Bundesliga Matchday 21 Preview: After the Pokal, Part 2


Last week, Dortmund were held at Frankfurt, but still gained ground on Bayern who fell at Bayer Leverkusen. Borussia Mönchengladbach gained on both after winning at Schalke and are now in second. RB Leipzig has some breathing space in fourth, while it is tight for two Europa League spots. And oh yes, we have a battle at the bottom this week. Brian Sanders will review the DFB Pokal Round of 16, but for now, welcome to Matchday 21.

MAINZ 05 vs. BAYER LEVERKUSEN (Friday at 1:30pm CT, FS2)

(Matchday 4:  Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Mainz)

Mainz had their four-match unbeaten run ended at Augsburg last Sunday. Stefan Bell is back from suspension, but also needs to come back from a minor foot injury as well. Only one of leading scorer Jean-Philip Mateta’s goals has come at the Opel Arena. The 05’s are jsut five points out of fifth, but have to pass six teams to get there at the moment. 

Die Werkself followed an impressive win against Bayern Munich on Saturday with a shocking Cup loss to Bundesliga 2 side Heidenheim on Tuesday. Bayer have won four of their last five league matches and are a point out of sixth place. Squad rotation may be in the offing for Bayer as a pair of Europa League tilts with Krasnodar are on the horizon. 

BORUSSIA DORTMUND vs. TSG 1899 HOFFENHEIM (Saturday at 8:30am CT, FS2)

(Matchday 4:  Hoffenheim 1-1 Borussia Dortmund)

Despite being held by Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday, BVB still gained ground in the title race and lead by seven points over Gladbach and Bayern. However, their treble hopes are gone after falling on penalties in the Pokal to Werder Bremen. Dortmund had four players out with illness on Tuesday and Marco Reus left the match with a groin problem that could sideline him on Saturday. Christian Pulisic could retain his place while Jadon Sancho—one of the four who missed the Bremen game on Tuesday—could return to the lineup.

Reiss Nelson returned to action last week in the 1-1 draw against Fortuna Dusseldorf after missing the last three with a back problem. He could feature on Saturday in what could be a battle between English youngsters in the Bundesliga with Sancho on Dortmund. 

BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH vs. HERTHA BERLIN (Saturday at 8:30am, Fox Soccer Plus)

(Matchday 4:  Hertha Berlin 4-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Thorgan Hazard returned to give Gladbach a 2-0 win at Schalke last weekend and coupled with Bayern’s loss, moved the Foals up to second place. They still have a 100% record at Borussia Park this season and have won three on the bounce in the here and now. The last time Gladbach had at least 42 points after 20 matches, they won the title in 1977. 

Hertha’s unbeaten run in 2019 ended at home against Wolfsburg and later at home their Cup run did in extra time to Bayern Munich. Jaivaro Dilrosun (knock), Mathew Leckie (match fitness), and Peter Pekarik (calf) are all doubts while Arne Maier (groin) and Valentino Lazaro (suspended) are definitely out. 

RB LEIPZIG vs. ENITRACHT FRANKFURT (Saturday at 8:30am CT, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

(Matchday 4:  Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 RB Leipzig)

Leipzig got some breathing room for fourth after defeating Hannover last weekend and then advanced to the DFB Pokal Quarterfinals with a win over Wolfsburg. Timo Werner is expected back into the lineup after recovering from the flu. Werner has score nine of his eleven goals at Red Bull Arena (Leipzig) this season. Leipzig’s 18 goals conceded is the joint-lowest with Gladbach. 

Frankfurt are five points out of fourth and just two points ahead of seventh-place Leverkusen. Frankfurt’s terrific trio of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller, and Ante Rebic have accounted for all six goals scored by the Eagles in the Ruckrunde so far. They also account for 75% of the team’s overall goals (32 of 40). 

