Werder Bremen v Hertha Berlin
If you count the Pokal elimination at Paderborn, Werder have lost their last three games and coach Ole Werner will be looking to get things back on track after they slipped from fourth in the table down to eleventh. Bremen have looked much better away from home this season with only one win at the Weser Stadion (5-1 v Mönchengladbach). Captain Marco Friedl is suspended following his red card at Freiburg so some rejigging will be required.
Hertha finally got the win they had been searching for last week with a last-gasp victory over Schalke at the Olympiastadion with Wilfried Kanga also finally breaking his personal scoring drought. Sandro Schwarz is likely to retain Stevan Jovetic in the starting XI after his impressive recent displays. Berlin have however only won one of their past fifteen encounters with Werder, so the omens are not too promising for a second successive win on Friday.
Bayern Munich v Mainz
From the Nou Camp on Wednesday and Barcelona to the Allianz Arena on Saturday to face Mainz- the fixtures are certainly coming thick and fast for Bayern and the mission this weekend will be to knock Union Berlin off the top spot and reclaim the leadership of the Bundesliga.
If ever there is a good time to face the Rekordmeister it is probably directly after a tiring Champions League week (both physically and mentally). After the Inter game in Milan they drew 2-2 with Stuttgart and lost 1-0 to Augsburg on the weekend following the home tie with Barcelona.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remains in fine form and his goal in Barcelona took him to five in his last four games. Facing his former side Mainz will be something he’s looking forward to and adding to his goals tally is also high on the agenda. Mainz’s demolition of Köln last Friday took them to sixth in the table and they will go to the Allianz Arena is as confident a mood as you can be when facing Bayern.
RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen
Two of the Bundesliga’s Champions League Eurofighters go head-to-head on Saturday as RB Leipzig host Bayer Leverkusen. Marco Rose has the task of managing the comedown from Tuesday’s superb win over Real Madrid and trying to secure another three points to lift the Roten Bullen up the table.
Last week’s comeback against Augsburg, while impressive, did ask the question as to why they were 3-0 down in the first place. The quality is certainly there, the task is to harness it consistently and it will be fascinating to see what happens against a Leverkusen side that are fragile to say the least.
The Werkself had their own impressive Champions League match in midweek, but in the end were only a missed penalty away from defeat. The 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg had some good, and some bad, but Xabi Alonso’s side are still too close to the bottom (15th on nine points) for comfort. Anything less than a win at the moment just doesn’t do them any favours.
VfL Wolfsburg v VfL Bochum
Bochum’s win over league leaders Union Belin last week saw them climb off the bottom of the table and injected them with a real sense of optimism. Thomas Letsch has now overseen home wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Union, could a third be on the cards against Wolfsburg?
Niko Kovac has slowly been turning things around at the Volkswagen Arena but eleven points from eleven games puts them 14th in the table just four points above the drop zone.
VfB Stuttgart v Augsburg
Unlike Schalke the Swabians are prepared to let Michael Wimmer’s temporary spell last until the winter break before deciding on a new coach. Is that because they can’t find anyone? After winning his first game in charge, reality struck last week as VfB were taken apart at the Signal Iduna Park by Dortmund. A home tie with Augsburg looks easier on paper, but then football isn’t played on paper as the saying goes.
The Fuggerstädter looked as if a highly impressive win was on the cards last week as they led RB Leipzig 3-0 with twenty minutes to go. The 3-3 final scoreline will be a huge disappointment and something they will want to rectify at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The forward line of Mergim Berisha, Ermedin Demirovic and Florian Niederlechner is looking increasingly threatening and they will have seen what BVB did last week and be licking their lips in anticipation of goals this weekend.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund
Both sides enjoyed positive results in the Champions League in midweek and will want to carry their positivity forward into the Bundesliga this weekend. The Adler played very well against Gladbach last weekend and followed that up with an important win over Marseille, which opens up the prospect of making the knock-out stage. The forward four of Lindstrom, Kamada, Götze and Kolo Muani continue to impress and are a danger to any team.
Dortmund’s goalless draw with Manchester City saw a top defensive display to see them through to the last-16 and keeping Erling Haaland off the scoresheet was no mean feat in itself. Their thrashing of Stuttgart last weekend exorcised some of the demons that had been circling the club and even Mats Hummels seems happy with the recent results and performances.
Union Berlin v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Was the Bochum loss a mere blip, or the start of something more worrying for Union? The question as to how long they can keep up their fantastic start to the season has been ongoing with plenty of comparisons to Leicester City and Lille’s league triumphs in recent years.
The visitors this Sunday are Mönchengladbach- a team capable of the sublime and the ridiculous in the space of two games. They lost badly at home to Frankfurt last weekend and also suffered an aberration against Werder but have impressed against Leipzig and Köln.
Union seem to find it easier against the big teams this season (Bayern, Dortmund, Leipzig) and not so against the ‘smaller’ clubs (Mainz, Bochum). Where Gladbach sit in that theory is hard to tell.
Schalke v Freiburg
It’s been quite a week for Schalke. Their last-gasp defeat to Hertha saw them drop to the bottom of the table on Sunday, Wednesday brought the shock resignation of sporting director Rouven Schröder and on Thursday they revealed Thomas Reis as their new coach in succession to the sacked Frank Kramer.
This Sunday sees the Königsblauen trying to turn things around and new coach Reis will want to see his new side off the bottom of the table having spent the entire season there while he was in charge of Bochum.
Freiburg however will provide a stern test and even though the Breisgauer have a Europa League game on Thursday, they have shown an excellent ability this season to cope with the busy fixture congestion. Their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern doesn’t seem to have affected them too much and they will be confident of spoiling the coronation of Thomas Reis at the Veltins Arena.
Köln v Hoffenheim
Just a single point separates Köln and Hoffenheim this season and Sunday’s clash at the Rhein-Energie Stadion should be a closely fought affair. Hoffenheim’s loss to Bayern last weekend contained enough positives to give trainer Andre Breitenreiter confidence, whereas Köln’s heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of Mainz will give Steffen Baumgart plenty of food for thought.