Friday, 21 February 2014

Bundesliga Matchday 22 Preview: Bayern on runaway, Leverkusen disappoints

As this week's Matchday 22 gets underway, FC Bayern Munich has a formidable lead over the remainder of the league.  With Leverkusen's disappointing performance in Champions League play against Paris St. Germaine, the question of the quality of Bundesliga clubs once again comes under fire.

While Bayern won its match in London against the Gunners, it wasn't without controversy.  The red card, which was appropriate under the circumstances, left Arsenal short handed for most of the 90 minutes.  Two wasted penalty kicks, one by David Alaba that hit the goal post and another by Mesut Oezel, testing his childhood friend Manuel Neuer was not consequent enough.  The long standing rivalry between German and English teams is always filled with emotions, controversy and allegations.  In the end it was a 90 minutes of football and one team emerged as the winner.

Despite Eintracht Frankfurt's mediocre record in the Bundesliga this season, the side managed a 2-2 draw with FC Porto in Euro League play.   During the upcoming week, Dortmund plays St. Petersburg, while Schalke 04 has the thankless task of getting a good result against Real Madrid.

Schalke host Mainz 05 in the matchday opener this evening. Mainz has recently moved into seventh spot and the side still has aspirations for a Euro League spot for next season.  Schalke is closing up on Dortmund and Leverkusen and a win could move the Knappen that much closer. Today's match should be a spectator's delight with both team's aspiration. Schalke should win with home advantage.

Leverkusen will be in Wolfsburg hoping for an away win and solidifying its second place spot.  For Wolfsburg there is a good opportunity to capture a berth in the Champions League.  With Leverkusen's recent performance Wolfsburg has a good opportunity of winning this match.

Dortmund travels north to Hamburg and this should be an easy win for the Borussen.  A win would certainly be a good moral booster prior to the trip to St. Petersburg next week. For Hamburg, currently in 17th spot, just one point ahead of tailgate Braunschweig, it is a do or die match.  Last week Hamburg fired its coach and this may not have been enough time for a new coach to turn the club around.

Saturday is rounded out by matches between Nuernberg and Braunschweig and Stuttgart hosting  Berlin.  Both Stuttgart and Nuernberg are barely out of the relegation zone and need a win. Berlin gave up three points at home last weekend and has slipped into eighth spot.  The newly promoted side still has aspirations of a Euro League spot, but remaining in the Bundesliga was the club's first goal.

On Sunday FC Bayern travels to Hannover and this should be an easy match for the Bavarians.  Frankfurt hosts Bremen with both sides under pressure to perform.  Will Frankfurt have the advantage of the home match?

As the league moves toward the final stretch, it certainly appears that FC Bayern can't be pushed off another league championship.  Can Leverkusen remain in second spot with Dortmund and Schalke threatening?  Those questions will be answered in the weeks to come. There is a definite relegation battle developing, as is the fight for a Euro League spot.  Regardless of the outcomes this weekend, the fans should be thoroughly entertained.

Friday February 21

Schalke 04 -     FSV Mainz 05   0-0

Saturday February 22
Bor. Mönchengladbach vs 1899 Hoffenheim       
SC Freiburg vs FC Augsburg       
1. FC Nürnberg vs Eintr. Braunschweig   
Hamburger SV vs Borussia Dortmund       
VfB Stuttgart vs Hertha BSC       
VfL Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen   

Sunday 23 February
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Werder Bremen       
Hannover 96 vs Bayern München   

Posn  Team             GP   W   D   L    GF/GA   Points
1      FC Bayern        21    19   2    0       53:9         59
2      Leverkusen       21   14   1    6        38:22       43
3      Dortmund         21   13   3    5        51:24       42
4      Schalke             22    12   5    5       41:28       41
5      Wolfsburg         21    11   3    7       35:25       36
6      M'gladbach       21    10   4    7       37:26       34
7      Mainz                22   10   4    8       31:36       34  
8      Hertha BSC       21     9   4    8       32:25       31
9      Augsburg           21     9   4    8       30:30       31
10     Hoffenheim       21     6    7   8      44:44        26
11    Hannover           21      7    3 11      29:37        24
12    Bremen               21     5    6  10     25:46        21
13    Frankfurt            21      4    6  10    24:38        21
14    Nürnberg            21      3   11   7    25:36        20
15    Stuttgart             21      5     4  12   33:43        19
16    Freiburg             21      4     7  11   20:40        19
17    Hamburg            21      4    4   13  35:51         16 
18    B'schweig           21      4    3  14  15:39         15

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