Five things to look out for in German Bundesliga
Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich will be out to extend their formidable lead at the top of the Bundesliga when they face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with veteran Franck Ribery leading the way.
After two months out injured, the 34-year-old Frenchman captained Bayern to a 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, making him the man of the moment in Munich.
“Franck is incredible, he supports everyone,” said compatriot and team-mate Corentin Tolisso. “He’s a leader, and he led us to victory on Tuesday.”
Bayern are six points clear of RB Leipzig, and victory could see them crowned as the ‘winter champions’ two weeks ahead of the winter break.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund are looking to end a dreadful run of form at home, while Schalke will be without star midfielder Leon Goretzka.
Here are five things to look out for in this weekend’s Bundesliga action.
Battle of the Boatengs
Bayern’s clash with Frankfurt on Saturday will also pit brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng against each other. Bayern defender Jerome and Frankfurt midfielder Kevin-Prince are half-brothers, who grew up together in Berlin.
Kevin-Prince fired Frankfurt to victory over Hertha Berlin last weekend, while Jerome will return to the Bayern starting XI having been rested against PSG in midweek. Alongside Boateng, Bayern are also expected to give starts to Thomas Mueller, Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal, all of whom were on the bench on Tuesday.
Home horror for Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund will be out to end their horrendous home form when they host relegation-battling Werder Bremen on Saturday. Dortmund have conceded at least three goals in all of their last three home games in the league, and have not won any of their last six games at the Signal Iduna Park.
Saturday’s clash will also be another decisive moment for coach Peter Bosz, as he struggles to hold on to his job. Dortmund’s brave performance against Real Madrid gave Bosz a boost on Wednesday, but defeat to Bremen would be inadmissible.
Schalke lose Goretzka
Schalke will once again be without star midfielder Goretzka when they visit top-four rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday. Goretzka returned from a three-week injury lay-off last month, but problems in his lower thigh have flared up again this week, and he is expected to miss the crucial clash.
Schalke are a point ahead of Gladbach in third, as both teams look to make a return to the Champions League next season. Coach Domenico Tedesco has said that his team will be able to deal with Goretzka’s absence. “We can compensate for a lot because we have a good team spirit,” said Tedesco.
Leipzig look to league
Knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, RB Leipzig can return their full focus to the Bundesliga ahead of their game against Mainz. “The Bundesliga remains the most important thing for us,” said goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi this week.
With key players such as Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano still out injured, it will be a depleted RB side which host Mainz this weekend. Leipzig, though, remain clear favourites in the Red Bull Arena. Mainz have not won any of their last 12 away games, while Leipzig remain unbeaten at home this season.
Wolfsburg and Waldschmidt
Wolfsburg will be looking to avenge a painful defeat last season on their visit to Hamburg this weekend. Luca Waldschmidt’s winner on the final day of last season rescued Hamburg from relegation, and sent Wolfsburg into the bottom three. Though they survived the relegation play-off, there will be few happy memories when Wolfsburg return to the Volksparkstadion, with Waldschmidt expected to start.
VfB Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen (1930 GMT)
Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen, RB Leipzig v Mainz, Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayern Munich, Hamburg v Wolfsburg (1430), Borussia Moenchengladbach v Schalke 04 (1730)
Cologne v Freiburg (1230), Hanover v Hoffenheim(1430), Augsburg v Hertha Berlin (1700)