Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Monchengladbach Saturday 19 January 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
The dismissal of Bayer Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich before the winter break was no big surprise, but his replacement by former Borussia Dortmund and Ajax boss Peter Bosz has raised a few eyebrows. Bosz made an extraordinarily good start to his spell at Dortmund (he took 19 points from the first seven games), but a remarkable collapse saw the Dutchman dismissed in December 2017. His stubborn insistence on a high defensive line cost him dearly, and when the team's form collapsed, he seemed powerless to change things.
Bosz takes over an incredibly talented group of players that has totally failed to find consistency this season. Jamaican winger Leon Bailey is a classic example of that underachievement, but he feels Bosz's influence and a move across to his favoured right flank could kickstart his campaign. Certainly Bosz is capable of getting teams to score goals, and with the likes of Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt, Karim Bellarabi and Kevin Volland at his disposal, life at the BayArena shouldn't be dull.
Borussia Monchengladbach have had a much more successful season so far, and they begin the Ruckrunde in third spot. Alassane Plea and Thorgan Hazard have been exceptional in attack, but a jaw injury to Germany centre-back Matthias Ginter has proven to be a damaging blow. In December, BMG lost at RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, probably extinguishing any faint hopes of mounting a shock title bid.
I'm tempted to lay Bayer at 2.04, but there's a possibility that Leverkusen could enjoy the "new manager bounce" and they finished 2018 in decent form. Instead I'll go for Over 3.5 Goals at 2.34 - three of the last six Rhineland derbies between the teams in league and cup have featured at least four goals, including Leverkusen's 5-0 win at Gladbach earlier this season.
Eagles to enjoy their opening flight
Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg Saturday January 19, 14:30 Live on Betfair Live Video
2018 was quite a year for the Eagles of Eintracht Frankfurt. Not only did they win the DFB Cup, their first major honour for 30 years, but they also managed an extraordinary feat in Europe. SGE became the first German side to win all six group games in the Europa League, as they finished well ahead of both Lazio and Marseille.
In recent seasons, Frankfurt have started superbly but then lost momentum after the winter break, and avoiding such a slump is the challenge that now faces coach Adi Hutter. The terrific trio of Sebastien Haller, Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic looked sharp during the mid-season jaunt in Florida, and after scoring 26 of Frankfurt's 34 Bundesliga goals between them, they'll be expected to deliver in the final 17 Bundesliga matches of the campaign.
Frankfurt's first win under Hutter was at Freiburg on Matchday One, and I believe they'll pick up another victory against the team from the Black Forest this weekend. Freiburg have once again worked miracles by staying well clear of the bottom three, but their away record is a cause for concern. They have lost three of their last six away games in the top flight, and they've only won three of their last 28 Bundesliga road matches.
Frankfurt had a bit of a wobble before Christmas, but key players like sweeper Makoto Hasebe have returned, and I'll back the hosts to win comfortably.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Monchengladbach at 2.34
Back Eintracht Frankfurt -1.0 on the Asian Handicap v Freiburg at [2.13]