League leaders to keep on marching

Borussia Dortmund v Hannover
Saturday 26 January, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
In their quest to become Bundesliga champions, Borussia Dortmund are very impressively ticking off games on their to-do list. Beat Bayern in Der Klassiker - check. Win the Revierderby against Schalke in Gelsenkirchen - check. Become the first Bundesliga team this season to beat RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena - check. BVB are passing every test, and they fully deserve the six-point lead they have at the top of the table.
Keeper Roman Burki stepped up in Leipzig last weekend with a superb display, while Julian Weigl excelled playing out of position as a centre-back. It seems that every week, different Dortmund players take it turns to be heroic, and it feels like a genuine squad-based effort.
Of course, some players do stand out, and skipper Marco Reus is one of those. He missed the trip to Leipzig with injury, but is expected to return. The skipper has led from the front all season, with 14 goals and ten assists in all competitions. He will hope to bring about a ninth win in the last ten league games.
Hannover held BVB to a goalless draw on Matchday Two, but their season has deteriorated badly since. Injuries to key players have made life difficult for embattled coach Andre Breitenreiter (the club was forced to deny he had been sacked this week), but a lack of quality throughout the squad has become painfully obvious. None of the summer signings have really excelled, and H96 have collected a pitiful 11 points from 18 games. Although last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Werder Bremen doesn't look that bad, it's worth noting that keeper Michael Esser made a Bundesliga record 14 saves, as Hannover were totally dominated.
This could be a rather brutal beating for Hannover, which won't help Breitenreiter one bit. I'll back Dortmund -2.0 & -2.5 on the Asian Handicap at [2.03].

Nurnberg to sink deeper into trouble

Mainz v Nurnberg
Saturday 26 January, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, given the size of their budget, but Nurnberg are in serious danger of going straight back down just a season after winning promotion. In terms of quality, they are the weakest side I've seen at this level for a long time, and coach Michael Kollner (who has no prior experience at Bundesliga level) has struggled to get any consistency out of his charges. Nurnberg are rock-bottom, having scored just 15 goals and having leaked an eye-watering 41. They finished 2018 by taking just a point from their final eight matches.
Mainz have had no such issues, and are well clear of the dropzone. They won their opening game of the year 3-2 at Stuttgart, and have lost just two of their last nine top-flight matches. Even though they have won just one of their last seven league games at the Opel Arena, it's worth bearing in mind that sequence includes narrow defeats to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and they should have enough to beat a Nurnberg side that has claimed just two points on the road all season.

Foals to stay stable at home

Borussia Monchengladbach v Augsburg
Saturday 26 January, 14:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
Borussia Monchengladbach made the perfect start to 2019, as they won 1-0 at Bayer Leverkusen in a Rhineland derby. They were outplayed at times, but they defended superbly, and Alassane Plea took the winning goal in the kind of clinical manner he's played with all season.
Now the Foals will look to extend their Bundesliga winning streak at Borussia Park to 12 matches, an incredible sequence that stretches back to early April. They have scored at least twice in all 11 of those victories, and haven't conceded more than once in any of them.
Having firmly established themselves as a Bundesliga club since winning promotion in 2011, Augsburg are facing their most exacting relegation battle for quite some time. The Swabians haven't won any of their last nine matches, and they have lost six of the last eight. Coach Manuel Baum has been openly critical of his players, and he needs to turn things around soon.
That recovery is unlikely to happen on Saturday though, and I expect the Foals to take another step towards Champions League qualification.
Back Borussia Dortmund -2.0 & -2.5 on the Asian Handicap v Hannover at [2.03]
Back Mainz to beat Nurnberg at 1.80
Back Borussia Monchengladbach -1.0 on the Asian Handicap v Augsburg at 2.12

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