With just four weeks until the World Cup and the mid-season break, the DFB Pokal matches give way to another round of exciting Bundesliga action. Here we look at five talking points ahead of the weekend matches.
1. Top versus bottom- there’s only one winner, right?
Union Berlin travel to Bochum this weekend to face the bottom side as they seek to cement their leadership of the Bundesliga table. Having beaten Borussia Dortmund last weekend surely it is a formality that die Eisernen will overcome a Bochum side themselves beaten heavily last week by VfB Stuttgart.
Nothing is ever certain in football and Union are going to have to be very alert of a side desperate for points for a different reason. The win over Eintracht Frankfurt two weeks ago shows there is a spark there for Thomas Letsch to work with.
However, Union has the league’s best defence (six conceded) and Bochum the worst (27 conceded). Sheraldo Becker and Jordan Pefok had to watch on as Janik Haberer became the two-goal hero against Dortmund. They’ll expect normal service to resume versus Bochum.
2. Can trainer-less Stuttgart cause an upset at Dortmund?
On second thoughts, would it be that much of an upset if Stuttgart were to leave the Signal Iduna Park with a win?
If sacking Pellegrino Matarazzo was designed to get a reaction, it has certainly worked. A 4-1 win over Bochum last week (a first this season) was followed in midweek by a 6-0 thrashing of second tier Arminia Bielefeld in the DFB Pokal. Could interim coach Michael Wimmer do the unthinkable and make it three wins in a week for the previously hapless Swabians?
Edin Terzic will be doing everything to stop that. Frank and honest discussions have reportedly taken place withing the BVB squad to get to the bottom of the issues they are facing. Last week’s loss to Union Berlin was already their fourth of the season and serious work needs doing both defensively, but more importantly in attack. The midweek win over Hannover was a start, but which Dortmund will we see this weekend?
3. Has Xabi Alonso used Leverkusen’s week off wisely?
That there was a lot of work ahead of him would have been abundantly clear to Bayer Leverkusen trainer Xabi Alonso after seeing his side’s abject display last week against Eintracht Frankfurt. Defensively they were all over the place, offensively they were poor (Patrik Schick was particularly anonymous) and the general attitude of the players just wasn’t right.
The good news is that due to being knocked out by Elversberg in the DFB Pokal first round, Alonso has had the rare opportunity to have his squad train uninterrupted for a whole week. How far he has been able to get his ideas across and how many of the many creases he has been able to iron out will be seen when the Werkself play VfL Wolfsburg this weekend.
4. Surely Hertha’s win will come against Schalke?
Despite losing against Leipzig last weekend, Hertha at least achieved what they set out to do at half time whilst 3-0 down- namely win the second half. They did with two goals, but it was very nearly a complete comeback with Wilfried Kanga hitting the bar right at the end.
As Sandro Schwarz seeks the win his team’s displays have merited, he faces a Schalke side in disarray- surely the ideal opponent? However, Stuttgart showed last week what a wounded, trainer-less team can do, but looking at the current mood of the Königsblauen team, a repeat at the Olympiastadion seems unlikely. The question is: can Hertha get the complete three points?
5. Can Marco Rose take Leipzig into the top six?
Such is the curious manner of this season RB Leipzig currently lie tenth in the table but are only three points behind third place Freiburg. Marco Rose has stated the club are not where they want to be and a win this weekend coupled with the right results elsewhere could see die Roten Bullen closer to where Rose wants.
A positive result would also set them up for the visit on Tuesday of Champions League holders Real Madrid for a potentially crucial European tie.