Bundesliga Preview: Match Day 18

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After a long and quiet winter break, the Bundesliga finally returns this weekend with just seven points separating the top five sides.

Unlike some previous seasons, the title race is wide open, meaning Bayern Munich will have to battle hard in the second-half of the campaign to continue their run as champions.

Match of the Weekend – Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich

There has been a lot of drama this week in German media about Jürgen Klinsmann’s coaching paperwork, which he left back home in Los Angeles, meaning the Hertha Berlin head coach might have to sit out this weekend’s massive clash with Bayern Munich until he proves his credentials are in order.

Bayern have problems of their own, with Hansi Flick’s players spending as much time on operating tables as on the training pitch during the winter break. Joshua Kimmich is suspended after picking up five yellow cards, while Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski are major doubts to feature.

Hertha are Bayern’s bogey team, and they have not won any of their last three Bundesliga visits to Berlin. A win this weekend is crucial for Flick as Bayern Munich have won the league just three out of 16 times where they were outside the top two at the mid-season break.

Rest of the Weekend

Schalke vs Borussia Mönchengladbach kicks off the weekend on Friday evening. New Royal Blues signing Marin Pongracic will be hoping to make his debut after signing for €12 million from Red Bull Salzburg. Gladbach currently sit in second place after picking up 35 points in the first half of the season. The only two times they have had a better start, they won the league (both back in the 1970s).

Borussia Dortmund have only lost one away Bundesliga game against Augsburg, but that was just last year and they will be hoping for revenge on Saturday. Dortmund usually start the second half of the season very well and have won 10 and drawn five of their last 15 games to kick off a new year. New signing Erling Haaland could be in line to make his first appearance for Lucien Favre’s side, having also moved to Germany from Salzburg at the start of the transfer window.

Hoffenheim have scored in their last 11 league games and will be looking to continue that goalscoring streak this weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles’ form has been poor recently, with no wins in their last seven games and they haven’t kept a clean sheet since October. Hoffenheim have a new option in attack, having signed Munas Dabbur for €12m from Sevilla. He could form a very potent partnership in attack with current TSG top scorer Andrej Kramaric.

Bundesliga Player to Watch: Elvis Rexhbecaj – Köln – £0.44

A new arrival at Köln during the winter break, the Kosovo-Albanian will be looking to make his new side sing, having been merely part of the backing band at parent club Wolfsburg. He was linked with a move to Leeds and Genk last month, but favoured a loan move in Germany.

He should get plenty more gametime in midfield for Köln as they look to keep away from the relegation places. They face a Wolfsburg side who started the season brilliantly, but have stuttered somewhat in recent months.

 

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About Author

Ronan Murphy is a social producer for Goal.com, where he looks after their Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as providing written features on the Bundesliga and FIFA. He also appears regularly on radio and television, including talkSport and LoveSport in the UK, talking German football while constantly sharing his strange obsession with super-striker Sandro Wagner.

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