The Bundesliga returns after a twelve day international break which saw the league’s National team thrash Ireland and give up a four goal lead against Sweden. TheHardTackle looks into all the action that is set to take place this weekend.

Hoffenheim vs Greuther Fürth

Hoffenheim kick start Match day 8 by welcoming Greuther Fürth to the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Both sides lost their respective match day 7 games which leaves the hosts sitting in 13th and Fürth propping up the table sitting at the bottom.

The Bavarians haven’t yet found their footing in the top flight gaining just 4 points from 7 games. The only comfort Mike Büskens’s men can carry into the game is that all their points have come on the road and they would love to continue this trend. Fürth have found the back of the net only twice this season and their strikers haven’t been involved in either of them.

Hoffenheim have gone down the table after a couple of disappointing results and they would like to get back to the confidence they gained after convincing victories over Hannover and Stuttgart earlier in the season. The hosts will notably be without the services of midfielder Sejad Salihović, Tim Weise and now stable Boris Vukčević.

Hoffenheim should secure all three points comfortably with Greuther Fürth struggling in terms of scoring and keeping out goals.

Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke

Bundesliga

Will the Yellow Wall be too much to handle for Schalke?

The Ruhr area will be coloured yellow and blue come Saturday for the 128th Revierderby. Widely recognized as the most intense of all German derbies, the German Champions will be looking to continue their recent dominance over their hated rivals and neighbors.

The two time defending champions haven’t started the season as per their high standards and expectations and will be keen to make up ground on table toppers Bayern. Klopp’s biggest concern will be the injury list he has to deal with. Key players Mats Hummels, Sven Bender and Jakub Blaszczykowski took knocks against Hannover with the Polish winger coming of worse. Young midfielder Gündogan is also sidelined with injury and he’ll join long-term causality while Patrick Owomoyela is on the treatment table. Hummels and Bender are expected to recover, but they might find themselves on the substitute bench. In-form striker Marco Reus and Mario Goetze are expected to feature alongside Lewandowski with skipper Kehl surprisingly orchestrating the attack from a deeper position.

Schalke should be ready to welcome back Kyriakos Papadopoulos after he was sidelined with a viral infection last-time around. Timo Hildebrand is also fully fit but it’ll be hard for him to displace the excellent Lars Unnerstall between the sticks. Schalke will of course miss the services of Julian Draxler who is expected to be on the hospital bed for a month.

A draw would be the fairest result in a match contested by two very talented teams, but Dortmund can be expected to squeeze a victory out simply based on the brilliant form of their new boy Marco Reus. Irrespective of the result, this derby which contains so much emotion and history should dish out a thriller and is a must watch game.

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs Bayern Munich

Bayern’s trip to Dusseldorf on Saturday will feature two teams that have the best defensive record in the league. Bayern sit pretty on the top of the table scoring a record 21 goals whist conceding just 2. Dusseldorf have fared extremely well for a newly promoted side and thanks to their excellent defense sit 7th.

Expect David Alaba to start for Bayern after sitting out 3 months due to injury. His performance on the left flank for Austria should earn him a place instead of the under-performing Badstuber in the Bayern defense. Martinez is expected to partner Schweinsteiger in the midfield with Kroos occupying the no 10 role. Mercurial Dutch winger Arjen Robben is still out nursing a muscular problem and he’ll be joining Mario Gomez, Emre Can and Mitchell Weiser in the stands to watch the game.

Fortuna have been a revelation in the league so far playing with a well-organized, air tight defense. But loses to Schalke and Mainz have displayed chinks in their armour. Forward Stefan Reisinger has recovered and should be starting on the bench. Defenders Stelios Malezas and Bruno Soares are still sidelined with injury.

Fortuna will be expected to sit back and defend deep in their own half to salvage a point against an unstoppable Bayern attack. But the Bavarians possess enough trickery and skill in their arsenal and should take all 3 points back home.

Werder Bremen vs Borussia Mönchengladbach

Two potential Europa-League contenders in Bremen and Gladbach face each other in a vital mid-table clash at the Weserstadion. Die Werderaner’s injury list seems to be growing with latest causalities in club captain Clemens Fritz and Aleksandar Stevanovic joining the likes of Felix Kroos, Mehmet Ekici and François Affolter . The loss of Fritz comes as a big blow for Bremen and its shaky defense which has already let in 13 goals. Loanee De-Bruyne and Hunt have delighted the home crowd this season and Thomas Schaaf will be hoping Elia joins them in doing so.

