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Round 27 action
The Bundesliga returns after a two-week break with a fascinating set of fixtures. Before the internationals, each of the top four teams won their games, while Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen both dropped points, opening up a four-point gap between the top four and the chasing pack.
That is bad news for neutrals hoping for a tight race for the Champions League, although with Frankfurt still looking inconsistent there is every chance the final place will open up. Dortmund are desperate to grab that place, or else they risk losing some of their star players this summer; Erling Haaland won’t wait around another year if Dortmund can only offer Europa League football.
Even bigger stories are opening at the top and bottom of the table. Wins for Koln and Mainz 05 have left just two points between 14th and 17th, creating a five-horse race for two relegation spots, while at the top RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich are still only four points apart.
And the top two face each other this weekend in Leipzig. The hosts, as heavy underdogs, desperately need to win.
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich
Even a draw would be considered a bad result for RB Leipzig. Bayern have stabilised considerably in 2021 and look unlikely to drop many more points - unless Leipzig put them under serious pressure this weekend and inflict a damaging defeat. There is reason to believe it will happen, too.
Leipzig were unlucky in the wild 3-3 draw when the two teams met earlier this season, and have markedly improved their defensive ability since. Legs are fresher now, which means a more controlled game and certainly fewer goals (The Over/Under on the total goals line has been set at 3). Nagelsmann’s side have only conceded one goal in their last four Bundesliga matches. The Bayern attackers will not find as much joy.
At the other end, Leipzig’s intelligent vertical counter-attacks should hit just as hard against Bayern’s high defensive line. They have conceded at least once in five of their last six games in all competitions, and with Alphonso Davies out injured, Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku could impress down that side.
What's more, Bayern will miss Polish skipper and strike-master Robert Lewandowski, out of this match - and crucially, the next month - with a knee injury picked up on international duty against Andorra.
Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt
Amazingly, we have two crucial head-to-head matches in the same weekend. Shortly before the potential title-decider in Leipzig, Frankfurt face their main challengers for that coveted final Champions League spot: Borussia Dortmund.
Edin Terzic’s side have started to stutter again, dropping as many points as Frankfurt over the last few games, and yet they are still probably slight favourites to finish fourth. The sheer quality in their attacking line ought to see them through; Frankfurt, renowned for their conservative shape and solid defence, are likely to struggle to hold out for 90 minutes against the pace and power of Haaland, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard.
Granted, the sides dew 1-1 in their previous meeting, but Dortmund are undefeated in six at home, whereas Frankfurt have failed to win each of their last two on the road.
Union Berlin v Hertha Berlin
The Berlin derby is of huge significance to two clubs at very different places in the table. Union are only a point outside the top seven, chasing a place in next season’s Europa League, while Hertha are on the verge of going down. Often the form guide is said to go out of the window in derbies, but that isn’t the case when the stadiums are empty.
And the form book points to a very clear winner. Union have only lost one home game all season, conceding just 14 goals in 13 games, while Hertha have only won two of 13 on their travels and rank in the bottom three on away form. Union ought to follow form for the three points.
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