Bundesliga action returns with Matchday 13 after what can only be called as a disastrous week for Bundesliga sides in Europe. 6 teams between them picked up only 1 point and the sides involved will not want to carry their midweek showings to the league fixtures. The last few weeks have seen table toppers and reigning champions Bayern Munich really get into their championship winning mode and with Wolfsburg falling to Schalke, the Bavarians have extended their lead at the top to 7 points. Can the chasing pack catch up or will the champions pull farther away? The Hard Tackle takes a look at the key points on matchday 13.
Bayern pay the boys from the capital a visit
Will injuries and playing 70 minutes against reigning English champions Manchester City with 10 men take its toll on the record champions will be the question asked off Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich as they make their trip to the capital to take on Hertha Berlin. Bayern custodian Neuer and full back Rafinha certainly seemed to think so with both admitting that the injury ridden side were drained after the midweek game. Bayern rested Muller and Gotze for the clash against the English side while the injury list of Lahm, Alaba, Martinez, Thiago , Pizarro, Reina and Badstuber remains unchanged.
Bastain Schweinsteiger is expected to start the game alongside either Alonso or Rode. The German skipper made his return as a substitute against Hoffenheim on matchday 12 earning an assist and also played the last 6 minutes of the tie against Manchester City. His return to the playing eleven will be a definite boost to the side and probably give Xabi Alonso a much needed break.
Three of the four wins for the hosts have come at home and Jos Luhukay will be hoping they continue their home form against a ‘tired’ Bayern Munich side. Key defenders Fabian Lustenberger and Peter Pekarik are still out injured. Bayern have won all of the 6 meetings between the two sides scoring 24 goals.
Hertha Berlin (4-2-3-1):Kraft – Brooks,Heitinga,Van Den Bergh, Schulz- Hosogai,Ndjeng – Skjelbred, Kalou,Stocker – Beerens
Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1) : Neuer – Bernat,Dante,Benatia,Rafinha – Schweinsteiger –Rode,Gotze,Muller,Ribery – Lewandowski
Hertha 0-3 Bayern Munich
Wolfsburg vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
Bundesliga’s two Europa league representatives had contrasting results during the midweek. While Wolfsburg looked dominating against Everton despite their loss, Gladbach were a tad bit lucky to come away with a point against Villarreal. The two Europa League sides though find themselves in Champions League spots and until two weeks ago were breathing down the neck of Bayern Munich. Since then Gladbach’s freak loss to Dortmund and Wolfsburg’s dismal showing against Schalke has left a 7 and 10 point gap between the leaders and Wolfsburg and Gladbach respectively.
The two sides will not want further slip-ups that would undo the steady start both have made this season. Wolfsburg haven’t lost a game at home this season and their tally of 24 goals in 12 games is 2nd only to Bayern’s 31. Much of their attacking bulk has been shared by the versatile trio of Hunt, De Bruyne and Perisic with the still excellent Olic in front of them.
If history is any indication this contest should be a thrilling one with the last five meeting between the sides finishing 2 in favour of Wolfsburg, 1 in favour of Gladbach and 2 draws.
Wolfsburg (4-2-3-1) : Benaglio – Trasch, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez – Gustavo,Vieirinha – Hunt, De Bruyne, Perisic – Olic
Borussia Mönchengladbach (4-4-1-1) : Sommer – Jantschke, Domínguez, Stranzl, Wendt – Hahn, Kramer, Nordtveit, Hermann – Rafael-Kruse
Dortmund in Crisis as they visit Frankfurt
Their tame submission to Paderborn on matchday 12 and loss to Arsenal in the midweek certainly hasn’t helped Klopp’s side. In a season in which they were expected to give Bayern a stern competition for the league championship, Dortmund currently sit in the relegation play-off spot with 11 points from 12 games and a goal difference of negative five. This definitely is the worst start for Dortmund in the 7 years under Klopp and the gaffer is expected to come up with remedies when they travel to Frankfurt.
Klopp will be without talisman Marco Reus, whose injury record is becoming a regular feature. With both Hummels and Papastathopoulos out injured, young Ginter will once again feature in the heart of defense for visitors. Dortmund fans would have been glad to see the pairing of Bender and Gündoğan in action and though they weren’t at their best, the duo will be expected to carry forward the side against Frankfurt. Klopp’s main concern will be the form of his attacking four upfront. The lack of wingers-by-trade and the understanding between the new recruits has led to most of Dortmund’s problems. It will be interesting to see if the gaffer chooses to use the same tactics or modify it to suit his current players better.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga (Predictions)
- SC Freiburg vs VfB Stuttgart (1-4) (Result)
- FC Augsburg vs Hamburger SV (2-1)
- Bayer Leverkusen vs Koln (3-1)
- Schalke 04 vs Mainz 05 (2-0)
- Werder Bremen vs Paderborn (0-1)
- Hoffenheim vs Hannover 96 (1-1)