Apart from Schalke’s 4-2 loss to Sporting Lisbon, It was yet another successful European week for Bundesliga clubs. Bayern and Dortmund confirmed their passage to the next round while Levekusen topped their group with an impressive showing in Russia. Wolfsburg and Gladbach continued the good work in the Europa league with 5-1 and 2-0 wins that puts them in a very good position to progress to the next round. Back in the league, the same two have done wonders with 20 points from 10 games and Gladbach are yet to lose!! Post matchday 10, the league table has certainly reversed from last season with Ruhr clubs Dortmund and Schalke struggling at the bottom and Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim riding high at the top.
The Hard Tackle takes a look at matchday 11 of this highly unpredictable league.
Bayern on the road to Frankfurt
With their traditional domestic rivals struggling, FC Bayern Munich are the only side that have maintained normality in an otherwise unpredictable league season so far. They come into this fixture on the back of a 2-0 win over Roma that confirms their place in the next round of the Uefa Champions league. With no European distractions until late February, the reigning champions are free to concentrate all their energy into fortifying their already strong position domestically. They do though travel to Eintracht Frankfurt with some injury concerns at the back of their mind.
Versatile player, David Alaba is expected to be out for a period of 2-3 months after being diagnosed with a medial collateral ligament tear and veteran striker Claudio Pizarro is also expected to be sidelined for the year. They join already sidelined lot of Schweinsteiger,Martinez,Thiago,Badstuber,Tom Starke and Pepe Reina. The loss of David Alaba though will hit Guardiola’s plans for the coming weeks.
Starting out as a left sided midfielder, Alaba was converted to a successful left back 2 seasons ago and has reassumed his preferred role of a midfielder under Pep’s new system of 3-4-3. Alaba certainly has become a key member of the midfield this season owing to injuries to other midfielders and his understanding with Xabi Alonso in the middle of the park has blossomed as games have gone by. His absence would probably mean utilizing Sebastian Rode,Pierre Højbjerg or Gianluca Gaudino. Of course Pep also has the alternative to shift to a 4-2-3-1 with Alonso-Lahm/Rode manning the midfield and Rafinha and Bernat moving to the full back positions.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s season under new boss Thomas Schaaf has revolved around the exploits of their burly midfielder Alexander Meier. Meier has been in phenomenal form scoring 6 in 9 appearances and will hold the baton when they host the table toppers. A season largely seen has a consolidation one, Frankfurt will be without key players in Carlos Zambrano, Johannes Flum,Kevin Trapp and forward Haris Seferovic.
Eintracht Frankfurt (4-2-3-1) : Wiedwald – Russ, Madlung,Bamba,Chandler – Hasebe,Kittel , -Aigner,Meier,Inui – Kadlec
Bayern Munich (3-4-3) : Neuer – Lahm,Boateng,Benatia – Rafinha,Alonso,Rode,Bernat – Ribery,Gotze,Muller
Frankfurt 0-2 Bayern
Dortmund hunt for elusive win
Placed 17th, Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund have only 7 points from 10 games- their worst start to a campaign in their history. The 2011-2012 double winners have not won in their last 7 games, their last three points coming on matchday 3 against Freiburg. Strangely enough though, this loss in form has occurred only in the league games.
The Yellow and Black’s from the Ruhr valley have won all their 4 Uefa Champions league games and convincingly beat St Pauli to progress to the round of 16 in the DFB Pokal. Yet they have failed to carry forward this form into the Bundesliga and are currently only better than bottom placed side Werder Bremen on goal difference. Injuries first and then failure to score has been Dortmund’s major concerns this season. With an abundance of creativity at disposal, Borussia Dortmund have created a number of chances for themselves but have failed to convert any of them. New strikers Ciro Immobile and Adrain Ramos have had difficult starts to their Dortmund careers and their missed opportunities have proved costly. Bundesliga sides these days simply sit out waves of Dortmund attacks before hitting Klopp’s men on the counter to get all three points.
One thing that is off Klopp’s head is Champions league progression. Their showings midweek confirmed their participation in the next round meaning Klopp has about 3 months to urge his side to concentrate really hard domestically. Their first task though is up against neighbours and in form side Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Like Bayern,Gladbach are yet to lose a game this season. Whats more, they have been scoring at will,not just domestically, but in Europe as well. With 5 wins and 5 draws, The Fouls sit 3rd in the table and a win against their hosts will keep them within sight of Bayern. Recent history has certainly been on Lucien Favre’s side. They did the double over Dortmund last season and haven’t lost to them in four meetings.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1) : Weidenfeller – Piszczek,Subotic, Papastathopoulos,Durm – Gündoğan,Bender – Mkhitaryan.Kagawa,Reus – Aubameyang/Immobile
Borussia Mönchengladbach (4-4-1-1) : Sommer – Jantschke, Domínguez,Stranzl,Wendt – Hahn,Kramer, Nordtveit ,Hermann – Rafael-Kruse
Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Wolfsburg take on Hamburg
Post their 2008-2009 championship winning season, Die Wölfe have promised much but inconsistency has proved their Achilles’ Heel most times. But Hecking’s men finally look to correct those mistakes by continuing their winning form when they host Hamburg on Sunday. Currently sitting just below Bayern with 20 points from 10 games, Wolfsburg’s run of 6 wins from 7 games has been their best since 2009. Fresh from their mauling of Krasnoder midweek, Wolfburg will be quite keen to carry on their purple patch. Aaron Hunt, Kevin De Bruyne,Ivica Olic and Ivan Perišić have been the foundation of much of their side’s success while Naldo alongside young Knoche have been rock solid at the back. The hosts have scored 20 in their last 5 games in all competitions whilst letting in just 4 goals.
Hamburg on the other hand sit just above the relegation zone and they are looking more and more likely to emulate last season’s dismal showings. They have lacked genuine creativity and drive to perform and they travel to Wolfsburg having not beaten the side in their last 5 meetings.
Wolfsburg 2-0 Hamburg
ElseWhere in the Bundesliga (Predictions)
- Hertha BSC vs Hannover 96 ( 1-2)
- Augsburg FC vs Paderborn (1-1)
- Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz 05 (2-0)
- Freiburg vs Schalke 04 (0-1)
- Hoffenheim vs Koln (2-0)
- Werder Bremen vs Stuttgart (0-0)