Five things to look out for in the Bundesliga
Bayern Munich travel to Stuttgart on Saturday for their final match before the Bundesliga’s winter break with a nine-point lead and on a run of 13 wins in 14 games in all competitions.
Here are five things to look out for in this weekend’s Bundesliga action.
Lewandowski on fire
Robert Lewandowski is a good bet for more goals in Stuttgart.
The Poland striker has 21 goals in all competitions and scored in 12 of Bayern’s 16 league games this season.
Bayern must brush off fatigue and rediscover some creativity after Wednesday’s lacklustre 1-0 win over last-place Cologne when Lewandowski showed quick reactions to hit a second-half winner.
He still looks fresh despite already playing 24 games, but Bayern need to buy an under-study, reportedly they plan to sign Hoffenheim’s Sandro Wagner before the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
In Stuttgart, Bayern should have Sven Ulreich back in goal after recovering from a groin injury even though understudy Tom Starke, 36, has kept clean sheets in their last two games.
Kalou in form
Salomon Kalou’s Hertha Berlin travel to third-placed RB Leipzig for Sunday’s east German derby looking to prolong the hosts’ winless streak.
Faltering Leipzig are winless in their last four games, including their 2-1 home defeat Besiktas, which confirmed their Champions League exit.
Ex-Chelsea striker Kalou, 32, netted twice in Hertha’s 3-1 win at home to Hanover on Wednesday to give him three goals in two games after his late equaliser poached a point at Augsburg last Sunday.
“Leipzig are very strong and play good football, but we want to take at least a point,” said Kalou as Hertha look to avenge their 2-0 defeat at Leipzig in December 2016.
Stoeger’s home debut
Having stopped the rot at Dortmund with Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Mainz on his debut as head coach, Peter Stoeger will now try to bring his new club a first home win in 18 matches, against Hoffenheim on Saturday.
The win at Mainz lifted the mood, but Stoeger needs to tighten the defence and coax goals from his attack, especially with Wednesday’s German Cup, third-round clash at Bayern looming.
Dortmund have been boosted by news that Germany winger Marco Reus is training with a ball again after his knee injury in May.
Bailey’s Jamaican flair
Look out for Bayer Leverkusen’s Jamaican winger Leon Bailey at Hanover on Sunday.
Leverkusen are fourth and unbeaten in their last 11 games with Bailey providing five assists and four goals.
“He is a weapon, has brutal qualities going forward and works hard at the back,” enthused Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich.
The 20-year-old set up Kai Havertz and Lars Benders goals in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Stuttgart, then provided the killer pass for Lucas Alario’s winner when Leverkusen beat visiting Werder Bremen 1-0 on Wednesday.
Nine-year best at Schalke
Second-placed Schalke are unbeaten in their last ten games for the first time in nine years, but face a tough test at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Royal Blues fans are dreaming of a return to the Champions League for the 2010/2011 semi-finalists, but head coach Domenico Tedesco has other priorities.
“The table doesn’t interest me at all,” said the 32-year-old, who was furious after his side threw away a two-goal lead at home to Augsburg before winning 3-2 when Daniel Caligiuri netted a late penalty.
With Kevin-Prince Boateng marshalling the midfield, Niko Kovac’s Frankfurt are seventh and threatening to break into the top seven having only lost to Leverkusen and Bayern in their last 10 games.
Fixtures (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Hamburg (1930)
Cologne v Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen v Mainz, Eintracht Frankfurt v Schalke, Augsburg v Freiburg, VfB Stuttgart V Bayern Munich (1430) Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim (1730)
Hanover v Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin (1700)
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