After the latest international break, domestic action makes a welcome return with the Bundesliga’s 12th round of matches. The action kicks-off with Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in what should be a lively opener. Arguably the game of the weekend takes place at the BayArena which sees high-scoring Bayer Leverkusen go up against second place RB Leipzig.
We look at the games in store this weekend.
VfB Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund
Stuttgart remained in 12th place following the latest round of fixtures. Based on their record so far this season, they will be delighted to return to the Mercedes-Benz Arena where they stay unbeaten. The team from Baden-Württemberg have won four out of five games on their own patch and have won their last two, against 1. FC Köln and Freiburg. The match against Dortmund should however represent their toughest test at home so far.
Having lost all of the early season momentum that was gained, the international break would have come at a good time for Borussia Dortmund. After their away victory against Bavarian outfit Augsburg on MD7 the wheels have come off for Peter Bosz’ side. They have lost three of their last four games in the Bundesliga, admittedly against teams from the higher echelons of the table. However, this run of form has seen them slip from the top of the table to third place. News also broke on Thursday that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been suspended by the club for this fixture due to disciplinary reasons.
Dortmund have come away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena with all three points from their last four league visits. Their poor run of form is unlikely to continue for too long with the quality they have in their squad. However, Stuttgart’s home form will make this a stern test and a draw may be the likely outcome on this occasion.
Bayern Munich vs Augsburg
League leaders Bayern Munich will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the pile and currently enjoy a four-point lead at the summit. They take on fellow Bavarians Augsburg at the Allianz Arena on the back of four consecutive league victories. These include wins over their most genuine title rivals, at home to RB Leipzig on MD10. More impressive however was their victory in der Klassiker against Dortmund, winning 3-1 with goals from Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba.
Augsburg are in a comfortable 10th position ahead of MD12. Despite sitting mid-table that has seen them win against RB Leipzig, the team from the WWK Arena have been out-of-sorts. Nevertheless, Manuel Baum’s team secured an impressive 3-0 win away at Werder Bremen on MD10 with two goals from Michael Gregoritsch either side of a penalty from Alfred Finnbogason – a result which culminated in the sacking of Bremen coach Alexander Nouri.
Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern side look in imperious form and it is difficult to make a case for anything other than a home victory. Augsburg will no doubt be looking to avoid the 6-0 drubbing they suffered last season, inspired by a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Hoffenheim have enjoyed a fine start to the season and are sitting fifth in the Bundesliga. Despite this, the team from Sinsheim had not been in a great run of form both domestically and in Europe. After a difficult Europa league trip to Turkey, Julian Nagelsmann’s team made the trip to Köln on MD11. They took an early lead through Dennis Geiger and never looked back. They went on to secure a confident and comfortable 3-0 win over the Billy Goats with two further goals from Sandro Wagner.
Frankfurt find themselves just two places lower than Saturday’s opponents in seventh. Following their loss on MD6 away to RB Leipzig, Niko Kovac’s team have embarked on a long unbeaten run. They have emerged victorious in three of their last five matches, including victory on the road at high-flying Hannover on MD8.
The visitors have come away from the Rhein-Neckar Arena with three points on a solitary occasion, which was a 4-0 rout back in 2012. In a difficult match to call it would not be a surprise if this match ended in a draw.
Bayer Leverkusen vs RB Leipzig
Currently occupying ninth place in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen come into this fixture on the back of a 1-1 draw against Augsburg. The point they picked up ensured that their unbeaten league run now stretches to six games. Leverkusen have scored at least two goals in each of their home Bundesliga fixtures so far this campaign.
Their opponents Leipzig, sat in the second place they finished last season will be looking to close the four-point gap to leaders Bayern. Die Roten Bullen secured a 2-1 home win against Hannover prior to the international break, a welcome result following defeat against title rivals Bayern. They make a third successive Bundesliga away trip to Nordrhein-Westphalia. In those games, Leipzig have taken all three points away to Dortmund and Köln, while this game will hold no fears for them.
There should be plenty of goals in this game. Last season’s fixture saw Leipzig triumph 3-2 in an action-packed game. Leverkusen missed the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead when the now-departed Hakan Calhanoglu missed a penalty. Goals from Emil Forsberg and Willi Orban gave the visitors all three points.
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs 1. FC Köln
Mainz remain in 13th place in the Bundesliga table ahead of MD12. They have only lost once in the league since defeat on MD5 at home to Hoffenheim. Die Nullfünfer will be after another three points on their own soil after beating Leverkusen, Hertha and Hamburg so far this campaign. In their last outing they created a large number of chances and having taken the lead would have been slightly disappointed to have only taken a point at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
After last season’s 5th place finish, Koln continue to struggle at the very bottom of the table. It has been a sorry campaign from the outset. They have only registered 2 draws in 11 league matches so far this season. After a stunning comeback victory in the Europa League against BATE, hopes were high ahead of MD11 against Hoffenheim. However, the Billy Goats suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat in front of their own fans.
