Bundesliga matchday 16 preview

The ‘Englische Woche’ this week sees the final round of Bundesliga fixtures before the Winterpause with Bayer Leverkusen guaranteed to finish top of the table going into Christmas. There is still a lot to play for with all 18 teams keen on finishing 2023 on a high so we should be set for yet another fascinating round of fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Werder Bremen v RB Leipzig

Leipzig travel across to the Weser Stadion looking for a fourth successive win in the Bundesliga, which would see them keeping tabs on frontrunners Leverkusen and Bayern as well as keeping both Stuttgart and Dortmund at bay.  Emil Forsberg’s emotional farewell on Saturday saw Marco Rose’s side beat Hoffenheim 3-1 and the Dane’s final match with the Roten Bullen will see them take on a Werder side struggling to move clear of the lower reaches of the table.

Ole Werner’s side have avoided defeat in their last two matches with a win over Augsburg and point gained at Mönchengladbach, but the arrival of Leipzig will be a sterner test, but they will at least know that they cannot finish lower than 14th going into the mid-season break. 

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Borussia Dortmund v Mainz

Spending Christmas outside of the Bundesliga top four will be a disappointment for the Schwarzgelben, but they will be buoyed slightly by the fact that last season saw them really motor on in the Rückrunde and all is not lost. That said, they have endured a far from ideal first half of the season with coach Edin Terzic still very much under pressure. The arrival of Mainz will bring back painful memories from the Nullfünfer’s last visit on the final day of last season, where their draw denied BVB the Meisterschale

Four league matches without a win has seen them lose ground on the top four and it has only really been their Champions League progression that has put a positive spin on things of late.

Mainz are only spared bottom place in the table courtesy of their superior goal difference over Darmstadt and the hoped-for upswing after their coaching change has not really materialised. After beating Leipzig in his first game, Jan Siewert has failed to win any of the next five with defeat to Heidenheim at the weekend the latest setback. 

Hoffenheim v Darmstadt

A top six finish going into the winter break is still within Hoffenheim’s grasp as they enjoy a positive start to the campaign. They do however need a positive finish as they have only won once in their last league outings. The arrival of bottom side Darmstadt should give them an excellent chance to push into the European places and set themselves up nicely for the Rückrunde. 

The Lilien knew life in the top flight was going to be hard and so it has proved as Torsten Lieberknecht’s side sit bottom of the table with just nine points. Six defeats in their last eight with just two draws achieved sees them on a downward spiral and a tricky trip to Sinsheim could see them lacking in Christmas cheer at the Böllenfalltor. 

Union Berlin v Köln

The Hinrunde hasn’t exactly gone to plan for either Union or Köln so this final matchday of 2023 will at least give them a chance to grab a morale  boosting win as they go away and regroup ahead of the Rückrunde. Both clubs are just one point off the bottom of the table with the chance of finishing the year bottom of the pile a distinct possibility.

Union only lost eight games last season as they stunned German football by qualifying for the Champions League, the fairy tale has certainly taken a more sinister twist this season with ten losses in the league already and the club taking the painful decision to part company with legendary coach Urs Fischer. A 3-0 defeat away at Bochum at the weekend was not the ideal preparation for the final matchday, but the Eisernen will be hoping they can give the Alten Försterei crowd some Christmas cheer when they host Köln.

The Geißböcke have also endured a hugely disappointing first half of the season with just two wins on the board. A 2-0 loss at Freiburg in their last game means that the dreaded prospect of going into the festive period in the relegation zone is looming large. 

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Bayer Leverkusen v VfL Bochum

Finishing the year as the Hinrunde champions is a deserved reward for the outstanding way Bayer Leverkusen have started this season and although helped by Bayern’s game in hand, nothing should be taken away from the Werkself’s achievement and they just need to overcome Bochum on Wednesday to complete their unbeaten start to the campaign across all competitions. 

Their comprehensive 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend showed there are few signs that Xabi Alonso’s side are going to let up, and taking another three points before they lose a number of key players to the African Nations Cup will be important.

Bochum are where they would expect to be in the table (13th) but their only away win thus far has come against bottom side Darmstadt. They will no doubt try to make things awkward for Leverkusen, but it’s hard to see them being able to stop the Rheinlanders.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach

Frankfurt’s Jekyll and Hyde persona continued on Sunday as they were comprehensively taken apart by Bayer Leverkusen. Having stunned everybody with their 5-1 demolition of champions Munich, Dino Toppmöller’s side lost in Europe to Scottish side Aberdeen before their unsuccessful trip to the Bay Arena. The win over the Rekordmeister saw them end a run of four successive defeats. A return to winning ways could see them into the top six. 

The Foals continue to be inconsistent and are firmly ensconced in midtable as a result. They seem to be stuck in a three-game cycle right now where they win one, lose one and draw the other. Friday’s home game saw them held 2-2 by Werder Bremen and it is anyone’s guess which side of their character they will display at the Deutsche Bank Park in midweek. 

 VfL Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg’s narrow win over Darmstadt at the weekend was only their second in their last nine Bundesliga matches and there is a danger they could drop into the bottom half of the table with a defeat to Bayern on matchday 16. Niko Kovac’s side know they face a real test with the arrival of his former side at the Volkswagen Arena and will have to take a leaf out of the Eintracht Frankfurt playbook to cause an upset.

The loss to the Adler was somewhat overcome on Sunday with a comfortable win over high-flying Stuttgart. Bayern’s injury woes are mounting, but they do have the guarantee of Harry Kane’s goals with the Englishman hitting his 20th of the season on Sunday. 

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VfB Stuttgart v Augsburg

The task on the final matchday of 2023 for Stuttgart is to show that they can recover quickly from their 3-0 defeat at Bayern and end the year on a high. The Hinrunde has been a revelation thus far for the Swabians under Sebastian Hoeneß and a top four finish at the halfway stage is guaranteed. The visit of Augsburg will also give Serhou Guirassy the opportunity to add to his 16 goals this season, a feat that unfortunately for Stuttgart will only increase the number of potential suitors sniffing round when the transfer window opens.

Augsburg held Borussia Dortmund at the weekend and trainer Jess Thorup will be keen to keep up his promising start, which has seen the Fuggerstädter lose just one of his eight games in charge since succeeding Enrico Maaßen.

Heidenheim v Freiburg

Freiburg are on a three-match winning streak which has seen them keep three clean sheets and move up to sixth in the table. They have the chance to leapfrog Borussia Dortmund with a win at Heidenheim, although the newly promoted side are showing that they have found their feet in the top flight.

Frank Schmidt’s side achieved their first-ever Bundesliga away win at the weekend with a 1-0 win at mainz and could in theory move into the top half of the table should they win and results elsewhere go their way.

About Mathew Burt 1054 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball