The Bundesliga graces our television, computer, and phone screens with real, live soccer this weekend.
Yes. Oh yes.
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The German league still has plenty at stake in the title race, European qualification picture, and even the relegation zone, and we’ve got some ideas on who may return with fire.
Since it’s the first day back, we’ll give a brief primer on positions and more after the picks (or click the somewhat exhaustive preview links included in this introduction.
BTW, if you’re new to Germany’s top-flight, here’s a guide to help you pick a club to support.
Augsburg v. Wolfsburg: The endangered hosts are much better at home than away, but Wout Weghorst and Wolfsburg will know that a European place on the table can be theirs with a win and Schalke dropping points in the derby. 3-1 Wolfsburg.
Hoffenheim v. Hertha Berlin: Ninth-place Hoffenheim has been terrible at home, while Hertha is improved but streaky. There’s enough to infer both sides can disappoint in their return. 1-1 draw.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Paderborn: Just huge for the relegation race, as USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales and the hosts have a six-point edge on bottom-dwelling Paderborn. It feels like this could be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the visitors, though both have shown a penchant for conceding this season. Dusseldorf 2-1.
Borussia Dortmund v. Schalke: One of the best geographic rivalries in the world, the Revierderby is an incredible occasion. For this one, the second-place hosts live 14 points above sixth-place Schalke. Dortmund won seven of eight matches since the arrival of Erling Braut Haaland in January, while Schalke won just once in the same period. David Wagner’s a fine coach and there will be no living Yellow Wall, but look for Gio Reyna to best fellow American youngster Weston McKennie. 2-0 to Dortmund, who moves back to within a point of Sunday returnees Bayern with a win.
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RB Leipzig v. Freiburg: The one-time table leading hosts are five points behind Bayern Munich to start the weekend, but Freiburg is a plucky, ornery bunch who will be eyeing the Europa League places. Will this be a spot for a slip-up? We don’t think so. A big game for USMNT mid Tyler Adams and in-demand transfer target Dayot Upamecano as they keep a cool clean sheet in a 2-0 Leipzig win.
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Borussia Monchengladbach: There’s a lot to like in this one, as Gladbach led the table earlier this season and still has a shot for the top of the pops. Frankfurt hit a dreadful February skid where they were outscored 10-1 over three losses, but had climbed back into the European qualifying picture before that. Could go either way. We’ll peg it as a 1-1 draw.
Koln v. Mainz: Few league matches in the world feature as few letters in the club’s names as this one (I’m weird), and the only thing you’d feel comfortable betting on in this one is goals. Of course, that could see the 10th-place Billy Goats and 15th-place 05ers throw up zeroes on the board because this is the Bundesliga and it’s unpredictable. We’ll guess not: Robin Quaison and Jhon Cordoba both find the net in a 3-2 home win.
Union Berlin v. Bayern Munich: Union has beaten Dortmund and Gladbach at home this season, and the underdog battlers will hope to catch the leaders rusty. Bayern entered the coronavirus pause on a 11-match unbeaten league run with 10 wins, winning their three other games across all competitions and boasting a 46-9 combined score line. There’s enough here to think we may see a surprise result, because are you doing predictions if you don’t peg one? Another 1-1 draw.
Werder Bremen v. Bayer Leverkusen: Bremen has massively underachieved this season and they’ll have used this pause to breathe deep and hope for better upon return. It may come, but not here. Bayer 2-0.