Bundesliga Weekend Preview: Round 9 – Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen Face Form Check

Bayern head to Hamburg, Dortmund host Hoffenheim, and Mainz pay a visit to Leverkusen in this week’s action.
Friday (all times local)
20:30 Hamburg – Bayern Munich

15:30 Borussia Moenchengladbach – Werder Bremen
15:30 Eintracht Frankfurt – Schalke
15:30 Hannover – Koeln
15:30 Nuernberg – Wolfsburg
15:30 Freiburg – Kaiserslautern

15:30 Borussia Dortmund – Hoffenheim
17:30 Bayer Leverkusen – Mainz
17:30 Stuttgart – St Pauli

Hamburg – Bayern Munich

Last week, Hamburg delivered Mainz their first defeat of the season in an inspired performance. They could push their winning streak to three matches should they beat Bayern. Coach Armin Veh will have to manage without Dennis Aogo, Dennis Diekmeier and Eljero Elia for this weekend’s clash.

Bayern were a bit fortunate to benefit from two own goals in midweek, but beat Cluj 3-2 to earn their second consecutive victory. Still in mid-table domestically, the Bavarians will hope to build momentum, but face a tough challenge away to their bogey team, Hamburg. Ivica Olic and Daniel van Buyten could return to action, but the weekend will come too soon for Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Mark van Bommel, David Alaba, Rouven Sattelmaier, Miroslav Klose, Diego Contento and Breno have all been ruled out of contention.

Borussia Moenchengladbach – Werder Bremen

Gladbach blew an early lead in their most recent match, and eventually lost 3-2 to Hoffenheim. Die Fohlen are really struggling now; their defense keeps shipping goals, and players are being sent off left and right. Roel Brouwers, Sebastian Schchten and Juan Arango are suspended for this week’s match, and Dante, Christian Dorda,  Sebastian Jaures, Tony Jantschke and Karim Matmour will also miss out due to injuries. American Michael Bradley will be hard pressed to keep his side from conceding goals, let alone trying to nick forward to score one.

Bremen came back from a goal behind to earn a 1-1 draw away to Twente in midweek, a result that coach Thomas Schaaf considered positive. Following that result and last week’s 2-1 Bundesliga victory, coach Thomas Schaaf is hoping to build more momentum with a good result against Gladbach. After hurting his knee in the Twente match, Tim Wiese is out, and will join Sebastian Boenisch, Naldo and Christian Vander in the stands.

Eintracht Frankfurt – Schalke

Thanks to the scintillating form of Theofanis Gekas, Frankfurt extended their winning streak to three games following last week’s 3-0 triumph over Kaiserslautern. Die Adler have a tough test against a hungry Schalke side this weekend, but will have a nearly full team available; only long-term casualties Zlatan Bajramovic and Sebastian Rode will be missing.

Schalke played arguably their best match of the season in midweek, and earned a 3-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Gelsenkirchen side were disappointed to concede a late goal, but at least will have some confidence entering this weekend’s match. Coach Felix Magath is expected to shuffle his line-up, but Tim Hoogland and Christian Pander are definite absentees.

Hannover – Koeln

Steve Cherundolo's Hannover may have lost 3-0 to Bayern last weekend, but the 96ers remain just two points adrift of a Champions League spot. A defensive side, Koeln will be no easy task, but die Roten will be boosted by the return of Mohamed Abdellaoue. However, this weekend comes too early for  Mario Eggimann, Emanuel Pogatetz, Leon Andreasen Carlitos, Altin Lala and Mike Hanke, who will miss out on the action with injuries. In addition, Karim Haggui will miss the match due to a suspension.

Last week, just when it appeared that they had earned a point, Koeln were beaten by a last gasp effort. Thus has been the story of the season for die Geissboecke, who have played much better than is suggested by their record of five points from eight matches. Koeln will hope to rebound on Saturday, but will be without an injured contingent including Kevin McKenna, Christopher Schorch, Sebastian Freis, Manasseh Ishiaku and Kostas Giannoulis.

