Bundesliga matchday 23 preview

After a fascinating weekend last week and teams involved in European action in midweek, the Bundesliga is back for another round of fixtures that are sure to deliver once again. The Leverkusen title charge continues, Bayern’s crisis deepens, while the teams around the bottom know time is against them in the battle for survival. Here’s what matchday 23 has in store this weekend…

Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz (Friday)

The Werkself passed their tricky test at Heidenheim last weekend and, combined with Bayern’s demise at Bochum on the Sunday, they have opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the table. The old footballing adage of taking one game at a time will be the focus for Xabi Alonso right now as all around him talk of the title and the glorious unbeaten run. A home clash with Mainz to open the weekend would on paper seem a formality, but as Dortmund found out so very painfully on the final day of last season, Mainz are never a formality.

The Nullfünfer are desperate for the points for a wholly different reason to Leverkusen. New coach Bo Henriksen got his reign off to the ideal start last week with a 1-0 win over Augsburg, but they remain in the bottom two and really cannot afford to let the teams immediately ahead of them in the table escape any further.  

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Union Berlin v Heidenheim

One of those teams getting their act together and pulling away is Union Berlin. The Eisernen have moved up to 13th following successive victories over both Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim and they will be targeting a third win on the spin when they host Heidenheim at the Alten Försterei on Saturday.  

The visitors saw their own eight-match unbeaten run come to an end against Leverkusen last week, but it is a testament to Frank Schmidt and his side that they didn’t make things easy for the leaders. The promoted side narrowly won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Voith Arena on matchday 6 and will want to start a new run of unbeaten matches to see how far they push themselves up the table.

Borussia Mönchengladbach v VfL Bochum

With just two points picked up from their last five matches and teams below them starting to pick up valuable points, things are starting to look a little worrying for Mönchengladbach. Last weekend’s loss at Leipzig saw them drop to 15th and the gap to 16th place Köln is now just six. While not quite ‘squeaky bum time’ the Foals do need to start picking up wins as the pressure is starting to build.

Bochum are the visitors to the Borussia Park this weekend and they will arrive full of confidence and self-belief following their impressive win over Bayern Munich last Sunday. The application and desire to come back after going behind and the defensive solidity under some fierce Bayern pressure shows that they have what it takes to stay up again this season. They are currently three points better off than Gladbach and a win could even see them move into the top half of the table.  

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Werder Bremen v Darmstadt

Ole Werner’s men showed the desired reaction last Friday when they emerged from the Rhein Energie Stadion with a hard-won point against Köln a week after their unbeaten run had been ended by Heidenheim. The Grün-Weißen are now looking towards the European places rather than the relegation zone and another three points against bottom side Darmstadt would add further fuel to their lofty ambitions. 

The Lilien were unable to profit from having a man extra for the whole of the second half against Stuttgart and went down to a 2-1 defeat at the Böllenfalltor. Torsten Lieberknecht’s side are winless in their last 15 Bundesliga matches. They’ve won just two all season, but one of those was against Werder back on matchday 6 when they won 4-2.

VfB Stuttgart v Köln

As we enter the final stretch of the season Stuttgart are maintaining their top four challenge and right now look more likely than Bayern to finish as runners-up. That might be pushing things a little, but Sebastian Hoeneß’s side show little sign of letting slip their fantastic form and another three points last week away at Darmstadt put them five points clear of Borussia Dortmund in fourth and just four behind Bayern Munich. 

The Swabians face Köln on Saturday at the MHP Arena as they look to fortify their position. The Billy Goats were unable to build on their first win under new coach Timo Schultz last Friday when they lost at home to Werder. This week’s match is the start of a very testing run which sees them face Leverkusen, a Rhinederby with Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig in their next fixtures. 

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Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig

Ordinarily this would be an enticing fixture in its own right, but because of the situation Bayern find themselves in right now, the clash at the Allianz Arena against Leipzig has added spice for the Rekordmeister.

Three successive defeats to Leverkusen, Lazio and Bochum was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of Thomas Tuchel as Bayern coach and the announcement that he won’t be carrying on beyond this season, while not a total shock, has caused major ripples. The champions are eight points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen and anything other than a win in the late game on Saturday would just run the risk of handing the title to the Rhinelanders.  

Leipzig played well against Real Madrid in their Champions League clash and then followed up with a 2-0 win over Mönchengladbach. Marco Rose has ended his own poor run of defeats and will view this as the perfect time to be facing Bayern. Leipzig enjoyed their last visit to the Allianz Arena when they won the pre-season Super Cup and a second consecutive win would be a real feather in their cap to go with the first Bundesliga victory achieved last season. 

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Eintracht Frankfurt v VfL Wolfsburg (Sunday)

Frankfurt were involved in a highly entertaining 3-3 draw at Freiburg last Sunday, but that did very little to help them close the gap on both RB Leipzig and Dortmund above them in the table. European qualification will be the target for the Adler, but with Werder Bremen and Freiburg breathing down their necks, they are going to have to start claiming all three points rather than seeing their attacking work undone and settling for just one. They’ve drawn three and lost one of their last four across all competitions so a win is overdue.

Talking of overdue wins, spare a thought for poor Wolfsburg fans, who have to go back to matchday 15 for their last three points and who have started 2024 with five draws and a defeat. Coach Niko Kovac is under pressure despite reassurances from the board and he knows that the only way to ease that pressure is with a long-awaited victory.  

Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim (Sunday)

BVB’s battle with Leipzig for fourth place continues to be a story worth watching with the Saxony side moving to within one point last weekend when the Schwarzgelben could only draw with Wolfsburg.  They had a tough Champions League trip to Eindhoven in midweek and will be wary of allowing Leipzig any further opportunity to take one of the top four slots.

Last week’s game with Union was being muttered as a ‘must-win’ for Pellegrino Matarazzo at Hoffenheim, but the Sinsheim club went and lost 1-0. Sporting director Alexander Rosen has publicly backed the coach, but a run of just one win in thirteen makes for depressing reading considering TSG began the season with five wins out of seven.  Hoffenheim have already lost at the Signal Iduna Park this season having been defeated 1-0 in the DFB Pokal back in November. 

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Augsburg v Freiburg (Sunday)

The final match-up of the weekend sees Augsburg host Freiburg at the WWK Arena. Coach Jess Thorup looked to have steadied the ship, but a run of just two points from the last twelve available has seen the Fuggerstädter go 14th in the table and they are just a few poor results away from dropping into the danger zone.

Freiburg are on their own little run of poor form with three defeats and a draw in their last four league outings. Defensive injuries haven’t helped, but neither has a lack of goals up front. They did score three at home to Frankfurt last weekend in an entertaining draw, but wins are what are required if they are to make the European places again next year.

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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