Hannover v HSV
Could a derby game be just what Hannover needs to get them out of their funk? Could the same be said of Hamburg. Believe it or not Hannover are looking to do the double over Hamburg this season because they won the reverse fixture back in the heady days of November when anything seemed possible.
Only HSV’s draw against Ingolstadt separates the two in the form table as both teams have only mustered on win in their last five. Moreover, both teams shots per game this season is a measly 10.1 for the home side and 11.5 for the other so don’t expect much goal mouth action. In fact if they take bets on the lest amount of minutes coverage during Konferenz on Saturday afternoons then put a tenner on it.
Ingolstadt v Schalke
Both teams have had their recent decent form interrupted by Hertha and Ingolstadt’s league position and squad value should not in any way cast them as under dogs although that is most certainly the likely psychological tactic that Ralph Hasenhüttl will adopt.
His team are more or less safe from relegation but for Schalke this is an important match and an opportunity to take three much needed points. Ingolstadt like to zip the ball around so a high pressing game is the order of the day for Andre Breitenreiter’s team. If they can take three points form this game they’ll have earned it. Ingolstadt haven’t lost at home in the Rückrunde.
Bayer Leverkusen v Wolfsburg
This is a perfect opportunity for Leverkusen to effectively eliminate Wolfsburg from the Champions League qualification reckoning. They have injuries but nothing that their squad can’t absorb and no midweek game to keep an eye on. And of course they have home advantage. Apparently Charles Aranguiz is finally fit so perhaps we’ll see him at some point during the afternoon.
Should Max Kruse play after all the negative publicity surrounding him in the last week?
Well he’s fit and physically rested so the only question is whether he is emotionally ready for the match. He’s been under the microscope over the last couple of weeks with awkward questions being asked about his lifestyle and commitment to his profession. If he’s struggled with this sort of scrutiny then Dieter Hecking may decide to leave him out or start him from the bench. It depends entirely how he thinks the player will respond. But after those bad results against Darmstadt and Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg need their best players and although he’s not been able to reproduce the form he showed at ‘Gladbach, Kruse is one of their better players.
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Darmstadt v Stuttgart
Such has their been their transformation that there have been times where it’s been difficult to reconcile Stuttgart under Kramny to the team under Zorniger. But it was naive to expect the new Vfb coach to have ironed out all the kinks. Darmstadt are not as one dimensional as they are perceived as evidenced by their rousing and successful attempt to beat Wolfsburg but this will be a cat and mouse game with each team hoping to coax the other into making a mistake and hitting on the break.
Stuttgart average just over fifteen fouls a game and as we’ve said before Darmstadt do like a free kick so the VfB defence will need to be very disciplined. Darmstadt are also one of the best pass interceptors in the league while Stuttgart are among the worst passers.
Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen
Werder coach Viktor Skripnik said before this game ”The favourite should and could win. But, we have to avoid another disaster like in Munich.”
No doubt Skripnik is deliberately downplaying his team's chances so he can claim a pyrrhic victory should they only narrowly lose or no one will yell at him after the game should they lose heavily.
I’d expect his language in the dressing room to be far more positive because if that’s what he is saying to his players directly then Werder don’t have a chance. BVB do have the Liverpool game as a distraction and it’s not out of the question that Thomas Tuchel will rotate his squad.
That being said it’s a tough game to analyse without arriving at anything other than a Dortmund win. The home side will need to be distracted about Klopp’s return on Thursday to the point that they end up kicking towards the wrong goal.
Borussia Mönchengladbach v. Hertha Berlin
Hertha don’t concede many goal attempts which ledes me to believe that they may be able to suppress ‘Gladbach’s exuberant attacking style. Hertha are also good converting chances but they tend not to make many opportunities to score in a game. That being said, Hertha’s away form is only marginally better that ‘Gladbach which as you allude to Nik is pretty dismal. In fact ‘the Berliners have only won once away from the capital in 2016. Since neither team are inclined to draw I would say three points is going somewhere and my money would be on ‘Gladbach. Even Hannover have more points on the road than Andre Schubert’s team. They’re a Jekyll and Hyde club this season.
Why are ‘Gladbach so terrible away from home?
Off the cuff I’d say they are set up to attack and that can get caught out by home sides whose onus is on them to attack. Remember that although the turnaround when Schubert took charge was dramatic there must have been some structural flaws in the team’s set up which may be more apparent on the road. You can’t also discount the psychological issues. Once you get used to losing away from home it's tough to stay positive and as guinan from Star Trek once said “When a man is convinced he's going to die tomorrow, he'll probably find a way to make it happen.” It is likely that these issues won’t be ironed out until preseason in July.
But this only further illustrates the scale of the task for Hertha. Because despite ‘Gladbach’s away record they are still in Champions League contention because of their home record.