Mainz slipped up on Saturday afternoon against Eintracht Frankfurt, which gives Borussia Dortmund the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to an enormous ten points. To say they’re running away with it wouldn’t be far from the truth right now, despite it only being December. Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen will be ready to pounce on Mainz’s mix-up, and a win for Jupp Heynckes’ side would put them just a single point behind Tuchel’s men. Let’s get to it then.
Nurnberg v Borussia Dortmund
It’s hard to see where Borussia Dortmund are actually going to drop points this season. Right now, it looks like only a series of key injuries would really hamper Jurgen Klopp’s side, because clearly no one (besides Bayer Leverkusen) has been able to stop them on the pitch. For Nurnberg, this is obviously going to be a massive task. They’ll need to keep compact and focused, because any hole in their defense or any soft mistake will allow Dortmund to pounce. Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender have probably been the best central midfield partnership in the Bundesliga so far this season, and they’ll be looking to take control of this game from the first blast of the referee’s whistle tomorrow. Shinji Kagawa has been one of Dortmund’s most prominent goal threats, and his technique and pace is sure to cause Nurnberg all kinds of problems. The only element Dortmund will be missing tomorrow is striker Lucas Barrios, but even then, he has an ample deputy in the form of Robert Lewandowski. Nurnberg are on a three match losing streak, and I don’t see their fortunes turning here.
Bayer Leverkusen v FC Koeln
Jupp Heynckes’ men have the opportunity to go within one point of second-placed Mainz with a win here, and it’s likely that they’ll do just that. Koeln, who are now under the management of Frank Schaeffer after Zvonimir Soldo was sacked earlier in the season, are still definitely a side looking to survive this season. Despite that, they have got a wealth of attacking talent in their side and they’ll still pose a threat on the counter-attack. Milivoje Novakovic and Lukas Podolski will be Koeln’s (only) two danger-men, and they’ll need to be well watched. Leverkusen’s Michael Ballack could make his return to action this weekend, and if Heynckes’ men can grab the three points and reintroduce Michael Ballack to a football pitch, it’ll be a very happy weekend for Die Werkself. Petit will be key for Koeln here; his work-rate and his battling qualities in midfield are an asset that Koeln can’t afford to lose right now. Besides his determination in midfield, he also brings an incredible delivery from the set-piece to the table. If they can use that to any decent effect, they have a chance here. It’ll be tough, but stranger things have happened. This is the Bundesliga after all!