PREVIEW | Bundesliga – Week 10

Following the midweek action in the DFB Pokal, the Bundesliga returns this weekend with Matchday 10. The opening action will see Eintracht Frankfurt make the short journey to 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Friday – all eyes however will be on Saturday’s prime time slot that will say Bayern Munich take on RB Leipzig for the second time in four days. A victory for either side could see them move to the top of the standings.

1. FSV Mainz 05 v Eintracht Frankfurt

Mainz finished in a disappointing 15th position last season following a sixth placed finish the prior season, which ensured European qualification. Free from continental competition this campaign they occupy 12th ahead of the opening fixture in MD10. Their home record so far has seen them fall to defeat to both TSG 1899 Hoffenhein and newly-promoted Hannover 96, while they have beaten Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha BSC and Hamburger SV on their own territory. Their four away trips this season has returned only a point in a 1-1 draw at VfL Wolfsburg. In their last fixture, a 3-2 home victory after extra-time against Holstein Kiel means that they have not lost at the Opel Arena in their last three outings.

Frankfurt will be pleased with the start they have made to 2017/18 and they find themselves in seventh place. After failing to find the net in the first two rounds of fixtures against SC Freiburg and Wolfsburg, they have since scored in every fixture. An away fixture will hold no fear for Niko Kovač’s troops who have already left with all three points from trips to Borussia Monchengladbach, 1. FC Köln and Hannover. Their last league game saw them gain a draw at home to Borussia Dortmund after recovering from a two-goal deficit. Frankfurt go into this game off the back of a 4-1 away victory in the DFB Pokal against Schweinfurt.

Mainz have won all four of the last home matches between the teams and both teams go into this in good form. Whilst both achieved success midweek in the DFB Pokal, Mainz’ win was much more comfortable and they will be fully confident that they can reverse their recent fortunes in this fixture.

Hannover 96 v Borussia Dortmund

Hannover 96, who bounced back to the Bundesliga at the first attempt have made a bright start to the 2017/18 campaign and find themselves in sixth position going into MD10. Andre Breitenreiter’s side only recently lost their unbeaten home record after defeat against Frankfurt on MD8. However, prior to this they had recorded victories over both Schalke 04 and Hamburg as well as gaining a point against Köln. Away from home, they have picked up important wins away to Mainz and Augsburg. Their latest match in midweek saw them suffer a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal.

Following a flying start to the season under their new manager Peter Bosz, league leaders Dortmund will be looking to pick up three points, something they have failed to do in the last two Bundesliga fixtures. Their demolitions of Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach at Signal Iduna Park is testament to the quality they undoubtedly possess. However, a home defeat to RB Leipzig on MD8 was followed by a 2-2 draw in Frankfurt. Given that they surrendered a two-goal advantage, this result will have been particularly disappointing. Dortmund are unbeaten away from home domestically so far in 2017/18 and enjoyed a 5-0 success away to Magdeburg in midweek to ensure qualification of the next round of the DFB Pokal.

Whilst there was no corresponding fixture last season, Dortmund have been victorious on their last three visits to the HDI Arena. Despite the absence of their star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they should have enough to oversee Hannover and maintain their lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

Hertha BSC v Hamburger SV

Hertha are in mid-table going into MD10. The team from the capital have not recorded a win in any competition in over a month and will see this game as a good opportunity to turn their fortunes around. Since their 2-1 success against Bayer Leverkusen at the Olympiastadion on MD5, they have embarked on a run of five defeats in seven games. It should not be overlooked that this does include two away defeats in the Europa League. In their latest match, a loss in the DFB Pokal against struggling Köln will have come as both a surprise and a disappointment going into the weekend.

Hamburger SV find themselves in the relegation play-off position – familiar territory in recent seasons. Markus Gidsol’s side started the season with maximum points from the opening two rounds of fixtures. However, they have since only taken a solitary point at home to rivals Werder Bremen on MD7 and have slid down the table as a result. Despite another defeat last week against Bayern Munich, they would have taken heart from their battling display against the champions ahead of this match.

