The teams in the Bundesliga do not have a lot of time to recuperate after midweek matches helped to define the top six. Bayern Munich set a new record in clinching the title with seven weeks remaining in the schedule and now Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim try to break their unbeaten run. That clash will not be the big story this week as the top six battle could become even more clear while the list of relegation candidates could dwindle. This week’s matches between the top and bottom six teams will dictate the tone for the rest of the season for many teams.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Braunschweig
Leverkusen earned their 500th Bundesliga victory during the week while Braunschweig kept their slim hopes of avoiding relegation alive. The BayArena hosts this match between the fourth place team and the last place team in the table. If Leverkusen wins they should hold down the fourth spot with only two matches remaining against teams in the top half of the standings. Stefan Kieβling has found his scoring touch after a rough winter which bodes well for Bayer 04.
A Braunschweig loss would keep them at 21 points and all but guarantee relegation. They only have one match remaining against another relegation candidate, making it harder to catch up with those above them. They will most likely be replaced in the top tier by FC Köln.
Stuttgart vs. Borussia Dortmund
Stuttgart is three points above Braunschweig as they host second-place Dortmund. Dortmund continues to persevere through injuries and remained a point above rival Schalke after the teams drew in midweek play. Meanwhile, the odds are stacked against Stuttgart as Leverkusen is the only team in the top six that they do not face down the stretch. If Stuttgart loses to Dortmund as they are projected to do, one would think they would join Braunschweig in 2.Bundesliga next year.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hamburg
Hamburg remains the only team to stay in the top tier since the creation of the Bundesliga, but they are in serious danger. This Sunday’s matchup may look lopsided on paper, but both teams’ inconsistency makes it a toss up. Hamburg has earned seven points from their last six matches and also have a remaining schedule that is laced with teams in the top six.
Gladbach has earned eight points over their last six matches and hold a one-point lead over Mainz for sixth place. Including this match, Gladbach has four matches in a row with relegation candidates, so now would be the time for them to stake their claim on a Europa League qualifying spot.
Another match to watch is Augsburg taking on Mainz as both sit just outside the top six race. In a new addition to the Bundesliga preview post done here every Thursday, here are the weekend predictions.
Schalke 2 – Hertha Berlin 0
Leverkusen 3 – Braunschweig 0
Bayern 4 – Hoffenheim 1
Mainz 1 – Augsburg 0
Dortmund 2 – Stuttgart 1
Wolfsburg 1 – Eintracht Frakfurt 1
Freiburg 2 – Nürnberg 2
Gladbach 2 – Hamburg 1
Werder Bremen 1 – Hannover 0