Nuernberg – Wolfsburg

Nuernberg twice equalized, but were ultimately dealt a rare defeat to St Pauli. The Bavarians remain in a respectable but unsafe position in the Bundesliga table, and will hope for at least a point against Wolfsburg. Only Albert Bunjaku will be unavailable for selection.

In round eight, for the second time this year, Wolfsburg blew a multi-goal lead at home. They ended up losing 3-2 to Leverkusen, dropping points for the second consecutive week. Now in the lower half of the table, the 2009 champions will hope to rebound with a convincing result against Nuernberg. Diego Benaglio and Arne Friedrich have been ruled out of the match with injuries.

Freiburg – Kaiserslautern

Freiburg nearly nicked a point in last week’s 2-1 loss to Bremen, but Hugo Almeida settled the result with a characteristic late goal. The team from Germany’s southwestern corner will be keen to turn around their fortunes against Kaiserslautern, but will be without injured contingent Simon Pouplin, Jonathan Jaeger, Heiko Butscher, Pavel Krmas, Jan Rosenthal and Tommy Bechmann.

Last week, Frankfurt handed Kaiserslautern their fourth consecutive loss, a 3-0 defeat. The red devils are now hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, and have a lot to prove if they are to avoid an immediate return to the 2. Bundesliga. Victory away to Freiburg would provide a major confidence boost, but in order to do so, ‘Lautern will have to manage without the services of injured duo Jan Simunek and Chadlj Amri.

Borussia Dortmund – Hoffenheim

Dortmund suffered a setback on Thursday as they conceded a late equaliser to PSG, and had to settle for a draw. They remain first in the Bundesliga, however, having won seven consecutive matches, and will hope to keep their streak alive on Sunday. Patrick Owomoyela is still not yet fit to play, and will join Tamas Hajnal, Mohamed Zidan, Sebastian Kehl and Florian Kringe in the stands. The fitness of Sven Bender is also in question after the midfielder’s early substitution in the PSG match.

Hoffenheim rallied to beat Gladbach in round eight, but will have to be at their sharpest if they are to take points from Dortmund. A victory would propel the village side to within four points of their rivals. As he prepares for this weekend’s match, Ralf Rangnick will have a full team to choose from.

Bayer Leverkusen – Mainz

On Thursday, Leverkusen managed to grind out a scoreless draw away to Aris. Die Werkself have been more impressive domestically, and but will have to be on their best form if they are to close in on Mainz. Skipper Simon Rolfes is expected to start, but injuries will force Gonzalo Castro, Michael Ballack, Renato Augusto, and Stefan Kiessling to miss out on the action.

Mainz had a chance to make Bundesliga history last week, but failed to earn an eighth consecutive victory to start the season, and fell 1-0 to Hamburg. Coach Thomas Tuchel criticised his team for wasting opportunities in that game. Certainly, the Oh Fives will have to be sharper if they are to beat an in-form Leverkusen side. Only long-term casualty Florian Heller is expected to miss out on Sunday’s clash.

Stuttgart – St Pauli

Still last in the Bundesliga standings, Stuttgart kept their perfect Europa League streak alive with a 1-0 victory over Getafe on Thursday. The Swabians struggled to put away their chances in that match, however, and will have to improve if they are to take points from St Pauli. Philipp Degen, Johan Audel and Daniel Didavi have all been ruled out due to injuries, and Matthieu Delpierre is suspended for Sunday’s match.

Tipped by many to be relegation candidates before the season began, St Pauli have made quite a strong bid to stay in the 1. Bundesliga. Thanks to three wins in their last four matches, the Hamburg-based side sit sixth in the league table. They will still be considered underdogs against Stuttgart, however, and enter Sundays match without Richard Sukuta Pasu, Carsten Rothenbach, Dennis Daube and skipper Fabio Morena.

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