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Round Eight action
The round of fixtures prior to the international break had a seismic impact on the Bundesliga table. Bayern Munich’s 3-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker puts them three points clear of their major title rivals, although the strength of the performance from Lucien Favre’s side has made it clear Dortmund are ready to challenge.
RB Leipzig also won, beating Freiburg 3-0, to lift them to second, above Dortmund, ensuring Julian Nagelsmann’s team is in the conversation. They need to keep this early pressure up, meaning they cannot afford to drop points at Frankfurt this weekend.
The last round also continued to set the chasm between the top and bottom halves of the table; the six worst teams in the division are each on a five-game winless run.
After the break, here are three previews for upcoming matches this weekend.
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen
The form guide would suggest this is an easy game to call, but deeper tactical analysis reveals it might be closer than one would think. Bayern have now won nine games on the trot in all competitions, and having dispatched Dortmund will be feeling very confident, especially as Bremen haven’t won in their last four games.
Instead, they drew them all, reflecting a sturdiness and resolve that comes from a managerial preference for tactically defensive football. Expect Werder Bremen - who haven’t lost an away game in the Bundesliga this season - to sit back and absorb Bayern’s pressure before attempting to counter-attack.
Bayern might struggle to score, but ultimately, the difference in quality between the sides should see the hosts through. The form of Robert Lewandowski alone means Bayern should outscore Bremen.
Back Bayern to win and under 2.5 goals.
Hertha Berlin v Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund need to pick themselves up after losing to Bayern - unable to drop any more points lest Bayern start to pull away at the top and morale begins to suffer. But Hertha may prove surprisingly tough opponents, having improved from early season struggles to collect four points from their last two games, including a 3-0 win over Augsburg last outing.
But Hertha’s narrow 4-2-2-2 formation isn’t well suited to having to defend for long periods, and Dortmund’s pace and energy from the flanks should be able to poke holes in the hosts’ system. Bayern beat Hertha 4-3 earlier in the season, cutting through the defence despite playing poorly by their own standards.
With Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro providing speed on the wings, Dortmund should get the better of Hertha this weekend, with Erling Haaland continuing his brilliant goalscoring form.
Back Dortmund to win with a -1 handicap.
Hoffenheim v Stuttgart (zero margin game - offering the fairest odds)
Stuttgart are pushing for the European places this season, undefeated in six games as they continue to benefit from not having to focus on anything other than Bundesliga football. By contrast, Hoffenheim’s success in the Europa League - they’ve won all three games so far - has left them fatigued in domestic competition.
Hoffenheim are on a run of five games without a win in the Bundesliga, which has left them alarmingly close to the bottom of the table. They have struggled to hold on to the ball, whereas Stuttgart has been dominating possession and taking games to their opposition. That should see the visitors snatch the points on Saturday.
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