Both teams go into this game in terrible form and will be looking at this game to kick start their season. Hertha have won the last four of the home meetings without conceding a goal, while home advantage may just be enough to see them over the line once again.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Borussia Mönchengladbach

Ahead of a Europa League trip to Turkey next week, Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit take on Mönchengladbach, looking to hold on to the Champions League qualifying spot they currently occupy, which they captured in 2016/17. They are another team who have yet to be defeated in their own stadium where they have already put Bayern Munich to the sword on MD3 with a 2-0 success. However, they have only one victory in their last six games, which came in Europe and they will look to get back to winning ways at the earliest opportunity. Their last outing saw them tumble out of the DFB Pokal following a narrow 1-0 defeat at struggling Werder Bremen.

Mönchengladbach arrives at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena in eight spot. Dieter Hecking’s side went into MD9 unbeaten at home and on the back of two straight wins against Bremen and Hannover. Despite leading at half-time against Bayer Leverkusen, they contrived to lose 5-1 following a remarkable turnaround. This, unfortunately for them was not their biggest defeat of the season which came in MD6. They had no answer against a rampant Dortmund side on the day and were hammered 6-1. In midweek, Mönchengladbach avoided a potential upset with a 1-0 win over 2. Bundesliga leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The last three corresponding fixtures have been high scoring affairs with Hoffenheim emerging victorious last season with a 5-3 win. It is difficult to make a clear case for either side to triumph and a high-scoring draw may be on the horizon here.

Bayer Leverkusen v 1. FC Köln

Bayer Leverkusen approach MD9 in a decent vein of form and will be looking to improve on the ninth position that they currently occupy. Heiko Herrlich’s outfit are unbeaten at home, admittedly against some of the league’s lesser sides and will put this record on the line in Saturday’s fixture against Köln. Conversely, they had struggled in their away matches and it looked as if this would continue after 45 minutes last weekend. However, they turned a 1-0 half-time deficit into a stunning 5-1 triumph at Borussia Mönchengladbach. A comfortable 4-1 DFB Pokal victory over Union Berlin has followed and they will approach this match with a great deal of confidence.

After last season’s fifth place finish, Köln are rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga with just two points in nine games. It has been a deeply disappointing start and they have struggled both domestically and in Europe as they have tried to replicate last year’s success. Last year they relied heavily on the goals of Anthony Modeste and his departure to China has left a void that they have so far been unable to fill. They did however pick up a point against fellow strugglers Werder Bremen in their last league fixture. With a DFB Pokal victory over Hertha Berlin in midweek, Peter Stöger’s side will be hoping that these last two results will form the basis of a resurgence in their fortunes.

In the last two fixtures at the BayArena between these sides, Köln has taken four points against their near neighbours. Despite the Billy Goats winning at Hertha Berlin in the DFB Pokal in midweek, it is hard to see past a Bayer Leverkusen victory this time out.

Schalke 04 v VfL Wolfsburg

After five consecutive seasons of finishing in the Bundesliga’s top six, Schalke’s 10th place finish last campaign represented a disappointing season. Domenico Tedesco took the reins at the start of this season and has guided die Konigsblauen back into familiar territory, currently occupying fifth place, largely inspired by Leon Goretzka. Their home form has seen them defeat RB Leipzig, Stuttgart and Mainz whereas their only defeat came against champions Bayern. Away league victories have been achieved against both Werder Bremen and Hertha in two of their last three fixtures. In their last match, Schalke ensured qualification to the next round of the DFB Pokal with a 3-1 win at Wehen and have won their last three games in all competitions.

After surviving last year’s Bundesliga relegation play-off against Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg are just two places higher in 14th place as they enter MD10. They have become somewhat draw specialists in 2017/18 with six of their nine matches ending in a stalemate, the most notable of which was an impressive 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena against Bayern after being two goals down. They registered their only league victory back on MD2 with a 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.  They, like Schalke also progressed in the DFB Pokal courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Hannover at their Volkswagen Arena.

Schalke have won the last seven games between the teams at the impressive Veltins Arena and both the league table, as well as the form book point towards a comfortable victory for the home side.

Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig

It is unusual for a club of Bayern’s stature to feel that they needed a change of manager so early in the season. However Carlo Ancelotti found himself with the sack after a slow start by their lofty standards. His replacement Jupp Heynckes, who won the treble with Bayern in 2013 before departing, have rallied and they are now in second position, level on points with table-topping Dortmund. Their only league defeat came against Hoffenheim on MD3. They go into this fixture at the Allianz Arena on a run of four straight wins in all competitions, including a penalty shoot-out victory over RB Leipzig, with whom they lock horns on Saturday evening.

RB Leipzig, in only their second season in the Bundesliga are flying high again in third place, only a point behind the two teams above them. Their rapid rise to the top-flight has been well documented and Champions league football is a challenge that they are now starting to come to terms with. The two defeats that they have suffered in the league this season have both come away from home with defeat to Schalke on MD1 and a more surprising single goal defeat at Augsburg. Since this loss, they have won their last three Bundesliga matches. The stand-out result in this mini-run has been the 3-2 victory against Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park in week eight.

This is the second time in four days that these teams meet. Regardless of Bayern’s domestic dominance, they were not at their best against Hamburger SV, despite coming away with the victory. Bayern will look to take the game to RB Leipzig and this may suit the away side and their counter-attacking capabilities. It is not inconceivable that Leipzig may pick up a point or maybe all three and avenge their midweek defeat.

Bremen v Augsburg

After last season’s eighth place finish, Werder Bremen have made a sluggish start to the Bundesliga season where they sit one place off the foot of the table in 17th. Yet to taste league victory in 2017/18, four of their five points have been achieved away from home with 1-1 draws against Hertha and Wolfsburg followed by goalless affairs against Hamburger SV and Köln. A 0-0 result against fellow-strugglers Freiburg has been the only point that has been achieved at their own Weserstadion. Their latest fixture in midweek did however produce a home 1-0 success over Hoffenheim in the DFB Pokal which will have lifted spirits amongst the fans.

Augsburg, in their seventh Bundesliga campaign since securing top-flight football for the first time have made a solid start to the season and are 10th in the table. They did however, make a disappointing early DFB Pokal exit at the hands of third-tier Magdeburg. Since that defeat prior to the start of the season, the Bavarians have had a mixed bag of results. An opening day defeat away to Hamburger SV was followed by a five-match unbeaten run which included three consecutive victories against Köln, Frankfurt and Leipzig. In their last match away from the WWK Arena they picked up an impressive point away at Hoffenheim.

Augsburg have come away victorious from the last two meetings at the Weserstadion, both by a 2-1 margin. Bremen’s midweek win at home will have been a welcome lift ahead of this game. It could be another tight affair and a draw could be the final outcome.

Stuttgart v Freiburg

Stuttgart returned to the top flight this season at the first time of asking and currently sit 13th in the Bundesliga with an unbeaten home record. Die Roten’s three victories this season have all been at the Mercedes-Benz Arena with Mainz, Wolfsburg and Köln returning empty-handed. In stark contrast, they have contrived to lose every away fixture so far in their league campaign with trips to Hertha, Schalke, Mönchengladbach, Frankfurt and Leipzig all yielding no points. On a more positive note going into this game, Stuttgart avoided a potential upset in midweek by leaving Kaiserslautern with a 3-1 victory in the DFB Pokal.

Freiburg enjoyed their return to the top flight last season by recording a very respectable seventh place finish under Christian Streich. This season has been a more difficult start with heavy, away defeats against Leipzig, Leverkusen and Bayern, which has left them in 15th place. They have however picked up several draws this season, most notably at home to Dortmund on MD3, particularly as they played over an hour with 10 men. Their solitary victory came against Hoffenheim on MD7. In their latest fixture in midweek, Freiburg oversaw Dresden 3-1 in the DFB Pokal.

In recent history this has been a kind fixture for Stuttgart. Although unbeaten at home, Freiburg have proven themselves a tough opponent for teams of a similar standing to their own. A draw would not come as a surprise.

By Jonathan Shelley.


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