The race for the Bundesliga title is hotting up, with all three top teams winning last week - all on the road. While FC Bayern and Borussia Mönchengladbach picked up three points in Hoffenheim and Leverkusen, it was leaders Borussia Dortmund that achieved the toughest task in ending RB Leipzig's unbeaten home record. It keeps BVB six points clear, a lead they should retain as the top two take on opponents who are both struggling at the other end of the table.
As usual, I am going to be predicting the scores for all nine matches from Friday through to Sunday evening. There is also the competition for this week, where you can put your own predictions in the comments section and win 1 SCR if you beat my total score.
Hertha BSC v FC Schalke 04 (Fri.)
Hertha have had a solid season, and got the Rückrunde underway with an excellent win against relegation-threatened Nürnberg. Schalke meanwhile have failed to match their potential, but also started 2019 with three points against a decent Wolfsburg side.
Pál Dárdai's men have been impressive at home this season, but there are signs that things have started to turn around for Domenico Tedesco in Gelsenkirchen. This will be a close one and both coaches will fancy their chances. Earlier in the season, a poor Schake were beaten 2:0 at home by the fast-starting Berliners.
Prediction: Hertha 1:1 Schalke
Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 (Sat.)
After their tight and rather fortuitous win in Leipzig, things should be a little easier for Lucien Favre's Dortmund as they entertain second-from-bottom side Hannover. BVB have piled up the goals in front of their home support this season, and this should be a straightforward ninety minutes or the league leaders.
Hannover coach André Breitenreiter is on the brink, and knows that his team will have their work cut out. They will surely give everything for a repeat of this season's previous meeting, where they managed to hold Dortmund to a goalless draw.
Prediction: Dortmund 3:0 Hannover
Borussia Mönchengladbach v FC Augsburg (Sat.)
Third-placed Gladbach picked up where they left off at the end of 2018, with a gritty performance in Leverkusen to take all three points. Dieter Hecking's men will fancy their chances against Augsburg, who are really struggling to pick up crucial points.
Manuel Baum's side started the season solidly, and have been unlucky in a number of close matches. This has started to bite, and the Bavarians are now well and truly embroiled in the relegation mix. They are one clear of the drop zone, but are six points adrift of Fortuna Düsseldorf above them. If they can repeat the 1:1 draw earlier in the season against the foals, they will be more than happy.
Prediction: Gladbach 2:0 Augsburg
SC Freiburg v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Sat.)
Freiburg have punched well above their weight this season, and have been solid on home turf with only defeats in nine matches. Opponents Hoffenheim meanwhile have continually blown hot and cold, providing a mix of fast-paced football with some poor defending.
This is a hard one to call as Julian Nagelsmann's side are capable of beating anybody on their day, but Freiburg have this layer of tenacity that others lack. Earlier in the season, Hoffenheim eased to a 3:1 win in Sinsheim, but this time we should see a much closer affair.
Prediction: Freiburg 2:1 Hoffenheim
1.FSV Mainz 05 v 1.FC Nürnberg (Sat.)
Mainz have established themselves as a decent mid-table outfit, and started the Rückrunde with an exciting win in Stuttgart. Sandro Schwarz's men will surely be backing themselves to make it two wins on the bounce against bottom side Nürnberg.
Germany's perennial yo-yo club would get off to a solid start, but are right up against it. Coach Michael Köllner is struggling for answers, and the Bavarians will be hard pressed to repeat theie 1:1 draw earlier in the season.
Prediction: Mainz 05 3:1 Nürnberg
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Sat.)
Wolfsburg had made a steady climb at the end of the Hinrunde, but were unable to continue to run against Schalke 04 last week. It is sure to be close against another one of the pre-season favourites, Bayer Leverkusen.
Having replaced Heiko Herrlich with former Dortmund boss Peter Bosz, Leverkusen were unable to break down high-flying Gladbach, and will find it just as hard against Bruno Labbadia's side. The Wolves will be looking to repeat this season's earlier result, which saw them charge to a 3:1 win at the BayArena.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 1:0 Leverkusen
Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt (Sat.)
After a swift start, Werder Bremen have started to slide, and will be looking to get things motoring again in front of their home fans. Visitors Frankfurt however have been one of the most potent attacks in Germany, and started 2019 in fine form with an easy win over Freiburg.
Frankfurt nearly always score goals, and the onus will be on Florian Kohfeldt's men to keep up with their fast-faced opponents. This will be close, but Adi Hütter's men look good to claim at least a point in the Saturday evening fixture.
Prediction: Bremen 2:2 Frankfurt
FC Bayern München v VfB Stuttgart (Sun.)
FC Bayern showed glimpses of best form in the first half against Hoffenheim, but had to weather a storm before claiming all three points. Stuttgart on the other hand scored two late goals against Mainz, but it was not enough to negate the three they conceded earlier in the contest.
The Bavarians will be hot favourites for this Sunday afternoon encounter, even if their home form has not been up to scratch this season. Niko Kovač's men will be looking to match or better their earlier 3:0 win against Markus Weinzierl's struggling side, as they look to keep Dortmund within their sights in search of a record-extending seventh league title.
Prediction: FC Bayern 4:1 Stuttgart
Fortuna Düsseldorf v RB Leipzig (Sun.)
After some earlier trauma, it looked as though Fortuna Düsseldorf were doomed to make another swift return to the 2. Bundesliga. However, Friedhelm Funkel's side flicked the switch at the tail end of the Hinrunde, and started 2019 brightly with a 2:1 win in Augsburg.
Leipzig will be looking to get their campaign back on track after losing their unbeaten home record against Dortmund, and will certainly need to get their finishing in order. The form book suggests that Ralf Rangnick's men have the firepower, but it could be another one of those days for the feisty Flingeraner. Earlier in the season, the two teams shared the points with a 1:1 draw at the Red Bull Arena.
Prediction: Fortuna Düsseldorf 2:1 RB Leipzig
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