Bundesliga matchday 21 preview: Köln’s way up

If you’d have to name three teams who are in great form right now that list would most likely include Köln who collected 10 points from the last four games putting them “just” four points behind 16th place.

Friday night (8.30 CET) they play against Dortmund. Dortmund’s football under the regime of has not been particularly exhilarating and they were punished for a lack of chance creation against both Wolfsburg and Freiburg. Anything but a win against Köln would be yet another lowlight in Dortmund’s season. This game also marks the potential debut for Michy Batshuayi who has joined on loan from Chelsea. He never got too much of a chance in London so this is his time to shine. Out of the important players, Köln is only missing Lukas Klünter and if the start align this could be the game that shows everyone that Köln are still within a shot of staying up.

Saturday afternoon (3.30) also offers some interesting matches. Team of the hour Freiburg have the opportunity to upset yet another team in the “Best of the rest” pack when they host Leverkusen. 3rd placed Schalke is playing against 16th placed Bremen who desperately need a win but apart from Munich, Gelsenkirchen is probably the least likely place to leave with three points in the bag. Mainz is facing a hopeless task at home against Bayern, crisis-shaken Hoffenheim is traveling to the German capital to play Hertha in what is a mid-table clash. Tayfun Korkut is making his debut on the Stuttgart bench in Wolfsburg and has a chance to prove the huge number of critics wrong. Should he fail to do that in the next four months this was most likely the last job he’ll ever get in Germany’s top flight.

Saturday evening (6.30) features a match between two of the teams in and around the European places – Gladbach and Leipzig. Neither have managed to start the Rückrunde well so winning this is of great importance for both of them. But knowing how the Bundesliga works this year this is going to end with a draw and both teams stay where there are.

One team that has been exploiting other team’s faults in the last three games is Frankfurt. Seven points out of the first games in 2018 send Niko Kovac’s men right up to an unlikely 4th place and Frankfurt fans will be glad to hear that the next game (3.30 on Sunday) is an away game against because Frankfurt is the second-best away team in the league and with likely faults of other teams around them a win in Augsburg would see them get a foothold in the the Champions League places which is both a testament of how close this Bundesliga season is and a testament of how far Frankfurt has come.

Everything is wrapped up at 6.00 with a derby between the two HSVs – Hamburg and Hannover. Hannover are on 27 points and aren’t far away from securing their place in the 2018/19 Bundesliga whilst Hamburg are in their usual relegation battle again but this season all the signs point to them actually being relegated. Losing to Hannover would just be another part of that journey.