Bundesliga Preview: Plenty of Drama Remains for German Squads

By Douglas Smith
Julian Draxler Schalke Bundesliga
Getty Images

The top of the table may be settled in the Bundesliga as Bayern Munich sit 16 points clear of their nearest competition. They can still focus on the treble after taking a 2-0 lead against Arsenal in the Champions League and moving onto the next stage of the DFB Pokal.

Despite the lead at the top there is still much at stake for other teams in Germany as they start to bunch up for the remaining Champions League and Europa League positions. The relegation battle is tight as 10th and 18th place are separated by only 10 points. Here is a look at the pivotal matchups of matchday 22:

Bayern Munich vs. Hannover

Hannover is one of the teams fighting in the bottom half of the table. They sit at a -8 goal differential and were shut out 2-0 in their last two games. Hannover has a solid record at home this season, but the league leaders come in with momentum from the away leg of their Champions League tie. Bastian Schweinsteiger returned to action last week and Thomas Muller was rested for three-quarters of the match on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola will have plenty of options to choose from as always.

Wolfsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen travels to Wolfsburg knowing their Champions League run is probably over after falling 4-0 to PSG on Tuesday. Now they focus on keeping the second spot in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg can narrow the gap to Leverkusen to just four points and inch closer to a possible Champions League berth. Both teams are coming off a loss and have earned six of the available 12 points from this calendar year.

Schalke vs. Mainz

The first match of the weekend at Veltins Arena will feature Schalke and Mainz, another pair of teams that sit seven points apart. Schalke has won four straight matches to kick off the second half of the season and sit just two points out of third place. Julian Draxler is expected to return from injury on Friday for the Royal Blues as well. This is great timing as Schalke faces Real Madrid in the Champions League next Wednesday. Mainz has lost just one of their last seven as they surge toward the top six. Joo-Ho Park is doubtful for Mainz.

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hoffenheim

The countdown is on for Fabian Johnson‘s time at Hoffenheim as the USMNT player is set to leave the squad in the summer. Monchengladbach are winless in the new calendar year, while Hoffenheim are coming off three straight without a loss. Hoffenheim are squarely in the middle of the pack, but Gladbach are holding onto the last Europa League spot by just one point.

Check back next Thursday as we preview matchday 23 in the Bundesliga.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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