After a mixed week of European success (hey, at least not every German Europa League team looked bad this week), it’s back to the Bundesliga today.
It all kicks off with a match between Schalke – who would rather not be able to play on a Friday at 8.30pm after a Champions/Europa League week – and Mainz. Schalke didn’t give Hertha a chance last week and if they keep dominating the midfield like they did in the capital, this could be the start of a run that places their name firmly in the Champions League hat. Mainz is having a mixed season but considering the woes of last season, ten points out of eight games are pretty good so far and everything they might be adding tonight would be a bonus.
Since this week was an international one we only have four 3:30 games on Saturday featuring Leipzig v Stuttgart, Gladbach v Leverkusen, Frankfurt v Dortmund and Augsburg v Hannover. It’s hard to pick a game to watch out of these because they feature two of the current and probably end of season top four with Dortmund and Leipzig. But since the trend for Dortmund doesn’t look good after losing to Leipzig and scraping to a draw at Apoel, Leipzig v Stuttgart is probably the better game to watch. And anyone who has watched Stuttgart since Hannes Wolf took over knows that they are not a team that sits very deep against superior opposition – something that Niko Kovac and his Frankfurt-team a very capable of.
At 6.30 on Saturday, Bayern make a trip to their favourite opponents in Hamburg. After the sacking of Ancelotti and the reinstatement of Jupp Heynckes, the trend has been quite positive and it would surprise everyone to see Hamburg get anything but a few conceded goals from this game.
Sunday starts at 1.30 with a match featuring the two deprived childs of the league: Bremen and Köln. Neither team have won a game yet and the air is getting thinner and thinner for both managers. Should any team win this game (and it would be really funny if neither team does), the manager of the other team might be jobless by the end of the week. Especially Köln really needs that win because unlike Bremen they have only drawn one game. Both teams haven’t shown good signs lately so this is not going to be a pretty game.
At 3.30 Hertha make the long trip down to Freiburg who got slaughtered by Bayern last week. Berlin lost in similarly convincing fashion to Schalke and both teams are towards the rear end of the table. Freiburg are a bag full of surprises this year and this game is hard to predict but since Freiburg is involved it should be some decent football.
The matchday concludes at 6.00 when the only German team to win an Europa League match makes a trip up to Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg sits on eight points out of eight games and the change from Jonker to Schmidt hasn’t helped much so far in terms of points. Hoffenheim is 4th and if they want to be in the proper Champions League, these are the hard away matches they have to win because neither Schalke nor Gladbach are sleeping.