Goal.com previews all the Bundesliga action awaiting in round 22.Saturday (all times local)
15:30 Bayern Munich – Hoffenheim
15:30 Stuttgart – Nuernberg
15:30 Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayer Leverkusen
15:30 Wolfsburg – Hamburg
15:30 St Pauli – Borussia Moenchengladbach
15:30 Schalke – Freiburg
18:30 Kaiserslautern – Borussia Dortmund
15:30 Koeln – Mainz
17:30 Werder Bremen – Hannover
Bayern Munich – Hoffenheim
Bayern slipped to fifth last week after having a two-goal lead evaporate in a loss to Koeln. They will hope to rebound against a Hoffenheim side that is good on its day, but the Bavarians will benefit from a home field advantage and the fitness of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. While 'Robbery' are back, Louis van Gaal will be unable to call upon Toni Kroos, Diego Contento and Ivica Olic, all of whom remain sidelined with injuries.
Hoffenheim, too, blew a two-goal lead in their most recent match, but managed to recover and earn a 3-2 win against Kaiserslautern. Saturday’s match will be particularly special for newcomer David Alaba, who for the first time will play in the Allianz Arena as a guest. Ex-Bayern man Edson Braafheid will have to miss out on the match due to a suspension, as will injured duo Manuel Gulde and Chinedu Obasi.
Stuttgart – Nuernberg
Three unanswered goals in the second half saw Stuttgart come from behind to win their relegation showdown with Gladbach last week. A win would likely see the Swabians advance out of the drop zone, but may be difficult against an in-form Nuernberg side. Timo Gebhart will have to miss out on Saturday’s match after turning an ankle in training, and the youngster will be joined by suspended defender Georg Niedermeier and fellow casualties Christian Gentner, Johan Audel, Mamadou Bah and Arthur Boka in the stands.
Having recorded wins against Leverkusen and Hamburg in their last two matches, Nuernberg have been in tremendous form as of late. The Bavarianshave crept into the top half of the table, and are nearing the point of assured survival from the relegation battle. As they visit Stuttgart, Dieter Hecking’s men will be short of suspended attacker Christian Eigler, as well as injured quartet Ilkay Guendogan, Albert Bunjaku, Mike Frantz and Rubin Okotie.
Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayer Leverkusen
Frankfurt snapped a three-game losing streak with last week’s draw against Freiburg, but Michael Skibbe cannot be satisfied with his team, which has yet to record a goal in the 2011 calendar year. As die Adler host Leverkusen, they will hope top scorer Theofanis Gekas finds his form once more. Skibbe will have to manage without Ricardo Clark, Chris, Zlatan Bajramovic and Ioannis Amanatidis, all of whom are unfit.
Following Dortmund’s draw last week, Leverkusen had a great chance to make up ground in the title race, but instead saw the gap increase to 12 points as die Werkself lost to Nuernberg. Jupp Heynckes’ men were fortunate not to be overtaken by Mainz and Bayern, and will have to improve if they are to secure automatic qualification for the 2011-12 Champions League. Heading into this weekend, Tranquillo Barnetta and Benedikt Fernandez remain sidelined, and Arturo Vidal and Simon Rolfes are questionable.
Wolfsburg – Hamburg
Last week’s loss to Hannover was the final straw for Steve McClaren, who was relieved of his duties as Wolfsburg coach earlier this week. Pierre Littbarski has taken over for the departed coach, and will hope to bring out the best in a team of talented, but poorly organised players. Diego is unavailable for disciplinary reasons, and Wolfsburg will also be without injured trio Sascha Riether, Mario Mandzukic and Tolga Cigerci as they host a challenging Hamburg team.
After weeks of anticipation, Hamburg experienced an anti-climax last weekend as their derby with St Pauli was called off. Well rested, they now visit a Wolfsburg side that will be tough to predict in a match that could go a long way towards securing their Europa League qualification. If they are to take three points on Saturday, HSV will have to do without suspended midfielder Gojko Kacar, as well as unfit quartet Dennis Diekmeier, Colin Benjamin, Son Heung-Min, and Romeo Castelen.
