Ten match days to go and a whole lot to play for. Here is a look at the weekend games and what we can expect from them.
RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund
Saturday’s late match is a blockbuster to savor, a battle to secure a Champions League spot, and a game that is vital in the quest to achieve ‘the best of the rest’ accolade. When the two sides met earlier in the season Leipzig brought an end to Dortmund’s proud home record in the Bundesliga by beating them 3-2. That was the first time the Black and Yellows lost a league game at the Signal Iduna Park since April, 2015- a 1-0 loss to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern. And during last season’s game at Leipzig a Naby Keita late goal sealed all three points for the home side.
BVB will definitely have their work to do. However, this game will also be a difficult one for Leipzig, who are struggling to put on any type of consistent form this season. The added burden of European football is exposing the limits of the side and further deteriorating the thin squad. That was evident as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men lost 2-1 to bottom-side Cologne last weekend.
While the football under Peter Stöger remains underwhelming and unsatisfactory, his team is yet to lose in the league. A win against a direct rival can also dampen the negative feelings that are arising after the consecutive draws against Atalanta and Augsburg.
The good thing for Dortmund fans is that Marco Reus is back and scoring. Two goals in the last two Bundesliga games as well as an important role during Dortmund’s last 32 tie in the Europa League; Reus is the man to push BVB towards the finish line.
The 28-year-old was speaking to Bundesliga.Com:
“I’ve experienced a lot, and had to endure a lot of setbacks. That’s part of life. Nevertheless, I always try to give my all every season, be healthy and recuperate.”
On the upcoming World Cup, Reus continued
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think about the World Cup and really want to be there. But I’ve never been a person who plans ahead with three or four concrete goals. It’s all in the back of my head because it’s important to be focused. I won’t make a secret of the fact it’s a big goal of mine to be there, though. I know I’ve got a good chance, if I’m playing well
Speaking of Marco Reus, Sport Bild reported that he is negotiating a new contract with BVB. Reus’s priority seems to be the sporting development and the direction of the club rather than salary. He is more concerned with who the new coach might be, the new signings and reaching the Champions League.
According to information from SportBild, Michael Zorc and Hans-Joachim Watzke met with Reus’ advisor Dirk Hebel.
Reus contract expires in summer 2019 #BVB
— German Football Daily (@GERFootDaily) February 28, 2018
Leipzig doesn’t have new injuries to worry about. BVB will be without Kagawa while Maximilian Philipp and Jadon Sancho are doubtful despite starting training this week.
Finally, there is something new and exciting in Dortmund. @BlackYellow is the new separate English account of BVB. But there are some tough competitions from @bayer04_en and @borussia_en. Let the twitter games begin! (http://bundesligafanatic.com/how-bundesliga-clubs-are-using-twitter-to-greater-effect/)
I am expecting a 1-1 draw!
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Werder Bremen
Heading into Friday’s MD 25 opener, Gladbach have returned to winning ways, following a four game losing run. Christoph Kramer’s exquisite volley was the difference on MD 24. As a result, the Fohlenelf are in good spirits as they welcome poorly traveling Bremen. However, László Bénes and Mamadou Doucouré are out injured for Hecking’s side.
Bremen is currently in 14th spot but need to remain alert and on form as they are only a mere two points adrift of the relegation play- off spot. There has been a significant change at Bremen since the appointment of Florian Kohfeldt, but away games remain their weak spot.
Tony Jantschke is back from injury for Gladbach.
Aside from the long-term absentees, there are no injury worries for Bremen.
“It’s a fantastic situation for me as the coach. All the players are ready to give their all and that raises the quality in training” were the words of a happy Kohfeldt.
I am going for a narrow win for the home side!
Schalke 04 vs Hertha Berlin
Schalke’s win against Leverkusen was a huge boost to their Champions League qualification hopes. The Royal Blues will hope to continue that as they host a Hertha side that got an impressive draw at the Allianz Arena.
With a blend of youth and veterans in the squad, Domenico Tedesco is impressing in his first season at Schalke. Schalke, who are in 3rd place with 40 points can reclaim second place given that BVB drop points in the weekend. And after the solid campaign they are enjoying finishing below Bayern is not more than they deserve.
Hertha are in 11th spot and free from the fears of relegation. The team is not enjoying a fruitful 2018 but their last result can galvanize them.
Going for a Schalke win!
Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen
Bruno Labbadia’s first game ended in a draw against fellow strugglers Mainz. The next challenge is to tackle a solid Leverkusen side. While Die Werkself lost their last game to Schalke they will be determined to bounce back at the Volkswagen Arena.
