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Bundesliga Preview: Week 24 (Feb 25-27)

February 24, 2011 By Samrin Hasib
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The holders take on the runaway leaders this week. Leverkusen, meanwhile, travels to Bremen.
Bayern München came away with a valuable away goal and a victory against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday. Their next task is to take on Borussia Dortmund on Saturday in the late match. This showdown between the first and third placed sides is undoubtedly the biggest match of the weekend.

Leverkusen will get in trouble if Dortmund or Bayern wins. Bayern is right behind them and has a chance of catching them. Thus they can’t slip up. While if Dortmund wins, Leverkusen will be unable to cut the margin between themselves and Dortmund. They take on defensively inept Bremen on Sunday.
 

This is a battle for the Bundesliga’s basement clubs. Fifteenth placed Wolfsburg will take on Gladbach. The mood in the Wolfsburg camp was positive despite their 2-1 defeat to Freiburg. Dieter Hoeness felt that there were spells in the match where Die Wolfe played like a ‘team’.





Wolfsburg is playing under a new manager, Pierre Littbarski. Similarly, so is Gladbach. With a new manager, Lucien Favre by their side, Gladbach battered their way to a first home win this season. They hammered Schalke. Despite the final score-line being 2-1, Gladbach hit the post twice and Marco Reus almost damaged the goal with his fierce shot.





The game, regardless of the final result will definitely be entertaining. Gladbach must win to have any chance of surviving. Time is running out.






Hoffenheim picked up a 1-1 draw against Köln in their last match. Mainz will be playing this week on the back of a 3-1 loss to Bayern. They played well against Bayern. Their defence, though, failed to hold out the double-pronged wing attack of Bayern. They missed quite a few good chances and might have even taken a point had Andre Schuerrle scored from his chances. The striker did play well though.





Mainz got a very late goal through Sami Allagui and can take positives from their attacking play. However, results haven’t been going their way. They have conceded seven goals in the last two games and are just about hanging on to a European spot. Mainz might just have enough for Hoffenheim. They might sneak in a late winner against the inconsistent village side.



HSV has decided to make one change to its staff for next season. This change might finally see the 13th richest club in Europe rise and play to its potential. Bastian Reinhardt will no longer be the sporting director of Hamburg come next season. Frank Arnesen, who is currently working at Chelsea, will take over. He might have to revamp Hamburg thoroughly in order to get the club running again.





Hamburg beat Werder 4-0 in the Bundesliga’s Northern Derby last week. They are just one point off a European spot now. Unfortunately, FCK is in a very different situation. They were hammered by Hanover, 3-0, last week. This leaves them in sixteenth place, in the relegation play-off spot. However, this week, even with a loss, they will not sink down to the automatic relegation spots because they are four points ahead of both Stuttgart and Gladbach.









Schalke is the only side to have not picked up any points at Borussia Park this season. Manuel Neuer spoke after the defeat. He said that very few players made themselves available for a pass and they weren’t playing as a unit. He felt that Gladbach might have even scored five goals considering the way that Schalke played.





Neuer is not very optimistic about Schalke’s hopes of returning to European competition next season. He conceded that they are far behind the European spots now. However, Schalke does have a chance as they are only eight points behind the last European spot. A victory against Nuremberg is much needed, considering that the team needs a boost in morale. In midweek, they take on Bayern München in the DFB Pokal (German Cup).





Nuremberg is riding high, and after four victories on the trot, they might consider themselves a realistic contender for a European spot. They are only two points behind fifth placed Mainz. The match itself will surely be entertaining considering Nuremberg is mostly involved in high scoring affairs.






St.Pauli, finds themselves in eleventh place after having a relatively good second half of the season. They fell to Dortmund, 2-0 last week. Hanover meanwhile continues their march towards the Champions League spots. Their comprehensive victory over FCK showed that they are serious about going to Europe next season.





Hanover currently sits fourth in the table, just four points behind Leverkusen. If Bayern loses this week and Hanover wins, Hanover might find themselves back in the Champions League spots. However, St.Pauli will be tough to defeat. Dortmund was in their best form and yet only managed to put two past the Hamburg side, one of which was an own goal by Ralph Gunesch.





St.Pauli is currently short of fit players. Thus, Holger Stanislawski has called up one of the club’s media staff, Hauke Bruckner to play for his side. Bruckner plays for the St.Pauli reserves in the fifth division besides being part of the media department.






Freiburg picked up yet another victory last week. The victory was their eleventh of the season; only the top five clubs have more. Freiburg was supposed to be a relegation candidate. However, in the wake of Schalke, Bremen and Stuttgart’s poor results, they have made their way up the table and are challenging for a European spot.





Köln has really risen since Frank Schaefer took over. They are thirteenth in the table, slowly making their way away from the relegation spots. However, their recent run of wins and draws might just come to an end at the hands of Freiburg. Schaefer will have to get his tactics just right against a man who has gotten his tactics almost spot on most of the time this season, Robin Dutt.



Bayern will be on a high after three wins in a row. They have won their last three games by a score-line of 8-1. Two of those games were away from home and one of those was played at the San Siro. Bayern put some of the ghosts of last season’s painful Champions League defeat to bed in the venue were they last lifted the trophy in 2001.





Dortmund last lifted the prestigious trophy in 1997. They are assured of a return to the competition next season. They beat St.Pauli, 2-0, and are 13 points ahead of Bayern. However, Bayern has found their best form when they needed it most. Bayern will want to avenge the defeat to Dortmund in the first half of the season and with “Robbery” back, few will bet against a Bayern home win. Dortmund will be without keeper and captain Roman Weidenfeller. Mitch Langerak will step into his spot.





However, Dortmund is almost the champion and they will want to show the fans their dominance by brushing Bayern aside. This contest should be intriguing with Bayern perhaps just edging it.



Stuttgart fell to two very late Bayer goals last week. They lost to Leverkusen, 4-2. Stuttgart is in real danger now: they are second from bottom and will not rise up the table this week as they are four points behind FCK. Stuttgart might be relegated this season. However, may be Stuttgart does need a wake-up call. They didn’t invest the money they earned from Mario Gomez’s sale to Bayern properly. Their transfer policy isn’t right and this managerial merry-go-round has to stop.





A year in the 2.Bundesliga will perhaps allow the mess that Stuttgart is in to be cleared up. Bruno Labbadia will be the perfect person to guide them and the board will perhaps stop making poor decisions. Frankfurt might not have Michael Skibbe around for much longer if they don’t improve soon. They were pummeled, 3-0, by Nuremberg last week.






Leverkusen has the hunger and desire to secure a spot in the Champions League next season. With Bayern’s resurgence, they have to make sure that they keep winning. Obviously, winning is much easier said that done. Leverkusen, though, has enough to make sure that they finish in the top three. They will perhaps have too much for Bremen’s fragile defence to deal with.





Klaus Allofs, who has been supporting Thomas Schaaf throughout this miserable campaign, came out and said that Schaaf isn’t ‘untouchable’ despite an eleven year stint at the club. Bremen’s morale is going to be very low following a 4-0 drubbing in the hands of Hamburg last week.





Bremen is one of the favourites for relegation. They have to pick up as soon as they can. Even if they improve this week, they might just not have enough in them to deal with this strong Bayer 04 side.





















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