A Bundesliga ‘Englische Woche’ brings us the penultimate round of league fixtures before the break for the World Cup. Bayern will want to maintain top spot now they have it, while the likes of Leverkusen, Dortmund and Leipzig are looking to build on their recent improvements.
Tuesday 8th November
VfL Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
After making their worst start to a Bundesliga season in many years, coach Niko Kovac rode out the tough times and Wolfsburg are now unbeaten in their last seven matches. Impressive wins over Mainz and VfL Bochum in the past two games have seen die Wölfe climb to 11th in the table, but the arrival of Borussia Dortmund will a real test as they look to maintain their positive streak.
Dortmund also came in for a heap of criticism earlier in the Hinrunde, but like Wolfsburg look to have turned a corner in terms of ironing out the problems they were experiencing. Since losing to Union Berlin, the Schwarzgelben have won three games on the trot with Youssoufa Moukoko particularly impressive of late.
With the German World Cup squad being named after this matchday, Marco Reus will be desperate for a start and good performance as he looks to make the final cut after returning from injury.
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen
It only seemed a matter of time before ‘normal service ‘was resumed and Bayern reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga. They were made to work for their win at Hertha Berlin at the weekend with the capital club coming back from 3-0 down in a crazy period just before the interval that saw four goals in seven minutes.
The loss of Alphonso Davies to injury so close the World Cup is a blow for Bayern and the player, but the form of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting continues to stand out.
You have to go way back to 2008 for the last time Werder beat Bayern at the Allianz Arena. A 5-2 win was achieved when Bremen had the likes of Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil, Diego and Claudio Pizarro in their team. Bundesliga survival is the season’s goal for the Grün-Weißen nowadays rather than challenging for the title, and so far, so good for Ole Werner’s men.
The goals of Niclas Füllkrug have seen them take 21 points and they currently lie 7th in the table. Anything they get from Tuesday’s match will be a bonus as they look to go into the winter break in the top half of the table.
VfL Bochum v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The reaction to the appointment of Thomas Letsch saw Bochum beat table toppers Union Berlin, but since then the Ruhr outfit have struggled and consecutive defeats to Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund have cemented their place in the bottom two. Stuttgart and Hertha now have a four-point lead over them, and they will not want the gap to be extended anymore going into the season break.
The Foals had found themselves in a dip of form with defeat in the DFB Pokal to Darmstadt and successive Bundesliga losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin. A 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart looks to have steadied the ship and Daniel Farke will feel three points are very achievable as he takes his side to the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Tuesday.
The return of Jonas Hofmann is a big boost for both Gladbach and Germany, while Marcus Thuram will want to play (and score) his way into the French World Cup squad.
VfB Stuttgart v Hertha Berlin
With Stuttgart and Hertha tied on points at the bottom end of the table, a win for either side would provide a real boost. Wins against Bochum and Augsburg under interim coach Michael Wimmer showed that there is life in the Swabians, but defeats to Dortmund and Mönchengladbach have seen them take two steps forward, and two steps back.
They will see the home match with Hertha as the kind of match they have to take three points from as they don’t want to be dropping into the bottom two going into the Rückrunde.
Hertha’s performances continue to impress, but the points tally just isn’t increasing at the rate they would like. Against Bayern on Saturday, they showed real fight after being 3-0 down as many sides would have buckled and gone down to a hefty loss.
Sandro Schwarz has Stuttgart and then Köln to finish the year. In their current form, which could bring six points, but it could also quite easily see them emerge empty handed and headed for a typical Hertha crisis.
Wednesday 9th November
Köln v Bayer Leverkusen
Has the corner been turned at Bayer Leverkusen? The stunning second half display against Union Berlin on Sunday showed what the Werkself are capable of when they click, attack at pace, and show organisation at the back. The first half was a very disciplined affair with both sides nullifying each other, but after the first goal Leverkusen unleashed their shackles and put die Eisernen to the sword.
This must be a moment of realisation for Leverkusen and in the derby with Köln they have the ideal opportunity to get their season back onto somewhere near the right track.
Die Geißböcke have taken just one point from their last three league outings while also being eliminated from Europe at the group stage of the Conference League. Injuries and fatigue must be playing a part, but that needs to be put aside for the much-awaited arrival of local rivals Bayer Leverkusen. Having already lost the derby against Mönchengladbach, Steffen Baumgart will need to buoy his side up to restore local pride against Leverkusen.
RB Leipzig v Freiburg
The fact that Freiburg arrive at the Red Bull Arena just one point behind leaders Bayern in the table just shows what an incredible job Christian Streich is doing with the Breisgauer. Pre-season predictions would have had Leipzig as the team to challenge the Bavarians not SC Freiburg.
The 2-0 win over Köln on Sunday saw Streich visibly emotional in the technical area, but he will insist that the season’s goal remains Bundesliga survival!
Marco Rose looks to be getting Leipzig back on track after their poor start to the season and the split with Domenico Tedesco. The Roten Bullen have won four in row including that Champions League triumph against Real Madrid so will be full of confidence themselves- especially with Christopher Nkunku in his current rich vein of form.
Union Berlin v Augsburg
Losing top spot was a blow, but more chastening for Union Berlin was the manner of their second half collapse against Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend. A disciplined first period, gave way to wave after wave of Leverkusen attacks, which die Köpenicker found difficult to find a counter against. Urs Fischer’s side have been very good this season about moving on quickly from defeats and getting back to winning ways- something that they will be keen to repeat against Augsburg.
Enrico Maaßen has seen his side lose four of the last five games with the most recent of these against Frankfurt on Saturday despite taking a very early lead with the first attack. Having to win away at Union to stop their slide down the table will be no easy task.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hoffenheim
Frankfurt have now won six of their last seven games across all competitions and look to be hitting form going into the winter break. Breaking into the top four will be the immediate goal for Oliver Glasner’s side and three points against Hoffenheim would go a long way to seeing the Adler into the Champions League places days after learning they have been paired with Napoli in the last-16 of this season’s tournament.
Since beating Schalke in both league and cup, Hoffenheim have gone three games without a win, which will be a slight worry for Andre Breitenreiter. Getting back on track away at Eintracht is a big ask, and particularly after the shock injury loss of midfielder Grischa Prömel, who has been a key figure this season.
Schalke v Mainz
With Bayern Munich up next at the weekend, you would imagine this is the last chance for the Königsblauen to get some points on the board before the season break. The appointment of Thomas Reis hasn’t seen an upturn in fortunes with the adage ‘neuer Trainer, neues Glück’ proving hollow. Unfortunately for Reis he still has to work with a squad not really set-up for the Bundesliga and will have his work cut out to get three points from Mainz.
The Nullfünfer look set for midtable security winning matches against those below them/ around them in the table (Köln and Werder) while being beaten by the top teams (Bayern and Freiburg) recently.