Soccer / scroum
Bundesliga Preview: Week 11
Before the Bundesliga takes a week off for the international break, we are in for a treat. The weekend kicks off the with the Lower Saxony derby between Hannover 96 and VfL Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen take on second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach, and in what is perhaps the biggest fixture of the season so far, leaders Borussia Dortmund entertain reigning champions FC Bayern München. 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, which will be on another page. There, you can put your own predictions in the comments section and win 1 SCR if you beat my total score. Last week, It was a bit of a shocker. There were four successful challengers in the new competition, and there were plenty of surprise results. Will things go to form this week? Hannover 96 v VfL Wolfsburg (Fri.) The weekend kicks off with the local Lower Saxony derby, with struggling Hannover entertaining Wolfsburg. Hannover are stuck in the playoff spot, while Bruno Labbadia's Wölfe are six points ahead after a mixed bag of results this season. Both teams are hard-working units, and this could be a very close encounter. While Wolfsburg have the slightly better form, André Breitenreiter's men have home advantage. Looking at a prediction, I do not think anything can separate them. Prediction: Hannover 1:1 Wolfsburg TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Augsburg (Sat.) This is another hard contest to call. Hoffenheim have blown hot and cold this season, not just between matches but during them too. Julian Nagelsmann's men can take plenty of heart from their Champions League comeback against Lyon (with ten men), while scrappers Augsburg will be looking to make up for two dropped points last week against Nürnberg. The Bavarians have had a few additional days of rest, and this could be crucial if things get tight. Prediction: Hoffenheim 2:2 Augsburg Werder Bremen v Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sat.) After a superb start to the season, Werder have lost their last two Bundesliga matches. Gladbach, although second in the table, were not at their best in beating Düsseldorf last week, and before that they were beaten 3:1 in Frankfurt and pummelled 5:0 in the cup by Bayer Leverkusen. Werder's 2:6 defeat by Leverkusen can be considered a blip. Expect Florian Kohfeldt's men to get things right in front of their home crowd. There will be goals. Prediction: Werder 3:2 Gladbach SC Freiburg v 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Sat.) This is a face-off between two of the more tenacious teams in this years Bundesliga. Freiburg have showed that they are more than capable of mixing it with the big boys, beating Gladbach 3:1 before snatching a late point in Munich against Bayern. Mainz may have started to leak a few goals, but their 2:1 win against high-flying Bremen last week shows that they cannot be underestimated. This is going to be close, but Christian Streich's team have looked solid at home this season. This will be the clincher. Prediction: Freiburg 2:1 Mainz Fortuna Düsseldorf v Hertha BSC (Sat.) After a stunning start that included a 2:0 win over FC Bayern, Hertha BSC have gone off the boil a little. They were a complete no-show in their last match against RB Leipzig, and a meeting with Keller-dwellers Fortuna Düsseldorf may well be lucky timing. Friedhelm Funkel's Fortuna have shown the occasional spark this season, but this has not been enough. I expect Pál Dárdai's men to get back on the victory trail in this one. Prediction: Düsseldorf 0:2 Hertha 1.FC Nürnberg v VfB Stuttgart (Sat.) Nürnberg have been some as the league's whipping boys - and they have been on the end of some hidings. But by the same token they have also shown great resilience and fighting spirit - particularly in front of their home fans. Michael Köllner's side fought hard to earn a point in Augsburg, and will come into this one in a similar frame of mind. Stuttgart is a miserable place to be at the moment. The club has already sacked Tayfun Korkut, and his successor Markus Weinzierl has had a shocking start with three straight defeats. I expect this series to continue, with Der Club taking it by a single goal. Prediction: Nürnberg 1:0 Stuttgart Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern München (Sat.) The Saturday evening fixture is the one every fan of German football will be watching out for. Champions FC Bayern, struggling for form, against early pace-setters and back-again rivals Dortmund. Despite Bayern's struggles, they managed to win their Champions League tie midweek, while Dortmund suffered their first competitive defeat under Lucien Favre against Atlético Madrid. In this match, form and past records count for nothing. For the first time in six seasons, the defending champions are the underdogs, and the pressure will be on the current league leaders. For me, this is head versus heart, with the head winning. Just. Which means that I am predicting an exciting draw. Prediction: Dortmund 2:2 FC Bayern RB Leipzig v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Sun.) Like Dortmund, Leipzig's long unbeaten run came to an end in midweek. Having gone ten matches with defeat, Ralf Rangnick's side fell to a weak 1:2 Europa League loss against Glasgow Celtic. Leverkusen, meanwhile, fought tooth and nail to set their European ship back on course with a 1:0 win over FC Zürich. Heiko Herrlich's side have been one of the most inconsistent teams this season, and one of the hardest to predict. After netting eleven goals against Werder and Gladbach, they then collapsed to a 1:3 home defeat against Hoffenheim. If Bayer turn up, this could be interesting. But they never win when I back them, so I am going for a Red Bull win. Prediction: Leipzig 3:1 Leverkusen Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Schalke 04 (Sun.) The final match on Sunday evening sees in-form Frankfurt entertain Schalke, who appear to be stuttering back to life after their dismal start. Both sides made excellent progress in Europe, with Adi Hütter's Eagles securing a place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, while Domenico Tedesco's men took a big leap towards Champions League qualification after beating Galatasaray. The combination of better form and home advantage gives Frankfurt the edge, but this will be a tight one - Frankfurt to take it by the odd goal in three. Prediction: Frankfurt 2:1 Schalke For more Bundesliga fun stuff, check out my Little Bundesliga Book project. Copies of the 2016 pocket book are still available, with the aim of raising funds for a new edition at the end of this season.