Bundesliga Matchday 16: Hoffenheim look to leapfrog Leverkusen in top-four tussle
The penultimate round of Bundesliga fixtures before the winter break sees some tasty-looking clashes in the battle for European qualification.
Matchday 16 kicks off on Tuesday evening with Bayern Munich’s trip to Stuttgart, where the nine-time defending champions will be looking to build on their six-point lead at the top.
On Wednesday night, third play fourth as Bayer Leverkusen host in-form Hoffenheim while fifth-placed Freiburg travel to Union Berlin, who sit in the final European spot in sixth.
Game of the week: Bayer Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
These sides will both be looking to solidify their position in the Champions League spots as they face off at the BayArena, where Leverkusen have suffered three of their four Bundesliga defeats this season.
Hoffenheim are currently on a four-match winning run — the longest active streak in the division — although they have conceded six goals in their last three games.
This will be the 26th Bundesliga meeting between the two teams, with Leverkusen coming out on top 15 times — including a 4-1 thrashing in this fixture last season.
Czech forward Patrik Schick has netted six goals in his last two games but his brace was unable to prevent Leverkusen slipping to a 5-2 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
Here are the other big games to watch this week…
Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich (Tuesday, 5.30pm)
Stuttgart will be hoping to end a miserable run of nine straight home league defeats to Bayern, who already look like they are cruising to a 10th straight German title.
Following a run of four consecutive losses in league and cup, the hosts have won two of their last three games but are without a clean sheet at the Mercedes-Benz Arena since early April.
That hardly bodes well ahead of an encounter with Bayern, who are on a Bundesliga-record streak of scoring in 41 consecutive away matches. But the Bavarians have conceded in each of their last 10 away league outings.
Union Berlin vs Freiburg (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
Freiburg will move back into the top four with a win over Union, while victory for the hosts could take them level on points with fourth-placed Hoffenheim.
Both sides suffered defeat last time out — although it is the home side who are in better form, having won two and drawn one of their previous five league games.
The visitors have lost four out of five since going 10 league matches unbeaten to start the campaign.
Union have made the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei a fortress since winning promotion to the top flight in 2019, losing only one of their last 24 Bundesliga home matches.
However, Freiburg have let in a league-low seven goals on the road this term.
Borussia Dortmund vs Greuther Furth (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
Rock-bottom Greuther Furth finally recorded their first victory of the season last time out, defeating Union 1-0.
Stefan Leitl’s side have lost all eight of their away games so far though, including a 7-1 hammering at Leverkusen earlier this month.
Dortmund, meanwhile, have endured a minor setback by going two Bundesliga outings without victory for the first time this term.
They do remain fairly comfortable in second place, having won seven out of eight home league matches.
Erling Haaland failed to score in Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to Bochum but a hat-trick against the league’s worst defence would take him to 20 goals for the season in all competitions.
Augsburg vs RB Leipzig (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
Domenico Tedesco’s tenure as RB Leipzig boss got off to a fine start with a 4-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday. He now takes his new side on the road for the first time.
The hosts have struggled during this campaign and find themselves down in 16th but did spring a surprise at the Augsburg Arena by beating Bayern 2-1 last month, so the Red Bulls will need to stay alert.
Of the 10 top-flight encounters between these teams to date, Leipzig have won six — including each of the last four. Augsburg’s sole success came back in September 2017.
Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku netted the decisive goal in the most recent meeting of the two sides and scored his seventh league goal of the season last time out, marking a personal best for the forward.
This week’s other games:
Arminia Bielefeld vs Bochum (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Mainz vs Hertha Berlin (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Wolfsburg vs Koln (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Wednesday, 5.30pm)