It is ‘der Klassiker’ this weekend and the much anticipated clash between current league leaders Borussia Dortmund and reigning champions Bayern Munich. The big match is however not the only point of interest with the Bundesliga serving up eight other intriguing games on matchday 11- both at the top and at the bottom of the table.
So let’s take a look at five talking points ahead of the weekend action as a way of previewing matchday 11.
(1) Can Borussia Dortmund overcome Bayern Munich in der Klassiker?
There is no doubting that the pick of this weekend’s matches takes place at the Signal Iduna Park where Germany’s biggest two clubs go head-to-head. The match would ordinarily not require much hype, but the way the season has panned out for the two Bundesliga giants thus far has added an added layer of spice to the encounter.
Should BVB emerge victorious, it would give Lucien Favre’s side a seven-point lead over the Rekordmeister going into the next international break and send out a massive signal that they are a genuine contender to stop the Bavarians winning a seventh successive league crown.
After winning their opening four league games under Niko Kovac, Bayern have hit the skids somewhat and the word ‘crisis’ has raised its head at the Allianz Arena and even club President Uli Hoeness has admitted they go into the match as the underdogs.
“Dortmund have played a very, very good season so far” he said in midweek. “We won’t go there as favourites, but rather as outsiders, for the first time in many years. We must make sure we play a good match and see where that will take us.
“We kept Dortmund at bay for six years now. It’s OK they are now on top.” (said through gritted teeth).
The Schwarzgelben suffered their first competitive loss of the season in midweek away at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League so will want to return to winning ways against the champions. Their last win a Klassiker came back in November 2016 with a 1-0 win at the Signal Iduna Park secured by an early Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal.
(2) Will Bayer Leverkusen be the ones to pierce the Leipzig defence?
As much as Leipzig’s strength is their attacking play with the pace and goals of Timo Werner/Jean-Kevin Augustin/Mateus Cunha allied with the creative talents of Emil Forsberg/ Marcel Sabitzer/ Kevin Kampl, their real strength this season has been the solidity of their back four.
Die Roten Bullen have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four Bundesliga outings, and when you add in the Europa League and the DFB Pokal, they had gone six games without conceding (Celtic however scored twice on Thursday).
Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi has been in his usual imperious form with captain Willi Orban putting his stamp on the back line after a tricky start to the season. Nordi Mukiele has proved an instant hit at fullback and has contributed hugely to the recent impressive defensive record.
Leverkusen looked to have overcome their own mini-crisis with successive big wins over Werder (6-2) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (5-0), only to go down to a 4-1 defeat on matchday 10 against Hoffenheim.
As they travel to the Red Bull Arena on Sunday, three points are desperately needed, but with a huge defensive barrier to overcome.
(3) Can Werder Bremen stop their slide?
Werder Bremen’s bold pre-season declaration that they were going to be targeting the European places this season looked like it was fully justified in the opening weeks of the season with Florian Kohfeldt’s going unbeaten in their first five games and mixing it at the top end of the table.
The last two games however have brought successive defeats (2-6 at home to Leverkusen and 2-0 away at Mainz). The defensive lapses that saw them ship so many goals to the Werkself were a concern, but so too was the manner of their display last weekend against a Mainz side, that hadn’t won any of its previous six matches.
It’s the first time since he was appointed that Kohfeldt has lost two in a row, and he will have a real job on his hands this weekend as he looks to arrest that run. The visitors to the Weser Stadion are Mönchengladbach, who go into matchday 10 in second place.
“We’ve spoken about how and why we didn’t perform well with or without the ball during the first half in Mainz” Kohfeldt said at the Friday press conference. “We won’t accept things like this and we want to draw a line under them.
“We’ve got to find a good balance when we don’t have the ball and have a lot of patience, too. They [Mönchengladbach] have got unbelievable quality on the wings and they’re so strong on the counter. They’re also very comfortable with how they play.”
(4) Can Schalke stop Haller, Rebic and Jovic?
Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter’s decision to pick all three of his in-form strikers last week against VfB Stuttgart absolutely paid off with the Swabians unable to handle their attacking power and the Adler emerging with a comfortable 3-0 win.
It remains to be seen whether the Eintracht trainer will be as bold as to select all three again when they host Schalke this weekend, but the prospect must be causing Königsblauen coach Domenico Tedesco a real headache in terms of his preparation.
Schalke gained an important win last weekend against Hannover and again in midweek in the Champions League at home to Galatasaray, but Frankfurt should prove a sterner test.
The Bundesliga scoring chart currently has Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic joint top with seven, while World Cup finalist Ante Rebic has four.
(5) Will Hannover gain Bundesliga revenge in the Niedersachsen derby?
Just ten days after they went head-to-head in the second round of the DFB Pokal, it is another Niedersachsen derby this weekend for Hannover and VfL Wolfsburg.
Die Wölfe came out on top in the Cup tie last week with goals from Admir Mehmedi and Wout Weghorst enough to secure passage to the next round. In the Bundesliga both sides could do with the three points. Hannover are currently hovering just above the bottom two with just a single win this season, while Wolfsburg lie 12th.
Wolfsburg coach Bruno Labbadia is confident of gaining a second win over rivals Hannover for the second time in a short space of time. “We played very well at Hannover [in the DFB Pokal] and were very solid. Nevertheless, you saw that Hannover can always be a threat.
“It’ll be a game of fine margins. It’s obviously unusual that we’re playing against Hannover again just ten days later. We can therefore carry over some of the preparations from the last game, although Hannover will have changed some things. It’s down to us to produce a similarly solid and efficient display again.”
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