Galdbach who sit 2 points above their opponents have failed to cope with the loses of Reus and Dante so far. Sitting 10th in the table, they are the only team that have no injury worries to deal with . A full squad to select from and the likes of De Jong and Xhaka getting accustomed to life in the Bundesliga, expect Gladbach to win at Bremen.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz

Another upper table battle sees Leverkusen take on a resurgent Mainz. Mainz placed 9th have won their last couple of games in convincing fashion and their fans will feel the international break came at the wrong time. Mainz are without their strikers Ivan Klasnic and Maxim Choupo-Moting and goal keeper Hainz Mueller. Their opponents on the other hand should have the services of Lars Bender who seems to have shaken off a knee injury. Renato Augusto is still sidelined with injury is expected back only in November.

Leverkusen have done well so far exceeding expectations by placing themselves in contention for the fourth Champions league spot over the last three weeks. They were unlucky not to get all three points against Stuttgart last time around and will be looking to hold on to the momentum at home against a very good Mainz team. Considering the forms of both teams, it’ll be a tight win for the home side.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hannover 96

Frankfurt placed 2nd will look to keep up their brilliant start to the season when they welcome 5th placed Hannover. The game presents a mouth-watering encounter that once again places the 4th Champions League spot in the limelight. Hannover will look to consolidate their position in the top five and prove a point to rest of the league. Armin Veh will know the bubble will burst at some-point in the season, but will want his boys to be in a comfortable position when it does.

Veh’s side have taken the league by storm with some disciplined defending and a determination to win every game and the performances of Meier, Inui and Hoffer have helped them in this cause. Hannover’s latest member to the injury list, Leon Andreasen does not help their cause, but with Huszti in blistering form, they might just end up not missing him. A tight and very entertaining game should see points evenly shared and further heat up the race for European spots.

VfL Wolfsburg vs SC Freiburg

BundesligaThe Wolves have had a very below-par start to the season. Notwithstanding the eccentricities of their manager Felix Magath, the players have now started to play their parts in heaping more misery on their team in a season seen by many pundits as a break-through one for the club. Defending worth entering into TV’s “Just for Laughs” by new signings Naldo and Emanuel Pogatetz have largely been responsible for Wolfsburg’s 17th place. The midfield hasn’t been far from blame either. Lackluster performances from Diego, Josue and Trasch hasn’t helped the team cause either.

Freiburg on the other hand have done what they do best. Somehow earn points that’ll keep them just above the drop zone. Another boring and disappointing game beckons in the Volkswagen Arena this week.

Hamburg vs VfB Stuttgart

The return of the Messiah ,Van der Vaart has galvanized Hamburg both in terms of morale and creativeness. Recent results have seen Hamburg move up to 8th position and they welcome a Stuttgart side that has won just once in 7 games. Stuttgart’s meter only started ticking on match day 6 when they beat fellow relegation dwellers Nurnberg to earn their first 3 points. An inspired performance against Leverkusen earned them a credible draw. Stuttgart enters the week without the services Cacau, Shinji Okazaki and on loan defender Hoogland, but have rest of the squad 100 % fit which includes their silver liner Martin Harnik.

Hamburg has to deal with injury to Croatian Ivo Iličević and knocks to Rincón, Scharner and Aogo. Nevertheless Hamburg will still enter the game on a high knowing they have good quality on their bench and can be expected pick up all three points against a toothless Stuttgart.

Nurnberg vs Augsburg

Sunday’s first game showcases two teams that were tipped to be involved in a relegation struggle and haven’t disappointed the pundits so far. They face each other at the Stadion Nürnberg in an attempt to distance themselves from the drop zone. Augsburg did themselves a big favour by beating Werder Bremen last time around whereas Nurnberg were soundly beaten by Freiburg.

Augsburg will be without their influential midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol and forward Molders.

Expect a tight game with both teams sharing the spoils.

Games to watch out for:

1) Dortmund vs Schalke

2) Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hannover 96