Bundesliga matchday 12 preview: Back to black

After two international friendlies with questionable relevance that both ended in draws it’s back to league football for the Bundesliga and this time with no stops until March – well apart from the winter break.

Crisis-shaken former league leaders Borussia Dortmund start the matchday today at 8.30 when they visit Stuttgart without Aubameyang who is suspended for disciplinary reasons. Rumours say it is because he constantly arrives late to training and went to a nightclub with Ousmane Dembele in Barcelona midweek. Dortmund desperately need to three points to keep up with Bayern and make sure they stay ahead of Schalke prior to the big Revierderby next week. A month ago this would have been straightforward to predict but Dortmund are in a tough spot so this is probably the best time for Stuttgart to collect some unexpected points.

Saturday afternoon (3.30) features three of other top 5 teams in the league. It is going to be interesting to see how Hoffenheim deal with the speculation surrounding Julian Nagelsmann and Sandro Wagner going to Bayern when they play Frankfurt. Bayern are also called into action, hosting Augsburg in what should be a pretty straightforward win. Bayern chasers number one Leipzig are on the road and visit Leverkusen in what could be a game more complicated than it sounds considering  Leverkusen is only 9th right now. Köln are still trying to do this new “winning a game” thing but Mainz is going to try everything to prevent that from happening. Another team who needs points to get away from the relegation zone is Freiburg – they travel up north to Wolfsburg.

The 6.30 main game is Hertha – Gladbach. A peculiar choice considering it’s 11th vs 8th but it’s more than that. Dieter Hecking still hasn’t proven himself as a manager who can do great things with a team that doesn’t have that one star player that de Bruyne was for his Cup-winning Wolfsburg side so winning a tricky away game like this would be a good step to do that and to jump back into the Top 6.

Sunday starts at 3.30 with a match between Schalke and Hamburg. Schalke are on a steady upward trend and have the second-best defensive record in the league and a win against Hamburg would manifest their Champions League ambitions. However, Hamburg has been a big of a bogey team for Schalke in recent seasons and they have helped them out when they almost got relegated more than once. It’s time for Schalke to prove that these old days are over and that Schalke is back to the Schalke that people came to love 7-10 years ago.

The matchday is closed off at 6.00 with a match between one of the two teams that still hasn’t won – Bremen and the biggest surprise in the league so far with Hannover. It sounds straightforward and looking at what Bremen have done in recent history but the great thing about football is, that it is almost never like that and Bremen just have to win at some point – one way or another.