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Bundesliga Match day 23 looms ahead for sparkling Bayern and the title challengers

February 22, 2013 By Samrin Hasib
The Bundesliga resumes after a week of European action with Frankfurt set to take on Freiburg.

The Big Matches

Separated by just three points, fourth placed Eintracht Frankfurt plays fifth placed SC Freiburg. Freiburg is actually ahead of Frankfurt as far as goal difference is concerned. They beat Bremen 2-3 in yet another bizarre night of football at the Weserstadion. Frankfurt, on the other hand, lost in embarrassing fashion.

Julian Schieber, in for the suspended Robert Lewandowski, took a little more than half an hour to stake a claim for the secondary striker position at Dortmund by getting sent off. By then, Marco Reus had already made his mark on the game. Instead of launching a Frankfurt comeback, the red card launched a hat-trick for Reus.

On any other day, Frankfurt would perhaps be the favorite heading into this one. On current form though, Freiburg looks the likelier winner, especially considering that the game is set to be played in the Black Forest.

Meanwhile, in the north of Germany, a battle is set to take place between sixth placed HSV and eighth placed Hannover. Hamburg has been quite poor at times this season. Hence, their current position in the table is rather surprising. Hannover will be coming into this one after going down to Anzhi 4-2 on aggregate in the Europa League.

In truth, the tie was a lot closer than the score line perhaps reflects. Hannover led 1-0 until injury time in the second leg. Another goal would have taken them through. However, they conceded a goal deep into injury time. Considering they are at home though, they should be able to get a win against HSV.

At the other end of the table, a hugely important ‘six pointer’ (as they call it in England) takes place between Hoffenheim and Augsburg. Automatic survival from relegation might be out of the hands of both as the gap between fifteenth and sixteenth is a gigantic ten points.

However, Hoffenheim, who lost to Stuttgart last week, is only a point about Augsburg. If Augsburg wins this, they will be in a better position to have a chance for survival in the Bundesliga.

The Big Three

Bayern and Dortmund have tricky assignments this week; Bremen travels to the Allianz Arena while Dortmund travels to Borussia Park to play the team against whom they won the title last season.

Bayern has had a rather wonderful week. Conceding a goal would not be defined as wonderful in Bayern’s current season; however, a win in London is always wonderful. A beleaguered and nervous Arsenal was overcome, 1-3. The goal Bayern conceded was careless and the performance was certainly not fantastic by Bayern standards. However, winning an away leg 1-3 is always rather wonderful.

They will now play Bremen in the league. The Bavarians did not have a great time at the Weserstadion in their earlier meeting; they had to wait till very late to win 0-2. Nils Petersen is on loan to Bremen but is ineligible to play in this one. He is having a fine season. Bayern is expected to win this along with getting a clean sheet considering their recent form.

Dortmund last season ensured that the title would be heading to the Ruhr for two years in a row by beating a Marco Reus led Borussia Mönchengladbach. They will be looking to register a similar victory this time around under very different circumstances. Bayern is already fifteen points ahead; another slip by Dortmund coupled with a Bayern win would surely end the title race.

Finally, Leverkusen travels to Bavaria to play Greuther Fürth. Fürth sacked Mike Büskens this week in hope of a late season surge under a different manager. Ludwig Preis is their interim coach. Büskens earned Fürth their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga. Hence, he will surely be missed by the fans. Preis’ first game will be against a Leverkusen side which, despite performing admirably, lost out against Benfica in the Europa League. Leverkusen should dispatch the bottom club easily.

The Tricky Ones

Stuttgart is having yet another strange (in other words, normal) season. They started off in disastrous fashion following the winter break but managed to stop the slide by beating Hoffenheim by a single goal last week. Then, they managed to become the only German side to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite having drawn 1-1 in Germany, they beat Genk 0-2 in Belgium to progress.

They play a Nürnberg side which earned a draw against Hannover last week. By no means will Nürnberg be an easy opponent. Bruno Labbadia’s side is currently twelfth in the table, two points ahead of the Bavarians. A loss would not be surprising for Stuttgart but neither would a win.

Another side which is having a strange season is Schalke. They stopped their current downward slide by drawing 2-2 against Mainz last week. Coming into the Champions League game against Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba’s Galatasaray, they were expected to struggle. However, Schalke emerged as the slightly better side and managed to get a valuable 1-1 away draw. They are set to take on Fortuna Düsseldorf this weekend.

In the remaining game, Mainz will take on Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg is fifteenth in the table but put in a really credible performance against Bayern last week. Had Manuel Neuer not pulled off a brilliant save from Diego, they might have even earned a point. Mainz are tough opponents. Both teams are disciplined ones. Mainz should come out on top.

This week is set to bring in more excitement from the Bundesliga. Be sure to tune in for the exciting football on offer this weekend!



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