BUNDESLIGA Preview | Week 10 – Is Schalke’s Frank Kramer on the edge? Can Werder Bremen continue their stunning start? Borussia Dortmund face Union Berlin & more

The latest Bundesliga matchday is set to be an intriguing one. Here, we pick out five things for you to look out for across the weekend.

1 | New start for Stuttgart

Given Stuttgart’s form over the past 14 months, the club’s hierarchy can only be applauded for sticking with Pellegrino Matarazzo as long as this Monday, when they finally put him out of his misery. After an impressive ninth-place finish during the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign, their first back in the top flight, the Schwaben only avoided a relegation play-off last term on the final day. With no wins from their opening nine games this season and just five points to their name, the time had clearly come for all parties to go their separate ways.

Until a permanent manager is appointed – Stuttgart are in talks with long-time Thomas Tuchel assistant Zsolt Lőw with a view to giving the Hungarian his first head-coach role – former assistant boss Michael Wimmer will take charge on an interim basis. Despite the difficult start, Wimmer has something to build on. Yes, the Baden-Württemberg outfit have struggled to pick up points, but they have been competitive in each match, losing by more than one goal on just one occasion.

On Saturday, they host bottom side VfL Bochum, who picked up their first victory of the term with a convincing 3-0 triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt. That three-point haul will boost the Unabsteigbaren’s confidence, but this is a game Wimmer and Co will have pinpointed as a winnable encounter. Quite frankly, they could hardly have picked a better match to start with, and they must show it was the right decision to relieve Matarazzo of his duties.

2 | Frank Kramer on the edge?

A month ago, Schalke looked to be in a comfortable position in the Bundesliga after a positive start to the campaign. Six points from six games left them in 12th place and, other than a 6-1 hammering at the hand of league-leaders Union Berlin, they had not been outclassed.

Fast-forward three matches, though, and the Königsblauen’s situation looks a whole lot bleaker. A 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby was followed up by a crushing 3-2 home defeat to ten-man Augsburg, before they were taught a footballing lesson as they succumbed 4-0 to Bayer Leverkusen. That sequence of results has seen them drop to 16th and, with four of the current top seven to come in the next six outings, their predicament could get worse.

Frank Kramer was appointed as manager during the summer and has failed to get the most out of the players at his disposal. Simon Polter scored ten goals for Bochum last season despite their relegation but has found the back of the net just once in nine games this time around, while Simon Terodde has again struggled to translate his 2. Bundesliga form to goals at the highest level. Schalke have the lowest average possession of any side in the Bundesliga this season, while only Wolfsburg and Augsburg have had fewer shots per game. Not only are results not going their way, but the side from the Ruhr aren’t even providing much entertainment.

As such, Kramer’s job could be on the line if his team do not get a result against Hoffenheim. The 50-year-old will be hoping history is on his side – Schalke have lost just one of their last ten home games against the Kraichgauer, while it was against the same opponents in Gelsenkirchen that they ended a run of 30 games without a win during the 2020/21 term.

3 | Hertha Berlin looking to change RB Leipzig fortunes

RB Leipzig have a squad full of quality and a host of players who can decide a game, but that is no excuse for Hertha Berlin’s awful results against the Roten Bullen last season. At the Red Bull Arena, they were swatted away with ease as Leipzig prevailed 6-0 and, while the Alte Dame did manage to score one at home in the reverse fixture, they again conceded six times. Since Leipzig’s promotion in 2016, Hertha have won this match-up just once and shipped at least four goals on six occasions.

In recent weeks, the off-the-field headlines have once again overshadowed Hertha’s performances on the pitch, with investor and main shareholder Lars Windhorst confirming his intention to sell his shares for the price he initially paid. The German tycoon has pumped more than €350m into the club, yet Hertha find themselves in a worse position than before his arrival. However, despite just one win this season, there have been lots of positives for Sandro Schwarz to reflect on. His team have lost only three matches, and the election of former Ultra Kay Bernstein as president appears to have brought with it more realistic expectations.

For the first time in a while, Hertha look like a cohesive unit that includes players willing to give their all for the collective. Winning has proven difficult, but they led in three of their five draws, while only a 94th-minute Mainz equaliser prevented them from picking up another victory. A trip to last season’s DFB-Pokal winners will test Hertha’s new-found resilience, but Leipzig’s erratic recent form will give them hope.

4 | Can Werder Bremen and Niclas Füllkrug continue stunning start?

In contrast to fellow newly-promoted side Schalke, Bremen have embraced life back in the Bundesliga, enjoying an excellent start. From nine Bundesliga games, they have picked up 14 points, scoring 20 goals – only Bayern have managed more. With eight goals already, Niclas Füllkrug has been the star of the show and currently leads the division’s goalscoring charts. Werder’s performances have seen them climb to fifth and, if they stay there beyond this weekend, it will be the first time they have been so high in the table after ten matchdays since 2011/12.

The visit of Mainz will be a test of their attacking prowess. The Nullfünfer have hardly been free-flowing themselves – only Bochum have bagged less than their nine strikes – but Bo Svensson’s side are one of the most consistent, hard-working and solid in the league, as draws against RB Leipzig and Union Berlin show. They currently sit 12th, with a record of three wins, three draws and three defeats, but it is on the road that they are at their best, picking up six more points away from home than at the MEWA Arena.

All eyes will be on Bremen, though, and there will be particular focus on Füllkrug. Another goal-laden showing will only boost his chances of making Germany’s World Cup squad, with Mannschaft boss Hansi Flick admitting his side do not currently possess anything like what the 29-year-old offers.

Bundesliga Predictions | Round 10 – Bayern Munich host Freiburg as Borussia Dortmund face leaders Union Berlin

5 | Top four face off

Few would have expected both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to be outside the top two after nine matches, but here we are. Although Bayern, especially, will be slightly disappointed with their points haul so far this term, neither side has performed poorly this campaign. Instead, the outstanding consistency of leaders Union and second-placed Freiburg has reduced the Bavarians and Schwarzgelben to third and fourth place respectively.

This Sunday promises to be a mouth-watering day of Bundesliga action as the top four all face off. First up, Union welcome Dortmund to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei as they look to conserve their two-point lead at the summit. The visitors won both meetings with the Eisernen last term, but Urs Fischer’s men continue to improve, and it will take something special from Edin Terzić and Co if they are to come away with all three points.

Although Freiburg have lost just once in all competitions this season, at home versus Dortmund in the league, they face an arduous task as they travel to the Allianz Arena. Away at Bayern, they have picked up just one point in their last 18 matches. Still, they go into the clash high on confidence as, not only are they soaring domestically, they are top of their Europa League group with four wins from four. As such, there is plenty for Bayern to be wary of, especially following their late capitulation against Dortmund last week and their underwhelming second-half display at Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Overall, it promises to be a day that shows all that is good about the Bundesliga: competitive matches, talented players and thrilling atmospheres. We can’t wait.

Jon Radcliffe

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