the top of the table looks awfully familiar as BVB, FCB and Hoffenheim fill out the top 3, As match Day 6 is upon us
FC BAYERN München vs. VFL WOLFSBURG
To think, only a few short seasons ago this was one of the premier match-ups in the Bundesliga. My how the time have changed. Bayern, in their previous two matches, have looked simply brilliant. A 4:0 win against Mainz followed by a simply fantastic 0:3 win at Schalke, have proven that these sleeping giants are wide awake following their defeat a few weeks ago in Hoffenheim. That defeat, seemingly reinvigorated a side that is capable of winning ten consecutive matches at any moment in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg especially, has felt the wrath of Bayern these past two seasons. Do not expect anything different on Friday night as the Robben-Lewa-Müller-James-Kimmich party train continues to roll on.
Wolfsburg looked very good in the first half of their draw against Werder Bremen on Tuesday. Divock Origi scored his first goal as a member of The Wolves on a beautiful cross from Paul-Georges Ntep. The big problem is, they were unable to maintain that form in the second 45 minutes, and allowed Werder numerous chances to win the match, after already equalizing in the 56th minute. The short story here is this: Werder did not capitalize on their chances to win the match against Wolfsburg, Bayern on the other hand, will, and they will do it more than once. It will be a long night at the Allianz Arena for VfL Wolfsburg.
FCB: Ulreich – Kimmich, J. Boateng, Hummels, Rafinha – Vidal, Thiago – James, T. Müller, F. Ribery – Lewandowski
WBG: Casteels – Verhaegh, Knoche, Uduokhai, Gerhardt – Camacho, Arnold – Malli, Didavi, Ntep – Origi
FINAL: FC Bayern München 4:0 VfL Wolfsburg
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht frankfurt
Regardless of the action of Augsburg’s Daniel Baier, RB Leipzig missed a massive opportunity to keep pace with the “big boys” of the Bundesliga by dropping all three points in the Fuggerstadt earlier this week. The suspension of Naby Keita certainly did not help their cause. Now it is a “must-win” match against a decently in-form Frankfurt side. The expectations are different for RB this season as is the workload. They do possess the squad depth to excel in all competitions, but are severely under-performing at the moment, especially as it pertains to the Bundesliga. Mr. Creativity himself, Emil Forsberg should be back in the starting XI. Expect a heavy dose of feeds to superstar forward Timo Werner, as well as Yussuf Poulsen. Leipzig must win this match if they have any desire to keep pace at the top of table.
Eintracht are turning out to be a feisty bunch. Every week I predict their collapse and every week they prove me wrong. Well, I am going to predict their demise, yet again. RB Leipzig have too much firepower for Niko Kovac’s lads, especially with the anticipated return of Sweden international Emil Forsberg at centre-mid. There is certainly talent on this Frankfurt side, yet, they seemingly always need the other squad to have something unfortunate happen, or they themselves catch a stroke of luck, to achieve victory. In short, despite the talent, it is hard to believe in them fully. Perhaps when they beat Bayern or in this case, RBL, they will make a “believer” out of me.
RBL: Gulasci – Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Bernardo – Demme, Ilsanker – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Poulsen, Werner
SGE: Hradecky – Abraham, Hasebe, Falette – Chandler, Willems – Fernandes – Gacinovic, De Guzman – Haller – K.-P. Boateng
FINAL: RB Leipzig 2:1 Eintracht Frankfurt
TSG 1899 HOFFENHEIM vs. FC SCHALKE
Hoffeheim were able to escape Mainz on Wednesday, but only barely. The football Gods say however: “Three points are three points.” It did not look to be easy as Mainz were ahead 2:0 after only 16 minutes. Slowly, TSG were able to chip away at the lead, eventually equalizing right before half time. It took them the entire second half and then some (90 + 2), until the hero of the FC Bayern match, Mark Uth, was able to do the honors again, scoring the decisive goal as Hoffenheim remained undefeated in the Bundesliga. Somehow, it seems Julian Nagelsmann’s squad always finds a way. As long as Sandro Wagner and Mark Uth are playing up front they are never out of a match, as either is capable of scoring at any time. Nadiem Amiri as well as Havard Nordtweit have put in impressive performances recently and could have a large impact on this match against a Schalke side that were slammed at home against a determined Bayern.
