Bayer 04 Leverkusen – Arminia Bielefeld
The home side haven’t too much left to play for except the honour, as they’re currently sitting eighth in the table. Leverkusen won last week’s match against Schalke 2-1. The Bielefelders are battling against relegation and desperately need a win on Friday evening. They currently sit sixteenth in the table, but they’re trailing number fifteen Energie Cottbus by only one point. They surprisingly recorded a 2-2 draw against Stuttgart last week.
FC Energie Cottbus – FC Bayern München
The hosts are only one point clear of the drop zone and will be eager to pick up the full three points against Bayern. However, the Bavarians are still in the race to scoop the Bundesliga title and are the clear favourites for this match. Cottbus drew last week’s encounter with Karlsruhe 0-0, while Bayern recorded a narrow 2-1 victory against Borussia Monchengladbach. Prolific hit-man Miroslav Klose will return to the Bayern match squad after a spell on the sidelines due to injury.
VfB Stuttgart – VfL Wolfsburg
The match of the week is between the two title contenders Stuttgart and Wolfsburg. The Schwaben slipped up last week and were unable to beat Arminia Bielefeld. Therefore, they’re trailing Wolfsburg by five points now. The away side weren’t troubled too much by Hoffenheim last week and defeated the Herbstmeister 4-0. Men in form for the table toppers are Edin Dzeko, who scored a hat-trick last week, and striker Grafite. Stuttgart will rely on the individual class of Mario Gomez to do the business up front.
Hannover 96 – Eintracht Frankfurt
Normally Hannover and Eintracht Frankfurt will both stay clear of the drop zone. The hosts currently sit twelfth in the table, while Frankfurt are the Bundesliga’s number thirteen. An exciting match is expected with the pressure off and both coaches could field an attacking starting XI. Hannover beat Bochum 2-0 last week, thanks to an impressive Arnold Bruggink. The away side were left without a chance by Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund – Karlsruher SC
Dortmund made a disappointing start to this campaign, but they have been quite impressive after the winter break and climbed to sixth spot on the table. They beat Frankfurt 2-0 last week and will be eager to continue their hot streak. Karlsruhe on the other hand are battling against relegation and are the number last on the table. They picked up one point last week when they met fellow relegation candidates Energie Cottbus.
Hertha BSC – VfL Bochum
The Berlin outfit are one of the surprise packages of this campaign and are still in the race to win this year’s Bundesliga, as they currently sit third in the table. Hertha were held 1-1 by Hamburg last week though and can’t afford to slip up again. The away side are being plagued by injuries and need to watch their back if they want to avoid the drop to the 2. Bundesliga. They were beaten 2-0 by Hannover last week and are sitting fourteenth in the table with only two points more than the number sixteen.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – 1. FC Köln
Both sides were promoted from the 2. Bundesliga last summer and have already secured top-flight football for next term. Hoffenheim are the number nine at the moment, but their current form has been abysmal. Coach Ralf Rangnick desperately needs a good result if he doesn’t want to lose his job, as former Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann is already being linked with the club. Koln recorded a 1-0 win against Werder Bremen last week and are the Bundesliga’s number eleven after 30 matches.
Borussia Mönchengladbach – FC Schalke 04
Gladbach’s performances so far have been quite disappointing and they are one of the teams fearing they will drop to the 2. Bundesliga. They were beaten 2-1 by Bayern Munich last week and are sitting seventeenth in the table at the moment. Their opponents on Sunday won’t be a pushover though, as Schalke are targeting a top six finish in order to qualify for Europa League football next term. They need to do better than last week though. Schalke were defeated 2-1 by Leverkusen.
SV Werder Bremen – Hamburger SV
North German outfits Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV meet each other for the fourth time in about three weeks' time, with the home outfit being the better side so far. They ended HSV’s dreams of winning the DFB Pokal and eliminated them in the UEFA Cup, too. However, the away side still have one trophy left to play for. HSV are currently trailing table-toppers Wolfsburg by five points and they can’t afford to spill any more points. Werder on the other hand have nothing left to play for in the league and will focus on the two finals coming up.
Stefan Coerts, Goal.com