With Schalke having beaten Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday, the fight for Champions League football is all but over. Not much remains to fight for in the Bundesliga but there sure is some exciting football to look forward to in the 32nd matchday. TheHardTackle has all that you should look forward to in this Bundesliga preview.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
Both sides have booked their places in the Champions League final, making it the first ever all German final. Talk of German football’s ascendancy is rife but that is a completely different topic that needs another article all together. Coming to the game to be played this Saturday, both Bayern and Dortmund will surely be apprehensive towards playing full strength sides, especially with both Mario Götze and Toni Kroos out injured.
But this is also going to be a big mental battle, with the victor taking a sizeable advantage into the big game in May. Heynckes and Klopp will have to be at their smartest in deciding how they want to approach this game, using their benches and first squads in perfect tandem. This is where Bayern boast a massive advantage and should hold the upper hand. Dortmund might well be forced to concede defeat if their big names are shielded from injuries with the final in mind.
Klopp will surely give the likes of Piszczek, Schmelzer and Gündogan a rest, which should mean that Kirch, Grosskreutz and Sahin will see a rare start against the Bundesliga champions. Knowing that a big loss might prove to be greatly demoralizing, Klopp might refrain from benching the duo of Reus and Lewandowski.
Bayern have no such worries. Having put together a bench of incredible strength, Heynckes will field the likes of Shaqiri, Gustavo, Rafinha and Pizarro, all of whom would command a starting spot at any other club. There isn’t the slightest doubt that Bayern are the stronger side and putting your money against them could only be disastrous. What will be most interesting though is the effect this result will have on both sides ahead of the Champions League final.
Werder Bremen v Hoffenheim
The relegation battle seems the liveliest one in the Bundesliga this time around and this fixture is going to have a say in which league these two sides will be playing in next season. Winless since early February, Bremen have been nothing short of awful in the second half of the season. Thomas Schaaf seems to be holding on to his job only because of his long standing relationship with the club and the imminent departures of Kevin de Bruyne and Sokratis leaves Bremen with a very dull looking future.
Bremen will have all their regular starters available for this game but that hasn’t really been enough for them over the past couple of months. Schaaf will have to ensure that the goal leaking stops for the next three weeks, and hope that the likes of Arnautovic and Gebre Selassie can finally come of use.
Hoffenheim have looked half decent under Markus Gisdol, the coach having instilled newfound belief of yet another season in the top division. With seven points in their last five games, Hoffenheim have ensured that their hopes of staying afloat are still alive. Unfortunately for Gisdol, he will have to make do without the suspended Eugen Polanski, injured Tobias Weis and Heurelho Gomes.
A victory for the visitors seems a highly probable result, and if you’re the betting kind, that’s probably where you should be putting your money. The little village of Sinsheim should celebrate another year of resilience.
Hannover 96 v Mainz 05
Hannover’s home form has been absolutely brilliant this season, ranking sixth in this aspect. Mirko Slomka’s injury worries still remain a long list and Manuel Schmiedebach’s suspension only adds to his troubles. Johan Djourou is out injured as well, leaving Hannover’s defense in a very vulnerable state.
But playing Mainz couldn’t have come at a better time. Die Karnevalsverein have struggled over the past few weeks and an injury to Adam Szalai has more or less ruled out their hopes of European football. To add to their woes, Andreas Ivaschitz and Jan Kirchhoff are both injured as well.
Hannover should pick up the victory fairly comfortably and continue to have an outside chance at another season of Europa League football.
Nuremberg v Bayer Leverkusen
Three losses in three games, Nuremberg’s season is all but over, Der Club sitting safely in a mid table position. They may not have much to play for this week but a win over Leverkusen will come as one of their crowning moments this season. None of Nuremberg’s regular starters will miss out this week.
Leverkusen have been somewhat unpredictable of late, last week’s narrow 1-0 win over Bremen being testament to this. Like their opponents, Leverkusen have no real injury problems and should field a full strength squad.
Both sides don’t have much to play for and this could prove to be a fairly uninteresting draw.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Fortuna Düsseldorf
A year ago these two sides were looking forward to promotion to the Bundesliga, both having very similar aspirations. But things have changed dramatically ever since. Frankfurt have been brilliant this season, and currently sit in fifth position. Fortuna, on the other hand, have struggled after an impressive run early on and are just inches away from relegation.
Pirmin Schwegler and Kevin Trapp are still out for Frankfurt, while Fortuna have to make do without Mathis Bolly and Jens Langeneke. Both sides have a lot to fight for at the Commerzbank-Arena but a victory for the hosts seems the most likely result.
VfB Stuttgart v Greuther Fürth
This is yet another inconsequential match with Stuttgart having earned European qualification through the DFB Pokal and Fürth having been relegated. Suspension to Ibisevic and Niedermeier will make the job a whole lot tougher for Stuttgart but the good news for them is that their opponents are without the services of Sercan Sararer and Heinrich Schmidtgal.
Expect Fürth to take the game to Stuttgart and leave the Bundesliga on a high.
SC Freiburg v FC Augsburg
Unlike most other games, this is one with far reaching consequences. Freiburg have slipped up in the past couple of weeks, leaving them a step behind the likes of Schalke and Frankfurt. Knowing that the battle for Europa League football is as tight as ever should make them extremely hungrier for the three points.
Augsburg’s thrashing of Stuttgart has surely given them great hope of completing yet another miraculous survival. A double over the Baden-Württemberg clubs should ensure yet another season in the Bundesliga, but the job will be a lot harder without the suspended Matthias Ostrzolek.
The Robbie Kruse show should return this week and Freiburg’s push for European football should continue smoothly.
Hamburger SV v VfL Wolfsburg
Hamburg still have a lot to do if they wish to play in the Europa League next season, and beating Wolfsburg is one of those tasks. This job will be a whole lot harder without Milan Badelj and Rene Adler, and HSV’s inconsistency could hurt them too.
Wolfsburg have been very solid of late and are currently on a seven match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga. Extending this run seems very likely and with Simon Kjaer being the only regular figure out injured, Dieter Hecking should be looking for three points.
Going with an away victory seems like the better bet in this game.