The Premier League might have a top five separated by a single point, but there isn’t a weirder looking table right now than the Bundesliga’s.
Bayern Munich are top, because there has to be some fragment of normality to make it identifiable and prevent it just seeming like a random list of German teams, yet they are followed in the top five by newcomers RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim and Koln.
The strangeness is spread around, so you have Borussia Dortmund, who clung so tightly to Bayern last term, in sixth, Champions League sides Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen in the bottom half and Schalke, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg and Hamburg even worse off in the bottom six.
It is in the context of all this chaos that Dortmund and Schalke prepare to contest the first Revierderby of 2016-17 and, given that the rivals finished second and fifth respectively last season and are sixth and 14th now, it is no surprise that Thomas Tuchel’s men are 4/7 favourites.
However, there are several reasons to believe that this is the perfect opportunity for the club from Gelsenkirchen to end their three-match winless run in the fixture – losing 3-0 and 3-2 on their latest two trips to Signal Iduna Park – despite having half as many points as the hosts do (seven to 14).
Ignore what happened in the previous campaign and ignore the current standings because the most relevant factor is that Schalke are on their hottest streak of 2016, winning five and drawing one of their past six games in all competitions having got underway with five successive Bundesliga defeats.
That is only half the story though, because the other key plot point is that Dortmund are on their worst, going four domestic encounters without a victory.
If a narrow beating at Leverkusen and home draw with in-form Hertha is excusable, a draw at joint-bottom Ingolstadt – whose other seven 2016-17 league outings yielded a solitary point – and cup draw with second-tier Union Berlin in front of their fans is far more concerning.
It is also worth noting that even in this pretty glorious era for the Black and Yellows, their Royal Blue foes have avoided a loss on two of their most recent four visits to them, the highlight being a 2-1 triumph in 2012. They are 19/4 to prevail again, while the Schalke and draw double chance is 11/8.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.