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Round 14 action
The Bundesliga returns to action on Saturday after a two week Christmas break, a luxury that German football has been able to afford due to their shorter league schedule and ability to restart the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign earlier than other European leagues.
The advantages will be felt immediately. Whereas the Premier League continues through a gruelling festive schedule, with injuries and fatigue reducing the quality, Bundesliga players ought to be feeling fresh and ready to race out of the blocks.
And the league table is finely poised for an exciting re-opening weekend. Bayern Munich were top over Christmas thanks to dropped points from Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leizpig, and yet only two points separates the top three. January is a huge month in the title battle.
Here are three previews of the games ahead:
Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg
Dortmund have won one and lost one under interim manager Edin Terzic, who replaced the sacked Lucien Favre following a 5-1 defeat to Stuttgart. It has been a relatively bumpy start, then, leaving Dortmund eight points off the top and in a near-impossible position to challenge for the title. That means the players might struggle for motivation, leading to slow and unsteady performances.
Wolfsburg could capitalise on these psychological issues. Oliver Glasner’s side beat Stuttgart 1-0 in their final game before the break to make it 13 points from their last six, an excellent run of form propelling Wolfsburg towards the European spots. The difference in form between the two sides might be crucial, especially given Wolfsburg are a strong counter-attacking team and Dortmund will look to hog possession.
The visitors can expect to sit deep and deny space to the likes of Erling Haaland, although given how good Dortmund are at home, it seems unlikely Wolfsburg can take all three points.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen’s 2-1 defeat to Bayern might be the most important result of the season. They desperately need to bounce back and need a strong January to avoid Hans-Dieter Flick’s side moving clear and winning the title with ease yet again. That heaps pressure on Peter Bosz’s side ahead of a tricky tie at Frankfurt.
Frankfurt are undefeated at home in the league this season, winning once and drawing the other five, thanks to a ruthless and sturdy defence that knows how to keep games played at a slow speed. Their low block is likely to stunt the pace of Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey, neither of whom will have the space to break down the defence.
Frankfurt have already held Dortmund and RB Leipzig to 1-1 draws at home this season. This could be another.
Stuttgart v RB Leipzig
Stuttgart might be seventh in the table, but their form has been getting gradually worse as the season goes on. They have won only two of their last six games, and their home form is one of the worst in the division; they are yet to win on home soil, amassing just four points from six games.
Consequently, this game isn’t as difficult as it might appear on paper for RB Leipzig. They are suddenly looking like the team most capable of challenging Bayern, and this may well be a decisive turn. Julien Nagelsmann’s well-rested side have more than enough to get the three points.
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