The Hard Tackle presents you a short preview of Matchday 12 of the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign including Borussia Dortmund’s trip to Mainz.
It has been, on many levels, an uncharacteristic season in the Bundesliga, which has already mesmerised fans with a string of surprising results week in week out. And, following the end of the international break, clubs will look to get a move on once again as we bring you a brief preview of the pick of the matches from this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Bayer Leverkusen will kickstart the matchday as they host VfB Stuttgart on Friday. Die Schwaben have struggled this season but are coming on the back of a 2-0 win over Nurnberg in their last game. Borussia Dortmund’s excellent form has been one of the highlights of the season and the Black and Yellows will look to maintain their impressive lead over Bayern Munich as they travel to Mainz on Saturday.
Speaking of Bayern, they will take on Fortuna Dusseldorf while high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt will entertain FC Augsburg at the WWK Arena. Hertha Berlin, on the other hand, will be looking to recover from their shock defeat to Fortuna as they host TSG Hoffenheim while VfL Wolfsburg take on RB Leipzig.
In the topspiel, Schalke 04 will be going head to head with newly promoted 1.FC Nurnberg. And on Sunday, SC Freiburg will meet Werder Bremen before Borussia Monchengladbach wrap this weekend’s round of fixtures, hosting Hannover 96.
Bayer Leverkusen vs VfB Stuttgart
It has been a topsy-turvy campaign for Bayer Leverkusen so far, although most of it has been disappointing with six losses in just 11 matches. But, they have been promising at times and will seek to register their fourth win of the campaign against a Stuttgart side, who have also struggled this season.
However, Die Schwaben are coming on the back of a 2-0 win over Nurnberg, which happened to be their first win under newly appointed Markus Weinzierl. Therefore, they will be confident of their chances against Leverkusen, even though they do need to fortify their defence, having conceded over two goals per game this season.
Mario Gomez will remain a key man for Stuttgart upfront while Leverkusen will rely on the services of Karim Bellarabi and Kai Havertz to provide the attacking spark in the final third.
Bayern Munich vs Fortuna Dusseldorf
Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac is on thin ice at the moment, having suffered an embarrassing defeat to arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund in their last game. A win could be imperative for the Croatian mastermind as he looks guide Bayern to a swift recovery and most importantly, to save his skin.
Defence remains an issue, however, with Bayern conceding unnecessary goals throughout the course of the season so far. Point in case, the Bavarians have kept only two clean sheets in their last 11 matches in all competitions, which is not a good reading at all especially for a club that are expected to challenge for the Champions League.
Dusseldorf, on the other hand, will be no pushovers, having secured an astounding 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin in their last game. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Takashi Usami, Benito Raman and Rouwen Hennings perform against a vulnerable Bayern backline.
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have a solid four-point lead at the top coming into this Matchday and will look to maintain that lead when they face Mainz on Saturday. They will be full of confidence after securing a hard-fought 3-2 win over Bayern in their last game and thus, very few would bet against the Black and Yellows collecting all three points this weekend.
That being said, Mainz will provide a stern test as they boast a solid defence, which has conceded only 12 goals so far – a tally bettered only by RB Leipzig this season. In addition, they have pacy attackers in the likes of Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jean-Paul Boetius, both of whom could play a key role going forward.
As for Dortmund, they will rely on Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, while talismanic striker Paco Alcacer is also expected to start. The Spaniard will be looking to extend his impressive scoring tally this weekend.
FC Augsburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht Frankfurt could potentially climb to second on the Bundesliga table this weekend with a win over FC Augsburg. The Eagles boast the services of arguably the most dangerous attacking trio in the league in the form of Ante Rebic, Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic. Jovic and Haller have scored 17 goals between them this season, making them the most productive attacking duo in the league.
As for Augsburg, they will look to make full use of their wide players in an attempt to obliterate the Eintracht defence, which has often appeared tentative this season. Alfred Finnbogason will be the obvious target man with the Icelandic international scoring seven goals in just six matches so far.
FC Schalke 04 vs 1. FC Nurnberg
Schalke’s struggles have been well documented this season, with the Royal Blues failing miserably under Domenico Tedesco. But, the Ruhrpott giants have improved of late, notably suffering only one defeat in their last six matches in all competitions and facing a struggling Nurnberg side could give them an ideal platform to initiate a swift recovery.
Nurnberg are currently languishing at the deep end of the table with just 10 points on the board. They haven’t been able to secure a win since their 3-0 triumph to fellow promoted outfit Fortuna Dusseldorf back in September. Therefore, a win could be imperative as they aim to get out of the relegation scrap by the end of the weekend.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Hannover 96
Borussia Monchengladbach have been the second best team in the league this season, having improved significantly under Dieter Hecking. And although they have yielded a few disappointing results this season, they pretty much remain title contenders as we near the closure of the Hinrunde.
A win against Hannover this weekend could seriously help them build some momentum as they aim to challenge Dortmund for the title whilst staying ahead of the likes of RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich.
As for Hannover, they have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league, having secured only nine points in eleven games. They did, however, register a promising 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in their last game and it will be interesting to see how they perform against a much more resilient Gladbach side.