The Bundesliga returned last weekend with last-minute winners, wonder goals, amazing comebacks, and plenty of controversy. The action resumes Friday when Hertha Berlin host Borussia Dortmund.
Here are my Match Day 19 Predictions:
Hertha Berlin – Borussia Dortmund
Both sides will want to get back to winning after Hertha lost to Stuttgart and Dortmund earned only a 0-0 draw against Wolfsburg.
All the talk in Dortmund this week has been about want-away striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. According to rumors, the club wants €70m for the striker, and Arsenal seem to be his ideal destination. The black-and-yellows are eyeing Oliver Giroud and Michy Batshuayi as possible replacements, but the club doesn’t otherwise seem too happy about the transfer talk that has been circulating in the last couple of days.
“We find it disrespectful to speak about players of other clubs. There is no contact with Arsenal. We assume that Arsène Wenger has enough to do taking care of the performance of his own players.”
Der #BVB ist not amused: „Wir empfinden es als respektlos, sich über Spieler anderer Vereine zu äußern. Es gibt keinen Kontakt zu #Arsenal. Wir gehen davon aus, dass Arsene #Wenger genug damit zu tun hat, sich um die Leistung seiner eigenen Spieler zu kümmern.“ #aubameyang
— Matthias Dersch (@MatthiasDersch) January 18, 2018
Christian Pulisic was not able to face Wolfsburg because of a knock on his right shin, but he could return against Hertha. “It’s looking good for him,” said trainer Peter Stöger. “As things stand, he’s an option for the weekend.”
Dortmund will be without Marcel Schmelzer, Raphael Guerriero, and Marco Reus (who can be back on Match Day 20 against Freiburg). Maxi Philipp is also absent, but has started running training.
Hertha, on the other hand, have always been a handful for Dortmund. The Berliners managed to beat BVB 2-1 last season. Borussia Dortmund’s last Bundesliga win in Berlin dates back to the final match day of the 2013-14 season (Robert Lewandowski’s farewell match, if you will).
Pal Dardai will welcome Ondrej Duda and Peter Pekarik back into the squad, but Karim Rekik will miss the game.
It will be a tight contest between the two sides, which is why I am going for a scoring draw.
Hoffenheim – Bayer Leverkusen
Two teams fighting for European places are going head-to-head on Saturday. Leverkusen’s 12-game unbeaten run in the league was stopped by Bayern, but Julian Nagelsmann expects the visitors to get back to their best when they face his side.
“The game against Leverkusen is going to be very interesting, as both teams want to play football, take some risks and always aim to score,” said the Hoffenheim trainer. “I think that will be very exciting for the spectators.”
Nadiem Amiri and Kevin Akpoguma are training, but Gregor Kobel is sick. Kerem Demirbay will be out for longer.
Leverkusen’s lone bright spark in the 1-3 loss against Bayern was Leon Bailley, and the Jamaican can inspire his side against Hoffenheim as well. That is why I am going for a narrow win for Leverkusen.
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Augsburg
Augsburg are keeping up their amazing run this season, and star striker Alfred Finnbogason is set for a return against Gladbach.
The Foals, on the other hand, are coming into this game at the back of a heart-breaking, last-second loss in the Rhine Derby. Nonetheless, expect Dieter Hecking’s side to bounce back with a home win. Raffael, Stindl, and Hazard can cause a lot of problems for Augsburg.
SC Freiburg – Leipzig
RB Leipzig have reclaimed second place following their 3-1 win against Schalke. They are keeping Naby Kieta away from Liverpool (for now), but the Guinea midfielder will not take part in Saturday’s match.
Freiburg are slowly putting distance between themselves and the relegation spots, but face a tough challenge getting anything from this game. Manager Christian Streich said, “We are not afraid of the game; we are happy.”
Ralph Hasenhüttl says, “Freiburg are in good form right now and have not lost in six games. Only Bayern have a better record in that time. We are expecting a tough match. When they have possession, they get forward very quickly. They are also tactically variable and very tough to break down in front of their own fans.”
I’m taking Leipzig to stop Freiburg’s good run. But don’t take my word for it, see what EU bookmakers have for the match.
Mainz 05 – VfB Stuttgart
Stuttgart finally got back to winning ways. After eight-and-a-half years, Mario Gomez returned to his boyhood club in style. Gomez ‘forced’ Niklas Stark to give away an own-goal, snagging three points for Stuttgart and ending a 550-minute goal drought. There is no place like home!
Mainz blew a 2-0 lead in a dramatic and surprising manner against Hannover, but there was nothing surprising about Nigel De Jong giving away a penalty with a harsh tackle.
Only three points separate the two teams. It is a huge game for both in their fight against relegation. Stuttgart have the worst away record in the league and will face a tough challenge from Sandro Schwarz’s troops.
A Mainz win is likely.
Wolfsburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
Sébastien Haller is a man on fire. He has seven goals in his debut Bundesliga season, some of which were absolute belters. Add that to Frankfurt’s impressive away record and the return of Kevin-Prince Boateng and the Wolves will have a lot to worry about.
Wolfsburg, who managed to get a point at the Signal Iduna Park, won’t be easy opponents themselves. They have managed to gather points at home under Martin Schmidt. Speaking in the pre-match press conference the manager had this to say, “I always try to surprise my opponents and not show my hand openly beforehand. The case at the moment is that John Anthony Brooks, Jakub Blaszczykowski, and Ignacio Camacho – the players currently in rehabilitation training – are making good progress. However, they will not be available this weekend. Daniel Didavi and Riechedly Bazoer and undertaking reduced training programmes, Josip Brekalo took a blow to the toe but he’ll be back in training today. “
A draw is likely.
Hamburger SV – FC Cologne
Things are starting to look up for the Billy Goats. With Jonas Hector back from a long-term injury, they managed to beat their hated rival Borussia Mönchengladbach in one of the most-dramatic ways you can imagine. New signing Simone Terrode scored a last-minute header to send the Cologne fans crazy.
Speaking of Cologne fans . . .
— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) January 18, 2018
Hamburg are in 17th, six points above Cologne. A win for the visitors, and the gap between the two will be down to three points.
Cologne to continue their winning run!
Bayern Munich – Werder Bremen
It doesn’t matter if they are playing well or not, you can rest assured that Bayern will find a way to win. That was the case against Leverkusen.
‘A late New Year’s firework’ was how commentator Phil Bonney described James’ late-match free-kick goal against Bayer Leverkusen. The Colombian, who has been a welcome addition to the Bavarians, will look to continue his impressive form on Sunday.
Bremen managed to get a point against Hoffenheim, but a similar result is mission impossible at the Allianz Arena. In fact, the last time Bremen got a point against Bayern was in September of 2011, and the last time they won was three years before that in an unforgettable 5-2 win at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern to win by at least three goals.
Schalke 04 – Hannover 96
Schalke’s time in second place didn’t last long, did it? But they are only a point away and can get back to victory when they host Hannover at the Veltins Arena.
Niclas Füllkrug grabbed his first hat-trick for Hannover in their resounding win against Mainz. They are on a high going into the final game of the weekend.
Hannover also managed to win the reverse fixture, but their last win at the Veltins Arena dates back to 2010.
Schalke to bounce back with a win!
All eyes on the Bundesliga! Enjoy!