Hoffenheim v Werder Bremen
Saturday August 19, 14:30
Hoffenheim are growing as a club, and they will have learnt so much from Tuesday's painful Champions League defeat to Liverpool. No Bundesliga team managed to beat Hoffe at the Rhein Neckar Arena last season, but Liverpool punished every error to win 2-1 and put one foot in the group stage. Had Andrej Kramaric converted an early penalty, or had keeper Oliver Baumann actually dived to try and save Trent Alexander-Arnold's first-half free-kick, it could all have been so different.
However, this won't be a crippling blow to the Sinsheim club, as they have one of the best young coaches in the business. Julian Nagelsmann has recently turned 30, and he has carved out a reputation as one of the most innovative bosses around. Video walls at the training ground, glasses with strobe lights for goalkeepers, player tracking apps: you name it, Hoffe have got it.
All these things contributed to Hoffenheim's best ever season last term, and this weekend they face a Werder Bremen side that is also on a high. The northern giants were rewarded for their faith in coach Alexander Nouri, as he hauled them up from the relegation dogfight, and nearly pushed them into a Europa League spot. The loss of the fleet-footed Serge Gnabry to Hoffenheim via Bayern Munich is a blow, but Max Kruse, Fin Bartels and Zlatko Junuzovic are all still in the building.
Hoffenheim are still adjusting to life without defensive man mountain Niklas Sule,and Ermin Bicakcic really struggled against Liverpool's Sadi Mane on Tuesday. Werder had another poor season in terms of defending (they leaked 64 goals, the league's worst record), and an injury to key centre-back Niklas Moisander will do them few favours. The last meeting between these sides ended 5-3 to Hoffenheim, and I think we're in for another rollercoaster ride.
Recommended Bet
Back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.34

Hamburg v Augsburg
Saturday August 19, 14:30
Both of these clubs struggled at the wrong end of the table last season, and both have already tumbled out of the DFB Pokal to lower-league opposition. Augsburg conceded two late goals at Magdeburg, while HSV somehow contrived to lose 3-1 to an Osnabruck side that played most of the match with ten men.
However, I think ultimately the clubs' work in the transfer market will shape this season. Hamburg have been making sensible signings for a while now, and are building a decent squad. The biggest issue is getting the right coach to bring the best out of them, and I'm still not sure Markus Gisdol is the best man for the job.
HSV have at least found some home form. They have won eight of their last 11 BL games at the Volksparkstadion, and I fancy them to make it nine in 12. Augsburg also have an unconvincing coach in Manuel Baum, and they have lost key players with big characters. Skipper Paul Verhaegh joined Wolfsburg, Dominik Kohr went back to Leverkusen, and Raul Bobadilla returned to Borussia Monchengladbach. I think FCA are in for a long, hard season, starting on Saturday.
Recommended Bet
Back Hamburg to win at 2.22

Schalke v RB Leipzig
Saturday August 19, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 3
Another season, another supposed new dawn for Schalke. Markus Weinzierl lasted just one campaign before he was given the elbow, and now bright young thing Domenico Tedesco has the task of trying to wake one of the league's slumbering giants.
Tedesco finished top of his coaching class (above Julian Nagelsmann, no less), and I don't doubt the 31-year-old has some great ideas. However, he inherits a squad that has underachieved, and there is uncertainty over several star names. Max Meyer won't get a new deal next summer, so could soon leave, and Leon Goretzka is rumoured to have already agreed to move to Bayern in 2018. Club captain Benedikt Howedes is being linked with a switch to England after he was stripped of the captaincy, and I get the sense that although Tedesco may prove to be an inspired appointment in the end, he may have to endure some short-term pain.
RB Leipzig look far more settled, despite a summer of transfer wrangling. Star players Emil Forsberg and Naby Keita seem to have accepted that they'll be held to their contracts, and the addition of Galatasaray winger Bruma and PSG forward Jean-Kevin Augustin further strengthens an already impressive squad.
Coach Ralph Hasenhuttl in one of the best in the business, and I expect RBL to have another strong season, despite their Champions League entanglements. Keita is struggling with a knee injury, but even without him I think Leipzig can get a result.
Recommended Bet
Back RB Leipzig Draw No Bet at 1.87

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