The first Englische Woche since the restart provided plenty of talking points and action as the Bundesliga season enters its crucial phase. With just a day to recover, matchday 29 is quickly upon us, so let’s preview the weekend fixtures with a few questions…
Will anyone emerge ‘happy’ from Schalke v Werder?
The three points being fought over at the Veltins Arena on Saturday are not your usual three points- these are three massive points for both Schalke and Werder Bremen.
The Königsblauen’s league position belies their current form which puts them on a ten-match winless streak and the only saving grace is that the latest matches are being played behind closed doors. No doubt the fans would at this stage be letting the squad know exactly what they thought after seeing three successive defeats following the restart. Schalke are playing like a relegation side right now.
Talking of relegation, that’s why these three points are so vital to Werder Bremen. Despite a win against Freiburg and a point against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Grün-Weißen remain in 17th– five points adrift of Fortuna Düsseldorf.
“I generally believe you should always try to improve your football” Florian Kohfeldt said in Friday’s virtual press conference. “Right now, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about winning, that is what will make the difference.
“I’ve been following Schalke very closely. They’ve had some bad luck with injuries lately, but for me it’s just about bringing our game to the pitch. We want to and must win this game.”
Can Frankfurt avoid being sucked into the bottom three?
Another side desperate for a win to turn the tide are Eintracht Frankfurt. Last season’s Champions League aspirants are sliding ominously down the table after a poor run of six league matches without a win. Going into this weekend’s clash with in-form Wolfsburg, the Adler are in danger of being sucked into the bottom three depending on results for Mainz and Düsseldorf.
What is behind this negative slide? And can it be halted are questions that need answering quickly by Adi Hutter and the Frankfurt players.
Are Fortuna Düsseldorf lambs to the Allianz Arena slaughter?
Bayern Munich will have been given a huge boost from their midweek win over Dortmund, which helped open a seven-point advantage at the top of the table. With an eighth successive Bundesliga title in view, the Bavarians can almost smell the finish line and look set take another step closer this weekend.
Enter Düsseldorf and the current 16th place side are entering the coliseum in Munich with a target attached to them. Robert Lewandowski will want to put some distance between himself and Timo Werner in the race for the Torschützenkanone, and Thomas Müller will want to add to his assists record, so expect a busy afternoon for the Fortuna back line.
Last season’s 3-3 draw at the Allianz Arena will give them hope, but this is a very different Bayern than last November, and Fortuna are Dodi Lukebakio-less now.
Are Hertha headed towards the Europa League?
While nobody at the club will allow themselves to say so publicly, the upturn in Hertha’s fortunes since the arrival of Bruno Labbadia as coach has made European qualification a possibility.
Following two wins and a well-deserved point against RB Leipzig, the mood amongst the squad is on the up and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the capital club can climb from their current position of 10th and make the Europa League next season.
Schalke above them are on the slide, while Freiburg and Hoffenheim are only a few points ahead. A top six finish could be a push, but should either Bayern or Leverkusen win the DFB Pokal, then 7th place would suffice to achieve European football next season. Die Alte Dame face Augsburg at home on Saturday.
Will it be ‘advantage’ Gladbach or Leverkusen in the race for fourth?
With the title race now all-but decided in the Bundesliga, the race to avoid finishing fifth will be at the forefront of Dortmund, Leipzig, Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen minds as we enter the last six games of the season.
Bayer Leverkusen looked to have taken the advantage over the Foals last weekend with their 3-1 win at the Borussia Park, but then they came unstuck in midweek at home to Wolfsburg and face a potentially tricky trip to Freiburg on Friday.
The two sides are level on points with 53, while Leipzig currently sit 3rd on 55 points. Gladbach face Union Berlin this weekend, but still have to face Bayern Munich before the end of the season. This race for fourth/ race to avoid fifth looks set to go down to the wire.