Bundesliga Weekend Preview: Round 21

Leverkusen head to Bochum, Wolfsburg host Bayern, and Schalke pay a visit to Freiburg in this weekend’s matches.
Friday (all times local)

20:30 Werder Bremen – Hertha Berlin

Saturday

15:30 Koeln – Hamburg
15:30 Freiburg – Schalke
15:30 Hoffenheim – Hannover
15:30 Bochum – Bayer Leverkusen
15:30 Wolfsburg – Bayern Munich
18:30 Nuernberg – Stuttgart

Sunday

15:Mainz – Borussia M’gladbach
17:30 Borussia Dortmund – Eintracht Frankfurt


Werder Bremen – Hertha Berlin

Bremen have lost five consecutive matches and are desperate to take a victory over Hertha, who are currently placed at the bottom of the table. Coach Thomas Schaaf, who is likely to resort to a 4-2-3-1 formation instead of his usual 4-3-1-2, will be without Sebastian Boenisch, Philipp Bargfrede, Daniel Jensen, and Sandro Wagner.

Hertha, who have made several squad additions during the January transfer window, remain deep in the relegation battle and have a veritable mountain to climb if they are to survive the drop. Coach Friedhelm Funkel will be without Maximilian Nicu, Gojko Kacar, Pal Dardai, and Christopher Gaeng.

Koeln – Hamburg

Koeln, winners of their last two matches, have shown promising signs in recent weeks. Their offense, which until round 17 had scored just seven goals, has scored ten in the last four matches. Lukas Podolski is set to return to the squad, although Fabrice Ehret and Manasseh Ishiaku are both injured and will be unable to play.

Northern outfit Hamburg, once atop the league table, have slipped to nine points off the pace of leaders Leverkusen. While Eljero Elia is set to start, once again, Bruno Labbadia’s squad includes a long list of injuries: Ze Roberto, Jose Paolo Guerrero, Colin Benjamin, Bastian Reinhardt, Miroslav Stepanek, and Ruud van Nistellrooij have all been deemed unfit.

Freiburg – Schalke

Newly-promoted Freiburg lost again last weekend but this time will try to take points from a physical and ruthlessly efficient Schalke side. Manuel Salz, Pavel Krmas, Daniel Caliguri, and new signing Hamid Namouchi have been crossed off the matchday squad list for various reasons.

Thanks to incredible efficiency, third-place Schalke enter this weekend’s match just three points behind flashy leaders Leverkusen. Master tactician and disciplinarian Felix Magath will be without Heiko Westermann, Vasilias Pliatsikas, Christian Pander, Jermaine Jones, Levan Kenia, and Pedrag Stevanovic.

Hoffenheim – Hannover

Hoffenheim have been in a dearth of form lately, but now that Ralf Rangnick’s African contingent is back from the Cup of Nations, perhaps this weekend will mark a turning point. Matthias Jaissle, Kevin Conrad, Tobias Weis, and Demba Ba are all out, but Chinedu Obasi and Isaac Vorsah will be available for selection.

On the heels of their fifth consecutive loss, Hannover have slipped into the relegation zone and, given their injury situation, are teetering ever closer to the drop. Their injury list includes: Jan Schlaudraff, Didier Ya Konan, Steve Cherundolo, Jan Durica, Vinicius, Altin Lala, Salvatore Zizzo, Mikael Forssell, Hanno Balitsch, Sofien Chahed, and Jacek Krzynowek.

Bochum – Bayer Leverkusen

Ex-Leverkusen striker Heiko Herrlich is set to face his former team for a second time this weekend. His team, which recently earned a draw with Schalke, should be at full strength with the exception of Diego Klimowicz, who has bronchitis.

Bruno Labbadia’s Bayer Leverkusen did not play entirely convincingly in round 20, yet earned a 3-1 draw, a testament to the team’s class. Skipper Simon Rolfes will again be missing due to knee surgery, as will Hans Sarpei, who has been given a short break following his participation at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Wolfsburg – Bayern Munich

Struggling Wolfsburg, who are winless since early November, will look to rebound against Bayern Munich. New coach Lorenz-Guenther Koestner should have available a nearly full first team. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who is recovering from a knee operation, is definitely out, and new signing Rever is also unavailable.

Against Wolfsburg, Bayern look to win their ninth consecutive match in all competitions. Coach Louis van Gaal will have a full squad available, although this week it will include one less member after Edson Braafheid was loaned to Celtic.

Nuernberg – Stuttgart

Having bolstered their squad during the transfer window, Nuernberg have improved in recent weeks and could jump clear of the relegation battle with a victory this weekend. The Bavarian club will be without Peter Perchtold, but should otherwise be at full strength.

A resurgent Stuttgart side scored a trio of late goals in round 20 en route to a 4-1 victory over Dortmund, and will look to continue their climb up the table with yet another convincing performance. The Swabians will have to do without Martin Lanig and Cacau, both of whom are injured.

Mainz – Borussia M’gladbach

Mid-table Mainz are set to host volatile side M’gladbach in round 21. The newly-promoted side have yet to lose at home (a statistic shared only by Leverkusen and Bayern), but will be without Dimo Wache, Andreas Ivanschitz, Zsolt Loew, Jared Jeffrey, Marco Rose, and Jan Kirchoff.

Following their thrilling 4-3 win over Werder Bremen, streaky side M’gladbach will look to repeat their successes against Mainz. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Paul Stalteri, Gal Alberman, and Christian Dorda will be unavailable for selection.

Borussia Dortmund – Eintracht Frankfurt

A week after their 4-1 loss to Stuttgart, Dortmund look to begin a new winning streak as they face off against high-flying Frankfurt. Coach Juergen Klopp will be without skipper Sebastian Kehl as well as Sven Bender, Tinga, Roman Weidenfeller, Dimitar Rangelov, Markus Feulner, and Yasin Oztekin.

Frankfurt, who in recent weeks have climbed up to seventh place, are currently in nosebleed territory and could inch ever closer to a European berth with a win in Dortmund. Coach Michael Skibbe will have to do without unavailable contingent Nikola Petkovic, Aleksandar Vasoski, Zlatan Bajramovic, Ricardo Clark, Primin Schwegler, Marcos Alvarez, Ioannis Amanatidis, Martin Fenin, Umit Korkmaz, and Cenk Tosun.