Hot on the heels of the weekend comes the second ‘Englische Woche’ since the restart and there is a lot on the line both at the top and bottom of the table. Here are five talking points to preview the forthcoming round of matches…
Will Bayern be crowned champions on Tuesday?
A win for Bayern Munich on Tuesday at the Weser Stadion and their eighth successive Bundesliga title will be theirs with two games to spare. It has seemed like a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ over the past few weeks as Hansi Flick’s side have imperiously walked over all comers and the confirmation could arrive against Werder.
Borussia Mönchengladbach were their latest victims on Saturday and that was without both Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, who should return in midweek. Werder’s are desperate for the points themselves, but current form, and history are not on their side.
The relegation-threatened Grün-Weißen are struggling to exit the bottom two have lost their past 18 matches against the Bavarians. Their last point was gained back in 2010.
“In Bremen, we want to play just the way we have in the past few weeks, with dynamism and intensity. We want the three points. That would make us champions, which is even better,” said Hansi Flick in the press conference on Monday.
“Werder Bremen will try and make the channels narrow. Their players are fast and sharp and switch quickly. We saw that here in December. In the last game, they showed they have enormous quality in attack. But we’re focused on ourselves, we don’t want to allow them easy chances. We want to finish the job on Tuesday. It’s in our hands.”
Is this the end of the line for Paderborn?
Paderborn now know that they are guaranteed to finish in the bottom three after their 5-1 mauling at the hands of Werder Bremen and realistically know that anything less than three wins from their last three games will mean the dreaded drop (without the potential play-off rescue).
They travel to Berlin on Tuesday to face Union with the stark realisation that they could be making the journey back to North Rhine-Westphalia as the first team to be relegated to 2. Bundesliga.
With both Köln and Union (the other promoted sides) seemingly safe from the drop, Stefan Baumgart’s side would be the only side going straight back down. Speaking at the press conference ahead of the match the coach was in a typical bullish mood.
“I want to see character from us. Every game should be a firework from us. Not resigned but ending the season with your head held high. I expect that now. We want to show the football that defines us. I do not get involved in arithmetic games. There are still nine points to be won and that must be our aim.”
Which face of Eintracht Frankfurt will we see?
The mythical Greek Chimera had two heads and recently Eintracht Frankfurt have been the footballing embodiment of this. One minute there is talk of a crisis and a dalliance with the relegation battle, and another they go on a goal rampage and look an outside bet for a European place.
Seventh place is probably a step too far, but with a struggling Schalke the visitors to the Commerzbank Arena, Adi Hütter’s side have the chance to show that Saturday’s 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin was no flash in the pan.
Can Leverkusen hold onto fourth?
They may have only taken a point from the Veltins Arena on Sunday, but what an important point it could prove to be. With Mönchengladbach beaten by Bayern, the Werkself maintained their hegemony of fourth place and have the chance to consolidate their claim to a Champions League spot for next season.
A mini-Rhinederby at home to Köln is their task this week and with the Geißböcke still winless since the restart, their chances of keeping their top four position look promising.
To rotate or not to rotate?
The race to avoid relegation is turning into a three-way battle between Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Mainz with Paderborn unfortunately all-but already down. All three sides face very tricky matches during the Englische Woche and all three must make some key decisions regarding team selection.
Should they rest key players ahead of even bigger matches coming up next weekend and take the hit of losing in midweek. Werder face Bayern, Fortuna travel to Leipzig, while Mainz take on Borussia Dortmund- all fixtures they would be forgiven for not winning. The Nullfünfer then play Werder in a massive relegation six-pointer next weekend, while Düsseldorf play Augsburg in what will be a mist-win match.
Florian Kohfeldt must decide whether Kevin Vogt, at risk of a ban with another yellow card, is perhaps one to shield for the Mainz clash. Both the coach and sporting director Frank Baumann have played down such considerations, but it remains to be seen. Düsseldorf have the temptation of resting leading scorer Rouwen Hennings so he is fresh to fire on all cylinders against the Fuggerstädter next Saturday.
Then there is the question of damage limitation. With goal difference potentially playing a crucial role in the final placings, will we see some negative, spoiling tactics from sides in a bid to avoid shipping too many goals to the likes of Lewandowski, Erling Haaland and Timo Werner.
Anyone for chess?
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