Schalke are proving to be inconsistent again this season. Reminiscent of the 2015-16 season under then-manager, André Breitenreiter. They will get a great results only to follow that up with a complete disaster. Domenico Tedesco’s tactics were futile against Bayern this past Tuesday, for which the side paid dearly, losing at the Veltins Arena 0:3. To secure a victory at Hoffenheim is no small feat. Tedesco has got to be on point with his tactics. This means he will have to out-manage Julian Naglesmann. Good luck. Schalke are particularly terrible when playing in their own half, making them vulnerable against Hoffenheim’s press. They will need standout performances from Leon Goretzka, Nabil Bentaleb, Yevhen Konoplyanka, and Guido Burgstaller. The back line will need to likewise have a stellar performance against a TSG side capable of inflicting damage in the blink of an eye.
HOF: Baumann – , Vogt, B. Hübner, Nordtveit – Kaderabek, Zuber – Geiger – Nad, Amiri, Rupp – Krameric, Wagner
S04: Fährmann – Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic – D. Caligiuri, Bentaleb, Oczipka – Goretzka – Harit, Konoplyanka – G. Burgstaller
FINAL: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2:1 FC Schalke
WERDER BREMEN vs. SC FREIBURG
Werder are so close to winning their first match of the 2017-18 campaign. They looked fantastic in the final 45 minutes of their draw against Wolfsburg. The problem is, they cannot seem to string together 90 minutes of good football. Bremen are struggling to keep possession, defend against long shots, and downright awful at finishing their chances. All of these weaknesses must be improved upon or it could be another bout with relegation this season. Thomas Delaney and Fin Bartels need to be on point in this match. If Ludwig Augustinsson is on good form it will only increase their chances of delivering a winning performance. It cannot be said that Werder are a good home side, seeing as they have not won a match yet. Lets simply agree their chances are better.
Vincenzo Grifo and Maximilian Philipp. I will keep saying it. They did not replace either, and they are paying for it. Freiburg are a complete disaster so far this season. The squad has no significant strengths and a heaping mound of weaknesses. They are highly susceptible to through ball chances by their opponents, cannot defend set pieces, and concede far too many shots from distance. These are only a few of many deficiencies for Christian Streich’s lads. Freiburg already has the second-worst goal differential in the league at minus seven. Aside from building a wall in front of goal Donald Trump himself would be proud of against Dortmund two weeks ago, they have done little to inspire confidence.
BRE: Pavlenka – Ro. Bauer, L. Sané, Veljkovic – Gebre Selassie, Bargfrede, Augustinsson – Kainz, Delaney – Bartels, Belfodil
SCF: Schwolow – Lienhart, Schuster, Söyüncü – P. Stenzel, C. Günter – Höfler, Frantz – Terrazzino, Haberer – Niederlechner
FINAL: Werder Breman 2:0 SC Freiburg
FSV MAINZ 05 vs. HERTHA BERLIN
Mainz had a good showing in Hoffenheim but could not close the door on TSG. A 2:0 lead disintegrated into a 2:3 deficit, and ultimately, defeat. Mainz have proven this season, more than once, they are weak at protecting a lead. The squad excels at gaining possession from the opposing team, but struggle to maintain it. A troubling pattern for Mainz is the fact that they take many shots of poor quality. Sure, they create “scoring chances,” but if those chances are limited to long distance prayers from outside the penalty area it accomplishes very little in terms of scoring goals. There has been the sporadic glimpse of hope for Mainz, but with only one win so far this season, they need far better than that.
