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Bundesliga Weekend Preview: Round 29

Friday, 24 April (all times local)

20:30  1899 Hoffenheim – Hertha Berlin

Saturday, 25 April

15:30  Bayern Munich - Schalke 

15:30  Borussia Dortmund - Hamburg

15:30  VfB Stuttgart – Eintracht Frankfurt

15:30  Bayer Leverkusen - Karlsruhe

15:30  Werder Bremen – VfL Bochum

15:30  Hannover – 1.FC Koeln

Sunday, 26 April

17:00  Energie Cottbus – VfL Wolfsburg

17:00  Bor. Moenchengladbach – Arminia Bielefeld   

1899 Hoffenheim – Hertha Berlin

Both these sides have been touted as potential Bundesliga champions this season after both exceeded their own expectations. However, it now seems that the top spot is going to elude both of them. Hertha however are still dreaming of European football next season, while Hoffenheim are looking to next season already.

The side from Hoffenheim have now gone ten games without a win and are starting to lose a few of the fans they gained in the first half of the season with some indiscipline in their ranks. 

This game is a win or bust situation for Hertha Berlin. Win, and they will still retain hope of the Bundesliga title, lose and it will be pretty much over for them and they’ll have to concentrate on clinching a lucrative Champions League berth.

Bayern Munich – Schalke

A clash of the fallen titans takes place at the Allianz Arena on Saturday as Bayern Munich host a resurgent Schalke.

Juergen Klinsmann’s side are still under pressure despite their 1-0 win over Bielefeld last weekend and cannot afford to drop any points with Wolfsburg three points ahead of them in the table.

However, the Bavarians will not have an easy time of it against a Schalke side that have been completely transformed since the sacking of Fred Rutten. 

Under the guidance of temporary co-trainers Mike Buskens, Youri Mulder and Oliver Reck the Koenigsblauen have notched up three consecutive wins with three clean sheets in the process. 

Those wins however came against inferior opposition in the form of Arminia Bielefeld, Karlsruhe and Energie Cottbus so the trip to Munich will be a step up in quality. 

Borussia Dortmund – Hamburg

Dortmund entertain Hamburg at the Signal-Iduna Park in another fixture that has a lot riding on it. Juergen Klopp’s side have won their last four games in a row and have moved to within touching distance of the UEFA Cup places so will be looking for a strong finish to the season.

Hamburg will be looking to make up for the disappointment of losing to Werder in the semi-final of the DFB Pokal and get back to winning ways as they look to maintain their title challenge. 

The Rothosen are still level on points with Bayern Munich and three points behind leaders Wolfsburg, but they have a much inferior goal difference and have both Hertha Berlin and Stuttgart breathing down their necks so cannot afford any slip ups.

VfB Stuttgart – Eintracht Frankfurt

Stuttgart are now being talked about in some circles as potential champions such is the form they have been showing of late. Just like in 2007 they have sneaked up relatively unnoticed to now sit six points off the top with six games to play. 

The Swabians have won their last four games on the bounce and Mario Gomez looks to be in top form having hit four in two games to take his season’s tally to 18. 

Eintracht Frankfurt on the other hand are sitting relatively safely in mid table (11th) and will just be looking to finish the season in a positive manner with nothing really to play for. 

Bayer Leverkusen – Karlsruhe

Cup finalists Bayer Leverkusen may see the DFB Pokal as their best way into Europe next season having well and truly slipped out of the running for a top five finish in the league. 

That said, the Werkself cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal too much in the league as they currently sit a lowly 9th. They finished 7th last season under Michael Skibbe, who was fired, so a lower finish than that and failure to win the DFB Pokal could well see the vultures swarming around the head of current trainer Bruno Labbadia. 

Karlsruhe were the surprise package last season following their promotion to the top flight, but they have suffered from second season syndrome’ and are in real trouble with six games to play. 

The Badener are currently bottom of the pile five points from safety and without a win in nine games. It seems the second division beckons for Edmund Becker’s side. 

Werder Bremen – VfL Bochum

Werder’s season is now wholly reliant on the two Cup competitions.  The less said about their Bundesliga campaign this season the better.  Last season’s runners-up are down in 10th a full 21 points behind leaders Wolfsburg!

However a place in the DFB Pokal final and a potential place in the UEFA Cup final will provide a silver lining.  The Green and Whites however cannot afford to let the guard drop in the league though as trainer Thomas Schaaf and the fans won’t accept it. 

Bochum travel to the Weser Stadion five points above the bottom three so are not totally safe from the dreaded drop. 

Marcell Koller’s side cannot afford to drop too many points just in case those teams below them start to pick up wins and reel them back in the danger zone.   

Hannover – 1.FC Koeln

Hannover and Koeln go head to head at the AWD Arena both relatively safe in the knowledge that they will both be playing Bundesliga football next season although neither can get too complacent going into the final six games.

Hannover’s pre-season target of pushing on from being being a mid table side hasn’t come to fruition, but Koeln’s pre-season target of survival does look like being achieved.

Hannover have been looking strong at home of late whereas Koeln have lost their last four games and will want to stop the rot this weekend.

Energie Cottbus – VfL Wolfsburg

On paper this is first versus seventeenth and looks like another three points for leaders Wolfsburg, but it probably won’t be as straight forward as that with Cottbus battling to restore some much needed pride at home as they battle against the drop.

The visitors, while still not talking about the title, will surely be looking at this game and thinking that they can take another three points and potentially extend their lead at the top with Bayern Munich having a tough match at home to Schalke.

A win for Felix Magath’s side would make it seven victories in a row- Championship form indeed.

Bor. Moenchengladbach – Arminia Bielefeld

If the three points are important for the likes of Wolfsburg, Bayern and Hamburg at the top, then the three on offer on Sunday at Borussia Park are absolutely vital for both Moenchengladbach and Arminia Bielefeld.

The home side have been battling against the drop all season and currently sit in 16th spot (the play-off berth) and a win over Bielefeld would see them leapfrog the Arminen and awaken hopes of survival.

Neither side has a win in their previous four games so it will come down to who wants it the most on Sunday.

Mathew Burt, Goal.com