The rückrunde began with a bang two weeks ago and the German top division has been on fire ever since. Dortmund have a new found spark, while the likes of Freiburg and Mainz continue to impress with their sturdy performances. Hannover’s inability to defend hasn’t been rectified and Bremen seem keen to join the same boat. So what can you expect on matchday 20 of the Bundesliga?
Top 3 Games To Watch Out For
Mainz 05 vs. Bayern Munich
Remember this very fixture from last season, Mainz 3-2 Bayern Munich? A repeat of that is going to take a monumental effort from Thomas Tuchel’s side but given Bayern’s sluggishness off late, Mainz cannot be written off. The home team has been heavily reliant on their rock solid defense and the in-form Adam Szalai but will have to do without the Hungarian striker this weekend. Their injury list isn’t too much of a worry with three of their long term injuries, Elkin Soto, Choupo-Moting and Niko Bungert, being the only casualties. The likes of Nicolai Müller and Shawn Parker will have to be at their very best if this Bayern defense is to be tested.
Bayern have been a shadow of their hinrunde selves. With Heynckes still keeping Robben and Gomez away from the starting XI, Bayern look a very sluggish unit and seem to lack any inspiration in attack. They may still sit pretty at the top of the table but their last two outings will be cause for worry. Holger Badstuber remains the only casualty for the visitors.
Tuchel will know that a goal early in the game could spell disaster for this almost boring Bayern squad and the manager will look to throw all he’s got right from the onset. Heynckes might just choose to start Robben in this fixture, especially because of Mainz’s unimpressive left back, Junior Diaz. Although neutrals would like to see Bayern lose and the Bundesliga race to stay alive, a comfortable victory for Heynckes’ men seems the most likely result.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund
This is by far the biggest fixture of matchday-20 as second takes on third, the reigning Bundesliga champions. Leverkusen looked a little off the pace against Freiburg last week and the lack of options in the attacking department is beginning to show. With Sidney Sam being the only other experienced attacker in the roster, Lewandowski and Hyypia do have their hands kind of full at the moment.
Dortmund were absolutely mind boggling against Werder Bremen two weeks ago and showed great efficiency last week in their 3-0 victory over Nuremberg. The deadly duo of Reus and Götze will be keen to continue their remarkable season and will know that a good performance against a certain Andre Schürrle’s Leverkusen might help them move up the pecking order in the German national team.
Dortmund’s attacking quartet will find it difficult against the hard working midfield three of Leverkusen. A lot will depend on the freedom that Gündoğan is offered in the middle of the park and offering him too much might prove disastrous for Leverkusen.
This is going to be a very tight affair but Klopp’s Dortmund seem unstoppable at the moment. 2-1 to the Black and Yellows.
Werder Bremen vs. Hannover 96
The team that can’t defend against the team that can’t defend nor play away from home. Thomas Schaaf’s Bremen will have to do without the suspended duo Marko Arnautovic and Clemens Fritz for this tie. A lot will depend on Aaron Hunt and Kevin de Bruyne in attack while placing any hopes on their defense seems plain stupid. Another worrisome factor for Bremen will be their lack of an outright striker. Nils Petersen has struggled to play as a lone striker while de Bruyne’s use as a false 9 didn’t go too well for Schaaf.
Hannover have a couple of suspensions of their own, new signings Andre Hoffmann and Sebastien Pocognoli being the absentees. Their worries don’t end just there. Injuries to Eggimann, Felipe, Cherundulo and Schulz leaves their defense in an incredibly porous state and unless the likes of Chahed and Djourou step up a couple of notches, Hannover could well be destined for an embarrassing trip to Bremen.
Lots of goals, a few magical moments and the intermittent rash challenge. Entertainment guaranteed.
Hoffenheim vs. SC Freiburg
Marco Kurz’s side still can’t win to save their lives but their never ending list of winter signings might be a massive boost in their game against an in-form Freiburg. The recent signing of Igor de Camargo could prove to be the necessary boost to Hoffenheim’s insipid attack but Freiburg’s almost impassable defensive wall might be too much for Hoffenheim. A comfortable 2-0 win to Christian Streich’s surprise package.
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Augsburg
The Wolves have found it difficult to play in front of their home fans this season and facing off against a resurgent Augsburg isn’t what they would have hoped for. On the back of a disappointing loss away at Hannover, Wolfsburg have a lot of work to do if they are to steady the ship and finish in the top half of the table. Augsburg’s rückrunde has been terrific so far. Markus Weinzierl’s side have managed to earn four out of a possible six points and are beginning to claw their way out of the relegation zone. This should be a drab affair with the spoils being shared.
Schalke 04 vs. Greuther Fürth
Schalke’s season keeps going downhill with every passing day, the latest debacle being the immediate departure of Lewis Holtby from the club. Nothing seems to be going right for the Royal Blues at the moment and a fixture against cellar dwellers Fürth couldn’t have come at a better time. Both winter acquisitions, Raffael and Bastos, might get some playing time on Saturday. Mike Büskens would love to take a page out of Weinzierl’s book from last week but even a point for Fürth seems light-years away.
Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. VfB Stuttgart
Fortuna Düsseldorf have gradually been slipping down the table and the recent rise of Augsburg could see them slipping into relegation fairly soon. Last week’s drab performance against ‘Gladbach didn’t help their cause at all, but their upcoming fixture against Stuttgart should be a bright spot for Norbert Meier and his boys. Stuttgart have struggled this season, especially with their extremely thin squad and the departure of Zdravko Kuzmanovic will not help. A cagey and hard fought draw seems the best result in this fixture.
Hamburger SV vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Thorsten Fink finally managed to pick up his first Nordderby victory after having taken over at Hamburg, and will be hoping to build on that result when his side faces high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt. Armin Veh’s side picked up an unconvincing victory over Hoffenheim last week but will have to lift up their game if they are to leave the Imtech Arena with three points. Both sides will turn to their talismanic attacking midfielders to provide the goods in this European hopefuls clash but it could well be decided by which goalkeeper has a better night. 1-2 to the visitors.
Nuremberg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
The Michael Wiesinger era hasn’t been colourful by any means so far. Things don’t look set to change this week when Nuremberg play hosts to a result-producing-shabby-performing ‘Gladbach side who seem to stay in the European spots even with the most ordinary of displays. Juan Arango hasn’t pulled off one of his magical strikes in a while now so that could well be the decider in this game.