Bayern and Leipzig packing a punch in attack
Supercup meeting was an eight-goal thriller
Friday fireworks on the cards
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich
Friday 20 January, 19:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video
It's been a long hiatus for the Bundesliga, but we have a dream game to get the season back underway. The leaders and champions Bayern went into the World Cup break with a ten-match winning streak in all competitions, while Marco Rose has won all eight of his competitive home matches in charge of Die Roten Bullen, including a stunning success against the European champions Real Madrid.
Bayern had a four-match winless run in the league earlier this season, and such is the pressure on the Bavarian giants, people were acting as if the edifice was crumbling. However, Bayern are four points clear at the top, they have the best attack and the best defence in the division, and in the Champions League Julian Nagelsmann's side won all six of their group matches. Nagelsmann seems to have been strengthened by how he dealt with the media glare during that mini-slump, and there's an argument to say that the Bayern attack is more dangerous and less predictable since the departure of number one striker Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern are used to having the league's best player, and teenage superstar Jamal Musiala has a claim on that title if you look at the first 15 matchdays of the season. The German international sparkled at the World Cup despite his team's group-stage exit, and in the league he has delivered nine goals and six assists in just 14 appearances.
For the second season running, Leipzig made a dreadful start to the campaign, and made an early coaching change. Last season, replacing Jesse Marsch with Domenico Tedesco yielded DFB Pokal success, and this term Tedesco was jettisoned in favour of Rose. RBL haven't lost a game since mid-September, and they go into this game full of confidence.
Both teams have lost key players to injury. Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer fractured his leg while ski touring, and has been replaced by Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer, and there are legitimate questions about whether Neuer's time as Bayern's number one has come to an end. On the Leipzig side of things, Christopher Nkunku is still struggling with the knee injury that dashed his World Cup dream, and it would be a big surprise to see the Frenchman involved here. There is some good news in attack though - Timo Werner has recovered from the injury that prevented him from going to Qatar, and the speedster has already scored in a friendly.
I fancy goals here, and I'm happy to back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.1411/10. Bayern won 5-3 in Leipzig in the Supercup at the start of the season, and it's worth noting that nine of Bayern's last 13 competitive matches have featured four goals or more. Since Rose has taken the Leipzig helm, Leipzig have scored at least twice in every single home match, so they are more than capable of contributing to the scoring here.
Refreshed Union to strike
Union Berlin v Hoffenheim
Saturday 21 January, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
Union Berlin led the Bundesliga table at one stage, but football gravity finally got to them, and they start this post-World cup section fifth in the table, seven points off top spot. It felt like the capital club needed a break, and there's now been a chance for Urs Fischer's side to recharge and reset.
Union's home form is excellent, and they have won five and drawn two of their seven league games in Köpenick this term, and they face a Hoffenheim team that has faded badly after a good start under new coach Andre Breitenreiter. TSG have lost five of their last seven top-flight games, and the loss of livewire forward Georginio Rutter to Leeds United is a blow, even if it is a financial boost.
Union are 2.35/4 to win this, and given their performances on home soil, I think that's an attractive price.
Magic Marcus can strut his stuff
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
Sunday 22 January, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports and Betfair Live Video
The Bundesliga's resumption features a Rhineland derby as one of its centrepieces, and this game will give us a big clue as to what shape Xabi Alonso's Bayer are in going into a critical few months. Leverkusen hugely underperformed across the first 15 matchdays, and they are just four points above the dropzone, having won just five times.
The narrative has been much more positive at local rivals Gladbach, although it's worth noting that new coach Daniel Farke's side is only four points above Bayer, and they have only won six times in the top flight. The jewel in the Gladbach crown has been French international forward Marcus Thuram, who has scored ten goals in the league and has set up a further three goals. Thuram's switch from winger to centre-forward has been a big success.
Given that Bayer have already leaked 26 league goals, including 15 on the road, Thuram should get plenty of chances to score here, and I'll back him to do just that on the Sportsbook at 3.39/4.