Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen Saturday 25 August, 17:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
Both Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen ended the last campaign with heavy hearts. Gladbach missed out on European qualification entirely after a season of inconsistency and underachievement, while Leverkusen suffered a late collapse and missed a Champions League spot on goal difference. A Rhineland derby is the perfect way to make an early statement.
Gladbach boosted their attack over the summer by grabbing the excellent Alassane Pleafrom Nice, and he banged in a hat-trick on his competitive Foals debut, an 11-1 win over Hastedt in the DFB Pokal. With Lars Stindl and Raffael also in the squad, Gladbach have some exciting attacking options.
Bayer have retained their best attacking players this summer, with Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey both signing new contracts. Kevin Volland will hope to give Germany coach Joachim Loew a nudge with another effective season in front of goal, while teenagers Kai Havertz and Paulinho should catch the eye.
Recent meetings between these sides have been a lot of fun. Three of the last six league derbies between them have featured at least four goals, and you have to go back four-and-a-half years for the last time there was a league game between than that featured fewer than two goals.
Attack should dominate defence here, so I'll back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.70.
Hannover can continue winning run
Werder Bremen v Hannover Saturday 25 August, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
After successfully avoiding the drop last term, both of these clubs go into this season with confidence. Werder coach Florian Kohfeldt hopes to survive his second season in charge, unlike his predecessors Alexander Nouri and Viktor Skripnik, but he must deal with the loss of influential midfielders Thomas Delaney and Zlatko Junuzovic. The arrival of Davy Klaassenafter a disastrous spell at Everton should help to mitigate those losses, and midfield workhorse Maximilian Eggestein (who covered more ground than anyone in the league last term) should have another season of improvement.
Hannover have been boosted by the decision of coach Andre Breitenreiter to extend his contract, and they have won every game they have played in pre-season. They followed up that encouraging sequence by destroying third-division Karlsruhe 6-0 in the DFB Pokal. Hendrik Weydandt, who was plucked from Germania Egestorf after scoring 15 goals in the Regionalliga, scored twice on his debut.
I see this as being a much closer contest than the market suggests. Werder haven't yet lost a home game under Kohfeldt, but Hannover have looked razor-sharp recently, and have the quality to get a result. The hosts should be opposed at odds-on.
Stuttgart to bounce back from cup horror
Mainz v Stuttgart Sunday 26 August, 14:30 Live on BT Sport 1
Having finished last season with an extraordinary 4-1 win at Bayern Munich, a result that saw them end up seventh in the Bundesliga table, Stuttgart started this campaign with a hugely disappointing defeat at third-division side Hansa Rostock in the DFB Pokal. Despite dominating possession, VfB moved the ball too slowly, and lacked penetration in attack. In defence, Holger Badstuber was made to look slow and ponderous.
However, there is still plenty for Stuttgart fans to be optimistic about. New signing Nicolas Gonzalez looks very sharp in attack, World Cup-winning defender Benjamin Pavard is staying (at least for now - he'll probably sign for Bayern in 2019), and the return of Daniel Didavi should prove to be a big plus if he stays fit.
Mainz battled against relegation throughout last season, and they showed admirable faith in homegrown coach Sandro Schwarz, even when times were tough. That faith could be tested again this term - sporting director Rouven Schroder has taken a chance on a clutch of promising youngsters like Lyon striker Jean-Philippe Mateta and Metz defender Moussa Niakhate. Although a similar gamble paid off in the form of Abdou Diallo last summer, he has now moved on to Borussia Dortmund, and the loss of striker Yoshinori Muto and midfielder Suat Serdar weakens the squad.
Stuttgart were excellent in the second half of last season, with nine wins from Tayfun Korkut's 14 league games in change. They were especially good on the road, and have won five of their last six road matches in the top flight. Even though they won at Erzgebirge Aue in the DFB Pokal, I think it might take Mainz a while to settle down this season, so I'll back Stuttgart with a bit of insurance.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen at 2.70