The Bundesliga title looks to be heading to Munich once again, but there are plenty of other issues to be resolved. Kevin Hatchard's back with his best bets.
"Hertha haven't won since the winter break, and they've scored just two goals in four matches in 2018."
Bayer Leverkusen v Hertha Berlin
Saturday February 10, 14:30
Sometimes coaches learn more about their players in adversity than they do when things are going well. Bayer Leverkusen had their backs against the wall in midweek, as they were 2-0 down at home to Werder Bremen after just seven minutes of their DFB Cup quarter-final. Last season's Bayer may have panicked, and I suspect they'd have lost the game, but this season's version of Die Werkself is a bit tougher. Inspired by an outstanding display from Julian Brandt, Bayer levelled ten minutes after the break, and went on to win the tie in extra time. Coach Heiko Herrlich has infused his players with belief, which is often the hardest task for a leader.
Now Bayer turn their attention to one of the most brutal battles for the top four that the Bundesliga has seen. At least eight teams are scrapping for three places, with Bayern over the hills and far away at the top. Their home form is patchy, with five wins from the last nine league games at the BayArena, but that sequence included games against Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayern.
Hertha Berlin are still looking for their first win of 2018, and they were somewhat uninspiring in last weekend's draw with Hoffenheim. Hertha were outplayed in the first half, and although they equalised with a superb goal from Salomon Kalou, they never really got on top of their opponents. Hertha have only scored two goals in four games since the winter break, and the service to star striker Davie Selke hasn't been good enough of late.
With Brandt and the supercharged Leon Bailey on great form in attack, I think Bayer will have a bit too much pace and quality for Hertha here. The capital club have lost on their last four visits to the BayArena, and I expect that run to be extended.
Back Bayer Leverkusen -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at [1.93]
Borussia Dortmund v Hamburg
Saturday February 10, 14:30
It was a case of Batman Returns last Friday. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who once donned a Batman mask to celebrate a Dortmund goal, was replaced by Michy Batshuayi, a self-confessed comic book fan who loves the colours black and yellow. The new Batman struck twice in BVB's 3-2 win at FC Koln, helping to turn the tide in what was a pulsating match.
Having watched Batshuayi's excellent debut, it was hard to discern what it is that his Chelsea coach Antonio Conte doesn't like about his game. His movement was superb, he protected the ball well when necessary, and he showed admirable instincts in front of goal. Dortmund don't have an automatic right to buy Batshuayi, which may be the only downside of what is already looking like a smart piece of business.
On Saturday the Belgian will face a Hamburg team that's still in deep trouble despite the arrival of new coach and former HSV hardman Bernd Hollerbach. In both of his games in charge, Hamburg have fought back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw with a goal from Filip Kostic. Although Hamburg do look more organised under Hollerbach, they are still desperately short of creativity, and their tally of 17 goals from 21 games speaks volumes.
I was hugely impressed with Batshuayi last week, and I find it hard to believe he won't get chances again this weekend. I'll back him to score at evens.
Back Michy Batshuayi to score at [2.0] on the Sportsbook
Stuttgart v Borussia Monchengladbach
Sunday February 11, 14:30
Neither of these teams is in great form, but I can't accept that the visitors should be the outsiders here against a newly-promoted team that has won one of its last nine matches. Stuttgart's hiring of coach Tayfun Korkut yielded a point last weekend at Wolfsburg, but it remains to be seen whether he can rebuild the confidence of a squad that has plenty of inexperienced youngsters.
The home form that served Stuttgart so well in the opening months of the season has deserted them, with three defeats in the last four games at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. In attack, too much rests on the returning hero Mario Gomez - Chadrac Akolo is currently the club's top scorer with a modest tally of four goals.
Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking is probably facing the first big crisis of his tenure, with the Fohlenelf having lost three of their last four games during a run of two victories from nine outings. However, those defeats don't tell the whole story. At Koln they were dominating the second half before Simon Terodde's last-gasp derby winner. In Frankfurt they missed a late penalty which would've made it 1-1, and at home to Leipzig last weekend they were involved in a good contest which could've swung either way.
Gladbach simply have better players, and they're visiting a side lacking consistency and confidence. I'm back the Foals.
Back Borussia Monchengladbach Draw No Bet at [2.0]
2017-18 Bundesliga P/L
Points Staked: 68
Points Returned: 65.29
P/L: -2.71 points