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Bundesliga Wrap: Bayern Munich come back to score big, Schalke prove a point

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It’s never boring in the Bundesliga, and Saturday’s matches only emphasized that point. 24 goals from seven matches, with a full quarter of them coming in Bayern Munich’s come from behind win at Wolfsburg. The giants remain top, naturally, although Dortmund could reduce their lead to a mere 20 points by the end of the weekend. It’s still Braunschweig, Freiburg, and Hamburg at the bottom, although a surprise win from Freiburg on Sunday could lift them out of danger, while Stuttgart and Nurnberg are making a compelling case to fall down to Bundesliga 2.

Saturday Results

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-2 Augsburg
It was the expected result, although many thought Gladbach would be leading at the break. See, the Foals have had a terrible time of it recently, taking leads only to lose them by the end of the match. Today was no exception. Raffael scored five minutes in, but by the 35th minute, Halil Altintop had canceled out the lead. The hosts had hope until the 81st minute, when an Augsburg counter produced a goal from Tobias Werner. Gladbach, now down to eighth, remain winless in 2014, while Augsburg move into sixth and a European position.

Hamburg 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Hamburg, who – exempting a surprising 3-0 victory over Dortmund a couple weeks back – have been in horrible form lately, are likely relieved to have come out of this match with a point. The hosts came undone following a corner, resulting in a goal from Eintracht center back Alexander Madlung. A penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu tied things up, keeping Hamburg in 16th.

Hannover 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
If Leverkusen don’t watch out, they’re going to lose out on next season’s Champions League, after holding second for much of the season. The draw with Hannover puts Dortmund, who’ve yet to play, in second, while Schalke are now even with Leverkusen on points. It could’ve been worse for the visitors had Szabolcs Huszti scored his penalty in the fifth minute, but they still let the lead slip away when Artjoms Rudnevs canceled out Gonzalo Castro’s goal.

Schalke 4-0 Hoffenheim
After losing 6-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League fixture, then falling 5-1 to Bayern last weekend, it seems Schalke had something of a point to prove. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar opened the scoring in the sixth minute and went on to score a hat-trick, despite missing a penalty. Schalke’s fourth came from Chinedu Obasi, off an assist from Kevin-Prince Boateng. After a dreadful start to the season, it’s looking like Schalke will play in the Champions League again next year.

Stuttgart 2-2 Braunschweig
A draw must seem like a great result for Stuttgart, who’d lost their last seven matches. Then again, a point doesn’t do much, considering the side, which started the season in the Europa League playoffs, are now just barely above the relegation zone. Braunschweig, of course, remain dead last, but they’ll be thrilled that a late goal from Ermin Bicakcic got them at least a point. Oh, and this match featured yet another missed penalty, this one from Christian Gentner of Stuttgart.

Wolfsburg 1-6 Bayern Munich
Teams just never learn their lesson, do they? If you score early on Bayern Munich they will punish you. Naldo put in the opening goal in the 17th minute, but Xherdan Shaqiri had the visitors level by the break. Then Pep Guardiola must have raged in side the FCB dressing room. Bayern scored five goals in seventeen minutes: two from Thomas Müller, one from Franck Ribéry and two more from Mario Mandžukić. Seriously, don’t make Bayern angry.

Nurnberg 0-2 Werder Bremen
Werder Bremen are sitting a bit more comfortably now, extending their unbeaten run to four games with a win over Nurnberg. Franco Di Santo and Philipp Bargfrede scored for the visitors, while Nurberg made some panicked attempts at avoiding sliding closer to the relegation zone.

Sunday Matches

Freiburg vs. Borussia Dortmund
It’s tough to see Freiburg, second from bottom, getting a result against Dortmund, second from top. But Hamburg did just that a couple weeks back, so it is possible. Not probable, but possible.

Mainz vs. Hertha Berlin
Hertha’s European hopes haven’t quite been extinguished – a win at Mainz would put them back into contention. But the visitors have struggled as of late, whereas Mainz, just a point outside the European positions, are unbeaten in their last three, and have kept a clean sheet throughout.

Pochettino enjoying best spell of career ahead of massive clash at Man City

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23:  Mauricio Pochettino (R) Manager of Tottenham Hotspur is seen on arrival at the stadium prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on January 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Mauricio Pochettino is getting ready for one of his biggest matches in charge at Tottenham, but he’s not letting the pressure get to him.