Hertha will again need to prove they can win against a weaker opponent away from the Olympiasstadion. They are back in the top half of the table currently, though, as this season takes shape, it looks to be far more top-heavy than in recent years meaning, 40-something points may not be enough for a Europa League qualification. If Hertha cannot win matches against the likes of a struggling side such as Mainz, they will have very little chance at European play next season. The differences between Mainz and Hertha are crucial to keep rack of. Hertha creates chances, but are far more successul at converting those chances. Hertha possess a number of players with good individual skill, able to create their own shots. While Berlin struggles to keep possession, they do excel at counter-attacks down the wings, spreading the pitch and creating space. This is must-win for them, in my opinion.
M05: Adler – Balogun, Bell, Diallo – Brosinski, Donato – Gbamin, Latza – Öztunali, Fischer – Muto
BSC: Jarstein – Weiser, Stark, Rekik, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred, Lustenberger – Leckie, Darida, Esswein – Ibisevic
FINAL: FSV Mainz 05 1:2 Hertha Berlin
VFB STUTTGART vs FC AUGSBURG
Stuttgart laid a complete stinker at the Borussia Park earlier this week. The side has been fairly successful at playing wide and attacking down the wings this season, their ratio of success however, was minimized by Dieter Hecking’s squad. Holger Badstuber has proven to be a solid signing, when he has played. Other than the former-Germany international centre-back, there has been little to brag about in the Stuttgart defence. If you concede goals you must score on the opposite side of the pitch in order to stay ahead. VfB are not doing that particularly well either. Simon Terodde is proving to be a great 2nd Bundesliga player, but perhaps a bit “over his head” in Germany’s top flight. I would start Chadrac Akolo personally, as he has been the best player in attack for The Reds this season.
Augsburg are shocking the world. Ok, ok. I am, for the first time, going to pick them to win a match, and no longer declare them as relegation candidates. Please Augsburg, do not let me down. Alfred Finbogasson, Caiuby, and Daniel Baier have been fantastic through five match days, despite the actions of Baier towards RB Leipzig’s manager Ralph Hasenhüttl on Wednesday, which has earned him a suspension. This club seems on a mission to prove all of the naysayers wrong. Look for Augsburg to frustrate Stuttgart in this match, winning possession, attacking up the middle, and launching efficient counter-attacks when The Reds make an error advancing up the pitch. FCA will also try to draw fouls close to goal as they are quite effective at set pieces.
VfB: Zieler – Pavard, Baumgartl, Kaminski – Beck, Aogo – Ascacibar, Burnic – Asano, Brekalo – Terodde
FCA: Hitz – Opare, Gouweleeuw, Hinteregger, Max – Khedira, Koo – Heller, Greoritsch, Caiuby – Finnbogason
FINAL: VfB Stuttgart 0:1 FC Augsburg
BORUSSIA DORTMUND vs. BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH
Borussia Dortmund are clicking on all cylinders. The have scored 13 goals, conceded none. They lead the Bundesliga in possession (64.3%), are second in pass accuracy (84.8%) and are first in overall team rating (7.28 – whoscored.com). BVB have won 33 out of 40 Bundesliga matches played at the Signal-Iduna Park, with 7 draws and no defeats. Ousman Dembele’s replacement, right-winger Andriy Yarmolenko has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the club three short weeks ago. Christian Pulisic and Maximilian Philipp have both been outstanding in their left-wing roles, filling in for injured superstar Marco Reus. Just keep doing what you are doing Dortmund. It is that simple. Peter Bosz has yet to feel what it is like to concede a goal in the Bundesliga thanks to a stellar back four at the moment, led by centre-back Sokratis. Lots of possession, lots of chances, lots of goals. Dortmund wins.
