The Bundesliga returns after the international break with several interesting matches. The three teams at the top are separated by only one point, while five points separates fourth and fifteenth. We're halfway through the first half of the season, and the "big teams" at the top have separated themselves from the rest of the league.
Friday, October 18
Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen should stroll into the Rhein-Neckar Arena and take all three points away from Hoffenheim. Leverkusen have been better this season, especially defensively. Sami Hyypiä's men will keep the pace with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
Time & Location: 20:30 Local / 2:30 PM Eastern; Rhein-Neckar Arena, Sinsheim
Prediction: Hoffenheim 0 - 2 Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday, October 19
Borussia Dortmund vs. Hannover
There's no real reason to go into any in-depth explanation about why Borussia Dortmund will get back on track this week against Hannover 96. The reason is pretty simple: Hannover have to travel. They're awful on the road. So far this season, Hannover have played three road games, have lost all three games, and have scored zero goals. Yeah, BVB have this.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2 - 0 Hannover
Bayern Munich vs. Mainz
Bayern are the class of world football and will defeat Mainz this weekend. Thomas Tuchel said this week that the match against Bayern was Mainz's "Champions League". There's also the possibility that Nicolai Müller won't be available. For Bayern, Mario Götze will likely see some time after fully recovering from his injury. It should be a walk in the park for Bayern.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Allianz Arena, Munich
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2 - 0 Mainz
Werder Bremen vs. Freiburg
A big three points from Freiburg would take some pressure off of Christian Streich. Well, is there any pressure on Christian Streich right now? Probably not. It's time that Freiburg picked up an important win.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Weserstadion, Bremen
Prediction: Werder Bremen 1 - 2 Freiburg
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Schalke
Eintracht Braunschweig picked up their first win of the season last time out, but it's going to be tougher this time out. Schalke have been in renewed spirits since the signing of Kevin Prince Boateng. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is returning from injury, and Schalke will benefit from his presence. They'll take care business this weekend.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Eintracht Stadion, Braunschweig
Prediction: Eintracht Braunschweig 1 - 3 Schalke
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Nürnberg
Nürnberg aren't very good. They were absolutely trashed in their last match by Hamburg. HAMBURG! I'm still a big fan of Eintracht Frankfurt, and I believe that they'll start to put things together and pull themselves back up the table.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt
Prediction: Eintracht Frankfurt 2 - 1 Nürnberg
Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
Borussia Mönchenglabach picked up a huge win last time out against Borussia Dortmund. They visit the Olympiastadion in Saturday's late game, and it should be one entertaining match. I have high hopes for Gladbach this season. So far, they're proving me right.
Time & Location: 18:30 Local / 12:30 PM Eastern; Olympiastadion, Berlin
Prediction: Hertha Berlin 1 - 2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Sunday, October 20
Hamburg vs. Stuttgart
I've been debating the angle that I want to take with this match, and I finally picked one. Rafael Van der Vaart is going to put together another good match, and Hamburg will figure out a way to beat Stuttgart. After another poor start, Hamburg will be setting themselves decently for the latter part of the first half of the season.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Imtech Arena, Hamburg
Prediction: Hamburg 2 - 1 Stuttgart
Augsburg vs. Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg are coming off a rather poor defeat to Eintracht Braunschweig and will be hoping that the international break allows them to put things right. Dieter Hecking's side is too talented to only have nine points after eight games. Right? I've been telling myself this for a while now. They need to prove it to me.
Time & Location: 17:30 Local / 11:30 AM Eastern; SGL arena, Augsburg
Prediction: Augsburg 1 - 3 Wolfsburg