While Bayern are running away with the league, as is always the case, the race for European football and the battle to avoid the drop is heating up. Match Day 20 promises a lot of thrill in that respect and here is the latest installment of the prediction piece:
Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim
While Jupp Heynckes’s team is 16 points clear at the top, questions over his stay have persisted. The veteran manager insists that he doesn’t want to manage beyond this year but the board still want to keep him (Read Raphael Honigstein’s piece on the topic). Bayern are indeed on a winning run, having collected the maximum points from their 2 games in 2018. The performances however are still far from perfect as clearly illustrated against a struggling Bremen side. On Saturday they will welcome a team that managed to beat them in the reverse fixture and last season as well.
In his pre-match press conference, Julian Nagelsmann said that his team is still as good as the one that grabbed a 2-0 against Bayern and the only difference now is the Bavarians rejuvenated performance. Serge Gnabry will face his parent club at the Allianz Arena. Nagelsmann indicated his desire to keep the winger for another season.
Hoffenheim lost 1-4 to Leverkusen last weekend. Losing Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle in the summer and letting Sandro Wagner leave in January- all of them joining Bayern-is obviously affecting the team. Facing a Bayern side that is high on confidence will be a tough ask for Hoffenheim.
Bayern to come out victorious!
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
The two sides are only separated by a point and this game will be a sort of six-pointer in their aspirations to qualify for Europe. Frankfurt has been on fantastic form away from home, less so at home.
Gladbach are coming into this game at the back of a 2-0 victory against a strong Augsburg side. Thorgan Hazard and Matthias Ginter grabbed the goals for Hecking’s side. Surprisingly the attacker and defender both have 4 goals for their side.
Manager Hecking and Sporting Director Max Eberl had wonderful words to say about Hazard:
Hecking: ” Hazard is developing superbly. He always wants to improve. He is full of running and is one of the Bundesliga players with the most sprints. There are still areas he can work on though.”
Eberl: ” Hazard feels at home in Mönchengladbach. He has made great progress at the club, and we’re happy that he has a contract here until 2020.” (quotes via @borussia_en)
I am predicting a draw!
Stuttgart vs Schalke
Stuttgart’s home form is the only thing that is keeping them adrift of the relegation zones. However, the bad news for them is their visitors this weekend are Schalke. The Royal Blues failed to capitalize on their lead against Hannover and came away with a point but they will be determined to put that behind them at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Holger Badstuber has been sidelined with an adductor injury.
Leon Goretzka will be joining Bayern in the summer and unsurprisingly, Schalke fans showed their discontent during the weekend.
Losing their star players is nothing new for Schalke as that has been the case for the last couple of years, but one of their players joining another team in Germany is a bitter pill to swallow.
The return of Nabil Bentaleb is a welcome news for Schalke, but the manager is fully aware of the threat Stuttgart will pose for his team:
Tedesco: “Stuttgart will challenge us. They gave Bayern and Leverkusen a run for their money at home and only just lost.”
Schalke to bounce back with a win!
Cologne vs Augsburg
How quickly things change? A couple of weeks ago everyone has dismissed the Billy Goats as already relegated. 3 consecutive wins later, they are 4 points away from the relegation play-off spot. Is this the great escape?
And much to the delight of our Jonathan Walsh, Simone Terrode is back in business!
League goals in 2018
Simon Terodde – 3
Lionel Messi – 2
Harry Kane – 2
Cristiano Ronaldo – 0
I rest my case.#TeroddeBallonDor2018
— Jonny Walsh (@jonathanwalsh_) January 20, 2018
Augsburg won’t be easy opponents however and Cologne will have their work cut out for them.
Manuel Baum: “We have to learn from the mistakes we made in Gladbach. It’ll be a tough ask to keep Cologne in check, as they’ll have the whole stadium and the whole city behind them.”
A draw is the likely outcome!
Borussia Dortmund vs Freiburg
While Aubameyang’s future is yet to be decided, with negations with Arsenal still going on, BVB are in need of a striker that can regularly find the back of the net. 2 points from their last 2 games doesn’t read well for the Black and Yellows.
Auba Drama! Will he leave? Will he stay?
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) January 25, 2018
Freiburg have managed to beat Leipzig last time out and they definitely aren’t the opposition you want to face at this time. But manager Streich is aware that his team needs to remain focused: “If we only give a sub-optimal run on Saturday, Dortmund will punish us.
The reverse fixture between the two sides ended 0-0. I expect something similar on Saturday.
RB Leipzig vs Hamburg
Leipzig has the perfect opportunity to bounce back from their mid-week loss when they host Hamburg on Saturday.
‘die Rothosen’ once again decided to fire their manager, Markus Gisdol the latest victim. Bernd Hollerbach is the new sheriff in town.
How many of you made this joke?
— Kevin Hatchard (@kevinhatchard) January 22, 2018
The new manager hopes to kick-start his stint with a positive result.
Leipzig will be without Marcel Halstenberg, possibly for the rest of the season, and Emil Forsberg is not fully fit. Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl stressed that his team need to do better in defending set pieces. Expect Leipzig to win here, as Hamburg are messier than ever.
Werder Bremen vs Hertha Berlin
There is a nine point gap between the two sides. Bremen are fighting relegation and Hertha are sitting in mid-table, but that can quickly change as we have seen countless times this season.
Bremen took the lead at the Allianz Arena before trailing 2-1. They also made it 2-2 but eventually lost out 4-2. Hertha earned a 1-1 draw against Dortmund with striker Davie Selke once again getting on the score sheet.
Given Bremen’s better home performance and the importance of the game I fancy them to grab a narrow win.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz
Leverkusen bounced back from the Bayern loss in scintillating fashion. Leon Bailey scored a sublime back heel goal against Hoffenheim. Mainz also managed to do the same after surrendering a 2-0 lead against Hannover on Match Day 18.
The battle has already started on twitter
Can’t you guys only make this joke if you’ve actually won trophies? pic.twitter.com/78Cu3OCPds
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) January 24, 2018
The game will be a lot closer but Leverkusen has the quality to grab all three points.
Hannover vs Wolfsburg
It’s 10th vs 13th on the last game of the Match Day. Seven points separate the two sides.
A win and a draw is certainly a good start for Hannover in 2018.
Wolfsburg on the other hand lost their last game. Manager Martin Schmidt labeled it as a game to forget. Their task will be even harder this time around as they face an in-form side away from home.
Wolfsburg’s American Center Back John-Anthony Brooks is still working on his comeback. The Wolves can definitely use his leadership at the back.
Hannover to win!