 7 goals and 6 assists in 13 games this season, Musiala is overperforming in both xG (4.5) and xA (5.7). Only Thomas Müller (25) and Joshua Kimmich (22) have created more chances than Musiala (19).
As for Dortmund, they soundly beat Sevilla on Wednesday night but they have ‘keeper Alexander Meyer to thank after making 4 important saves in a 37-minute spell at 1-0. Defensively, Nico Schlotterbeck has an error in him but Mats Hummels could return this weekend, whilst Gregor Kobel may displace Meyer in goal after recovering from a back injury. Going forward, BVB are much quicker in their transitions when Youssoufa Moukoko is playing, he was magnificent against Sevilla but Anthony Modeste may return to the starting XI on Saturday.
With an ever-improving Dayot Upamecano striking up an excellent defensive partnership with Matthijs de Ligt, Bayern have kept successive clean for just the second time this season. Going forward, Nagelsmann has plenty of options and they look much more dangerous without having to rely on Robert Lewandowski. Bayern always thrive at the Signal Iduna Park and after an early blip, they look even more dangerous now and good for a win with over 1.5 goals.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Cologne
Daniel Farke will get his first taste of the Rheinderby on Sunday afternoon when his Borussia Mönchengladbach side host Cologne. Without a win in three against their rivals, Gladbach will be eager to get bragging rights as they look to make amends for their shambolic 5-1 defeat against Werder Bremen last weekend. Completely outplayed, Gladbach converted just one of their nine chances whilst Bremen were clinical, scoring five from an xG of 2.6. Farke will expect a response from his players and with a full week to prepare, they already hold an advantage after Cologne were in European action on Thursday evening, losing to Partizan
Against Bremen, Marcus Thuram scored his fourth Bundesliga goal of the season in eight games, already surpassing last season’s tally. Gladbach operate in a 4-2-3-1 under Farke and the Frenchman now operates centrally but an area that Thuram must improve on is his composure in front of goal. Despite four goals, Thuram has an xG of 7 in the Bundesliga. Chances will always come against Cologne and on his day Thuram, is unstoppable. Quick in their transitions, Gladbach will allow Cologne to attack and hit them on the break. Their 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich is a prime example of what Farke is trying to achieve.
But one player that Gladbach must keep an eye on is Florian Kainz. Against Borussia Dortmund last weekend, the Austrian scored one and assisted one, created three chances and made five key passes as Cologne overturned a 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead. Operating on the left flank, Joe Scally, who is expected to play right-back for Gladbach will have to keep tight to Kainz. With 14 goals after seven games, Steffen Baumgart’s side have been OK going forward with last season’s top scorer Anthony Modeste joining Borussia Dortmund, but they’re not pretty.
Heading into this game, just one point separates Borussia Mönchengladbach (9th) and Cologne (7th). Needing a response and with extra time to prepare, Farke’s players will be regenerated whilst Jonas Hector and Co. will likely feel lethargic after playing on Thursday night. With odds of 1.95 on Betfair, Farke’s Gladbach represents excellent value.
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