A Clash of Midfields – Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund
Arguably Bundesliga’s biggest match-up for the last three years, record champions Bayern Munich will look to pull away at the top even more when they play traveling Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena. Eleven points separate the two giants of German football after Dortmund uncharacteristically dropped points against new comers Dusseldorf on Tuesday night allowing Bayern to sit pretty at the top of the table after their victory over Frieburg.
Dortmund have been in excellent form in the Champions League but have failed to recreate the same in the Bundesliga. Their last game against Dusseldorf is a perfect example. Dusseldorf as expected shut up shop against the defending champions, but what was more disappointing was Dortmund’s attack failing to turn-up with Jurgen Klopp saying his team lacked the counter pressing game play against the visitors. Klopp of course will know this will not do against a rampant Bayern Munich who shipped out 5 against Hannover last weekend.
Jupp Heynckes’s Bayern have an eleven point cushion over their visitors and will be quite confident and relaxed coming into the game something that has been absent over the last two seasons. Their last meeting at the Allianz saw Dortmund run out 1-0 winners courtesy of a “lucky” Mario Gotze strike in the second half and of course Bayern fans will not forget in a hurry the mauling they received in the DFB Pokal finals.
Bayern welcomed back ‘Super’ Mario Gomez last weekend and he should start with Muller and Ribery flanking him on either sides and Kroos playing behind him. Javi Martinez finally seems to be settling down in Munich and he is expected to partner Schweinsteiger in the middle of the park. Luis Gustavo is still out with injury but expect returning Robben and Boateng to make the bench. Klopp’s biggest concern will be the doubts surrounding the fitness of the influential Mats Hummels in defense. Reus, Lewandowski and Goetze have been in quite good form lately and Klopp will be relieved to have the Polish winger, Kuba, back in his ranks for the game.
The pressure will certainly be on Dortmund when they come out on to the pitch on Saturday night knowing a loss to Bayern will be equivalent to handing the ‘salad bowl’ to the Bavarians. Bayern on the other hand will know a point will be a good result though they will be keen tilt the balance in their favour after 5 straight losses to Dortmund in the last two Bundesliga seasons.
Both Bayern and Dortmund are widely credited to have one of the best midfields in Europe and this weekend’s clash will be a test of skill, character and resolve for both sides. Expect an electrifying game with Bayern coming out 2-1 winners.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs Nürnberg
With most of the Bundesliga’s attention on Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke over recent weeks, Bayer Leverkusen have quietly slipped into second place above the duo from North-Rhine Westphalia. Ever since their brilliant win over Bayern on match day 9, Sami Hyypiä’s men have hardly looked back notching up some convincing victories and steadily climbing up the table. Their 4-1 thrashing of Werder Bremen took them to second place in the table and they will be keen to hold on to this against visiting Nürnberg. Leverkusen are still without the services of Sidney Sam, Michal Kadlec, Karim Bellarabi, and Daniel Schwaab but with Castro,Rolfes and Schürrle in blistering form, Hyypiä will not be too worried.
Nürnberg did themselves a huge favour running out comfortable winners against fellow relegation probables Hoffenheim. The win sees them sitting 13th, eight points above the drop zone. The absentees remain the same for the Bavarians. Expect Leverkusen to win this comfortably and stay second.
Schalke 04 vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
Schalke received a rude shock on match day 14 losing out 3-1 to an inspired Hamburg at the Imtech Arena. This was Schalke’s second defeat in three games, which sees them slip down to 4th spot, 13 points behind table toppers Bayern. The Royal Blues seem to have run out of steam after their Champions League encounter mid-last week and Huub Stevens really has to conjure something if he wants his team to stay in contention for a Champions League spot. His job will be made no easier by the visiting Gladbach team who themselves are struggling to live up to last season’s performance. Stevens will have to do without the services of midfielders Christoph Moritz and Marco Hoger while Ibrahim Afellay remains a doubt for Saturday’s game.
Gladbach have had an up and down season so far but a convincing victory over struggling Wolfsburg midweek sees them place ninth. Injuries to key players in Luuk de Jong and Filip Daems have not helped their season and strikers Mike Hanke and De Camargo have found it hard to find the back of the net.
Schalke to edge out Gladbach in a tight game.
Mainz vs Hannover 96
An intriguing midtable battle beckons on match day 15 in the Bundesliga when Mainz host Hannover at the Coface Arena. Mainz and Hannover have been quite consistent in their effort to remain in contention for the Europa League berths and remain level on points after match day 14. Mainz are coming off a remarkable win over high flying Frankfurt while Hannover got back on track with a routine win over second from bottom Greuther Fürth.
