European placement is in focus as Bayern Munich runs away with the Bundesliga title, though the table leaders could swing another team’s top four fortunes on Saturday.
Borussia Monchengladbach needs a win at Bayern given its top four rivals are all meeting clubs either struggling, near the bottom of the table, or both.
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Hoffenheim v. RB Leipzig — 2:30 p.m. ET
Caretaker boss Marcel Rapp takes over the hosts, who sit two points back of sixth and are bidding to get another European berth. Rapp’s first match is a brutal one, as visiting Leipzig sits third and is smarting after dropping points for the third time, all draws, in five matches. Hoffenheim is also taking a step up in class after four-straight season strugglers (apologies to Hertha Berlin, who has since built on its win). Both teams can defend well, but it seems likely the visitors will find more goals in a 2-1 Leipzig win that strengthens their hold on third.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Borussia Dortmund — 9:30 a.m. ET
Lucien Favre’s favored visitors have a seven-point lead on fourth and fifth place with four matches to play. They’ll more or less salt away a top four spot with a win at Fortuna, but don’t count out the scrappy and desperate hosts. Rouwen Hennings has three goals in his last two matches for Fortuna, but BVB’s back line has only been breached thrice in its last nine outings. It’ll be a cagey affair, but BVB wins 3-0 after opening up one of four teams to concede 60 league goals this season.
Hertha Berlin v. Eintracht Frankfurt — 9:30 a.m. ET
The hosts suddenly have Europa League hopes despite a 1-0 loss to Dortmund, one that showed how far its come under Bruno Labbadia. Eintracht is still safe from the drop but looked rough in its midweek cup loss to Bayern. Should be straight-forward for scrappy Hertha in a 2-1 win.
Wolfsburg v. Freiburg — 9:30 a.m. ET
Freiburg — I like to call them Germany’s Burnley — finally got back in the win column with a nice 1-0 over Gladbach. Europe is not at all out of the picture when combining the clubu’s chance to meet sixth-place Wolfsburg after seventh-place Hoffenheim’s visit from Leipzig. It’s a tough match to predict because Wolfsburg’s been all over the map. One week they look top four quality, the next a dud. The safe call is a draw, but Wolfsburg has firepower and perhaps they find it more often than not in a 2-1 home win.
Koln v. Union Berlin — 9:30 a.m. ET
Both sides would feel fairly safe with a win, though neither has done much of it lately. Union’s failure to find goals is the scariest notion between the two sides, so we’ll figure a 1-0 win for safety-sealing Koln even if a nil-nil would surprise few.
Paderborn v. Werder Bremen — 9:30 a.m. ET
This is it for last-place Paderborn, who’ve played much better of late but can slip nine points back of the playoff spot with a loss and Fortuna result versus Dortmund. The latter is unlikely but Paderborn’s odds are still long, too long without a win. Bremen is also in trouble, five points ahead of Bremen and three back of the playoff spot, but has looked much better in recent weeks. A draw clobbers both of them. We like Bremen’s attacking power a bit more. 3-1 to Bremen.
Bayern Munich v. Borussia Monchengladbach — 12:30 p.m. ET
Bayern can win their eighth-straight title with a win if Dortmund drops points at Fortuna earlier Saturday. The defending champs played at midweek, extending its unbeaten streak to 21 matches in all competitions dating back to a 3-1 win over Tottenham on the last day of UCL group stage. Those midweek legs could be a challenge given Gladbach’s desperation to stay in the top four hunt, but the visitors won’t have influential striker Alassane Plea after his red card in a loss at Freiburg. There are still weapons for the visitors but it’s going to be tough to beat the champs in their building. 1-1 draw.
Mainz v. Augsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Mainz’s win last week made relegation feel very real for several dipping teams including Augsburg. Neither team has been able to find a lot of goals since coming back from the break, but Mainz has been better at the back since shipping five goals to Leipzig. This is a huge chance for Mainz, who will know just how high it climb after watching everyone below and above it play before Sunday. Mainz 1-0.
Schalke v. Bayer Leverkusen — Noon ET Sunday
Bayer played midweek but was able to cruise past Saarbrucken in the German Cup semifinal. If their backs are tired, perhaps Schalke can find a way through, but David Wagner’s men have looked really poor for months (even accounting for the break). If Kai Havertz is ready to go, it might be a blowout. Bayer 2-0.Follow @NicholasMendola