Köln are unbeaten in their last two visits to Mainz. However, it is difficult to make a case for anything other than a home win at the Opel Arena.
VfL Wolfsburg vs SC Freiburg
Wolfsburg remain in 14th place where they have resided since MD8. The team from Lower-Saxony have failed to record a victory in the league since beating Frankfurt on MD2. However, from a more positive perspective they have only lost once since this time when falling to a narrow defeat to Stuttgart previously. Their last seven Bundesliga games have resulted in score draws and Martin Schmidt’s outfit will be looking to register just their second league win of the season.
Freiburg occupy the relegation play-off spot in 16th place and are another side that have just one Bundesliga win this season. A 3-2 win victory Hoffenheim on MD7 was their solitary success which came in their own Schwarzwald-Stadion. After last season’s seventh place finish, their start to 2017/18 will have come as a disappointment to the men from Baden-Württemberg.
Wolfsburg will be looking to make home advantage pay in Saturday’s clash and they will fully expect to take all three points on this occasion.
Hertha BSC vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hertha Berlin are in the 11th position that they have sat in since MD9 going into their clash with Mönchengladbach. Die Alte Dame will be looking for just their fourth win of the season and all three wins so far have come in the Olympiastadion. In their last home outing against struggling Hamburg, goals from 22-year-olds Niklas Stark and Karim Rekik were enough to win 2-1 on MD10. Their last fixture in MD11 was a highly-entertaining 3-3 draw away to Wolfsburg and neutrals will be hoping that the goals will continue to flow.
Opponents Mönchengladbach are four points and three places better off in 8th spot. The side from North Rhine-Westphalia are unbeaten in their last two Bundesliga games after their 5-1 thumping against Leverkusen on MD9. Following that demolition, they overcame a difficult trip to Hoffenheim and came away from the Rhein-Neckar Arena with a 3-1 victory, after falling behind. Dieter Hecking’s team also went a goal down on MD11 at home to Mainz. They showed character once again and rescued a point courtesy of an equaliser from centre-half Jannik Vestergaard.
Hertha won the corresponding fixture last season with a comfortable 3-0 triumph thanks to a Salomon Kalou hat-trick. With victory in their last three away trips in all competitions, it will be tricky for Hertha to prevent that continuing to four.
Schalke 04 vs Hamburger SV
Schalke have climbed to fourth spot in the table and are now level on points with their fierce rivals Dortmund, only behind them on goal difference. With three wins in their last four league games, the team from Gelsenkirchen have enjoyed a steady rise up the table and are undoubtedly one of Germany’s form sides – all this despite being deprived of the services of Leon Goretzka through injury. Only once have they suffered defeat at the Veltins Arena which came against champions Bayern on MD5.
A trip to one of the most in-form teams in the league is not the most welcome for 15th place strugglers Hamburg. After a very poor run of form, they have however finally managed to climb out of the relegation play-off spot they have occupied for some time. This came courtesy of a much-needed 3-1 win over Stuttgart at their own Volksparkstadion. Their 17-year-old starlet Jann-Fiete Arp has scored in their last two matches and they will be hoping that this run can continue in their quest for survival.
In spite of last week’s victory for the away side, it is difficult to envisage anything other than a home success. Hamburg would be delighted to take a point that they escaped with at the back of end of last season in their successful battle to avoid the drop.
Werder Bremen vs Hannover 96
Bremen remain in 17th spot in the Bundesliga, a place they have occupied since MD4. The club have announced that Florian Kohfeldt, their former Under-23 coach will remain in charge until at least the winter break following Alexander Nouri’s dismissal. Kohfeldt was in charge for the first time in Bremen’s last match. This couldn’t prevent them falling to defeat however after going down 2-1 away to Frankfurt. Bremen are still to win in the league this season and a home match represents a chance to rectify this.
Opponents Hannover will however be a difficult proposition in the clash at the Weserstadion. They are sixth going into this round of games on their return to the Bundesliga after their relegation in 2016. After an eye-catching 4-2 victory over Dortmund on MD10 and climbing to fourth, H96 travelled to RB Leipzig on MD11, taking an early lead through Jonathas before falling to a 2-1 defeat.
Hannover have not won a league match in Bremen since 2003. With new manager, Kohfeldt taking charge of his first home game hopes will be high that a reversal in their fortunes can be secured. However, Hannover have made a fine start to the season and it would come as no surprise if the match ended in a draw.
By Jonathan Shelley.