The Hard Tackle presents you a preview of Matchday 13 of the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign as Bayern Munich look to bridge the gap to Borussia Dortmund.
It has been a topsy turvy season so far in the Bundesliga and following an action-packed matchday last weekend, Matchday 13 will be equally important as clubs look to end their Hinrunde on a positive note.
Fortuna Dusseldorf will kick things off on Friday when they host FSV Mainz 05, who were unlucky not to collect a point against Borussia Dortmund last weekend.
On Saturday, champions Bayern Munich will look to return to winning ways in the Bundesliga as they travel to Bremen while league leaders Borussia Dortmund face SC Freiburg at the Westfalenstadion. Struggling Hannover 96 will take on Hertha Berlin, who are winless in their last three matches.
Elsewhere, bottom club VfB Stuttgart will lock horns with FC Augsburg in what will be a must-win game for the Swabians before the topspiel sees TSG Hoffenheim take on FC Schalke 04.
On Sunday, RB Leipzig will face a stern test against second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach while high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt meet VfL Wolfsburg at the Waldstadion. Bayer Leverkusen will wrap this weekend’s round of fixtures when they travel to Nurnberg.
The Hard Tackles presents you a brief preview of the pick of the matches from Matchday 13.
Fortuna Dusseldorf vs 1. FSV Mainz 05
Dusseldorf splurged the biggest surprise of Matchday 12 when they forged an excellent late comeback to seal a point against the mighty Bayern Munich. And the newly promoted outfit will look to continue their momentum when they face Mainz on Friday. Dude Lukebakio will be the centre of attention, having scored a hat-trick against the Bavarians.
But, Mainz have won two of their last three matches and were extremely unlucky not to grab at least one point against Dortmund in their last game. They have the strongest defence in the bottom half of the table, but it is their counter-attacking prowess which could unsettle the Dusseldorf backline this week.
Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich
Following an exceptional start to the season, Werder Bremen have fallen off the radar a bit, failing to win any of their last three matches. Having said that, Die Grun-Weiss boast one of the most dynamic attacks in the league and the trio of Martin Harnik, Max Kruse and Maximilian Eggestein could cause some serious problems to the Bayern backline this weekend.
Speaking of Bayern, they are coming on the back of a 5-1 Champions League win over SL Benfica – a performance which will help them restore their confidence following an utterly disappointing draw with Dusseldorf last weekend.
And Niko Kovac’s men will look to make full use of that momentum to seal three points against Bremen. The likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have been exceptional of late, but it will be Thomas Muller who could play a key role against Bremen – a side that has conceded 11 goals in their last five league outings.
Borussia Dortmund vs SC Freiburg
Borussia Dortmund will host SC Freiburg, looking to register a fourth successive league win and most importantly, maintain their solid lead over Bayern. The Black and Yellows already have a nine-point lead over the Bavarians and a win this weekend will almost ensure that they will end Hinrunde, staying ahead of their arch-rivals.
However, Dortmund were extremely wasteful against Club Brugge in the midweek as they failed to break the deadlock despite stringing together over 1,000 passes. As a result, Lucien Favre’s men will be determined to follow a more direct approach against Freiburg although we could expect star striker Paco Alcacer to start on the bench for this one.
Speaking of Freiburg, they are always a tricky customers who have already stopped Bayern earlier in the season. Christian Streich’s men will undoubtedly defend in deep blocks whilst maintaining a high press in midfield in an attempt to nullify Dortmund’s midfielders. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the threat of Axel Witsel.
TSG Hoffenheim vs FC Schalke 04
In what will be one of the most exciting matches this weekend, TSG Hoffenheim will lock horns with FC Schalke, looking to bounce back to winning form after suffering a 3-2 loss against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Julian Nagelsmann’s troops haven’t been at their best this season but a win against top dogs Schalke could significantly boost their confidence.
Schalke, on the other hand, suffered a disappointing defeat to FC Porto in the midweek. But, the Royal Blues have lost only twice in their last eight matches and a win on Saturday will do a whole lot of good before they face arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund next weekend. Steven Skrzybski could be given a start this weekend after scoring a brace against Nurnberg last time out.
RB Leipzig vs Borussia Monchengladbach
By far the biggest game of the weekend, RB Leipzig will have an excellent opportunity to move further up the table when they host Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday. That being said, they have lost three of their last four matches in all competitions, including a narrow defeat to sister club RB Salzburg this midweek.
Thus, collecting all three points against an in-form Gladbach side could be a tough ask for the East German outfit. However, the Foals will be without the services of defensive stalwart Matthias Ginter, after he fractured his eye-socket last weekend. The ex-Dortmund defender has been key to Gladbach’s disciplined defence this season and it will be interesting to see how they cope without him this weekend.
In attack, Dieter Hecking will rely on the services of Thorgan Hazard and talismanic striker Alassane Plea while Leipzig’s in-form striker Yussuf Poulsen will be looking to extend his scoring tally this weekend.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs VfL Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt are arguably the most in-form team in the division at the moment, having won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions, a period in which they have scored 36 goals. The Eagles will also have the chance to clinch second place provided they beat Wolfsburg and Leipzig beat Gladbach on Saturday.
As for Wolfsburg, they ended their dismal run of form against Leipzig last weekend, thanks to a narrow 1-0 win. But, it will surely be difficult to contain the mighty offensive trio of Ante Rebic, Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller, meaning they are likely to sit deep in this one whilst hoping the burly duo of Wout Weghorst and Daniel Ginczek make full use of their chances.