Old foes might not hit top gear
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Saturday 09 November, 17:30
Live on BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
Parting company with your coach six days before Der Klassiker is hardly ideal preparation for one of the biggest games in German football, but Bayern Munich's appalling 5-1 hammering at Eintracht Frankfurt was a jarring and intolerable result. Not only had the record champions been beaten, they had been humiliated by their coach Niko Kovac's former club, and Kovac reached an agreement to call time on his reign before he reached the halfway point of his second season.
The Croatian had led Bayern to a domestic double in his first campaign, but he never had the unflinching support of either his players or his bosses. While outgoing president Uli Hoeness was his loudest champion, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was never convinced, and senior players feared Kovac didn't have the tactical acumen to break down the best sides. Kovac's lousy political skills did him no favours either - he clumsily praised Frankfurt's fans as the world's best, he handled living legend Thomas Muller clumsily at best, and his open courting of Manchester City's Leroy Sane was at odds with the club's more clandestine efforts.
So Kovac is now a footnote in Bayern's illustrious history, and his temporary replacement is World-Cup winning ex-Germany assistant Hansi Flick, who was brought in at Sabener Strasse in the summer. As things stand, Flick will coach the team for the rest of the season, with Ajax coach Erik ten Hag a target to replace Kovac more permanently in the summer. Flick started with an unimpressive but effective 2-0 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League.
Bayern have won all four of their Champions League games, but their form in the Bundesliga is far more shaky. They have already lost twice in their first ten league games, and have leaked 16 goals already, just 16 fewer than they conceded in the whole of last season. At the Allianz Arena, usually such a formidable fortress, they have lost to Hoffenheim and been held by Hertha Berlin.
At least the ever-reliable Robert Lewandowski has been on scintillating form. The Polish international has made history by scoring in his first ten Bundesliga games of the season, and he has also found the net in all four of his Champions League appearances. He has scored 24 goals for club and country this season in just 21 appearances.
Lewandowski's old club Borussia Dortmund are having a superb week, but it would've been more comfortable for them if they'd played well in the first halves of their matches against Wolfsburg and Inter Milan and well as after the restart. Against the Wolves, a tepid goalless first half gave way to a stunning second-half romp, and there was extraordinary comeback against Inter. BVB were 2-0 down at the break, and looked distinctly vulnerable to the counter-attack of their Italian foes. Inspired by a brace from the fleet-footed Achraf Hakimi (a right-back pushed further forward,) Dortmund turned the match around to win 3-2.
Dortmund find themselves a point ahead of Bayern, but they have psychological demons to battle as they make the trip to Bavaria. They have lost 6-0 and 5-0 on their last two league visits to Bayern, and although they have beaten the record champions twice at Signal Iduna Park since the start of last season (once in the league and once in the Supercup) they need to prove they can compete with them in Munich.
It's difficult to get excited about Bayern's price of 1.68/13 to win the game, as they have been well below par for much of the season. With Jerome Boateng suspended and both Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez, Flick may have to send his team out with a more cautious mindset than usual. There are fitness doubts over BVB skipper Marco Reus and teenage wing wizard Jadon Sancho, and if they are absent, Hakimi may be deployed out wide again, with Julian Brandt in Reus's position just off a central forward. Spanish goal-getter Paco Alcacer is only just back after injury.
The market expect goals here, but I'm not so sure. Dortmund will be keen to avoid another trouncing in Munich, and Bayern have been disrupted by absences and a change of coach. Suggestions that Flick may drop the likes of Thiago and Philippe Coutinho suggest we're in for a battle. Under 3.5 Goals is trading at 1.855/6, and I think that's the way to go.
Swabians to win battle at the bottom
Paderborn v Augsburg
Saturday 09 November, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
Paderborn suffered yet another humbling defeat last Friday, as they were swept aside 3-0 at Hoffenheim. It was not only yet more evidence that Paderborn don't have the requisite quality to truly play their attacking brand of football at this level, but it was another example of how SCP are failing to even do the defensive basics. They have collected just four points from ten games, and even though they won their most recent home game 2-0 against Fortuna Dusseldorf, I don't expect another victory this weekend.
Augsburg are only three points better off than Paderborn, but they have actually played well in recent games. They drew with both Bayern and Wolfsburg, and they should really have picked up at least a point against Schalke last weekend, only for Amine Harit to take the game away from them with a last-gasp moment of magic. With Alfred Finnbogason and Marco Richter looking sharp in attack, FCA should have enough quality to exploit Paderborn's defensive problems.
I'll back Augsburg Draw No Bet here at 1.981/1.
Red Bulls to keep on charging
Hertha Berlin v RB Leipzig
Saturday 09 November, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
It's been an incredible run of form from RB Leipzig. They demolished Wolfsburg 6-1 in the DFB Cup, pulverised Mainz 8-0 and then won 2-0 at Zenit in the Champions League. They also have every reason to think they will beat Hertha this weekend - Opta tell us they have won five of their six Bundesliga matches against the capital club, and in March they smacked them 5-0.
Hertha are reeling after losing the Berlin derby 1-0 at Union, and they have lost three of their last five home games in the league. I'll back Leipzig to win here at 1.875/6.