Schalke v Borussia Dortmund Saturday 08 December, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
I have rarely heard a noise like the one that greeted Naldo's stunning free-kick in last season's 2-0 win for Schalke against Borussia Dortmund. Having already made history by recovering from a 4-0 deficit to draw 4-4 at Signal Iduna Park (Naldo scored the final goal in that one), Schalke were able to deservedly beat their old rivals. As coach Domenico Tedesco celebrated amongst the ultras, megaphone in hand, it felt like there had been a shift of power in the Ruhr.
That transfer of sovereignty has proven to be illusory. While BVB have roared clear of the pack under new boss Lucien Favre, Tedesco's brave new dawn in Gelsenkirchen has dimmed. Schalke have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, but their Bundesliga campaign has been a disaster. They lost their first five league games, and despite a recent revival they are still ten points adrift of the top four.
Now the unbeaten league leaders come to town, a team that has won eight of its last nine Bundesliga matches, including a 3-2 victory over Bayern in Der Klassiker. Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho have sparkled in attack, Paco Alcacer has proven to be the ultimate supersub (nine of his ten league goals have come off the bench), and Axel Witsel is currently the league's best midfielder. I still have reservations about the team's defending and the reliability of goalkeeper Roman Burki, but when you have an attack as consistent as Dortmund's (37 goals and counting) that's less of an issue.
Schalke will battle and scrap and claw and do everything they can to stop Dortmund winning this, but BVB are playing without fear and they are playing with the swagger of potential champions. Schalke are without injured strikers Mark Uth and Breel Embolo, and they have already lost three of their six Bundesliga home matches.
At 2.22, Dortmund are good a price to pass up.
Bayern to make a statement in Bavarian derby
Bayern Munich v Nurnberg Saturday 08 December, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
Bayern are still nine points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, and are therefore in "crisis mode", but at least they have put back-to-back wins together. Embattled coach Niko Kovac made some tactical tweaks at the Weserstadion in a 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen, including pairing Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in central midfield, in what the Germans would call a "double six."
Bayern shouldn't have to be so circumspect against Nurnberg this weekend. Der Club have been smashed 5-2 at Schalke, 6-0 at RB Leipzig and 7-0 at Borussia Dortmund. They seem incapable of keeping things tight, and goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow's form has been disastrous.
Bayern should score plenty of goals here, and I'm surprised to see Over 3.5 Goals trading at 1.81. That bet has paid out in three of Bayern's last four matches in all competitions, and that's the way I'm headed this weekend.
Gladbach to extend Rhineland run
Borussia Monchengladbach v Stuttgart Sunday 09 December, 17:00 Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
Borussia Monchengladbach had a big test of their title credentials last weekend, and they failed it, losing 2-0 at RB Leipzig. The one thing you never want to do against one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe is fall behind early and have to chase the game, but the concession of a goal inside three minutes gave the Foals a mountain to climb, and they never left base camp.
Now they are back on home soil, they should have an easier time. The Foals have won all of their Bundesliga home matches this season, and the last four of those victories was by a margin of two goals or greater. When they hammered Hannover 4-1 a fortnight ago, they played some stunning football.
Stuttgart have been battling the drop from the start of the season, and although they have won two of their last three games, Markus Weinzierl's team is still well short of where it needs to be. They lost their last away game 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen, and there were also recent defeats to Hoffenheim (4-0), Eintracht Frankfurt (3-0) and Borussia Dortmund (4-0). This group of players has been regularly outclassed this term, and I don't see why that won't happen on Sunday.
Back Borussia Dortmund to win v Schalke at 2.22
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Bayern Munich v Nurnberg at 1.81
Back Stuttgart -1 on the Handicap at 6/5 on the Sportsbook