Title challengers Borussia Dortmund kick start round 11 of the Bundesliga hosting Die Schwaben while the men from Bayern, Leverkusen and Gladbach take the road in the hope of continuing their winning runs. Still without wins sides, Nürnberg and Freiburg take on each other while fellow strugglers Frankfurt and Augsburg take on midtable sides in crucial match-ups. The Hard Tackle takes a look at key matches in round 11 of the Bundesliga.

Dortmund look to go top

Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund play host to southerners Stuttgart at the Signal Iduna Park late on Friday evening knowing they will have to give it all against an opponent who have made a decent start to this campaign. The last 6 meetings between these two have resulted in 4 draws with the 4-4 draw in March 2012 being a memorable one from the collection. Dortmund man Julian Schieber scored a brace against his future employers as Stuttgart came from behind to stun Dortmund with the equalizer. Stuttgart have not lost in their last 4 games with 3 draws and a win and new boss Thomas Schneider will be quite pleased to see his charges sitting 8th in the table, a win away from equaling Borussia Mönchengladbach who sit fourth.

Can Stuttgart frustrate Dortmund again?

Can Stuttgart frustrate Dortmund again?

Stuttgart’s last win at the Signal Iduna Park came back in 2007 with ex-Bayern man Mario Gomez scoring the winner and Schneider will be hoping his stars of the current campaign Alexandru Maxim and Vedad Ibisevic take some inspiration from that game. Ibisevic has been an inspirational figure upfront with 9 goals so far (best in the league) while young Romanian Maxim, who scored in the last meeting between the two sides as been brilliant with bringing people into the game with his set pieces. The defense has been a concern for the visitors and with the partnership of Georg Niedermeier and Serder Tasci broken during the summer transfer window, things haven’t been going smooth yet. Burly defender Antonio Rudiger will be out due to suspension but Stuttgart will travel with no new injury worries.

Klopp’s Dortmund have been in brilliant form over the last week with a convincing showing in the Champions league and a morale boosting one against rivals Schalke. The key man in both wins has been Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian after a quite start to life in Germany has started to show he can step up to the role of creator-in-chief. His passing and vision coupled with the pace and finishing of Lewandowski, Reus and Aubameyang form a scary sight for any defense. Dortmund like-wise don’t have any new additions to the treatment tables.

Possible line-ups

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Großkreutz, Hummels, Subotic, Schmelzer – Sahin, Bender – Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus – Lewandowski

VfB Stuttgart : Ulreich – Schwaab, Haggui, Niedermeier, Boka – Gentner, Kvist – Harnik, Maxim, Traoré – Ibišević

Predictions

Borussia Dortmund 3 – 1 VfB Stuttgartt

Bayern look for 36th on the row

Gunning for the record

Gunning for the record

The last time Bayern Munich lost in the Bundesliga was a year back, when Bayer Leverkusen shocked the Bavarians by 2-1 last October. That was 35 league games back and Bayern Munich under both Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola haven’t looked back since then. The record for maximum number games without a loss in the Bundesliga stands at 36 games, a record the great Hamburger SV side of the early eighties set. With being the only club in the Bundesliga yet to lose a game this season, Bayern have nonetheless gone behind in their last two games. Both Mainz and Hertha Berlin opened the scoring against the reigning champions with the latter pushing Die Roten all the way until the final whistle.

Brazilian center back Dante’s injury sustained last week is expected to still keep the man out of the starting 11 with Boateng and Daniel van Buyten controlling things at the back. The Belgians’ slowness at the back was well exploited by Hertha Berlin last weekend and Markus Gisdol will be hoping his pacy frontmen led by the excellent Roberto Firmino trouble the Bayern defense. Javi Martinez made an effective cameo in the middle of the park last week and can be expected to take the pitch in the starting 11. Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben both sustained knocks against Hertha last weekend and though both have resumed training, Guardiola could still use his new found midfielder, skipper Lahm in company with Schweinsteiger and Gotze.

Hoffenheim have been a tricky customer to deal with so far. They hammered Hannover by 4-1 last weekend and only lost before that to Leverkusen courtesy of the ‘Phantom goal’. They are the joint leaders alongside Dortmund in the goals scored department with 25 while also sharing the dubious record of the worst defense with Braunschweig with 23 goals conceded. Last week’s 4-1 win though should give their defense some confidence. 18 year old center back Niklas Süle had a decent outing alongside David Abraham last round while Roberto Firmino and Anthony Modeste have been the key outlets for the goal scoring department.

Predicted Line-ups

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim : Casteels – Toljan, Süle, Abraham, Beck – Rudy, Salihović- Firmino, Volland, Strobl – Modeste

Bayern Munich: Neuer – Rafinha, Van Buyten, Boateng, Alaba – Lahm – Götze, Schweinsteiger, , Ribery, Müller – Mandzukic

Predictions

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1 – 4 Bayern Munich

Enthralling midtable match-up on the cards

Hasto  get the campaign back on track

Has to get the campaign back on track

The boys from the capital,Hertha Berlin have been quite exciting to watch this season and they fully justified their current position they sit in with a determined showing against table toppers Bayern Munich. Despite losing 3-2, their attitude and approach against the might of Bayern invited plenty of lauds. They currently sit 5th in the table with 15 points while their visitors for this weekend Schalke are at 7th and a point behind.

The Royal Blues failed to show up in the much awaited Ruhr valley derby last weekend against Dortmund losing the game by 3-1. With back to back losses, Jens Keller has quite a task in his hands to motivate his side to face a very good Hertha side. Keller’s young guns Clemens, Meyer and Leon Goretzka have been excellent impact substitutes this season, providing the required aggression and goals during the later stages of the game. Hoger, Huntelaar and Farfan all remain sidelined with injuries while the home side don’t have any such concerns.

Predicted Line-ups

Hertha BSC : Kraft – Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Kobiashvili – Lustenberger, van den Bergh – Hosagai, Allagui, Skjelbred – Ramos

Schalke 04: Hildebrand – Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo – Jones, Neustädter – Clemens, Boateng, Draxler – Szalai

Predictions

Hertha BSC 1 –  2 Schalke 04

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga (Predictions)

  •  Nürnberg vs SC Freiburg (1-1)
  •  Hamburger SV vs Borussia Mönchengladbach ( 1-2)
  •  Eintracht Braunschweig vs Bayer Leverkusen (0-3)
  •  Eintracht Frankfurt vs VfL Wolfsburg ( 0-2)
  • FC Augsburg vs Mainz 05 ( 2-2)
  • Werder Bremen vs Hannover 96 ( 2-1)