The recently concluded international break saw Germany twice subdue Kazakhstan in the UEFA Group C World Cup Qualificiation race, while national teams across the globe vied for position to earn a spot at Brazil 2014. With international football at rest for a few months, concentration will focus back on club football. In the Bundesliga’s 50th season, only eight MatchDays remain. But even with Bayern Munich on the cusp of clinching of the domestic title, there is still plenty to look forward to in the season’s final months, as many German clubs are still alive in the race for European berths for next season. Additionally, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund move forward with their promising Champion League campaigns while two rounds remain in the German Cup. The relegation playoffs will feature towards the end of May before the DFB Pokal Final plays out June 1 in Berlin and the German Men’s National Team makes a trip to North America for friendlies against Ecuador and the United States. .
There will be no Friday match this week, with seven games played Saturday and two Sunday this last weekend of March. The Bundesliga will return to its normal schedule of one Friday match, six Saturday and two Sunday matches on MatchDay 28, following that scheduling format until the final two MatchDays, when all nine Bundesliga matches kick off on Saturday May 11 and Saturday May 18 at 15:30 German time. In the second division, the normal Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday schedule will resume after this weekend and continue until MatchDays 33 and 34, when all games will be played on Sundays with a uniform 13:30 kickoff.
With the fight for European spots in the top division along with promotion/relegation races in all three of Germany’s professional divisions, every weekend features important matchups, but the following are some specific dates to remember.
March 30 – Bayern Munich-Hamburger SV; VfB Stuttgart – Borussia Dortmund Bayern Munich could set a record for the earliest capture of a Bundesliga title Saturday if they can defeat Hamburg at the Allianz AND Stuttgart upset second place Borussia Dortmund.
April 2 – Bayern Munich – Juventus The Turin club have won all five quarterfinal matches against German clubs in CL competition. Bayern have their eyes set on the treble. Something has to give.
April 3 – Malaga – Borussia Dortmund Jurgen Klopp’s club will again be without Mats Hummels for the first leg of this CL quarterfinal match. With no domestic trophies available this season and a Champions League spot for next season reasonably secured, Kloppo will have his still-young team totally focused on making this year’s tournament run most memorable.
April 5 – 1. FC Kaiserslautern – 1. FC Koln With Hertha Berlin and surprising Eintracht Braunschweig both having double-digit point leads in the top two 2. Bundesliga spots in the table, this Saturday showdown is for 3rd place and the opportunity to rebound to the top-tier of German football via the promotion playoff series. Both clubs suffered demotion last season. The Red Devils started the 2012/2013 season well, but have been mediocre since December, while the Billy Goats suffered a poor beginning to their 2. Bundesliga season but have been undefeated in league play since their November 4 away loss to VfR Aalen. Each team have suffered too many drawn results (including a 3-3 result in their October meeting) to realistically push for the two automatic promotion spots leaving the third place playoff relegation series the most likely chance for one of the two to return to the top flight.
April 9 – Borussia Dortmund – Malaga
April 10 – Juventus – Bayern Munich
April 13 – Schalke 04 – Bayer 04 Leverkusen These have been the two strongest clubs in Germany the last three seasons outside of Munich and Dortmund. Likely at least one of the two will make the Champions League for next season.
April 16 – Bayern Munich – VfL Wolfsburg Tuesday’s DFB Pokal semifinal match pits Bayern Munich, in their quest to complete the domestic double, hosting a Wolfsburg team that could become legendary in the Volkswagen City if they could derail the Bavarians grab for another Cup. Although the odds against a Wolfsburg win against the dominating Bavarians are long, if the Wolves should pull off the historic upset they would feel great about their chances in the final against either Stuttgart, whom they’ve beaten twice this season, or Freiburg, whom they walloped 5-2 on March 9.
April 17 – VfB Stuttgart – SC Freiburg Stuttgart have played in the DFB Pokal finals five times, winning the Cup on three occasions, but the last title was in 1997. SC Freiburg, on the other hand, have never been this close to raising the trophy. The Pokal showdown between the two Baden-Württemberg clubs in the state’s capital city on Wednesday will be followed by another Stuttgart-Freiburg matchup four days later in league play, again at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Freiburg won the November fixture between the two clubs 3-0.
April 20 – SC Preußen Münster – Karlsruher SC The most competitive title race in the top three divisions of German football is in 3. Liga. Going into the last weekend of March, Karlsruhe and Arminia Bielefeld are tied in first with 60 points, followed closely by SC Preußen Münster (57 points), VfL Osnabrück (57) and 1. FC Heidenheim (56), with both Münster and Karlsruhe having a game in hand as opposed to the other three clubs. With sixth-place Unterhaching have fallen off the pace, two of these five clubs will most likely earn automatic promotion to the second division while the third will be involved in the relegation playoff against the club finishing 16th in the 2. Bundesliga table, the spot currently held by Dynamo Dresden.
April 23-24 Champions League Semifinals
April 30-May 1 Champions League Semifinals
May 4 – Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich Even though the Bavarians will most probably already have clinched the title, every meeting between the two German giants is must-see TV….. and perhaps a precursor to an all-German Champions League Final?
May 18 – The Bundesliga’s 50th Regular Season Ends Saturday marks the close of the 50th Bundesliga regular season. Relegation fighters FC Augsburg and Greuther Furth face each other — will we see either in the top flight in 2013/2014?
May 19 – Final MatchDay 2. Bundesliga The last day of the 2. Bundesliga regular season. Will Eintracht Braunschweig, an original member of the Bundesliga in 1963, return to the top flight after an absence of almost thirty years?
May 23 – 2. Bundesliga Relegation Playoff, Game One
May 24 – Bundesliga Relegation Playoff Game One
May 25 – Champions League Final, Wembley Stadium
May 27 – 2. Bundesliga Relegation Playoff, Game Two
May 28 – Bundesliga Relegation Playoff, Game Two
May 29 – Germany – Ecuador, Boca Raton, Florida The first of two rare international friendlies for the German NT in North America, Germany will face an Ecuador side preparing for CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers against Peru on June 7 and away at Argentina on June 11. Ecuador currently rank second to the Argentines in the CONMEBOL standings, with Brazil not having to qualify as the host country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
June 1 – DFB Pokal Final, Berlin
June 2 – USA-Germany, Washington, D.C. The Sunday afternoon USA-Germany friendly at RFK Stadium features a matchup between former German NT headman Jurgen Klinsmann and his then-assistant, now current German Coach Jogi Low. For Low, the pressure is off as Germany sit atop Group C in World Cup Qualifying, and don’t face another qualifying match until September 6 when the Germans host Austria. For Klinsmann, the pressure is on to prepare in this matchup and the May 29 friendly against Belgium in Cleveland for upcoming WCQers against Jamaica in Kingston on June 7 and against Panama in Seattle on June 11 in a very competitive CONCACAF hexagonal qualification process.
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