The final international break of 2018 is over, and the Bundesliga picks up as we head towards December and the winter break. Borussia Dortmund look set to lead the table as we move into 2019, but can they extend their lead? Can FC Bayern München pick things up and mount a challenge? Or will more challengers emerge? Both RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach will be looking to be in the mix as things start to hot up over coming weeks.
As usual, I am going to be predicting the scores for all nine matches from Friday through to Sunday evening. There is also the competition for this week, which you can find here. There, you can put your own predictions in the comments section and win 1 SCR if you beat my total score.
Bayer Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart (Fri.)
Bayer Leverkusen are one of the most inconsistent performers in the German top flight right now, and predicting any result has turned into a nightmare. After a horrid start, they suddenly started blasting in the goals. Then, after that, a drop back down to the insipid standard that saw them walloped 3:0 in Leipzig.
Stuttgart, after a dreadful start under new coach Markus Weinzierl, finally picked up a three-pointer on the road in Nürnberg. Can they pull the same trick in Leverkusen? Anything is possible, but I am potentially putting my head on the block by backing the Werkself to ease to a comfortable home win.
Prediction: Leverkusen 2:0 Stuttgart
FC Bayern München v Fortuna Düsseldorf (Sat.)
Having dominated leaders Dortmund for long spells in what was a classic encounter at the Signal Iduna Park, FC Bayern München find themselves off the pace, seven points behind the league leaders. Injuries continue to bite, putting coach Niko Kovač under more pressure.
It has been a tough struggle for Friedhelm Funkel's Fortuna, but the last game before the international break saw the Rhinelanders storm to a 4:1 win over Hertha BSC. With nothing to lose, they will surely throw themselves at their more illustrious opponents. Poor form or not, there can be only one result here. Bayern to score three.
Prediction: FC Bayern 3:0 Düsseldorf
Hertha BSC v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Sat.)
Hertha BSC started the campaign in fine form, but things have gone a little stale since their 2:0 win over FC Bayern. For opponents Hoffenheim, it has been an up and down season: a mix of brilliance and ordinariness, with some fine attacking play alongside a brittle defence.
A month or so ago, this would have been a sure-fire Hertha win. Now I am not so sure. Pál Dárdai's side will have home advantage in front of a packed Olympiastadion, but I can see Julian Nagelsmann and co. sneaking this one. The Hoff to win by the odd goal in three.
Prediction: Hertha 1:2 Hoffenheim
FC Augsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt (Sat.)
Augsburg are a tough team to beat, especially at home, but there have been a few holes their armoury in recent weeks. Frankfurt by contrast are flying at the moment, having left their sorry start to the season far behind them. The commerce city team are in form, led by a dynamic front line that have taken this early part of the season by storm.
Augsburg will fight all the way, and this could go right down to the wire. But Adi Hütter's side will have what it takes to grab all three points. Watch out for one or more of Luka Jović, Ante Rebić or Sébastien Heller.
Prediction: Augsburg 1:2 Frankfurt
1.FSV Mainz v Borussia Dortmund (Sat.)
Leaders Dortmund will be looking to consolidate their position at the top as they take on mid-table Mainz. Lucien Favre's side may not be the best defensively, but their young and dynamic attacking lineup has produced a league-leading flurry of goals - including three in their last outing against defending champions FC Bayern.
Sandro Schwarz's Mainz have proved to be formidable outfit, and their last result was a well-worked 3:1 win in Freiburg. They will have enough to trouble the league leaders, but it will be the visitors walking away with the points. Just.
Prediction: Mainz 1:2 Dortmund
VfL Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig (Sat.)
Wolfsburg have not been in great form, but have managed to stay clear of the relegation zone thus far. Leipzig on the other hand are one of the form teams in the Bundesliga right now. The Saxon outfit have been unbeaten since their opening day defeat against Dortmund, and have been finding goals easy to come by in recent weeks.
As well as scoring goals, Leipzig have been as tight as a drum at the back. They currently have the best defensive record in the league, with just nine goals conceded in their eleven outings so far. Doing the maths, there can be only one winner here. Two goals for Ralf Rangnick's men, and another clean sheet.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 0:2 Leipzig
FC Schalke 04 v 1.FC Nürnberg (Sat.)
Like Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04 would get off to a horrible start this season. Like Bayer Leverkusen, the Gelsenkirchen outfit have been annoyingly inconsistent. Having secured some solid wins and shown some good form in the Champions League, Domenico Tedesco's men were beyond poor in their last game in Frankfurt, where they fell to a three-goal defeat.
Opponents Nürnberg are another team that has been hard to call. After an excellent 2:2 draw in Augsburg, they then fell 0:2 at home to a struggling Stuttgart team that suddenly remembered how to score goals. Michael Köllner's side are hovering just above the drop zone, and will not have enough to prevent a home win. But it could be a tight affair.
Prediction: Schalke 2:1 Nürnberg
SC Freiburg v Werder Bremen (Sun.)
SC Freiburg have put together some solidly decent performances this season, not least of which was the battling 1:1 draw in Munich against the defending Bundesliga champions.
Having started impressively, Werder Bremen's form has dropped away in recent weeks. A 1:3 defeat against Borussia Mönchengladbach was the third defeat on the bounce for Florian Kohfeldt's men, and his counterpart Christian Streich will fancy his team's chances when the two teams meet at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
Prediction: Freiburg 2:2 Bremen
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Hannover 96 (Sun.)
Having suffered a severe blip that included a five-goal DFB-Pokal hammering by Bayer Leverkusen, Gladbach are back on form again. Following their excellent 3:1 win against fellow high-flyers Werder Bremen, Dieter Hecking's side currently sit in second place, four points behind leaders Dortmund.
Hannover meanwhile are in the relegation playoff spot, but will be encouraged by their 2:1 win over Wolfsburg before the international break. André Breitenreiter's side have plenty to fight for, but this will not been enough against a Gladbach side that have found it easy to score goals this season. Hannover will get on the board, but it should be a canter for the Foals.
Prediction: Gladbach 3:1 Hannover
For more Bundesliga fun stuff, check out my Little Bundesliga Book project. Copies of the 2016 pocket book are still available, with the aim of raising funds for a new edition at the end of this season.