Friday, 14 February 2014

Bundesliga Matchday 21 Preview: Top Match Leverkusen challenges Schalke

All eyes will be in Leverkusen this week, when Champions League contestants Leverkusen and Schalke meet prior to their respective Champions League matches next week against Paris SG and Real Madrid.  The Knappen have fought back after an early season slump and are currently two points behind third placed Dortmund.  Leverkusen, second in the league, has some wiggle room with their four point lead over the Borussen.  This match is too close to call, but both teams need a confidence win ahead of next week's Champions League competition.

FC Bayern and Dortmund both have home encounters with SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively.  Both their contenders are just out of the relegation zone and will not make life easy for last year's Champions League finalist.  Whether or not Pep Guardiola and Juergen Klopp will field their top sides ahead of their respective matches against Arsenal and Shaktar next week remains to be seen.

Matchday 21 gets underway on Friday evening when Mainz 05 hosts Hannover 96.  Mainz is currently in ninth spot with Hannover in tenth but six points behind the Pfaelzer club.  The  nod has to go to Mainz at home.

Three of Saturday's matches involve the top four as mentioned above and there is not much to add to their matchups.  In the remaining three matches, Braunschweig host Hamburg.  Both clubs are at the tail of the Bundesliga with only one point separating them.  Both teams desperately need a victory if they are to see any daylight and move out of the relegation zone. Toss a coin on this match, but the odds go to Braunschweig at home.

Bremen hosts fifth placed Gladbach and the Borussen will need a win to hang on to their hope of a Champions League spot.  For Bremen it is also do or die.  The Hanseaten have slipped to 12th spot with only 20 points, which is not too far away from a relegation spot.  Gladbach should win this away match. 

Hoffenheim hosts Stuttgart in Sinsheim.  Stuttgart also desperately needs an away victory, but that may be an unattainable goal in Sinsheim.  Both teams have the ability to defeat the other.  In the end it will boil down to which team makes the most mistakes.

On Sunday two matches are on tab, with the exciting Bayern darby, between FC Augsburg and 1. FC Nuernberg.  Nuernberg demonstrated last weekend that they can be a formidable force when they hosted Bayern Munich.  Augsburg is no pushover either and is currently in spot eight of the league.  On paper Augsburg should win this match, but darbys have a way of making their own rules.

Berlin and Wolfsburg is another match to watch as both clubs continue in their quest for a European League spot.  Berlin definitely has the home advantage.

Matchday 21 definitely has its attractions as the league moves toward completion in May.  With the field, with the exception of Bayern, only separated by a few points, every match counts.  This will be once a gain an exciting matchday.  

Friday 14 February FSV Mainz 05 vs Hannover 96   2-0

Saturday 15 Februrary
Bayern München vs SC Freiburg       
Eintr. Braunschweig vs Hamburger SV       
Borussia Dortmund vs Eintracht Frankfurt       
Werder Bremen vs Bor. Mönchengladbach       
1899 Hoffenheim vs VfB Stuttgart       
Bayer Leverkusen vs Schalke 04

Sunday 16 February
FC Augsburg vs 1. FC Nürnberg       
Hertha BSC vs VfL Wolfsburg   

Posn  Team             GP   W   D   L    GF/GA   Points

1      FC Bayern        20    18   2    0       49:9         56
2      Leverkusen       20   14   1    5        37:20       43
3      Dortmund         20   12   3    5        47:24       39
4      Schalke             20    11   4    5       39:27       37 
5      M'gladbach       20    10   3    7       36:25       33
6      Wolfsburg         20    10   3    7       33:24       33
7      Mainz                21    10   3    8       31:36      33  
8     Hertha BSC       20     9    4    7       31:24       31
9      Augsburg           20     9   4    7       30:29       31
10    Hannover           21     7    3 11      29:37        24
11     Hoffenheim       20     5    7   8      40:43        23
12    Bremen               20    5    5  10     24:45        20
13    Frankfurt            20     4     6    9    24:34        21
14    Stuttgart             20     5    4    11   32:39        19
15    Freiburg             20     4   7    10    20:36        19
16    Nürnberg            20     2    11   7    24:36        17
17    Hamburg            20     4    4   12    33:47        16 
18    B'schweig           20    3     3  14    11:37        12

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