The football action finally returns in Europe this coming weekend, but with all the eyes on Germany, which teams will be able to make the first move? There is still everything to be decided in the competitive Bundesliga, with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig locked in a battle for the title.
Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04
The hotly contested Revierderby will get things underway on Saturday, as Schalke travel to Signal Iduna Park looking to dent the title chances of their local rivals. Dortmund have been one of the most exciting sides to watch in Europe this season, and there will no doubt be many fans around the world hoping that they can knock Bayern Munich off their perch.
Dortmund have a four-point gap to make up, but they could close that to just a point with a win against Schalke. Their form since the winter break has been frightening, as Dortmund have lost just once in eight league games. That defeat came against Bayer Leverkusen at the beginning of February. Their last outing in the Bundesliga ended in a 2-1 win against Borussia Monchengladbach. Thorgan Hazard and Achraf Hakimi scored the goals on that occasion.
Schalke’s form since the winter break has left them hanging onto their Europa League place. They have won once in eight league games, with that win coming back on the 17th January against Monchengladbach. Schalke have also lost two of their past three league games, which means that they hold just a point advantage over Wolfsburg. Away from home, they have struggled, as they have won just four of their 12 fixtures.
It would be hard to see anything other than a Dortmund win from this fixture. Jadon Sancho will be looking to add to his tally of 14 for the season, and gamblers will be banking on the home side.
FC Union Berlin vs Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich will be looking to improve their chances of winning an eighth straight Bundesliga title when they resume their season at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei against Union Berlin. Bayern have been near-perfect since the winter break, as they have won all but one of their Bundesliga fixtures. The only points that they dropped came in their 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig.
However, since then, the Bavarians have been ruthless. They have scored 15 goals in five fixtures and have managed to open up a four-point lead over Dortmund and a five-point lead over Leipzig. No team in the Bundesliga has scored more goals than them this season, while they also have the joint-best defensive record in the division. They will be boosted this weekend with the news that Robert Lewandowski and Ivan Perisic are both passed fit.
Union Berlin have enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Bundesliga, as they already seem to be safe from the threat of relegation. They are sitting in eleventh place, which is eight points above the relegation playoff spot. However, their early season form has evaded them since the winter break, as they have won just three times in eight league games. They do come into this fixture with a decent run of form over their past three, as they have lost just once. Home form has been critical to their survival this season. Union Berlin have won six of their 12 home games and have scored 18 goals in those fixtures. However, they have also conceded 16 goals, which means that they conceded more than a goal a game at home.
There is clearly a gulf in class between these two sides, with Bayern having the better players as well as being in the better form. The two sides have only met on one occasion in the past, with that coming earlier in the season as Bayern won 2-1. Gamblers would not be backing against the same winners this weekend.
RB Leipzig vs SC Freiburg
One of the most interesting fixtures to take place this weekend will see RB Leipzig welcoming Freiburg to the Red Bull Arena. Leipzig’s title challenge has fallen apart since the winter break, which means that they may now be looking over their shoulders at the ever-improving Monchengladbach. Of course, their title hopes are still alive, but they will need to get three points to ensure that.
Monchengladbach are a point behind Leipzig, while Bayer Leverkusen are two points further back in fifth. Since the winter break, Leipzig have only won three times. That run of form has seen them drop from first to third. They have only lost once in that period, but draws have become an issue. They have drawn four of their past six games in the Bundesliga. However, their home form has remained strong as they have only lost once at the Red Bull Arena this season.
Freiburg also have a clear target of their own with nine games of the season remaining. They are just one point outside of the Europa League places. However, they come into this game in bad form. They have lost two of their last three, and four of their previous seven. They have only won two of those seven games, with the most recent of those coming at home against Union Berlin in March.
The fact that this game is at the Red Bull Arena is a big indicator that Leipzig will get the win they need to keep their faint title hopes alive. Timo Werner will be the player to watch, as gamblers will be hoping that he can add to his tally of 21 as Leipzig get the win.