April 28, 2017

The Biggest Stories Heading Into Matchday 32

Verbeek sacked as Nürnberg fight against the drop

Gerjtan Verbeek was sacked on Wednesday just 6 months after taking the Nürnberg job. Having started the Rückrunde with 4 wins from 5, der Club have slipped back into the relegation zone having lost 8 of their last 9 games.

Questions had been asked of Verbeek’s belief in his side’s chances of staying in the Bundesliga this season. These questions came to fruition after the Bavarians 1-4 home defeat to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, with Verbeek deciding that his players and staff needed time off. Having had 2 and a half days off as a squad, on Tuesday night Mark Bader called Verbeek, who was in Holland, and informed him of the club’s decision to remove him from his position.

Bader has said they came to the ‘very tough’ decision to sack Verbeek having talked to him about the chances of the club remaining in the Bundesliga. Nürnberg sit in 17th, just 1 point behind Hamburg and the relegation play-off, but with a difficult last 3 games to play (Mainz, Hannover, Schalke) Bader decided they stood a better chance of survival without Verbeek in charge. U-23 Coach Roger Prince will take charge along with ex-pro Marek Mintal for the remaining 3 games of the season, saying “We can survive, everyone at the club now believes it”. Mark Bader has declared a complete shutdown for the players at Nürnberg, saying “Give your wives photos of you, because you won’t be seeing too much of them for the next 3 weeks”.

Hamburg heading towards possible relegation

Hamburg suffered their 8th defeat at home in the Bundesliga this season on Saturday, as Champions League chasing Wolfsburg comfortably beat them 3-1. Now with just 9 points to play for and a 4-point gap between themselves and Stuttgart, it looks as if the only way out for HSV is through the relegation play-off.

It’s been the worst season in Hamburg’s illustrious history, with just 27 points on the board and 3 games to play, Hamburg’s worry of relegation is now a stark reality. Hakan Çalhanoglu’s words after the defeat to Wolfsburg spoke volumes of the lack of confidence that the Hamburg players are currently playing with, saying “Only God can save us now”, luckily for HSV, there is still the relegation play-off to fight for. Hamburg will be wary of the teams behind them in the league, also.

With Nürnberg and Braunschweig just 1 and 2 points behind them respectively. Hamburg will now have to make sure that they don’t fall into automatic relegation spots. HSV face another European chasing team in Matchday 32 as they travel to Bavaria to face Augsburg.

Mirko Slomka has taken his side to Augsburg for a two day intensive training camp, before their game on Sunday. Hamburg will remain without top goalscorer Pierre-Michel Lasogga for the remainder of the season, so will need the rest of the squad to step up to keep the German dinosaurs from going extinct.

Stuttgart look to all but clinch safety vs. Hannover on Friday

It was a momentous day at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Sunday as Stuttgart took apart Huub Stevens’ former club Schalke, in a win that took VfB 4 points clear of relegation. Throughout the game you could see how much the Stuttgart players wanted to win and it showed as they took a 3-0 lead over their visitors, before the 3-1 final score.

Like Hamburg, Stuttgart are of course one of Germany’s biggest and usually best clubs. This season they’ve been very poor in a campaign that had strong expectations and the results were the ultimate factor in Thomas Schneider losing his job last month. Under Stevens, they’ve picked up 11 points from a possible 21 and also beat relegations rivals Hamburg 1-0. Now they travel to Hannover on Friday night, with a win and possible Hamburg loss over the weekend sealing Bundesliga football for next season.

Schalke, Leverkusen, M’Gladbach, Wolfsburg all fighting for the CL

We still don’t know who will be the teams representing Germany in European competition next season, but with such a small amount of games left, the list has now been narrowed down to just a few. Schalke are in pole position to clinch one of the remaining Champions League places, with Leverkusen, Gladbach and Wolfsburg likely to battle it out for the final spot.

In Matchday 32, Leverkusen face a tough home game against 2nd placed Borussia Dortmund, looking to make it 3 wins on the bounce since the sacking of Sami Hyypiä. Whilst Schalke face M’Gladbach at the Veltins Arena with a win for the home side likely to seal 3rd place behind Dortmund. M’Gladbach are currently 5 points behind Leverkusen and desperately need a win if they stand any chance of qualifying for the Champions League. Both sides come into the game on the back of defeats to teams around the lower half of the table, and will be looking to bounce back with wins.

Finally, Wolfsburg who are in the middle of this race, lying in 5th, welcome one of the more in-form sides in the Bundesliga right now, Freiburg. With the expectations of a summer of spending to come at Wolfsburg, the opportunity to play in Europe this season would be great for them to be able to attract the best players available in Europe. Of course this won’t all be settled this weekend, but with Schalke and M’Gladbach facing off, it is likely to become a lot clearer heading towards the penultimate Matchday of the season next Saturday.

Bayern look to take out frustrations of Madrid on Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich came back from Madrid having had one of their most frustrating performances of the season. Despite controlling the game in the way they played an in terms of possession, Bayern were once again opened up on the counter-attack with Madrid holding out for a 1-0 win after Karim Benzema’s first half strike.

Having lost just once in 44 games, Bayern have now lost 3 of their last 6 games and kept just a single clean sheet against Eintracht Braunschweig. This, you could say, was the perfect example of a frustrating night for Bayern in terms of the performance, but a good result on paper. They were poor in attack and were easily opened up on several occasions in defence, but losing by only 1 goal can be seen as a good result from a trip to the Bernabeu. It looks as if Bayern just need to score some goals; open themselves up in attack and play freely for 90 minutes.

This weekend’s Bundesliga fixture provides a good chance for them to score some goals at the Allianz before the second-leg next week. With Bremen being massively inconsistent this season, Bayern have a great chance to take out the frustrations of Wednesday’s loss in Madrid, but will Pep rest some of his star men (Robben, Ribéry, Mandžukić) who seemed out of touch at the Bernabeu?

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Alex Chaffer

Alex is an 18-year old football writer and general sporting enthusiast living near London. He has grown a great love for German football since his first look at the league almost 5 years ago. Follow Alex @AlexChaffer

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