‘Gladbach have the unfortunate task of traveling to Dortmund. Listed above is why they should be expecting at best, a draw in this fixture. This is going to difficult though, as BVB create a mountain of chances and ‘Gladbach are poor at preventing their opponents from doing so. Additionally, BVB will exploit the fact that The Foals are weak in defending against attack from the wings. Pulisic and Yarmolenko will be licking their chops. Occasionally Dieter Hecking will get a win here and there, his tactics though, are tiresome and it is only a matter of time before the Mönchengladbach front office shows him the door for underachieving with a squad that should be knocking on the door of the Champions League.
BVB: Bürki – Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan – Castro, Sahin, M. Götze – Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Philipp
BMG: Sommer – Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Kramer, Zakaria – Herrmann, Hazard – Stindl, Raffael
FINAL: Borussia Dortmund 3:1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
HANNOVER 96 VS. FC KOLN
Hannover have done just enough to get results this season and climb the table, to everyone’s surprise. They are not particularly strong in possession (49.3%) nor in their pass accuracy (74.2%). What Hannover does do well is consistently convert when they are able to create a chance. Quality over quantity. Salif Sané and Martin Harnik have performed admirably for the promoted side. Will they hold on to a Champions League position for the entire season? Of course not. They are taking great steps though, toward securing a second season in the top tier of German football.
Köln have hit the panic button. They cannot win at home, they cannot win away, they cannot win anywhere or against anyone. Did Anthony Modeste truly mean that much to Peter Stöger’s squad? Apparently so. This squad has literally been poor in almost every discipline you can imagine on the pitch. There are too many to list to be honest. The two main things the need to improve overnight are: 1. Convert your chances (Cologne are getting shots on goal every match and simply not getting the ball in the back of the net). 2. Learn to defend again. With a negative 13 goal differential The Billy Goats will not be winning any tie-breakers at season’s end should it come down to that statistic for relegation. They must start winning. Its just that simple.
H96: Tschauner – Korb, S. Sané, Hübner, Ostrzolek – Schwegler – Anton, Bakalorz – Harnik, Klaus – Füllkrug
FCK: T. Horn – Klünter, Sörensen, Heintz, Meré – M. Lehmann, Höger – Risse, Bittencourt – Osako – Cordoba
FINAL: Hannover 96 1:1 FC Köln
BAYER LEVERKUSEN VS. HAMBURGER SV
Leverkusen are a funny group. The seem to unable to develop any type of consistency whatsoever, despite a roster stacked with talented players. This again has me believing that Heiko Herrlich’s days under Rudi Völler are numbered. Offence has not been the issue in 2017-18. Leverkusen create chances, score goals, and are extremely efficient in their passing. They are severely under-performing in defence however, which is rather troublesome considering the names who currently occupy the Bayer back line. If Herrlich is somehow able to get his defence on par with his attack, Leverkusen will once again rise to the top half of the table and contend for the European positions.
Hamburg were throttled at home by Dortmund. They fought valiantly but were unable to crack the Bundesliga-leaders. Time to put that aside. There is a real opportunity for Markus Gisdol’s crew here at the BayArena. Andre Hahn, Lewis Holtby, and Bobby Wood all had chances at one point or another to deliver the first goal scored against Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season. They must bring that same intensity into this match. If they do, they will not only score a goal in this match, but perhaps two or three. Leverkusen’s back line is currently far off in terms of form from that of Borussia Dortmund, or most other clubs for that matter. Gisdol must encourage his lads to be aggressive. Challenge Bayer in the midfield with the same intensity as they did Dortmund on Wednesday. If they can manage to execute this, there is a chance to steal a valuable away win and regain some lost momentum.
LEV: Leno – L. Bender, Retsos, S. Bender, Wendell – Kohr, Aranguiz – Bellarabi, Brandt – Havertz, Volland
HSV: Mathenia – Diekmeier, K. Papadopoulos, Mavraj, Sakai – Jung, Walace, Sahilovic – Hahn, Holtby, Wood
FINAL: Bayer Leverkusen 3:2 Hamburger SV