Nobody can say the Bundesliga title race is boring as we enter the final five matchdays with still all to play for. Last week’s loss for Bayern at Mainz gave Dortmund a chance to take top spot, which they duly did with a win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Matchday 30 promises to deliver even more excitement at both ends of the table as the title race and relegation fight both intensify.
VfL Bochum v Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund get an early opportunity to up the pressure on Bayern when they kick-off the weekend’s action away at near neighbours Bochum. The Schwarzgelben showed the perfect reaction last week to their disappointing draw with Stuttgart by beating Frankfurt in style.
If they can avoid any more blips this season, they know they will be crowned champions, but pressure can do strange things to teams and nothing will be taken for granted.
Bochum lost heavily last weekend with a 5-1 home defeat to Wolfsburg and failed to extricate themselves from the relegation fight. They know another loss could see them sucked back into the bottom three, so Thomas Letsch will have his side fired up for the visit of Ruhr rivals Dortmund.
The two sides met at the start of February in the DFB Pokal at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion with BVB winning 2-1. The Dortmunder also won the reverse fixture at the Signal Iduna Park 3-0 so are looking for a clean sweep this season.
RB Leipzig v Hoffenheim
Leipzig’s loss last week to Bayer Leverkusen saw them remain outside the Champions League places and they know they cannot afford anymore slip ups if they are to take their place in the elite tournament next season.
It was a third defeat in their last five Bundesliga encounters and was yet another game they should not have lost based on their general performance. They face a double header with Freiburg next week in the Pokal semi-final and then Bundesliga and also face Bayern before the end of the season. A home game against Hoffenheim looks like a must-win game for Marco Rose’s side.
The Sinsheimer came back to earth with a bump last week after their impressive draw achieved at the Allianz Arena. A 3-1 home loss to Köln was not the result they needed to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone and things are still a little too close for comfort with only a four point advantage over 16th placed Stuttgart. Another defeat could mean a very nervous last four games for Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side.
Union Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen
Union are looking to cement their place in the top four, whilst in-form Bayer Leverkusen are seeking to break into the Champions League berths with a late season surge.
The Werkself came off the back of making the Europa League semis to beat Leipzig last weekend extending their unbeaten run to nine games (seven wins). They thrashed Union 5-0 in the reverse fixture with all the goals coming in the second period, but will expect a much tougher test at the Alten Försterei on Saturday.
The Eisernen won in typical Eisernen style last weekend with a 1-0 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach which saw a mean defensive performance capped with a well taken goal from Sheraldo Becker. They will need all that defensive solidity to stop a Leverkusen side that contains plenty of pace and guile.
Köln v Freiburg
The Billy Goats scored a second 3-1 away win last weekend at Hoffenheim and now need to turn around their home form which has seen them winless in their last four at the Rhein-Energie Stadion. Jonas Hector’s announcement that he is retiring at the end of the season took the gloss off last week’s win, but he is sure to get a rapturous reception this weekend from the passionate home support. A top ten finish is still on the cards for Steffen Baumgart’s side this season.
The Breisgauer easily saw off Schalke last weekend and are hanging on to their top four spot, but can feel Leipzig and Leverkusen breathing down their necks. Christian Streich will now that any slip ups could prove very costly so another top performance will be needed when they travel north to the Domstatdt.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg
Frankfurt’s 4-0 loss at Dortmund last weekend saw their remote European chances largely evaporate last week and they may have to put all their eggs in the basket of the DFB Pokal if they are to make it back into Europe next season.
With no wins in their last eight league matches the pressure (and frustration) at the Deutsche Bank Park is growing and the Adler faithful are desperate for a pick me up.
Augsburg’s disappointing 1-1 draw last Friday saw them remain just above the relegation zone, but not far enough above to be able to relax. Winless in six, the Fuggerstädter have taken just three points in that period and Enrico Maaßen needs a win to calm the nerves at the Bavarian side.
VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The Swabians remain unbeaten under Sebastian Hoeneß but after two successive draws, a full three points would do them the world of good in their quest to finish outside of the bottom three. The 3-3 draw with Dortmund showed the character in the side, and their second half display against Augsburg was also hopeful.
Stuttgart have to prioritise Bundesliga survival over a potential Pokal final appearance, but next week’s clash at home to Frankfurt will be playing on their minds.
Another disappointing result last week sees Gladbach mired in midtable obscurity with Union Berlin the latest club to take points off them this season. With only one away win this season and a Stuttgart side fired up by the relegation fight, the Foals could be in for tough afternoon if they don’t buck up their ideas.
Schalke v Werder Bremen
The good that the big win over Hertha did was undone last weekend with a hapless display against Freiburg and a 4-0 defeat. Defensively the Königsblauen were all over the place and at times it looked like a training match for the home side. A much better performance will be needed against Werder- the side they finished above last season on the way to promotion. How different their seasons have gone.
Last week’s trip to Hertha saw Werder accompanied by 20,000 away fans and it’s another road trip for them this weekend. Marvin Ducksh and Niclas Füllkrug will be confident of adding to their goals tally against the league’s if Schalke’s defensive woes from last week haven’t been ironed out.
Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin
The home fans expect, Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic expect, and Thomas Tuchel expects a big reaction from Bayern as they host bottom side Hertha Berlin on Sunday. Last week’s loss to Mainz came on the back of dropped points to Hoffenheim and the title advantage is now with Dortmund. A win is the minimum with a top performance also demanded.
There can be no more slip-ups from the Rekordmeister and they are relying on Dortmund being Dortmund-like and allowing them back to the top of the table through their own slip-up. Bayern are not used to being the chasers at this stage of the season so we are in new territory.
The heralded return of Pal Dardai didn’t go to script last week at home to Werder and the rescue mission doesn’t get any easier for the new Hertha coach with a trip to the Allianz Arena and the huge task of coming away with points a must. Hertha are simply running out of time this season to get the vital points on the board to save themselves. What they would give for a Dodi Lukebakio repeat performance hattrick from his days at Fortuna Düsseldorf.
VfL Wolfsburg v Mainz
Two teams with an outside chance of making the top six meet on Sunday with both having enjoyed a great result last weekend. Wolfsburg trounced Bochum 5-1 away, while Mainz had their impressive win at home to Bayern to celebrate.
The match-up at the Volkswagen Arena on Sunday rounds off the weekend action and the winner will take a step nearer to the possible European places. Depending on the winner of the DFB Pokal, seventh place could be enough for a Conference League place next season so there is still all to play for both die Wölfe and the Nullfünfer.