HANNOVER 96 vs. FC NÜRNBERG (Saturday at 8:30am CT, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

(Matchday 4:  FC Nürnberg 2-0 Hannover 96)

We go from a battle between 4 vs. 5 to a battle between the bottom two sides in the Bundesliga. Hannover are bottom and on a nine-match winless streak including losing (and not scoring) in their last five matches. Bobby Wood could return to the starting lineup after being a second half sub in the loss to Leipzig last week. 

Der Club is winless in their last thirteen, though their last match was a valuable point against Bremen. That ended a six-match losing streak, but FCN are still three points adrift of 16th place Stuttgart. Nürnberg also crashed out of the Cup in midweek as they fell to Hamburg SV.

SC FREIBURG vs. WfL WOLFSBURG (Saturday at 8:30am CT, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

(Matchday 4:  VfL Wolfsburg 1-3 SC Freiburg)

FCN are winless in their last twelve after a loss to Mainz last week which was their sixth straight. Der Club are four points adrfit from 15th and level on points with Hannover. Nine of their 11 points have come at home, though one of their two points away from the Max-Morlock Stadion came against Bremen. 

Wolfsburg got their first win in 2019 with a 1-0 win at Hertha Berlin. However, their Cup run ended on Wednesday at Leipzig. The Wolves are currently sixth in the table, a point behind Frankfurt and a point ahead of Leverkusen. Wolfsburg has done the business away this season with 19 points away from Volkswagen Arena. Only Bayern (24) and Dortmund (21) have more away from home. 

BAYERN MUNICH vs. SCHALKE 04 (Saturday at 11:30am, FS2)

(Matchday 4:  Schalke 0-2 Bayern Munich)

Bayern saw their seven-match winning streak ended last week at Bayer Leverkusen and they lost ground on Dortmund despite them being held at Frankfurt. They required extra time to defeat Hertha to advance to the Pokal Quarterfinals. Manuel Neuer is still a doubt though after missing the last two matches with a hand injury. 

Schalke has not had a good league season, through they are still in the last 16 in the Champions League and now the last eight in the Pokal after defeating Fortuna in midweek. Eighteen year-old Ahmed Kutucu could feature after scoring in the 4-1 win over Fortuna though goalkeeper Alexander Nübel is suspended after getting sent off against Gladbach last week. The Royal Blues are winless in their last 16 league encounters against the six-time defending champions. 

SV WERDER BREMEN vs. FC AUGSBURG (Sunday at 8:30am CT, FS1)

(Matchday 4:  FC Augsburg 2-3 Werden Bremen)

Bremen are coming off a cupset over Dortmund on Tuesday and are still within a shout for the top six. Josh Sargent could return to the fold after sitting out the tie at Dortmund. Bremen have ten points in their last ten matches. There have been four defeats in that time—all to top four teams. 

Alfred Finnbogason helped Augsburg end their ten-match winless streak with an inspired 3-0 win over Mainz. That kept them three points clear of 16th place Stuttgart. They survived their DFB Pokal meeting with second-tier Holstein Kiel to advance to the quarterfinals. Loan signing Reece Oxford is not expected to start, but could still feature as a substitute. 


(Matchday 4:  VfB Stuttgart 0-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf)

Fortuna are seven points clear of the visitors entering Sunday’s battle. The key is to get Dodi Lukebakio back on the score sheet as he has gone 331 minutes without scoring. Fortuna have amassed 13 points in their last six matches and look to steer even further clear of the relegation playoffs. Fortuna boss Friedhelm Funkel will make his 800th Bundesliga appearance as a coach or player which puts him fourth on the all-time list behind Jupp Heynckes (1,138), Otto Rehhagel (1,033), and Felix Magath (801).

While Fortuna has amassed 13 points from their last six matches, Stuttgart have amassed just one. That one snapped a six-match losing streak in a 2-2 draw with Freiburg. However, it would have been three points had is not been for Mario Gomez in stoppage time. Benjamin Pavard did come through his first game from injury since December and will look to help fix the league’s joint-most charitable defense. 


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