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Mark O’Haire’s European Footy Tips – Bundesliga Week 3

The Bundesliga enters week three, with all eyes on Wolfsburg’s playmaking star Kevin De Bruyne as the transfer window continues to count down.

Wolfsburg v Schalke, Friday 28 August (19.30), BT Sport Europe
The Belgian has been a shadow of himself in the Wolves’ fractured opening two Bundesliga performances with Dieter Hecking’s troops almost apologetically taking four points off Eintracht Frankfurt and Koln.

Wolfsburg managed just three shots on target against Eintracht in their opener despite running out 2-1 winners and were second best for 70 minutes of last weekend’s 1-1 draw in Koln. Hecking admitted he’s a little concerned about his side’s lacklustre displays and until the transfer speculation surrounding De Bruyne is cleared up, it’s difficult to see the Wolves shaking off their malaise.

In contrast, Schalke fans are enjoying life under their new coach Andre Breitenreiter. The Royal Blues took Werder Bremen apart in their 3-0 success on the opening Saturday and although the Gelsenkirchen club dominated newly-promoted Darmstadt last time out, Breitenreiter’s men could only manage a 1-1 draw.

Still, Schalke have proven to be more energetic, hard-working and confident this season to believe they’re capable of coming away from the Volkswagen Arena with a positive result.

Wolfsburg boast a formidable record on home soil and whilst they’ve not been beaten in 25 domestic fixtures in front of their fans, I believe the away side are worth supporting at 10/11 in the Double Chance market.

Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen, Saturday 29 August (17.30), BT Sport Europe
The game of the weekend in Germany features Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday night with both outfits arriving at the Allianz Arena defending 100% records. Something’s got to give and whilst Bayern are understandably heavy favourites to continue their astonishing pre-Christmas record, I don’t believe it’ll be a walk in the park.

Following last weekend’s ponderous away victory in Hoffenheim, FC Hollywood have now W36-D8-L0 in their last 44 Bundesliga fixtures before Christmas. Still, Pep Guardiola would have been far from pleased with his team’s performance last Saturday as the defending champions conceded the league’s fastest ever goal in nine seconds following David Alaba’s sloppy back-pass. Robert Lewandowski rescued the three points with a stoppage-time winner.

Leverkusen represent Bayern’s biggest test of the season so far and the hosts will be without suspended centre-half Jerome Boateng whilst fellow defender Mehdi Benatia is fighting to be fit in time. It’s not ideal for the Bavarian giants who often tend to struggle to put Die Werkself away.

The visitors have ground out a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim and 1-0 success at Hannover sandwiched between their Champions League commitments and although the squad is also battling their own defensive injury concerns, there’s enough quality in Roger Schmidt’s roster to believe Leverkusen can make things tough for their all-conquering hosts.

In 11 of the past 13 meetings, Leverkusen have stayed within one 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 so backing the away team with a +2 Handicap at 20/21 looks more than fair and should give us a good run for our money.

Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach, Sunday 30 August (16.30), BT Sport 1
I had high hopes for Werder Bremen this season but Viktor Skrypnyk’s side have made a slow start to 2015/16 life. The River Islanders were convincingly swept aside by Schalke 3-0 before a frustrating 1-1 draw against Hertha Berlin in last week’s Friday night showdown.

Back at their Weserstadion, Bremen will be eager to get back to grinding out positive results. Under Skrypnyk’s watch, Werder have tended to be excellent on home soil (W8-D2-L4) and the Schalke game should be treated as an anomaly. Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg were two of the sides that came away with maximum points as well as Borussia Monchengladbach, Sunday’s opposition.

But like their hosts, Gladbach have struggled in the first two league outings. After a 4-0 demolition at Dortmund, Lucien Favre’s charges suffered a shock 2-1 reverse against Mainz in front of their home supporters. The Foals enjoyed plenty of possession and pot-shots but appeared void of ideas in the attacking third.

Favre was understandably coy regarding the reasoning for Gladbach’s poor start and the head coach will be well aware of his team’s mediocre record on the road before heading to Bremen. Despite their excellent finishes under his watch, Favre has overseen just 25/75 (33%) away league victories and the visitors look overpriced to enhance that record.

With the Foals flopping, it may pay to oppose and get Bremen onside.

The River Islanders look a bulbous 7/10 in the Double Chance market and we’ll be paid out should the home side avoid defeat on Sunday afternoon.

*Prices correct at time of publication.