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Round 20 action
The Bundesliga table has settled into a clear pattern now, with Bayern Munich sitting pretty at the top after four consecutive wins. They are an unassailable seven points clear, and yet while we have been denied the tight title challenge we hoped for in the first half of the campaign, there are several good storylines to keep us hooked.
The biggest is the form of Eintracht Frankfurt, who have surged into the top four and are now in the running for their first ever Champions League appearance. Borussia Dortmund seem unable to find any consistency, while Bayer Leverkusen have dropped off a cliff, winning just one of their last six - and so Frankfurt’s audacious efforts may well take them all the way to Europe.
At the other end of the table, FC Koln have jumped out of the relegation zone thanks to a huge win in a six-pointer with Arminia Bielefeld last weekend. Three clubs are now competing to avoid two relegation places with just one point separating them. Bayern are running away with it at the top. Thankfully everything else is up for grabs.
Here are three previews for upcoming games this weekend.
Hoffenheim v Eintracht Frankfurt
Frankurt face a major challenge to their recent good form. They have won six games and drawn one of their last seven in the Bundesliga, but maybe the hardest game is the one this weekend; Hoffenheim are a very strong counter-attacking team who have had a very good 2021 so far. A 4-1 defeat to high-flying Bayern last weekend should not be paid too much attention.
Before that, Hoffenheim won 3-0 in consecutive games and on each occasion held less than 45% possession. Their defensive 3-5-2 formation relies on sitting back and taking advantage of the transitions, which may be tough for a Frankfurt side who play in a similar way.
It should mean an end-to-end game breaks out as both clubs look to engage a counter-attack, and given that both sets of forwards are in form it should be a high-scoring game.
Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Only Bayern Munich have a better away record in the Bundesliga than Stuttgart, although they have lost three of their last four on their travels despite playing some very low-ranking teams in that time. This slowdown in form is good news for a beleaguered Bayer Leverkusen side in desperate need of something to lift them out of their slump.
Peter Bosz will point to a particularly tough run of form, however, and even in a 1-0 defeat to RB Leipzig last weekend Leverkusen’s forwards were relatively sharp. Leon Bailey in particular is having a good season, and with Stuttgart’s defence looking leaky this is a good opportunity for the hosts to get back towards the top four.
Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund
Freiburg are undefeated in six home games in the Bundesliga, reflecting their impressive campaign that could yet end in Europa League football. However, they have not been quite so sharp of late, winning just one of their last four, and most pertinently they do not do well against the top clubs. Borussia Dortmund have a good chance to dominate and overwhelm their hosts, who are too defensive to cope with the pressing and the pace of this Dortmund team.
Back-to-back wins for interim manager Edin Terzic has lifted spirits somewhat, with Jadon Sancho getting on the score sheet last weekend in an important moment for the young winger. He has struggled throughout 2020-21, but that goal should do him the world of good; he can lead Dortmund to a comfortable win this weekend.
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