Schalke v Hertha Berlin
With the other teams in the bottom five all winning last weekend, the losses suffered by Schalke and Hertha Berlin really added to their woes and makes Friday’s clash of the bottom two at the Veltins Arena an absolute must-win. The term ‘relegation six-pointer’ could not be more apt.
It was another very poor performance from the Königsblauen against Hoffenheim and coach Thomas Reis rightly criticised the whole team (minus Ralf Fährmann) for the display. At home with a sold-out stadium it’s hard to imagine them playing that badly, but don’t expect the clash with the Old Lady to be pretty.
Hertha’s 1-0 defeat at home to Leipzig showed there was life in the side, but despite some bright spots it never really looked like they would get a point from the Red Bull Arena and once again left empty-handed. The time for Sandro Schwarz’s side to step up and put the points on the board is now. Losing to bottom side Schalke would be a real blow and allow the teams above them to open up an even bigger gap.
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Bayern will be hurting after their Champions League defeat against Manchester City, but they have to get their heads back in the game very quickly with the arrival of Hoffenheim this weekend. Elimination from the DFB Pokal and now a likely exit from the Champions League means that all Bayern’s eggs are in the Bundesliga basket.
The pressure they are feeling was on show at the end of the Freiburg match last weekend and facing a Hoffenheim side battling against the drop will provide another tough challenge.
Pellegrino Matarazzo has overseen a mini-recovery at the Sinsheim club with three consecutive wins following the abysmal run that saw the club drop to the bottom of the table. It will be a huge achievement to avoid defeat at the Allianz Arena, but this could be as good a time as any to face Bayern.
RB Leipzig v Augsburg
The battle to finish in the top four was given a boost last weekend with the 1-0 win over Hertha and brought to an end Leipzig’s run of defeats that saw them lose to both Bochum and Mainz. The cup win over Dortmund has boosted confidence and the return from injury of Dani Olmo has given the side an injection of quality.
Marco Rose’s side currently occupy fourth spot but know that any dropped points from here on will allow the likes of Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen to potentially usurp them.
The Fuggerstädter followed up disappointing draws against Schalke and Wolfsburg with an even more disappointing loss at home to Köln last weekend with the goal-shy Geißböcke scoring three. Augsburg will now be looking warily at the teams below them that are winning and be aware that they are not mathematically safe from potentially being dragged into a relegation scrap they thought they were clear of. A trip to face a resurgent Leipzig is not the easiest of tasks this weekend for Enrico Maaßen’s side.
Köln v Mainz
Last weekend saw Köln breathe a huge sigh of relief as they finally won and showed that they did know how to put the ball in the back of the net. Steffen Baumgart’s side had previously taken just two points from a possible eighteen scoring just once. They will want to repeat the success from last week at home to Mainz.
Nelson Weiper must have thought his 93rd minute goal was the winner against Werder Bremen last weekend only to be cruelly denied by Niclas Füllkrug. It was a cruel blow for the Nullfünfer in their quest to qualify for Europe and following their impressive win the previous week against Leipzig.
They will fancy getting back on track at the Rhein-Energie Stadion, although the hosts look to have turned a corner after their own disappointing run.
VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund
Another top versus bottom clash takes place at the Mercedes Benz Arena with Bundesliga title-aspirants Dortmund the visitors to take on strugglers VfB Stuttgart.
The Swabians enjoyed a massive win last week at Bochum, where they not only ended their atrocious away record but scored three points against a direct relegation rival. New coach Sebastian Hoeneß has had the desired effect in his first two games, but now faces his first home game and the huge challenge of maintaining momentum.
Dortmund remain just two points behind Bayern following their 2-1 win last week at home to Union Berlin and know that they cannot afford any slip-ups between now and the end of the season if they are to overhaul the Rekordmeister.
Edin Terzic saw the ideal reaction from his side after the Klassiker defeat and the loss to Leipzig in the DFB Pokal. Performance levels are going to have to be optimal when they travel south to face Stuttgart this weekend.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The Adler’s chances of Champions League football again next season look to be gone, but they are also in danger of missing out on European football full stop if they cannot quickly turn their form around and get back to winning ways. Last week’s 3-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen saw them drop to seventh in the table and they have both Mainz and Wolfsburg on their tail.
Oliver Glasner’s side are in need of a morale-boosting win and face Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game on Saturday. The Foals enjoyed a 2-0 home win over Wolfsburg last Sunday and although they have nothing to play for this season a top half finish could be helped by picking up points from the Deutsche Bank Park.
Werder Bremen v Freiburg
It is huge achievement that with seven games left this season Werder are clear of the relegation fight and can plan for another season in the top-flight. Last week’s game at Mainz saw them showing the fighting spirit that has served them well this season with two late goals to rescue a point when it seemed all was lost.
The Breisgauer were unable to do the double over Bayern, although they certainly made the champions work for their three points last weekend. The defeat saw Christian Streich’s side leapfrogged by RB Leipzig as the battle for a top four finish intensifies. They will be looking to return to winning ways as they make the long trek north on Sunday.
Union Berlin v VfL Bochum
Despite last week’s loss to Dortmund, a top four finish is still very much on the cards for Union Berlin and they will look to use home advantage in their favour as they entertain Bochum this weekend. It was only some miracle defending from Raphael Guerreiro that denied them a point at the Signal Iduna Park, but relegation threatened Bochum will still provide a stern test.
Their home loss to Stuttgart saw Bochum’s recent rise away from the bottom halted and they know that they still have important points to battle for before they achieve safety.
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen
The final match of the matchday 28 weekend sees Wolfsburg hosting Bayer Leverkusen at the Volkswagen Arena. Die Wölfe saw their European hopes damaged a little last week with their loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach, but things don’t get any easier for Niko Kovac’s side with the visit of Leverkusen.
The Werkself continued their resurgence under Xabi Alonso in the Rückrunde with a comfortable win over Eintracht Frankfurt and they now find themselves just three points behind Freiburg in fifth and five behind RB Leipzig in fourth.
Momentum and form are on Leverkusen’s side, but Wolfsburg will not be an easy task for them on Sunday.