With a potentially pivotal Bundesliga matchday upon us, it is time to look forward to the weekend match-ups which brings a top of the table clash between leaders Bayer Leverkusen and reigning champions Bayern Munich. That’s not the only interesting game this weekend so let’s take a look at five talking points ahead of the forthcoming action……
1- Will the Leverkusen/ Bayern Topspiel live up to expectations?
There can only really be one starting point this weekend and that’s the Saturday Topspiel between unbeaten leaders Bayer Leverkusen and champions Bayern. The clash at the Bay Arena promises so much, the question is as to whether it can deliver.
Leverkusen maintained their unbeaten run this season in their midweek Pokal quarter-final with Stuttgart, but they were made to really work for it. They host Bayern this weekend looking to extend that streak and maintain their position at the top of the table.
The Rekordmeister are just two points behind and breathing ominously down the Werkself’s neck and will want to use all their experience and nous to retake the leadership of the table. Thomas Tuchel does have an injury crisis to deal with, but whoever he picks, the Bavarians will be a tough challenge for Xabi Alonso’s men. We will have a full match preview ready for the weekend for a more in-depth look at the game.
2- Which way will it go for Eintracht Frankfurt this weekend?
After taking seven points from a possible nine at the start of the year and adding some quality and depth to their squad in the transfer window, there was much optimism surrounding Eintracht Frankfurt as they moved into the top six in the table.
However, they were brought down to earth with a 2-0 defeat away at strugglers Köln last weekend. Consistency has long been the issue for the Adler and even in the Hinrunde they went from one extreme (thrashing Bayern 5-1) to the other (losing three of their next four). Dino Toppmöller has suspensions to deal with following the red cards in Köln, but new striker Hugo Ekitike looks ready for his first start as they host VfLBochum at the Deutsche Bank Park.
3- Is it glass half-full or half-empty for Borussia Dortmund?
Three back-to-back wins following the restart after the Winterpause saw memories of last season’s miraculous Rückrunde coming to the fore, but last week’s disappointing goalless draw at Heidenheim has quickly sucked the optimism from the BVB balloon.
There was little creativity at the Voith Arena, a lack of joined up play and Edin Terzic took the unusual (for him) step of publicly criticising his players after the match. Heidenheim are no pushovers, but Dortmund are still far from a harmoniously-running machine and despite the good start (albeit against easier teams), the mood around the club is still not at peak optimism right now.
A return to winning ways on Friday against Freiburg would be a start, a win with an impressive display would be even more welcome.
4- Does Niko Kovac really have Wolfsburg’s full backing?
A fourth successive draw last week for VfL Wolfsburg at home to Hoffenheim had the rumour mill going again with word that the pressure was really starting to mount on coach Niko Kovac.
Sporting director Marcel Schäfer came out to publicly defend the trainer saying, “Niko remains the coach, he will be on the training pitch tomorrow and we will prepare for Union as best we can. Not everything works out, yes, we know that. Nevertheless, the team is alive and willing to make things happen.”
Whether things can happen this weekend when they travel to the capital to face Union Berlin remains to be seen. Another failure to win (or worse a defeat) will only have the rumour mill up and running again with potential successors to Kovac being bandied about.
5- Can Werder continue to ride the wave?
It really has been a Happy New Year for Werder Bremen thus far with the Grün-Weißen unbeaten and having won their last three on the trot (inclusive of their triumph at the Allianz Arena). They have climbed from 13th in the table going into the winter break to 9th and they have the prospect of leapfrogging over both Hoffenheim and Freiburg this weekend with another win.
They face Heidenheim at the Weser Stadion and although Frank Schmidt’s side are unbeaten in their last seven, Ole Werner’s form side will very much fancy their chances of continuing their positive run.