The eyes of the top four hopefuls will be on Leverkusen on Saturday as one of Bayern’s last true obstacles to its likely ninth-straight title meets the Bavarians head-on.
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Bayern holds a 7-point lead on the field, with five teams competing for four slots in the UEFA Champions League. Both Bayern and Saturday hosts Bayer Leverkusen are still alive in European competitions, so a UCL spot could expand to fifth, but neither will know that until after the domestic season.
Second-place Borussia Dortmund plays last of the five, hosting in-form Hertha Berlin in 12:30 p.m. ET slot on Saturday. We’ll know a lot more about the chase to represent the Bundesliga in the UCL by the conclusion of that contest. If Bayer falls to Bayern, it could sit multiple results below the other three teams in the top four fight.
Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach — 2:30 p.m. ET
There were six goals between the sides in late November, when Gladbach took all the points in a 4-2 win. Freiburg is winless in four and staring down a tough run of fixtures while their Europa League hopes have taken a massive hit. Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram have been too good lately. Last week, Plea became the fourth players in Europe to post double digit league goals and assists this season. Thuram may join him soon, two assists shy of 10. Gladbach 2-1.
Bayer Leverkusen v. Bayern Munich — 9:30 a.m. ET
The two sides have midweek German Cup semifinals but will be not be distracted on Saturday. Bayer won the first match-up of the season and, yes, Hansi Flick had already taken hold of Bayern. That 2-1 loss saw Robert Lewandowski kept off the score sheet as Lukas Hradecky made 10 saves and Leon Bailey’s first-half brace drove Bayer to three points despite a late red card shown to Jonathan Tah. Also notable: Kai Havertz didn’t play. There’s every reason to think this will be a beauty, and a rare blemish on Bayern’s amazing season. The unbeaten streak goes to 16, but via a 2-2 draw.
RB Leipzig v. Paderborn — 9:30 a.m. ET
Paderborn’s three-match unbeaten streak was smashed to bits by Borussia Dortmund’s six-star show, and RBL will be just as stiff a challenge. Difficult to see anything but a home win, though Paderborn is desperate with a bottom-place 19 points now nine points behind the safe spaces and eight back of the relegation playoff match. Leipzig 3-0.
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Mainz — 9:30 a.m. ET
The hosts are basically safe following a big win over Werder Bremen and can all-but-seal that status by beating 15th-place Mainz, who’s scored just four times in its last five outings. Eintracht has scored and conceded more, so we could have entertainment, but the home side will be favored to get it done. Eintracht 3-1.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Hoffenheim — 9:30 a.m. ET
Fortuna’s unbeaten run was emphatically stopped by Bayern Munich and there’s no shame in that. Hoffenheim’s taken seven of nine points against other lesser sides and is very much alive in the race for sixth and a spot in the UEL. Take out the Bayern blowout and you see two teams finding ways to get points. That happens again here to Fortuna’s dismay with a 1-1 draw.
Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin — 12:30 p.m. ET
Four Bundesliga teams are unbeaten in their last five matches and Hertha is the unlikeliest of the bunch. Bruno Labbadia’s men have played a scrappy brand of football that has punched and counter-punched. Borussia Dortmund is a bigger ask, but Hertha made RB Leipzig make mistakes in a 2-2 tie. Will it be able to get a result at the Westfalenstadion? Perhaps a bridge too far. Dortmund 2-0.
Werder Bremen v. Wolfsburg — 7:30 a.m. ET
Florian Kohfeldt’s hosts need to get off the mat after a midweek setback, and their legs will be the biggest challenge against a Wolfsburg side that joined them in producing a 3-2 thriller at the Volkswagen Arena in early December. There’s a lot to like here but we’re not ready to trust Bremen’s ability to score. Please prove us wrong Josh Sargent. Wolfsburg 1-0.
Union Berlin v. Schalke — 9:30 a.m. ET
The two worst teams on the form table, it’s difficult to predict good things from either side right now. In their last combined 10 matches, Schalke and Union have scored five total goals (American midfielder Weston McKennie has Schalke’s two). We have little faith in this prediction due to Schalke’s abysmal form and finishing but we’re betting against what we’ve seen the past few weeks. Schalke 1-0.
Augsburg v. Koln — Noon ET
It’s hard to separate these two who staged a 1-1 draw in Koln on Nov. 30 in which both goals were scored after the teams went down to 10 men. Koln’s the bet because it’s been better at putting the ball in the goal, but just. Koln 2-1.Follow @NicholasMendola