The Spurs’ boss talked down the importance of Sunday’s match against Manchester City (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), and went on to say he is currently having the most enjoyable time of his career.

[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]

Pochettino has Tottenham sitting second on the table, and they travel to the Etihad this weekend for a clash against fourth-placed Manchester City, who sit one point behind Spurs.

When asked if this weekend’s match could be a decisive result in the title race, Pochettino was unwilling to admit it was anything more than three points in a long campaign. However, when asked about the season as a whole, the Argentinian manager said he was having great fun at White Hart Lane, responding “Is it my most enjoyable time of career? Yes, maybe yes if I’m honest.”

[ MORE: Who are the Premier League title favorites? ]

Pochettino’s work at Tottenham has made him one of the most well-respected managers in the Premier League, with some reports tabbing him as the potential future boss of Manchester United.

Spurs have won six on the spin in all competitions, and will be confident facing a City side they smashed 4-1 earlier this season. With leaders Leicester facing Arsenal on Sunday, Tottenham could see themselves just two points off the pace if results go their way.

Chicharito sidelined two weeks with muscle injury

ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 04:  Javier Hernandez of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Olimpico Stadium on November 4, 2015 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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Bayer Leverkusen must move forward without their top talisman as Javier Hernandez is out with a muscle injury.

The Mexican international was forced off in the second half of Leverkusen’s midweek loss to Werder Bremen in the German Cup.

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Hernandez scored in that Werder Bremen match before getting injured, as the striker has now scored a remarkable 20 goals in his last 18 appearances for Leverkusen.

With a torn muscle fiber in his left glute, Leverkusen boss Rogers Schmidt announced Chicharito could be out for two or even three weeks.

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Including this weekend’s match at Darmstadt, Hernandez will likely miss both matches against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as well as a huge Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

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  • United 6 points outside the top four
  • Sunderland winless in four
  • MUFC has one loss in 27 vs. SAFC (W20, D6, L1)

Manchester United’s uphill battle for a top-four finish continues on Saturday when the Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

United won this fixture in September 3-0 behind goals from Memphis, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Sunderland sit 19th on the table four points from safety as the time has come for Sam Allardyce‘s side to start getting results. Without a win in their last four matches, the Black Cats must turn things around if they want to stay up in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored last time out in a draw at Liverpool, and he’ll once again be tasked with finding the back of the net if Sunderland are to win.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League Picks for Week 26 ]

For Manchester United, the pressure is still on Louis Van Gaal as rumors and reports circle linking Jose Mourinho to the job. Fifth on the table and six points behind Manchester City, a top-four finish is slipping away from United if they don’t rattle off a few wins. A late goal at Chelsea last weekend cost the Red Devils all three points, but they’ll look at this matchup against Sunderland as a good opportunity to get a positive result.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us. But our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches. We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.”

United manager Louis van Gaal: “We had lost four matches in a row in December and you see us now. You can only say that we are mentally very strong and that we can cope with the pressure. That is not enough as we have to improve our results and consistency to win a lot of matches in a row. We have to minimize the gap to our competitors.”

Prediction

Sunderland need all the points they can get to try and stay up, but United always seem to cause the Black Cats problems. Jermain Defoe is kept off the board as Louis van Gaal takes the win. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United.

Costa breaks nose, will be fit to play for “Zorro team” vs. Newcastle

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 7, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training after a clash of heads, but should be fit to play in Saturday’s match against Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Costa has six goals in his past seven Premier League games as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions.

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Manager Guus Hiddink spoke about the injury in his press conference on Friday, saying Costa collided with an Academy player in training. Hiddink said he believes Costa will be ready to play this weekend for his “Zorro team” as Costa joins Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, and Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea players to wear a mask this season.

It was not a tough duel but he put his nose on the back of the head of one of the youngsters from the Academy that we like to participate in our training games. He was very unlucky.

They are putting a mask on Diego as well, we are the team with a lot of masks, a Zorro team, and he will come back do some light training this afternoon as he must experience how he is dealing with the form and the fitting of the mask.

Costa scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Manchester United last weekend as Chelsea continue to get results under Guus Hiddink. The Blues are up to 13th on the table, just three points outside the top half.

[ RELATED: Frank Lampard urges Chelsea to sign John Terry ]

Chelsea will look to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches on Saturday against a Newcastle side that is just one point above the drop and in need of a result.