Bundesliga matchday 22 preview

Last weekend certainly lived up to the hype with the top of the table clash between leaders Bayer Leverkusen and reigning champions Bayern Munich delivering a fantastic match which keeps the Werkself very much in pole position. They will be looking to build on their win knowing that Bayern are sure to show a reaction. Elsewhere we have a new coach on the Bundesliga scene, with other trainers under pressure. So just what does matchday 22 have in store for us?

Köln v Werder Bremen (Friday)

The weekend action gets underway on Friday with Köln hosting Werder Bremen at the Rhein Energie Stadion. The Billy Goats finally got their first win under Timo Schultz against Eintracht Frankfurt, but were denied a second victory when they failed to maintain their 1-0 late lead last week against Hoffenheim conceding a 94th minute equaliser. Their cushion ahead of the bottom two is only four points so they are still in a precarious position and need to start picking up wins (especially at home). 

Werder’s winning run came to an end last week at home to Heidenheim, which put a slight dampener on their 125th anniversary celebrations, but coach Ole Werner will want to see an instant reaction when they travel to the Domstadt.  It will be the 100th Bundesliga meeting between the two sides and they both have 36 wins apiece at the moment. The Grün-Weißen will however be looking to avenge last year’s fixture in Köln in which they suffered a 7-1 hammering as the Rückrunde began.  

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VfL Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund

After sporting director Marcel Schäfer had publicly back under-fire trainer Niko Kovac following a run of four successive draws at the start of the year, things took a turn for the worse last week with a 1-0 defeat at Union Berlin. A win is long overdue (the last three points came on matchday 15 against Darmstadt) and anything less is only to keep the spotlight shining on Kovac and raising the speculation that a change at Wolfsburg is needed.

The spotlight is always on Borussia Dortmund, but last week it was a positive light shining on the Schwarzgelben after their 3-0 win over Freiburg. Donyell Malen continues to be in top form, while Ian Maatsen’s impressive start to life in the Bundesliga is another plus for BVB coach Edin Terzic. Another positive performance would cement their place in the top four and set them up nicely for their Champions League tie with PSV Eindhoven the following week. 

Mainz v Augsburg

Last weekend’s 3-1 loss at VfB Stuttgart proved to be the last straw for Mainz’s management and they took the decision to sack coach Jan Siewert on Monday. The appointment of the U23 coach to succeed Bo Svensson (himself sacked in November) proved unsuccessful with the Nullfünfer only off the bottom of the table courtesy of a slightly better goal difference.

They will be hoping to get the customary ‘new trainer bounce’ as a reaction to the appointment of Dane Bo Henriksen, who could have had a much tougher first game in the Bundesliga. 

Augsburg however have shown in recent weeks that they have something about them and last week’s 2-2 draw with RB Leipzig was another sign that Jess Thorup has them moving in the right direction. They only lost very narrowly to both Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen and will see their trip to the Mewa Arena as the ideal chance to put more distance between themselves and the bottom end of the table.  

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Hoffenheim v Union Berlin

Another trainer reportedly under some pressure this week is Pellegrino Matarazzo at Hoffenheim. The Sinsheim club began the season in fine form with five wins from the opening seven matches, but they have declined to just one win in their last twelve games and there are reports that the coach needs to turn things around or face some serious scrutiny. The 1-1 draw last week against Köln required a 94th minute equaliser and TSG have now failed to beat any of the current three in their current poor run.

Union Berlin didn’t suffer too badly from the absence of coach Nenad Bjelica when he was serving his three-match ban with assistant Marie-Louise Eta gaining four points from a possible nine. The Eisernen gave the returning Bjelica a win last week on his return against Wolfsburg and he’ll want to build on that if Union are to keep clawing their way clear of the danger zone. 

Heidenheim v Bayer Leverkusen

Frank Schmidt’s side continued their fine run of form with a 2-1 away win at Werder last weekend to extend their unbeaten run in the league to eight matches. After four consecutive draws it was good to get the three points on the board and beating an in-form Werder at the Weser Stadion was no mean feat. They are however up against the league leaders this weekend and face the daunting task of trying to stop the team that dismantled Bayern last weekend.

Leverkusen need to make sure that they follow up on their fantastic victory over the Rekordmeister with another good performance and win as they know that with 13 games left to play in the league this season, the Bundesliga title is very much theirs to win or lose. It may ‘only’ be promoted side Heidenheim they face, but the game will be a real indication of the Werkself’s mental strength.  

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Darmstadt v VfB Stuttgart

Last season saw Union Berlin as the outsider that gatecrashed the top four and this season it has been VfB Stuttgart. The Swabians began the New Year with back to back defeats, but have since put any thoughts that they are going to slip back down the table out of the frame with successive wins over RB Leipzig, Freiburg and Mainz. They have Serhou Guirassy back from the African Cup of Nations and Deniz Undav continues to hit the back of the net with regularity.

Darmstadt remain bottom of the table and have the worst defensive record in the division with 49 conceded. They did keep a clean sheet last weekend at Mönchengladbach, but doing so again against the league’s third best attack is going to prove a real challenge when they host the Swabians on Saturday afternoon.

RB Leipzig v Borussia Mönchengladbach

The Roten Bullen cannot afford to let Borussia Dortmund pull too far ahead of them in the race for a top four spot and Marco Rose’s side are going to have to put the disappointment of not taking anything from their Champions League clash with Real Madrid out of their minds as they host Gladbach on Saturday.

They showed plenty of attacking flair against the Spanish giants on Tuesday, but just could put the ball in the back of the net and were ultimately punished by a superbly taken Brahim Diaz goal. Their dropped points against Augsburg were a shame especially as Lois Openda had the chance to win the game from the penalty spot. 

The Foals struggled to break down bottom side Darmstadt last weekend at the Borussia Park and remain in the bottom half of the table level on points with Bochum and just one ahead of Union Berlin. The club knew this would be a transition season under Gerardo Seoane, but the expectations must have been higher than what is currently being delivered. Another poor result at Leipzig this weekend will do nothing for their cause.  

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Freiburg v Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday)

After their Europa League excursion to Lens in midweek, Freiburg’s attention needs to be back on the Bundesliga on Sunday as they host Frankfurt looking to end a run of three successive defeats (Bremen, Stuttgart, and Dortmund). The Breisgauer have conceded three in each of those losses and coach Christian Streich has the added problem of being without three of his first-choice centre backs with Matthias Ginter, Philipp Lienhart and Manuel Gulde all injured.

The Adler continue to display the inconsistency that frustrates so many of their fans. After losing to Köln, they had the ideal opportunity to respond last week at home to Bochum, but stuttered to a 1-1 draw at the Deutsche Bank Park. The Breisgauer desperately need a win, but Dino Toppmöller needs to take advantage of their defensive weaknesses and potentially unleash new signing Hugo Ekitike from the start.  

VfL Bochum v Bayern Munich (Sunday)

How Bayern responds to last week’s defeat at Leverkusen will be telling and it could well spell bad news for VfL Bochum. The loss at the Bay Arena has opened up all sorts of criticism and the only way to douse the flames is to put in a dominant display at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Sunday. The result of their midweek Champions League clash with Lazio was unknown at the time of writing, but dropping points on Sunday and allowing Leverkusen to extend their lead at the top is unthinkable. 

Bochum for their part aren’t expected to win, but have the chance to put another spanner in the works for Bayern and have a major influence on the title race. They can be a tough task at home and could well be Leverkusen’s new best friend by the end of the weekend.  

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About Mathew Burt 1058 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

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