The Hard Tackle presents you a brief overview of Matchday 9 of the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign including Bayern Munich’s trip to Mainz.
With the second round of the DFB Pokal set to take place next midweek, Bundesliga teams will brace themselves for a gruelling schedule up ahead as Matchday 9 gets underway on Friday.
High-flying Borussia Monchengladbach will take on minnows SC Freiburg in the Friday night encounter while league leaders Borussia Dortmund will entertain Hertha Berlin. Their arch-rivals Bayern Munich, on the other hand, will look to extend their winning run to three games as they travel to Mainz.
Also on Saturday, Hannover will take on FC Augsburg while Hoffenheim face VfB Stuttgart in the topspiel. On Sunday, we will get to witness three exciting matches with Eintracht Frankfurt travelling to Nurnberg before Schalke takes on RB Leipzig, in what will be the most high-octane fixture in this particular matchday.
Werder Bremen will wrap this week’s round of fixturee by hosting a struggling Bayer Leverkusen side at the Weserstadion on Sunday evening. And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at the pick of the games from Matchday 9.
SC Freiburg vs Borussia Monchengladbach
Along with Borussia Dortmund, Monchengladbach are one of the most in-form teams in the division at the moment, having won three of their last four matches, during which they have scored 10 goals while conceding only once. Therefore, they will be tipped as favourites when they visit Freiburg on Friday.
While Alassane Plea is definitely the danger man for the Foals, Jonas Hofmann could also play a key role, having plundered a hat-trick in the win over Mainz last weekend. In addition, it will be interesting to see how Matthias Ginter fares against his former team.
It is really difficult to see any way out for Freiburg in this one as they have scored only thrice in their last four matches and will thus, be more than happy with a point this week.
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Bayern Munich
After a winless run of four games prior to the international break, Bayern Munich have managed to make amends, having won their last two matches against VfL Wolfsburg and AEK Athens, respectively. However, they will face a stern test of overcoming a resolute Mainz defence this weekend.
Although the 05-ers conceded four goals in their last game against Borussia Monchengladbach, they have let in only eight goals this season, thus equalling the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen as the meanest defence in the league this season. Therefore, Bayern coach Niko Kovac will be hoping that his players can live up to the challenge.
The visitors, however, will miss out on the services of Arjen Robben through suspension, which could pave the way for Franck Ribery to start his first game since the end of the international break. He will undoubtedly play a key role as the Bavarians look to breach a solid Mainz defence this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha Berlin
It is probably fair to acknowledge that Borussia Dortmund are currently one of the hottest teams in Europe this season, especially after their thumping 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek. They are also the only unbeaten club in Germany this season and will be looking to keep up that momentum when they face Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
That being said, the injury-stricken Borussia could be forced to make several changes with Jadon Sancho being tipped to start ahead of Christian Pulisic while Maximilian Philipp could also push for a start. Sancho scored Dortmund’s fourth goal in the win over Atletico and has now netted three goals while providing eight assists in just 508 minutes in all competition this season. However, star striker Paco Alcacer is still doubtful for this one, which could be a huge blow for the Black and Yellows.
Hertha, on the other hand, have yielded disappointing performances in their last two matches, drawing with Mainz and Freiburg respectively. That being said, star playmaker Ondrej Duda has kept up his impressive offensive output, notably scoring the opener against Freiburg last weekend. He will undoubtedly play a key role in this one as the hosts look to break the shackles of a resolute Dortmund defence, that has conceded only eight goals this season.
RB Leipzig vs FC Schalke 04
FC Schalke were unlucky not to secure all three points in a stale draw with Galatasaray in midweek after a host of harsh refereeing decisions denied them the opportunity of pulling ahead. And they will be facing a stern test of overcoming RB Leipzig on Sunday as their woes continue.
Speaking of Leipzig, they registered a convincing 2-0 win over Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday and are the obvious favourites on paper. The win against Celtic meant that they have now won five of their last six matches in all competitions, during which they have scored 15 goals.
Ralf Rangnick shuffled his pack in midweek, giving rare starts to Matheus Cunha and Bruma, both of whom scored in the win over Celtic. However, the German mastermind should recall the likes of Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen back into the starting lineup in this one while Schalke have no choice but to depend on their limited resources upfront.
But, considering their pedigree in the German top flight, it will be interesting to see how the Royal Blues fare against the in-form Leipzig side this weekend.
Werder Bremen vs Bayer Leverkusen
Very few fans expected Bayer Leverkusen to struggle the way they have this season. Having secured only eight points in eight matches, Leverkusen have been one of the most disappointing teams in the Bundesliga this term with their latest defeat coming against FC Zurich in the Europa League on Thursday. And Heiko Herrlich’s men will look to avoid any further humiliation as they face an in-form Werder Bremen side this weekend.
The Green and Whites are standing third in the league table with 17 points on the board. They are coming on the back of a strong 2-0 win over Bundesliga giants Schalke last weekend, where Maxi Eggestein’s brace helped them collect all points against the struggling Royal Blues.
Eggestein could once again play a key role in this encounter along with Max Kruse while Leverkusen will rely on the individual quality of their players as they seek a much-needed three pointer this weekend. Karim Bellarabi should be given a start after a promising display against Hannover last weekend, notably scoring the last minute equalizer.