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Saturday’s Bundesliga Preview: Round Fourteen Promises Some Very Nervy Encounters

After Mainz’s impressive 3-0 win over Nurnberg, the pressure is on the rest of the Bundesliga’s would-be title challengers to get positive results and keep pace with the leaders of the pack. Let’s get to the games.

Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt

Bayern Munich’s capitulation in Rome in midweek may weigh heavily on some minds, but Louis van Gaal will urge his side to get back to winning ways at home against a hardy Frankfurt side. The visitors have just dropped off a little bit recently after an early season run of form that has them holding seventh in the Bundesliga table, just five points away from Leverkusen and the Champions League. They’ll want the win as bad as their Bavarian hosts, to show what they’re made of and to lift the squad’s spirit heading into December. Coincidentally, Bayern Munich are level on points with their opponents, which means a win for them also takes them just that much closer to European football. It’s a battle of ambition here at the Allianz Arena, and I reckon the hosts will get back on track here and continue their climb up the Bundesliga table.

Hamburg SV v VfB Stuttgart

I can’t see anything but a Stuttgart loss here. After sacking Christian Gross earlier in the season, they improved slightly for a short amount of time – which is sometimes known as the new manager bump – but have returned to their old ways now and sit third bottom in the Bundesliga table. Obviously they’re going to need a hell of a repair job, and I don’t see it starting here away to Hamburg. The hosts are one of many sides vying for a European place this season, and a win here will allow them to keep the pressure on the likes of Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim, Hannover and Leverkusen. I think they’ll get the result, and I don’t think there’s much more to it than that.

Hannover 96 v SC Freiburg

This is a tight one. Freiburg are just a single point behind their hosts, so it’s all to play for here. If Hannover lose, they could drop off slightly and be on the losing end of a five-horse race for European football. If Freiburg lose, the consequences are the same. It’s incredibly hard to call because they’re quite even, these two sides. If I had to stick my neck out, I’d call it in Hannover’s favor just because of their home advantage. It definitely won’t be a game either side want to lose though, so it could fizzle out into a draw.

Kaiserslautern v Schalke 04

Yikes! If there was any team Kaiserslautern don’t want to play right now, it’s Schalke. The Konigsblauen are finally hitting the kind of form we’ve all expected from them all season, and Kaiserslautern are coming off an impressive 3-1 away win at Nurnberg. Schalke had a big midweek game against Lyon, so heavy legs might be a deciding factor here for the visitors. If that’s the case, it could be Kaiserslautern’s to lose. Still, Schalke have enough quality on the pitch to kill a game off in an instant, and as long as Felix Magath rotates his squad effectively, this is another three points for Schalke. The win would take Magath’s men into mid-table, which is at least the right direction. Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, will be looking to consolidate their position in the Bundesliga this season and they’ll know the importance of gaining points at home. Another tight one, but if I had to put money on it I’d say Schalke to edge it.

TSG Hoffenheim v Bayer Leverkusen

None of these games will be for the faint-hearted. Hoffenheim and Leverkusen, another game between sides who are just next to eachother in the Bundesliga table. I’ll tell you what, if anyone loses this week, it’s really bad news. So many sides are playing their rivals that if anyone slips up it could be a huge dent in their aspirations for the season. Hoffenheim clobbered Frankfurt last weekend by four goals, so their confidence will be high going into this game. Leverkusen are just behind Mainz in the table, and they’ve got to win to keep the pressure on the league’s top two. Hoffenheim are four points off of Leverkusen and Champions League football and they could cut that down to one if they record a win here. Very nervy stuff. The table could look completely different after this weekend.

Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Monchengladbach

No one can beat Borussia Dortmund. No one. That most definitely includes Gladbach! Another win, sorry Gladbach fans. I’ll be in absolute shock if Dortmund don’t get three points here.

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