It’s the last week of Bundesliga football and this one is packed with three matchdays in the space of 9 days – also called Englische Woche in Germany because it’s a common occurrence on the island.
Everything kicks off this friday (at 8.30) with a match between Stuttgart and Leverkusen. Stuttgart are 13th but the number of points between them and 6th and between them and 16th is identical (5). Leverkusen on the other hand could slip into the Champions League places with a win in Stuttgart. But Stuttgart has not been beaten at home yet but apart from Dortmund ever team that they have played against in the Mercedes-Benz Arena was situated towards the lower end of the table. A tough game to call either way – like most games in this tight league.
Because of the Europa League (where no German team won or advanced) there are only four 3.30 games on Saturday this weekend. The most enticing one is probably Frankfurt v Bayern. Both teams are in good form and Bayern have just beaten PSG. This sounds like a game that Bayern would typically win 3-0 but it has the potential to be a really tough one for the record champions. Elsewhere a struggling team that somehow still has a place in the European places of the league (Dortmund) meets a struggling team from the relegation zone (Bremen). However, Bremen’s defense has been good this season so that is the one hope they have to beat Dortmund. The other games are Hamburg v Wolfsburg and Bayern-chasers Leipzig v Mainz.
Saturday evening (6.30) features one of the oddest fixtures in the Bundesliga. Gladbach v Schalke. When Schalke hosts this fixture, they almost always win it, sometimes despite being dominated for 90 minutes. When the game is hosted by Gladbach, Gladbach almost always wins with the sole exception of a league game four years ago and a 2-2 draw in the Europa League that made Schalke advance last season. Under any normal circumstances this game ends with a 1-0 or 2-1 win for Gladbach but it’s also a huge chance for Schalke to show that they are not “the old Schalke” anymore.
Early Sunday afternoon (1.00) marks the first game for Köln in the Post-Stöger era. Stefan Ruthenbeck has the close to impossible mission to keep Köln in the Bundesliga. Anything but the first win of the season at 16th Freiburg would probably convince even the biggest optimists that it’s not going to happen and that Köln should start planning for a season in the 2. Bundesliga sooner rather than later.
About 40 minutes after the end of that game, Hannover and Hoffenheim clash heads (3.30). Hoffenheim has rested most of their team against Rasgrad on Thursday and that should benefit them a lot. Hannover have not won in four games and whilst they are nowhere near the relegation zone – and most likely won’t be any soon – they seem to have lost their vibe and that bit of luck they had at the start of the season.
Weekend action is wrapped up in Bavaria (6.00) when Augsburg meet Hertha. Augsburg have sneakily collected 22 points already and it’s very unlikely they’ll be in a relegation battle like last season. It’s more likely that they will challenge for International places, especially if they managed to win their third game in a row on Sunday.