After some tough midweek cup matches, it is back to weekend action with week 21 of the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund now have a seven-point lead over Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern München, with the Bavarians slipping into third place after a surprise defeat in Leverkusen against Bayer 04. At the bottom end, Hannover 96, 1. FC Nürnberg and VfB Stuttgart are still scrapping it out.
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.
1.FSV Mainz 05 v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Fri.)
Last week, Mainz suffered a heavy defeat in Augsburg, while Leverkusen overwhelmed defending champions Bayern. Which should see Peter Bosz's side as favourites for the points. Not so. Leverkusen showed just how inconsistent they can be with a 1:2 cup defeat against second division FC Heidenheim, confirming them as one of the most annoying teams to predict.
Sandro Schwarz's side will look to get thing back on track in front of their home crowd, and in truth it is a game that can go in any direction.
Prediction: Mainz 1:1 Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Sat.)
Despite dropping a couple of points in Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund were able to extend their lead at the top to seven points. Up against inconsistent Hoffenheim, they should be expected to at least maintain that advantage.
Despite an extra-time defeat at home to Werder Bremen in the cup, Lucien Favre's men are unbeaten at the Signal Iduna Park in the league. Julian Nagelsmann's Hoffenheim meanwhile continue to blow hot and cold, and know that this is the sort of match they need to win if they are to challenge for a spot in the Champions League.
Prediction: Dortmund 2:0 Hoffenheim
RB Leipzig v Eintracht Frankfurt (Sat.)
This promises to be one of the best contests of the weekend, with fourth-placed Leipzig up against Frankfurt, who are one place behind them. Leipzig are at home, are coming off the back of a good series of results, and will be buoyant after securing a quarter-final berth in the cup. Frankfurt meanwhile would have had more time to recharge their batteries after last week's draw against Dortmund.
Ralf Rangnick's side have to be favoured on their home turf, and should have enough to cope with Frankfurt's offensive firepower. Though it will be close.
Prediction: Leipzig 2:1 Frankfurt
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Hertha BSC (Sat.)
Having climbed back into second place with an excellent win in Gelsenkirchen against local rivals Schalke 04, Gladbach should be favourites to maintain their perfect home record against Hertha BSC.
Everything is set up perfectly for Dieter Hecking's men. They are in good form, are unbeaten at home, and have had plenty of rest. Their capital city opponents meanwhile have started to stutter, and endured a gruelling 2:3 extra time cup defeat against Bayern in midweek.
Prediction: Gladbach 2:0 Hertha
Hannover 96 v 1.FC Nürnberg (Sat.)
This is another one to watch, as bottom side Hannover take on near rivals Nürnberg. Both sides need the points, and this should be a tooth and nail affair.
Hannover became the latest Bundesliga side to fire their coach, and André Breitenreiter's replacement Thomas Doll knows that this is the perfect opportunity to kick-start a revival. FCN coach Michael Köllner saw his side battle for a point against mid-table Bremen last week, and a similar performance could be enough to claim three crucial points as they look to avoid yet another instant drop.
Prediction: Hannover 1:2 Nürnberg
SC Freiburg v VfL Wolfsburg (Sat.)
Freiburg have been solid all season, while inconsistent Wolfsburg have shown flashes of brilliance at times. It all makes for another hard to call fixture at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
Christian Streich's side salvaged a late point against struggling local rivals Stuttgart last week, while Bruno Labbadia's Wolves ground out an excellent 1:0 win in Berlin against Hertha - no easy feat. There will be goals, but this is one of those meetings where it is really hard to split the two teams.
Prediction: Freiburg 2:2 Wolfsburg
FC Bayern München v FC Schalke 04 (Sat.)
It has been a weird week for the reigning champions. After suffering their first defeat of 2019 against Bayer Leverkusen, they then eked out a tighter than it should have been 3:2 win over Hertha in the cup - their first win over the Berliners since 2016.
Schalke have been the model of inconsistency all season, and suffered a flat home defeat against Gladbach last week. However, in their midweek cup tie Domenico Tedesco's men stormed to an emphatic 4:1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf. Niko Kovač's side will be favourites on their home ground, but expect Schalke not to roll over easily.
Prediction: FC Bayern 3:1 Schalke
Werder Bremen v FC Augsburg (Sun.)
Werder Bremen will be in good spirits, having beaten hot favourites Dortmund to reach the last eight of the DFB-Pokal. It may have come in a penalty shootout after extra time, nut in doing so Florian Kohfeldt's men became the first team to topple BVB in front of their home crowd.
Having gone through a sorry series of results, Manual Baum's Augsburg team finally broke the spell with an excellent three-goal romp against Mainz, inspired by hat-trick hero Alfreð Finnbogason. If Augsburg match last week's level, this could be a tough match for the Weseraner. However, home advantage and confidence should see them take the points.
Prediction: Bremen 3:1 Augsburg
Fortuna Düsseldorf v VfB Stuttgart (Sun.)
Fortuna Düsseldorf have denied the naysayers with some good results this season, and after a poor start have put some breathing space between themselves and those behind them. But nothing can be taken for granted, and coach Friedhelm Funkel would like nothing better than put ten points between his team and Stuttgart, who are hovering just above the drop zone.
The Swabians have shown glimpses of last season's form, but this not been enough to keep them out of the relegation battle. Coach Markus Weinzierl has his work cut out, and this is just the sort of match his team needs to win. Fortuna to edge it.
Prediction: Düsseldorf 2:1 Stuttgart
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