November 30, 2018

Five things to look for in the Bundesliga


Bayern Munich want to get their stuttering Bundesliga campaign back on track at Werder Bremen on Saturday by building on their gala 5-1 thumping of Benfica in midweek. The defending champions, currently fifth, trail leaders Borussia Dortmund, who host Freiburg, by nine points after winning just two and losing three of their last eight league games.

Here are five things to look out for in the Bundesliga this weekend:

Bremen's decade wait

After 19 defeats and two draws in their last 22 games against Bayern, Bremen are chasing their first win over the struggling Bavarians since a 5-2 romp in Munich in September 2008. Bremen are winless in their last four league games, but coach Florian Kohfeldt, 36, hopes to add to Bayern's woeful recent league record.

"It will be tough against a team of Bayern's quality, who have players who can decide games for themselves," said Kohfeldt.

He has a point as Franck Ribery, Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski have each scored at least 10 goals against Bremen, while home fans hope Claudio Pizarro, 40, comes on to score against his ex-club Bayern.

Wary Neuer

Bayern's rout of Benfica confirmed their Champions League last 16 berth, but captain Manuel Neuer is not getting carried away.

"That game could be an important step, but we don't know how things will now go," said the Germany goalkeeper.

"It's not as though we now have the confidence to say we'll just knock everyone else over, too much has gone wrong recently for that."

After last Saturday's lacklustre 3-3 draw at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf, Bayern president Uli Hoeness said Kovac's job was only safe until the Benfica game and defeat at Bremen would put Kovac back in the danger zone.

Witsel scare

Leaders Dortmund should have Axel Witsel fit to face Freiburg after the Belgium midfielder limped out of their midweek draw against Brugge which confirmed their last 16 place in the Champions League.

The 29-year-old went down in obvious pain late on against Brugge, but coach Lucien Favre revealed, "it was just cramp, it's nothing bad".

The Belgian midfield enforcer has started 11 of Dortmund's 12 league games this season and weighed in with a key assist in the 3-2 win over Bayern three weeks ago. Freiburg last beat Dortmund in 2010 and 2001 was the last time they won at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park.

Gladbach reshuffle

With chief defender Matthias Ginter sidelined after fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket, Moenchengladbach head coach Dieter Hecking must reshuffle his back four against fourth-placed Leipzig on Sunday. Second-placed Gladbach have won their last three games with Belgian winger Thorgan Hazard on fire with eight goals and five assists this season.

Ginter, 24, had a two-hour operation and is expected to be out for up to eight weeks after colliding with Hanover's Noah Sarenren, who suffered concussion, in last Sunday's 4-1 win.

According to daily Bild, Gladbach could raid the transfer market in January with two former players targeted as cover for Ginter. Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen, 22, has yet to play for Chelsea this season, while Reece Oxford is playing in West Ham's Under-23 team, Â

Haller, Jovic on fire

Eintracht Frankfurt forwards Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic, the league's joint top-scorers with nine goals each, are worth keeping an eye on against Wolfsburg on Sunday.  Jovic banged in five goals in the 7-1 thrashing of Fortuna Duesseldorf with Haller setting up two and scoring another two of his own.

Frankfurt, unbeaten since September, are up to third and Haller has scored in each of his last five league games. The Frenchman hopes his prowess will put him on Didier Deschamps' radar as he says playing for France "would be a dream".

Bayern Munich want to get their stuttering Bundesliga campaign back on track at Werder Bremen on Saturday by building on their gala 5-1 thumping of Benfica in midweek. The defending champions, currently fifth, trail leaders Borussia Dortmund, who host Freiburg, by nine points after winning just two and losing three of their last eight league games.

Here are five things to look out for in the Bundesliga this weekend:

Bremen's decade wait

After 19 defeats and two draws in their last 22 games against Bayern, Bremen are chasing their first win over the struggling Bavarians since a 5-2 romp in Munich in September 2008. Bremen are winless in their last four league games, but coach Florian Kohfeldt, 36, hopes to add to Bayern's woeful recent league record.

"It will be tough against a team of Bayern's quality, who have players who can decide games for themselves," said Kohfeldt.

He has a point as Franck Ribery, Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski have each scored at least 10 goals against Bremen, while home fans hope Claudio Pizarro, 40, comes on to score against his ex-club Bayern.

Wary Neuer

Bayern's rout of Benfica confirmed their Champions League last 16 berth, but captain Manuel Neuer is not getting carried away.

"That game could be an important step, but we don't know how things will now go," said the Germany goalkeeper.

"It's not as though we now have the confidence to say we'll just knock everyone else over, too much has gone wrong recently for that."

After last Saturday's lacklustre 3-3 draw at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf, Bayern president Uli Hoeness said Kovac's job was only safe until the Benfica game and defeat at Bremen would put Kovac back in the danger zone.

Witsel scare

Leaders Dortmund should have Axel Witsel fit to face Freiburg after the Belgium midfielder limped out of their midweek draw against Brugge which confirmed their last 16 place in the Champions League.

The 29-year-old went down in obvious pain late on against Brugge, but coach Lucien Favre revealed, "it was just cramp, it's nothing bad".

The Belgian midfield enforcer has started 11 of Dortmund's 12 league games this season and weighed in with a key assist in the 3-2 win over Bayern three weeks ago. Freiburg last beat Dortmund in 2010 and 2001 was the last time they won at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park.

Gladbach reshuffle

With chief defender Matthias Ginter sidelined after fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket, Moenchengladbach head coach Dieter Hecking must reshuffle his back four against fourth-placed Leipzig on Sunday. Second-placed Gladbach have won their last three games with Belgian winger Thorgan Hazard on fire with eight goals and five assists this season.

Ginter, 24, had a two-hour operation and is expected to be out for up to eight weeks after colliding with Hanover's Noah Sarenren, who suffered concussion, in last Sunday's 4-1 win.

According to daily Bild, Gladbach could raid the transfer market in January with two former players targeted as cover for Ginter. Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen, 22, has yet to play for Chelsea this season, while Reece Oxford is playing in West Ham's Under-23 team, Â

Haller, Jovic on fire

Eintracht Frankfurt forwards Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic, the league's joint top-scorers with nine goals each, are worth keeping an eye on against Wolfsburg on Sunday.  Jovic banged in five goals in the 7-1 thrashing of Fortuna Duesseldorf with Haller setting up two and scoring another two of his own.

Frankfurt, unbeaten since September, are up to third and Haller has scored in each of his last five league games. The Frenchman hopes his prowess will put him on Didier Deschamps' radar as he says playing for France "would be a dream".