Bundesliga Weekend Preview: Round 11

Schalke host Leverkusen, Bayern travel to Stuttgart and Werder pay Nuernberg a visit in this week's action...
Friday (all times local)

20:30 Borussia Dortmund – Hertha Berlin


15:30 Koeln - Hannover
15:30 Hamburg – Borussia M’gladbach
15:30 Nuernberg – Werder Bremen
15:30 Stuttgart – Bayern Munich
15:30 Wolfsburg – Mainz
18:30 Schalke – Bayer Leverkusen


15:30 Freiburg – Hoffenheim
17:30 Eintracht Frankfurt – Bochum

Borussia Dortmund – Hertha Berlin

Dortmund will look to atone for Tuesday’s loss to VfL Osnabrueck in the DFB Pokal. A week ago, the prospect of facing Hertha would be a treat, but in the wake of recent results, Dortmund will have it all to do on Friday.

Hertha were in dismal form up to a week ago, but have since shown some signs of stability. A 1-0 loss to Heerenveen was, surprisingly, not a terrible result and last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Wolfsburg was Hertha’s first clean sheet since August 8th. Indeed, Friday’s match with Dortmund will be something of a heat check.

Koeln – Hannover

Since Lukas Podolski’s return, Koeln have sported the league’s worst offence and now sit in the bottom half of the table. Having won just a single home game, Koeln’s form at the RheinEnergieStadion must improve soon, or the Bundesliga sophomores may fall victim to the drop.

Hannover took a narrow 1-0 win over Stuttgart a week ago, advancing to 11th place in the table. Despite being plagued by injuries to their forwards, the Saxons are holding their own. Given that it’s been more than two months since they last won a road game, Hannover will be keen to put in a good shift against a Koeln side that has struggled at home.

Hamburg – Borussia M’gladbach

After a tough series of matches that included trips to Celtic and Schalke, as well as home matches against Bayern and Leverkusen, Hamburg face a M’gladbach side clinging to 15th place for dear life. The northerners will again be without Jose Paolo Guerrero and Mladen Petric, but Marcus Berg and Jonathan Pitroipa will be available to deputise as they have done to great effect.

Following last week’s 0-0 draw against Koeln, M’gladbach remain winless since August. It was, however, a somewhat positive result, given that it was the Prussians’ second clean sheet of the year and first point in two months. Hamburg will be tough opponents, but M’gladach will be extra motivated ahead of Saturday’s match.

Nuernberg – Werder Bremen

Currently in the relegation zone, Nuernberg have several tough fixtures coming up and will need to take points whenever possible. Although a win will be difficult to attain (Werder have the league’s second-best defence and only Hertha have a less prolific offence), a 0-0 draw would be a very positive result.

Werder have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions and are by far the league’s hottest team. Although Claudio Pizarro’s fitness is in question, Werder have plenty of offensive quality elsewhere, and will look to run the score up.

Stuttgart – Bayern Munich

Bayern will always be a tough task for Stuttgart, but perhaps now is the best time for last year’s third-place finishers. The stakes of Saturday’s match will be inspirational for a Stuttgart side that has gone six matches without a win, and most recently lost to second division side SpVgg Greuther Fuerth.

The league’s streakiest side won two matches against Frankfurt in a span of five days and at the moment, things are just rosy for Bayern. Finishing will, as always, be a major factor, but if no goals are scored in the first half, Arjen Robben will be available for at least half an hour.

Wolfsburg – Mainz

After a shocking scoreless draw with Hertha in Matchday 10, Wolfsburg will look to atone for their shortcomings with a good display against Mainz. After a week’s vacation in Brazil, striker Grafite is set to return to Wolfsburg on Friday. Whether he or Obafemi Martins will partner Edin Dzeko from the start remains to be decided, but Martins is the more likely candidate.

Currently standing in 8th place, Mainz have exceeded all expectations thus far. Their form on the road has been atrocious, however, and Saturday’s visitors will have their work cut out against a Wolfsburg side that is always at home in the Volkswagen Arena.

Schalke – Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday’s match with Leverkusen marks Schalke’s second tough home match in as many weeks. If last week’s 3-3 draw with Hamburg is a good benchmark, we’re in for another treat this weekend.

Leverkusen missed out on a great chance to go clear into first place last Friday, after drawing 1-1 with Dortmund. Simon Rolfes, Michal Kadlec, and Renato Augusto will be missing for Leverkusen, who will likely take a defensive 4-2-3-1 approach from the start.

Freiburg – Hoffenheim

Freiburg may only be in 12th place, but the Bundesliga newcomers have plenty to worry about. With just two points’ cushion between them and the relegation zone, Freiburg will need to tighten their defense, which is currently second worst in the league, if they are to take anything against high-flying Hoffenheim.

A 4-0 victory in midweek did well to boost Hoffe’s spirits and build momentum on the previous weekend’s 3-0 win over Nuernberg. Despite consecutive losses in Matchdays 8 and 9, Hoffenheim remain tied for third-best defence in the league, and have recently shown prolific offensive capability. Facing off against a very leaky Freiburg defence, Sunday’s match could easily become a goal-fest for Hoffe.

Eintracht Frankfurt – Bochum

It has been a week to forget for Frankfurt. After going 1-0 up last week, Frankfurt conceded six unanswered goals to a Bayern side that took wins in both the league and DFB Pokal. Bochum are struggling at the moment, but will always be tough opponents, so Frankfurt will need to be in good form on Sunday if they are to earn a win.

A 4-1 home loss to Bremen last weekend was enough to bring Bochum down to 17th place, and cast serious shadows of whether or not the club will survive the drop. The bottom half of the table is rather tight at the moment, and a win would put the Rhine club clear out of the danger zone. Bochum will have to dig deep, but considering Frankfurt’s form, victory is not out of the question.

Clark Whitney, Goal.com