The attacking threat they will pose to Wolfsburg will be immense. They will once again be looking to Leon Bailey for creativity. And they will also be hoping that a win can lift them up from 5th place and into the top four. It is a huge game for both sides.
If Bayer brings their twitter game onto the pitch no one will stop them.
Leverkusen to win!
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hannover
The Eagles didn’t fly high on Match Day 24, but they will look to rectify that as they face middle table side Hannover, who themselves lost last weekend.
“We want to learn from the Stuttgart defeat so that we can get back to winning ways at the weekend and make the fans happy,” Timmy Chandler said after the loss to Stuttgart.
Carlos Salcedo and Omar Mascarell completed individual training and can be available for this game. There are also expectations that Mexican international Marco Fabian will start against Hannover after being limited to a few substitute appearances as he comes back from longterm injury. Hannover, with an 8-8-8 record and a -2 goal differential, will be without defensive tower Salif Sane due to a one-match ban.
A win for Kovac’s troops!
Augsburg vs Hoffenheim
Augsburg’s brave display against Dortmund earned them a vital point. They are on course to finish the season on a high and can even seal Europa League qualification.
Hoffenheim headman Julian Nagelsmann in the pre-match press conference:
I am very critical, especially of issues that we are not satisfied with. I am neither annoyed nor dissatisfied with the squad or players, but we are not satisfied with how the season has gone, and that’s what I’m talking about. As a manager, you have to try and adapt your work to the situation. It’s not that dramatic, you just have to change nuances to get back into the flow. The path we’ve chosen has already been very successful and not so wrong
He was full of praise for his opponents:
You have to compliment Augsburg, who has played a solid season. They defend high and put a lot of practice into pressing. They try to win the ball straight away in the final third and are dangerous down the wings.” (Quotes from Hoffenheim’s official Twitter account)
Apart from Stefan Posch and Kerem Demirbay there are no injuries for Hoffenheim, although losing Sandro Wagner, Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy from last year’s squad to Bayern Munich has slowed TSG this season.
The buzz around Augsburg this week was one man, Kevin Danso. The 19-year-old scored the goal that helped his side earn a draw at Dortmund.
Augsburg’s coach Manuel Baum said this about his young defender
“I have great respect for how he deals with things. He hasn’t lost his humility even though he is a big, beefy player!”
The sides are level on points and the score-line might be the same.
A draw is the prediction!
Hamburg vs Mainz
This is one of the biggest games the two sides will play this season.
A loss to derby rivals Bremen left Hamburg in 17th place, level on points with Cologne. It is starting to look like that this could be the year the famous clock stop ticking.
Mainz are also in danger of relegation. They currently occupy the relegation play-off spot and in dire need of a win to hoist themselves above the dreaded zone. A win at Hamburg can do just that. Goalkeeper Robin Zentner is sidelined with a gash, meaning Rene Adler will be in goal for the 05ers, while Danish forward Emil Berggreen, who’s added some goals recently to the Mainz attack, will also be absent for the 16th place side.
Sandro Schwarz: “We have to be smart on Saturday. We can’t get caught up in the hustle. We have to stay alert.”
The return of Lewis Holtby and Albin Ekdal is a welcome sight for The Dinos.
— HSV English (@HSV_English) February 28, 2018
Going for a Mainz victory!
Cologne vs Stuttgart
While Hamburg are dwindling, Cologne are fighting. A 2-1 win against Leipzig is another massive boost to their survival hopes. The Billy Goats are showing that they will not be going down without a fight.
A rejuvenated Stuttgart are their next opponents. Korkut’s side are also looking to avoid 2. Bundesliga football, and have allowed only one goal in their last four matches. The winner will take a huge stride toward accomplishing that goal.
A win for Cologne!
Freiburg vs Bayern Munich
The week has been full of transfer rumors and unpleasant incidents at Bayern. The Bavarians are said to have started negotiations with Brazilian winger Malcolm, as a possible long-term replacement for Frank Ribery.
There was a fight among Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels during training (queue the Lewandowski to Real Madrid rumours). Whether that affects the results will remain to be seen but in the meantime, Bayern are still 19 points ahead in the league table, despite not being able to continue their winning streak.
The hosts Freiburg will be hoping that Nils Petersen will once again step up when they need him. The German striker can pose a threat for his former side. The Black Forest club are 13th but will be looking at their shoulders because only 5 points separate them from 16th place.
I’m expecting a draw!
Here is hoping there will be more goals this weekend.