Werder Bremen finally managed to catch up with the other Bundesliga teams when they entertained Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday. Victory would have taken them above Fortuna Düsseldorf into the relegation play off spot. However, despite positive performances over the last few weeks, they looked like the side that had performed so poorly all season, going down 3-0 to Frankfurt. Frankfurt themselves were looking like they were slipping into the relegation dogfight so this result will help them in their quest to steer clear of the scrap at the bottom.
For Fortuna Düsseldorf, this was the perfect result following their hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich last Saturday evening. Bayern put Fortuna to the sword and could easily have scored more than the five goals they won by. Clearly Fortuna’s management and fans had no expectations coming into the Bayern game, however due to the lack of victories over SC Paderborn and FC Köln, they now need to pick up points against top half sides and take advantage of Werder blowing the opportunity their game in hand had presented them.
Saturday’s home game against TSG Hoffenheim is a chance for Fortuna to really put further pressure on Werder and Mainz 05. Frankfurt have the chance to give Fortuna a double present this week when they host Mainz on Saturday. Werder travel to Wolfsburg, who have had a bizarre return to action. They struggled to beat Augsburg, lost to Dortmund, then demolished Bayer Leverkusen before losing to Frankfurt at home. Fortuna fans will be hoping the Leverkusen performance is replicated on Sunday.
Hoffenheim looked abject in their first post suspension match, when they were taken apart by Bruno Labbadia’s Hertha Berlin side. They have since gone three matches unbeaten, which includes a draw against Paderborn before victories over Köln and Mainz. The match will see the return of two former Fortuna players in Kevin Akpoguma and Ihlas Bebou. Togolese attacker Bebou scored in the previous game against Mainz, while Akpoguma appears to have fallen out of favour with manager Alfred Schreuder following his own goal against Hertha.
Fortunately for Fortuna it appears that Hoffenheim will still be without top scorer Andrej Kramaric, who has not played a game since the league restarted. The Croatian has 7 goals so far this season, one more than impressive young star Christoph Baumgartner. The impressive 20-year-old Austrian midfielder also has four assists, so for Fortuna, limiting the influence of the young star will be crucial to achieving a positive result on Saturday. With Kramaric out, Bebou is likely to start upfront again. The home side will hope his return to the Merkur-Spiel Arena is far from a happy one.
Fortuna were without their defensive leader Kaan Ayhan on Saturday, but he is set to make a return to the starting line-up on Saturday. Rösler also mentioned that David Kownacki is back training following his time off with an injury. The young Polish striker has struggled to rediscover the form he showed at the back end of last season, having not scored a league goal this season. However, he is still clearly a talented player with a bright future. If Rösler deems him ready to play, he could be a good option to change the tactical approach where needed. If he is fit enough to return on Saturday, breaking his Bundesliga goal drought would maybe help boost his confidence and help him contribute to the side over the last few games of the season.
Achieving a positive result on Saturday would take pressure off Fortuna’s next two games against Dortmund and RB Leipzig and keep them in touching distance of safety in time for their final two games against Augsburg and Union Berlin. Winning Saturday could also bring both these sides back into the relegation battle should they fail to win their respective matches. Either way, it is clear that these final two games will be the deciding factor in whether or not Fortuna stay up.
Fortuna have a great opportunity to put the Bayern result behind them and take three points against Hoffenheim on Saturday. This would put plenty of pressure on Werder when they go up against Wolfsburg on Sunday. Should Mainz lose, it will also see them leave the relegation zone for the first time in a very long time.