St Pauli – Borussia Moenchengladbach
St Paui were disappointed not to play in the Hamburg derby last week, and now face a difficult spell with three games in a matter of a week. Their first test will be a relegation showdown with Gladbach, a match that the Buccaneers may have to win to ensure survival from the drop. Ahead of the match, Holger Stanislawski has ruled out Bastian Oczipka, Fabio Morena, Carsten Rothenbach, and Florian Lechner.
Gladbach suffered a calamitous collapse at the hands of Stuttgart last Saturday. Die Fohlen were 2-0 up at half time, but conceded three unanswered goals and failed to capitalise on an opportunity to move 17th. They now host fellow relegation candidates St Pauli in what is shaping up to be a must-win situation. As he makes his preparations, coach Michael Frontzeck is planning to be without star attacker Marco Reus, as well as Roel Brouwers, Dante and Jean-Sebastian Jaures.
Schalke – Freiburg
It required tremendous class from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, but Schalke managed to keep a clean sheet in last week’s Ruhr derby in Dortmund, and earned a point despite a lacklustre offensive display. With the Champions League round of 16 looming, die Knappen are desperate to find their form; a convincing performance against Freiburg could turn the tides in their favour. Heading into the match, Felix Magath has ruled out Christian Pander, Christoph Moritz, Angelos Charisteas, Levan Kenia and Tim Hoogland.
Freiburg only managed a draw in their most recent outing against Frankfurt, but remain in the lofty position of sixth place with nearly two thirds of the season gone by. The team from Germany’s southwestern corner head to Gelsenkirchen with confidence, but will be missing several injured players, including Jonathan Jaeger, Simon Pouplin, Pavel Krmas, Tommy Bechmann, Julian Schuster, Anton Putsila and Daniel Williams.
Kaiserslautern – Borussia Dortmund
Last Saturday, after rallying from two goals behind only to concede a late winner to Hoffenheim, Kaiserslautern were heartbroken. They showed true class and grit in that game, and will hope to replicate such form against the league leaders this weekend. Missing from the squad will be suspended defender Florian Dick, as well as unfit duo Oliver Kirch and Jan Simunek.
They ought to have scored on several occasions in last Friday’s Ruhr derby, but the woodwork and tremendous goalkeeping forced Dortmund to settle for a 0-0 draw. The result was enough to extend their lead, however, and as they close in on the home stretch, BVB will be keen to wrap up the Bundesliga title as early as possible. Sebastian Kehl could make his long-awaited return, but Juergen Klopp has ruled out Florian Kringe, Patrick Owomoyela and Shinji Kagawa
Koeln – Mainz
Thanks to a stunning second half performance, Koeln overturned a 2-0 deficit last week and edged Bayern with a 3-2 win. The result put the Geissboecke level on points with Kaiserslautern and St Pauli, meaning that a win on Sunday would almost surely lift them from the relegation zone. Frank Schaefer has ruled out Fabrice Ehret, Kostas Giannoulis, Kevin McKenna and Christopher Schorch ahead of Sunday’s match.
Mainz appeared to be well on their way to taking three points from Bremen last week, but the Oh Fives saw their lead vanish in the closing seconds. Thomas Tuchel’s men remain third, and still in the running for at least a Europa League spot. Andre Schuerrle is expected to be fit to play, while long-term casualties Adam Szalai and Bo Svensson remain sidelined.
Werder Bremen – Hannover
Thanks to Claudio Pizarro’s last-gasp goal, Bremen managed a point against Mainz, and will hope to build some momentum this week. The Hanseaten are still dangerously close to the relegation zone, and will be especially careful against a deceptively impressive Hannover side. Thomas Schaaf will have to do without suspended goalkeeper Tim Wiese, as well as Christian Vander, Samuel, Sebastian Boenisch, Naldo, Daniel Jensen, Wesley and Onur Ayik.
Sergio Pinto’s freak early goal was all Hannover needed to beat Wolfsburg last week, a result that moved die Roten fourth in the table. Looking forward, Mirko Slomka’s side is only getting stronger; playmaker Carlitos has returned to training and will play with the reserves this weekend, and Leon Andreasen is nearing a comeback. Apart from the recovering pair, Slomka will have a full squad on hand and will look to take the game to Bremen.
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