Bundesliga matchday 21 preview: The River Card


The big match is on Sunday between top of the table Bayern Munich and second place RB Leipzig. There is also a battle between third place Borussia Dortmund and fifth place Bayer Leverkusen.

There are seven other matches this weekend. Welcome to matchday 21 (All times CT).


The Eagles appear to have righted the ship after two wins and a draw in their last three league matches and also knocking out RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal in midweek. Timothy Chandler should return to the starting lineup on Friday while Andre Silva could start in place of the stomach bug-inflicted Bas Dost.

Augsburg are just one place below Frankfurt in the table after their 2-1 home win over Werder Bremen. Alfred Finnbogason is not 100 per cent according to manager Martin Schmidt, but could play anyway after setting up the winner as a sub against Bremen.

WOLFSBURG vs. FORTUNA DUSSELDORF (Saturday at 8:30am, FS1)

Wolfsburg managed to break their skid with a win last week over bottom-side Paderborn. Now, they play second from bottom in Fortuna. Wout Weghorst looks set to return to the fold after missing out last week with a muscle injury.  

One reason why Fortuna are second from bottom is because they have dropped 16 points from winning positions this season. However, they are quarter final-bound in the DFB Pokal after a 5-2 win over third-tier Kaiserslautern. Prior to that, they got a much-needed point against Frankfurt. 

SCHALKE vs. SC PADERBORN (Saturday at 8:30am, FS2)

Alexander Nübel is heading to Bayern Munich after the season, but before that, he will try and help the Royal Blues get to the top four. They are in the quarter finals of the Pokal after coming back from 0-2 down to win 3-2 in extra time over Hertha Berlin. Weston McKennie could return to the starting XI after not starting the cup tie in midweek. 

Nübel spent a decade at Paderborn before joining Schalke in 2015. A 4-2 loss to Wolfsburg, coupled with Fortuna’s draw sent Paderborn back to the bottom of the table. It will be a tough order to get points against Schalke who have lost just once at the Veltins this season (vs. Bayern on matchday two). 

SC FREIBURG vs. HOFFENHEIM (Saturday at 8:30am, Fox Soccer Plus)

Back-to-back defeats against Paderborn and Cologne have seen Freiburg cut adrift from the top six, now five points back. They have won just twice in their last ten league matches. One piece of good news is that Luca Waldschmidt may finally be able to start after entering as a second-half sub the last two matches.

Hoffenheim have won four or their last five and are just one point away from the top six. Last weekend saw them come from behind to defeat Bayer Leverkusen, but their Pokal run is over after a 4-3 loss to Bayer Munich despite two late goals by Munas Dabbur. the Sinsheimers have the third best away record in the Bundesliga. 

WERDER BREMEN vs. UNION BERLIN (Saturday at 8:30am, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

I mentioned that Fortuna Dusseldorf have dropped 16 points from winning positions this season, that’s three less than the team above them in Werder Bremen who have dropped 19 points from winning positions which is a league worst. However, the spirits may be lifted after they knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the Pokal in midweek. Then again, Davie Selke, who scored the opening against BVB, is a question mark with a knock to his hip.

Union dispacthed fourth-tier Verl in the Pokal which helps them get over the 5-0 defeat to BVB last weekend. It was their fourth loss in five matches in league play. Goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz is a question mark to start his 62nd competitive match with a knee issue. Union are one of the four teams who have lost to Bremen this season.

HERTHA BERLIN vs. MAINZ (Saturday at 8:30am, Fox Soccer Matchpass)

Krzysztof Piatek made his debut last week in the goalless draw with Schalke and scored against them in the Pokal in midweek, but Hertha would lose that match in extra time. He is expected to feature again on Saturday in spite of playing 120 minutes in midweek to help lift Hertha

The 05ers are only one point above the danger zone after their fourth straight defeat. That last defeat was against Bayern. That leaves them the only team yet to pick up a point in the Ruckrunde. Mainz need to shore up their defense which has shipped a league-worst 47 goals.


Die Werkself are currently in fifth and five points out of the Champions League places. To get closer, they need to end their four-match losing streak against Dortmund. Coach Peter Bosz meets his former side whom he was in charge of for less than half a season after following six wins from seven with an eight-match winless streak in 2017-18. Bayer defeated VfB Stuttgart in the Pokal in midweek. 

Erling Haaland now has seven goals in three league matches. He added another one in the Pokal in midweek, though that ended up a loss to Bremen. Marco Reus looks to be out for a month with a muscular injury. Gio Reyna may start in his place. Other candidates include Thorgan Hazard and Emre Can. 


The Foals could have entered this weekend level on points with Bayern, but a 2-0 lead over RB Leipzig became a 2-2 draw after Alassane Plea was sent off. Breel Embolo is odds on to take Plea’s place in the line-up while Christoph Kramer is a major doubt after suffering a concussion. Is this the start of another Ruckrunde slide for Gladbach?

FC Cologne have won five of their last six in the league and are now five points clear in the danger zone. Jhon Cordoba has four goals in his last four matches. However, the Billy Goats have not had the best away form winning just twice on their travels.

BAYERN MUNICH vs. RB LEIPZIG (Sunday at 11am, FS2)

This could well be the river card fixture. In other words, one that may well determine who is lifting the Meisterschale at the end of the season (though Dortmund and Gladbach could still have something to say about that). Bayern have won six straight and have scored 16 goals in their last four matches. Robert Lewandowski has scored five of those goals taking his total in all competitions to 35. Last week’s win over Mainz put Bayern at the top for the first time since matchday six. 

Leipzig had a similar streak not too long ago, but are now winless in their last two. Timo Werner is just two goals behind Lewandowski in the Bundesliga (20-22), but has not netted in the last two matches.

Leipzig have done well on the road (20 points from a possible 30), but have won just one of their last nine against the seven-time defending champions. Victory at the Allianz could go a long way towards preventing an eighth successive title for the Bavarians. All to play for on Sunday. 


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