The Bundesliga title race is officially on.
Union Berlin, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Freiburg have all put pressure on Bayern Munich since the German first division resumed play two weeks ago.
Entering Saturday, the top five clubs in the Bundesliga are separated by three points. The four teams directly beneath Bayern have a chance to put pressure on the league leader with wins on Saturday. Bayern does not hit the pitch until Sunday.
Borussia Dortmund's home clash with Freiburg, a matchup of fourth versus fifth, is the most important match on Saturday. The winner of that game could draw level with Bayern on 37 points. Union Berlin and RB Leipzig can leapfrog Bayern for 24 hours with wins of their own on Saturday.
That is where the betting focus for Soccer Selections lies this weekend because all of the favored sides are listed at reasonable prices.
There are some ideal spots in the English Premier League and other big-five European leagues, but the Bundesliga is where most of my attention will be.
Overall Record: 61-66
Borussia Dortmund (-160) vs. Freiburg (Saturday. 9:30 a.m. ET)
Borussia Dortmund won each of its first three league games out of the World Cup break.
Dortmund's defense can be chaotic at times, but it is coming off a clean sheet against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
The Black-Yellow's attack is only going to get better as Sebastian Haller gets more minutes under his legs. Haller missed the first half of the season because of cancer treatments.
Freiburg will not be an easy opponent for Dortmund to get past, but it is worth noting the fifth-place side has not held a clean sheet in its last five games and its expected goals against (xGA) has been 1.7 or above in four of those matches.
I get that Dortmund's defense can be hard to trust, but the club's overall home numbers outweigh my concerns about the back line. Dortmund has a single home loss in all competitions this season and that occurred back on August 20.
Union Berlin (-110) vs. Mainz (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Union Berlin keeps defying the numbers.
The capital city club has the fifth-worst expected goals (xG) in the Bundesliga, but sits in second place.
Union carries the worst xG numbers of any team in the league's top five, but it just keeps winning. Union has three straight wins with a 7-2 score across those contests.
Mainz is coming off a 5-2 win, but that was against 16th-place Bochum. Mainz has not beaten any of the top-five sides in the Bundesliga. That concerns me in a matchup against a team that has not made many mistakes lately.
Cologne vs. RB Leipzig (-115) (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
I think RB Leipzig is the biggest threat to Bayern.
Marco Rose's side played Bayern to a 1-1 draw and then outscored its next three opponents 11-3.
Leipzig is playing the best soccer of the top five teams in Germany since the return of play. It's a small sample size, but it passes the eye test easily.
Cologne has one win over its last eight matches and it scored either zero or one goals in five of its last six games. Pay no attention to the 7-1 outburst against Werder Bremen.
The form of both sides suggest Leipzig is the only pick to be made.
Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich (-1.5; +140) (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Bayern could be backed into a corner by the time its match starts on Sunday.
Three of the four teams directly beneath the league leader could have wins to their names and either be ahead, or level, with Bayern.
Bayern should be able to erase any positive results earned by the chasing teams with an easy win over Wolfsburg.
Bayern finally looked like itself again on Wednesday in the DFB Pokal against Mainz. A four-goal outburst and a dominant possession game led to the victory.
Wolfsburg is a solid squad, but if the Bayern that showed up on Wednesday finds its way on to the field on Sunday, the result will be easy to figure out.
English Premier League
Brighton (-1.5; -105) vs. Bournemouth (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Brighton enters the weekend in terrific form that has brought it five points back of fifth place in the English Premier League.
Bournemouth is battling to stay alive in the relegation fight. The Cherries could suffer a brutal blow against the Seagulls on Saturday.
The 18th-place side has the worst road goal differential (-22) in the EPL and it lost its last three EPL road games by multiple goals.
Aston Villa (+100) vs. Leicester City (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Aston Villa and Leicester City are trending in opposite directions.
Villa is riding a four-game unbeaten run in league play, while Leicester has four losses and a draw in its last five league contests.
There's absolutely no way anyone should trust Leicester right now and that leads me to Villa.
Newcastle United (-165) vs. West Ham United (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Just like Leicester, there's no way I can trust West Ham United right now.
The Hammers are down in 16th place and their win last week over Everton means nothing to me since the Toffees are struggling even more than them.
Newcastle has not lost at home all season and its defense conceded once in the last five games across all competitions.
The Magpies must be trusted to keep up their home form over a West Ham side that has bigger battles ahead.
Mallorca vs. Real Madrid (-140) (Sunday, 8 a.m. ET)
Real Madrid can't afford to drop any points in the La Liga title race.
Los Blancos sit five points adrift of FC Barcelona and they can put pressure on Barcelona with a road victory over Mallorca.
Mallorca lost three of its last four league games and it will not sniff Real Madrid on its best day, especially in this form.