Mainz will be without the injured Jan Kirchhoff, Niko Bungert and Maxim Choupo-Moting while Hannover travel without striker Mohammed Abdellaoue and suspended Lars Stindl. If past games are any indication, this one will be a tight affair as well. Points to be shared at the Coface Arena.
F. Düsseldorf vs Eintracht Frankfurt
From not conceding any in their first five games to conceding 15 in their next five, Dusseldorf’s season in the 1.Bundesliga has been nothing short of drama. They have picked themselves though with hard fought draws against Dortmund and Hoffenheim and an impressive win over Hamburg last weekend.
Friday’s game on Matchday 15 sees them playing host to Armin Veh’s Eagles who have picked up only 1 point from their last two games, that includes their surprising submission to Mainz midweek. Frankfurt will be traveling without defender Anderson and suspended striker Karim Matmour while long term causalities remain the same.
Fortuna on the other hand have major injury concerns to deal with. The trio of Jens Langeneke, Tobias Levels and Cha Du-Ri is ruled out due to injuries and they will join their defensive colleague Stelios Malezas on the treatment table. Midfielder Bastian Muller is also reported to be a doubtful starter for Fortuna. Frankfurt should take all three points.
FC Augsburg vs SC Freiburg
In form Freiburg were brought down to earth in midweek by Bayern. Nonetheless, Freiburg’s gusty performances over recent weeks have won them quite a bit of fans and they will be looking to keep up their good work when they travel to the SGL Arena to face relegation threatened Augsburg.
The hosts haven’t found their footing yet in their second season in Germany’s top flight and injuries to key players hasn’t helped their cause. Jan Moravek, Tobias Werner, Dominik Reinhardt, Simon Jentzsch, and captain Paul Verhaegh all find themselves on the hospital table and Markus Weinzierl has quite a task on his hands to find the right remedy to Augsburg’s problems.
Freiburg should be able to get their campaign back on track with a win over Augsburg.
VfL Wolfsburg vs Hamburg
In the absence of Rafael Van der Vaart and Heung-Min Son, many expected Hamburg to struggle particularly after their unexpected loss to Dusseldorf last weekend. But an inspired showing by midfielder Maximilian Beister gave Hamburg an excellent win over Schalke on match day 14. Thorsten Fink will be expecting the same kind of showing from his team when they face of against a struggling Wolfsburg on Sunday. Hamburg will look to capitalize on their host’s poor form and the fact that fellow mid-table teams Mainz and Hannover face off against each other could aid the Dinosaur’s rise up the table.
Wolfsburg after seeming to improve in the post Magath era have slipped up in their last couple of games and find themselves placed 15th in the table. Their home form has been woeful to say the least with only 1 win in their 6 games at the Volkswagen Arena. Hamburg to pile more misery on the men in green.
Greuther Fürth vs VfB Stuttgart
Ibrahima Traore and Vedad Ibisevic gave Bruno Labbadia some respite from his troubles against bottom club Augsburg and he can expect the same when they take on second from bottom club Fürth. Stuttgart do not have any recent injury concerns and they should get a comfortable win over Greuther Fürth.
Hoffenheim vs Werder Bremen
Sunday’s 2nd game sees two teams fighting to distance themselves from the drop zone after falling into some poor form in recent weeks. Bremen’s last visit to the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena got them a 2-1 victory courtesy of strikes from Rosenberg and Arnautovic. Thomas Schaaf would be hopeful of a point at least from his currently misfiring squad. Midfield trio of Aaron Hunt, Kevin De Bruyne and Eljero Elia seemed to have been deserted by their respective forms and though loanee Nils Petersen is scoring on a consistent basis, he hasn’t been complemented by others.
Hoffenheim on the other hand have taken a nose dive down the table after a short resurrection after match day 6. The midweek loss to Nurnberg sees then placed in the relegation play-off spot and the absence of Tim Weise, Malbasic, Stefan Thesker ,Matthias Jaissle and Jannik Vestergaard will not please Markus Babbel as he looks to take on Schaaf’s boys in a crucial bottom of the table game. Werder Bremen to bounce back from their midweek defeat in this one.
Games to watch out for
- Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund
- Mainz vs Hannover
- Hoffenheim vs Werder Bremen