Round 30 action
There was a glimmer of hope heading into the weekend that the Bundesliga would see a title challenge, and perhaps even a different winner after eight successive Bayern Munich crowns. But that all changed on Friday when RB Leipzig dropped points at Hoffenheim, and then Bayern won a tricky away tie against Wolfsburg.
Fortunately, things are getting interesting lower down the table. Defeats for Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt have handed Borussia Dortmund a chance to close in on the top four, while at the bottom end of the table, Werder Bremen appear to have been sucked into the relegation battle.
Here are three previews ahead of the mid-week games.
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen
Hans-Dieter Flick is closing in on the title. Performances continue to look a little shaky at times, as Bayern’s exit from the Champions League showed, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has really stepped up in Robert Lewandowski’s absence and it looks as if Bayern should get over the line.
Leverkusen have won seven points from their last three games and certainly won’t be easy opponents, however. Their recent move to a 3-4-2-1 has led to this string of good results, and motivation will be strong as a place in the top four comes into view. Leon Bailey in particular, who scored two and assisted the other in the 3-0 win over FC Koln, has been brilliant recently.
His runs on the shoulder of Bayern’s high line will cause problems, although Bayern remain unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga. There will be goals for both sides, but Bayern should get the three points.
Borussia Dortmund v Union Berlin
Dortmund have found some form at just the right time, scoring seven goals in their last two Bundesliga matches, winning both. Along with some good performances against Manchester City in the Champions League, this suggests the club has stabilised somewhat; Jude Bellingham is leading the way with some fantastic performances.
However, Union Berlin’s bullish football is working well, and they will hold a deep defensive block in this game to frustrate Dortmund. Union are undefeated in three and beat Stuttgart 2-1 last time out; there is a good chance their frustration tactics will ruffle Dortmund’s feathers.
Werder Bremen v Mainz 05
Bremen seemed set for a fairly comfortable mid-table finish until recently, but now their season threatens to completely collapse. They have lost five on the trot now and have conceded eight goals in their last two league matches, leaving them just four points above Hertha Berlin in 16th. They badly need to stop the rot or they could slip out of the division.
Mainz 05, moving in the opposite direction, can capitalise on this growing concern. They are unbeaten in their last five, collecting 11 points in that time, and confidence is sky high after an injury-time winner last weekend. Their 3-4-2-1 formation continues to confound opponents, and with Bremen looking very timid and leaky in defence, Mainz 05 are clear favourites here.