Bundesliga Matchday 23 Preview: Things Are Getting Tight


Remember when Borussia Dortmund were up nine points on Bayern Munich? That gap is now just three points after a surprising goalless draw against lowly FC Nürnberg. Bayern had their hands full with Augsburg, but persisted and closed the gap on BVB. Meanwhile, there are still races for Europa League spots and for safety that are still going on. Welcome to Matchday 23.

WERDER BREMEN vs. VFB STUTTGART (Friday at 1:30pm CT, FS2)

(Matchday 6:  VfB Stuttgart 1-2 Werder Bremen)

Claudio Pizarro came off the bench and scored an equalizer against Hertha Berlin to become the oldest player ever to score the Bundesliga and set the record for most goals by a foreign player at 195. That puts the Green-Whites just four points out of the top six, but with four teams to pass to get there. Bremen have lost just three times at home this season—all to top six opposition.

Stuttgart is not in the top six. In fact, they are only one point clear of the drop zone after a home defeat to RB Leipzig. Their 50 goals conceded is the worst in the Bundesliga and their 18 goals scored is second fewest ahead of FC Nürnberg. Their four points away from home are also second fewest ahead of FC Nürnberg. Oh, they are also winless in their last seven and Mario Gomez has not scored in his last five matches. 

BAYERN MUNICH vs. HERTHA BERLIN (Saturday at 8:30am CT, FS2)

(Matchday 6:  Hertha Berlin 2-0 Bayern Munich)

Bayern beat Hertha two weeks ago in the DFB Pokal in the capital. They are coming off a 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday night. James Rodriguez has started the last five matches in all competitions and while coach Nico Kovac has been delighted with the Colombian international’s form, he wants to see more from him. Leon Goretzka is a dubt with an ankle problem that kept him out of Tuesday’s match. 

Hertha were the first to defeat Bayern this season back on Matchday 6. They were also the first to defeat Borussia Mönchengladbach at Borussia Park this season in Matchday 21. However, a home draw against Bremen leaves them three points off the top six and three teams to pass. Salomon Kalou knows about defeating Bayern, he was on the 2012 Chelsea team that defeated Bayern in the Champions League Final in Munich. 

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

(Matchday 6:  Wolfsburg 2-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach)

A fortnight ago, Gladbach were level on points with Bayern Munich. Now, they are five points behind them after defeat to Hertha and a draw last week with Eintracht Frankfurt. The Foals are still third, but just two points clear of Leipzig. It is the first time this season that Gladbach has gone winless in back-to-back matches. They will need Thorgan Hazard, goalless since Matchday 16, to get going again. 

Wolfsburg made their way into the top six with an emphatic win over Mainz last week and the right results could pull them within three points of the top four. Wout Weghorst has scored in his last three matches, but could miss out here with an adductor strain. Weghorst has averaged a goal every fifth shot on target this season.

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

(Matchday 6:  FC Augsburg 4-1 SC Freuburg)

Freiburg have become the draw specialists in the Bundesliga with a league-high nine and currently have drawn three straight. They are still looking for their first win in the Ruckrunde. Left back Christian Günter is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. 

Augsburg just have one win in their last 14 matches and are just three points clear of 16th-place Stuttgart. They will have to make do once again without Alfred Finnbogason who is out with a calf injury. In the eight matches he has missed, FCA have won just once. 

MAINZ 05 vs. SCHALKE 04 (Saturday at 8:30am CT, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

(Matchday 6:  Schalke 1-0 Mainz)

The 05ers have lost three straight and have dropped to 11th place. They also have allowed the most goals in the Ruckrunde so far with 16. Jean-Philippe Mateta has not scored in his last four. However, reinforcements could be on the way with captain Niko Bungert potentially returning as well as Philipp Mwene and Emil Berggreen returning to full fitness. 

Schalke are smarting after losing a 3-2 decision to Manchester City in the Champions League. They are winless in their last four in the Bundesliga as well. Last season, the Royal Blues finished second and conceded just 37 goals. They are just five away from matching that with 12 matches to play. The guessing game will be what position Weston McKennie will play as he has played at right back, center back, defensive mid, central mid, attacking mid, and center forward. 

FORTUNA DUSSELDORF vs. FC NÜRNBERG (Saturday at 11:30am CT, FS2)

(Matchday 6:  FC Nürnberg 3-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf)

Five wins in their last eight matches has vaulted Fortuna to 12th and in relative safety. Four of those five wins have come against a team below them in the table. Now they need Dodi Lukebakio to return to form. He has not scored in the last seven matches. 

Fortuna were the last opponent that FC Nürnberg defeated in the Bundesliga. Since then, they have gone winless in their last 16 matches. However, the last match was a very credible draw against Borussia Dortmund which keeps them within two points of Stuttgart in 16th. 

HANNOVER 96 vs. EINTRACHT FRANKFURT (Sunday at 8:30am CT, FS1)

(Matchday 6:  Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 Hannover 96)

Hannover 96 currently sit second-bottom of the table after a 3-0 loss at Hoffenheim. They also have the joint-worst home record in the division along with Augsburg with ten points from 11 home matches. Bobby Wood has come on as a substitute for the third match running for the 96ers.

Frankfurt are winless in their last three in the Bundesliga (all draws), but they are coming off a UEFA Europa League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk. However, that draw dropped them to seventh in the middle of the logjam for two Europa League places. Adi Hütter separated his attack trio of Sebastien Haller, Luka Jovic, and Ante Rebic last week against Gladbach; but they all might start against a Hannover side that is not as good as Gladbach at either end of the ball.


(Matchday 5:  Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Borussia Dortmund)

By kickoff of this match, BVB may only be ahead of Bayern on goal difference. BVB have drawn their last three league matches, including a dour draw against lowly Nürnberg. Marco Reus could return to action after missing the last three weeks. Christian Pulisic remains sidelined with a hamstring problem. Maximilian Philipp and Paco Alcacer—no goal in his last six—could start up front. 

Leverkusen have won four of their last five and are now fifth in the table. However, they will be coming off elimination from the Europa League on away goals against Krasnodar. Kai Havertz is Die Werkself’s leading scoring on nine goals, including three in his last five games. Karim Bellarabi however will miss the match after picking up a knock last week against Fortuna.

RB LEIPZIG vs. TSG 1899 HOFFENHEIM (Monday at 1:30pm CT, FS2)

(Matchday 6:  Hoffenheim 1-2 RB Leipzig)

Leipzig are looking to consolidate a top four finish and return to the Champions League. A 3-1 win over Stuttgart was a step in the right direction. Yussuf Poulsen is now the top scorer for the Red Bulls after scoring a brace to take his total to 12. Meanwhile, Timo Werner has yet to score in 2019.

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann will coach Leipzig next season. The task at hand, though, will be to get Hoffenheim back into Europe. They are currently two points off the top six and eight off the top four. Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last four matches and only Dortmund have lost fewer on their travels (one) than Hoffenheim (two).  


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