Holy Preparations


Posted by Radu M. Pandea

Posted in Bundesliga / Football


Bundesliga Match Day 29 Preview
Official Bundesliga League Table

April 6 – Easter is coming this Sunday to Germany but the holiday doesn’t stop the football from being played, because the Bundesliga is sacrificing something for religious reasons, the Friday evening game.  After this, the football party can start in what will be a matchday of preparation for the big game on Wednesday and another chapter in the relegation saga.  On Sunday the two victims of the Spanish teams are meeting to attempt to resurrect in the Bundesliga.

FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund are both playing Saturday at the same hour, in an attempt to make no mistake before the much anticipated showdown.  It won’t be as simple as a walk in the park for the two teams, their opponents this day being two teams with good runs behind them, building up confidence.  For Bayern it’s their neighbors FC Augsburg, a team which defeated FC Cologne last week to get some breathing space in the attempt to survive the first season in the first league.

The first Bavarian derby between the two in the first half of the season was a tough battle for the Reds, the men of Jos Luhukay giving quite a scare in that second half, only to lose in the end 2-1.  While for Bayern it will be another guess who will rest this game.  For the visitors there is hope, with Axel Bellinghausen being the man to watch for Augsburg, his performances in recent weeks pushing his team over the relegation line.

For Jürgen Klopp and his team there is a far stronger opponent, one which also has a “scary” coach on the bench.  VfL Wolfsburg have been solid the past weeks, finding their game and managing to gather a lot of points, coming back strong in the battle for a Europa League spot next year.  With Felix Magath holding the strings of the team, the Wolves are definitely a tough team to meet at this time, and the reigning champions are for sure aware of this.  Dortmund failed to get all the points last week after that epic eight goal thriller against Stuttgart, a result which forces them to give it all if they still want to carry a lead over Bayern before their matchup next week.

With Patrick Helmes at the top of his game again, Klopp’s defence has to be far more inspired than last week, any mistake potentially costing them the three point advantage at the top of the league. This will be for sure the main game of the day, the result of this battle influencing the way Borussia will go into the showdown, a battle against a Magath team a test of character for a team going for a second title in a row.

As we’ve shown in a review over the last matchday, the Bundesliga is a constant battle for each one of the 18 teams involved.  The teams at the bottom are in a battling to stay on safe side at the end.  Until then, each game is like a final, and this weekend’s fixtures are no different.  1.FC Kaiserslautern might be up for their first win since October 2011 when they will face Hoffenheim, a squad which seems to miss any pressure, being a bit to low on points to hope for Europe, and a bit too high to go easy to the relegation zone.

SC Freiburg will search to continue their streak against a wounded 1.FC Nürnberg in a fixture which could provide the winning edge at the end, both teams sitting on 31 points now, three above the playoff spot.  It is a game of six points and the visitors have to really force it now against a team which is in a hot streak.

Like last week, we have two fixtures of similar actors, one team fighting for Europa League and the other one to avoid relegation. This time it is 1. FC Cologne versus Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart against 1. FSV Mainz, the first game putting face to face two teams with a low morale after some bad results last week, while Bruno Labbadia’s team is coming after that fantastic 4-4 draw against Dortmund to play against a squad which cameback their last game, winning away in Bremen.  That win is a reason why Werder are not so confident before their fixture with Cologne, the streak of bad results putting them on level terms with three other teams.  For Lukas Podolski’s team, a win is mandatory, any other result potentially sinking them even lower in the table, the prospect of the 2.Bundesliga next season starting to look quite realistic.

Two other suffering teams are meeting in the late Saturday game, Borussia Mönchengladbach hoping that Hertha BSC Berlin will be the perfect victim, if Lucien Favre’s team hopes of getting that important 3rd place which ensures direct qualifying in the groups of the Champions League.  On the other side, Otto Rehhagel knows that time is running out and unless he finds a way to turn his team around, he will add a relegation to his impressive CV.  Coming after a 4-1 home defeat might not be the best confidence builder but knowing that their opponents are also not on a high might spark them to try to take advantage.

Sunday is the day the European victims meet, FC Schalke 04 and Hannover duelling after they were both knocked out by Spanish sides in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.  Fatigue will be the biggest enemy of both teams in this fixture, both giving a strong fight in their return legs on Thursday, both having moments of hope in their encounters.   Having failed in their objectives, they know that they have to overcome all obstacles and get the win, or else their opponents in the table might take advantage.  It remains to see if Hannover can get a stronger performance away this time, their last trip, in Munich, not being exactly what the fans expected.

Talking about fans, it will be the Hamburg fans which will bring the pressure to their players when the last game of the weekend will be played, Hamburger SV hosting Bayer Leverkusen, a fixture similar to the one we spoke about above.  Thorsten Fink’s side has the sword over the head even after the 1-0 away win in Kaiserslautern last week, the situation of the club still not being safe, Hamburg risking to go down for the first time in their history.  The visitors are coming with a new coach after Robin Dutt parted ways with Leverkusen, Sami Hyypiä stepping up to take the interim and hopefully get that important Europa League spot.

With games coming in the middle of next week and on the weekend, the teams should be searching for a quick succession of good games which should guide them to their objective at the end of the season.  It remains to be seen who has the power to go through these games and collect the most points possible.

Here is the full list of fixtures for this weekend:

Saturday 15:30 CET

1.FC Cologne – Werder Bremen
VfB Stuttgart – 1.FSV Mainz 05
1. FC Kaiserslautern – 1899 Hoffenheim
FC Bayern – FC Augsburg
SC Freiburg – 1.FC Nürnberg
VfL Wolfsburg – Borussia Dortmund

Saturday 18:30 CET

Borussia Mönchengladbach – Hertha BSC Berlin


FC Schalke 04 – Hannover 96 15:30
Hamburger SV – Bayer Leverkusen 17:30

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