Second takes on third in a battle for second place on Sunday in the final match of the weekend. Dortmund has looked fantastic since the resumption of the Bundesliga following the winter break. Leverkusen started off well but looked slightly lackluster against Freiburg last week. Dortmund now has more options to choose from with the return of Nuri Sahin from loan.
Dortmund is more likely to lead the flow of the game as Leverkusen plays counter attack based football. Dortmund does the same as Leverkusen does in Europe but does sometimes dominate possession in Bundesliga matches. They won comprehensively against Nürnberg last week. Leverkusen struggled against Freiburg and was lucky to not concede a goal last week.
These two teams are chasing the record champions, FC Bayern München. Bayern has a tough opponent in Mainz this weekend. Bayern is yet to play to the best of their abilities this year. Fluidity has seemingly momentarily been sacrificed for stability at the back ahead of the Champions League tie with Arsenal.
Bayern’s goals against Greuther Fürth were somewhat down to keeping errors. Last week, Cristian Molinaro absolutely gifted a goal to Mario Mandzukic with a bizarre back pass. The second goal scored by Thomas Müller though was set up beautifully by the on-form Mandzukic. For Bayern, however, an entirely different problem exists in egotism. Huge egos such as that of the likes of Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez are being hurt.
Bayern has not fared well against Mainz in recent years. Bayern did beat Thomas Tuchel’s side in a nervy game, 3-1, this season. However, last season, Mainz collected four out of six possible points against Bayern. In 2010-11, Mainz also picked up a win against Bayern. This game will truly test Bayern’s mettle.
Another big fixture which is coming up is between fourth placed surprise package Eintracht Frankfurt and the dinosaurs, Hamburger SV. Hamburg is starting to mount a European challenge. Last week, they put Bremen to bed, 3-2. Frankfurt started off the second half with a loss to Leverkusen but beat Hoffenheim, 2-1, last week.
This is a great chance for both teams to make a statement. Frankfurt can once again show that they are much more than just a surprise package by winning this. HSV can show that they are much more than just the Bundesliga’s dinosaur by winning this one. Frankfurt is set to remain in the top four no matter what unless Mainz springs a surprise victory over Bayern.
Another Nord derby is on this week. Hannover 96, the best club in the north last season, takes on one of the traditional powers in Bremen. Bremen this season has been slipping down the table dangerously. Questions are starting to be asked about Thomas Schaaf. Two of his players lost their cool against HSV and deservedly saw red for their actions. The suspensions are absolutely needless ahead of the visit of an accomplished Hannover side.
Hannover last week beat Wolfsburg 2-1. They held on to a victory despite playing a large part of the match with ten men. Hannover’s away troubles this season are well documented. Hannover has the strength in the side to win this. This is a must win game for Bremen; they are perilously close to fifteenth placed Nürnberg currently.
Greuther Fürth has another thankless task this week in Schalke. Last week, they were battered by Mainz, 0-3. Schalke has had their own troubles. They beat Hannover 5-4 to begin the season after the winter break. They then slumped to a 0-0 draw against Augsburg. Furth is almost assured of relegation. They have nine points after 19 games. Schalke however is seemingly the side to play currently when you are in trouble. Losing Lewis Holtby to Tottenham will surely affect them.
The team which took a point off of Schalke last week, Augsburg, takes on a rather erratic Wolfsburg side. Wolfsburg last week failed in a real test against Hannover, despite playing with an extra man for a long spell. Augsburg’s results following the winter break have been good. They have toughened up and Wolfsburg certainly will not have it their own way against the side third from bottom in the league.
Nürnberg, under their new management, is not doing too well. They are currently only eight points above the relegation play off spot. All the hard work of the first half of the season is threatening to come undone. They were taken apart much too easily by BVB last week. They take on a Borussia Mönchengladbach side which is starting to gel again. Gladbach beat Fortuna, 2-1, last week.
Hoffenheim is currently well and truly embroiled in a relegation battle. They are second from bottom in the league. Their next visitor is Christian Streich’s accomplished Freiburg. This match will be a tough one for Hoffenheim. Freiburg gave a great account of themselves against Leverkusen last weekend. They will look to do the same along with picking up three points this weekend.
Fourteenth placed Fortuna plays a Stuttgart side which shot themselves in the foot last week. Fortuna has begun 2013 with two defeats in a row. They will look to reverse the trend against a Stuttgart side with the same record. Fortuna is currently involved in a relegation battle; Stuttgart could be pulled into it if their current form continues.
Who will win the battle for second place this weekend? Tune in to find out!