Bundesliga Matchday 23: Bayern eager for a return to winning ways
Defeat last weekend saw Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga table cut to six points — but they will be confident of securing victory at home to lowly Greuther Furth on Sunday.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund entertain Borussia Monchengladbach, while Bayer Leverkusen travel to Mainz chasing a fifth-straight win.
Elsewhere, Augsburg’s clash with Freiburg and Hertha Berlin’s game against RB Leipzig could have implications at both ends of the table.
Game of the week: Bayern Munich vs Greuther Furth (Sunday, 2.30pm)
Bayern come into the weekend with questions to answer, after a 4-2 league defeat at Bochum was followed up by a 1-1 draw at FC Salzburg in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
But back at the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians should have few problems dispatching a Furth side that remain rooted to the foot of the table.
No team in Bundesliga history has scored more goals than Bayern’s 70 after 22 games of the season. Robert Lewandowski has accounted for 26 of those — and a 27th here will mean that he has found the net against every team he has ever played in the competition.
The visitors head to Munich with the worst away record in Europe’s top five leagues, having taken just one point from a possible 33. Ominously, no 18th-placed side has won away to the Bundesliga leaders since 1996.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Borussia Dortmund vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Sunday, 4.30pm)
Humbled by Rangers on Thursday night, succumbing to a 4-2 loss in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off tie, Dortmund will be eager to bounce back quickly against Monchengladbach.
The hosts gained ground on Bayern in their last league outing, a 3-0 win at Union Berlin, and will be looking to keep their faint hopes of catching the Bavarians alive with victory in this one.
This will be the 100th Bundesliga encounter between the two sides, with the visitors aiming to secure three-straight league wins against BVB for the first time since 1981.
Likely to continue to be without the injured Erling Haaland, Dortmund coach Marco Rose will still expect to see his side net against his former employers — Monchengladbach have only kept two clean sheets this term.
One of those shutouts came against the Black and Yellows last September however, when Denis Zakaria — now plying his trade at Juventus — scored the only goal of the game.
Augsburg vs Freiburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Victory for Freiburg at Augsburg could see them climb to fourth, while the hosts will be looking to pick up much-needed points in their relegation battle.
Markus Weinzierl’s strugglers have only lost one of their last eight home matches, beating top-four chasers Union Berlin 2-0 in their most recent outing at the WWK Arena.
As for the visitors, they have picked up just one top-flight win from their five matches since the winter break and have only found the net once in their last three on the road — they did however bag four in last month's DFB-Pokal last-16 win at Hoffenheim.
The Breisgau Brazilians are aiming to win three consecutive league matches against Saturday's opponents for the first time.
Hertha Berlin vs RB Leipzig (Sunday, 6.30pm)
Out-of-form Hertha will hope to take advantage of Leipzig’s miserable away record as they look to stay clear of the drop zone. The visitors, on the other hand, are aiming for a fifth league win in six games.
Tayfun Korkut’s hosts are without a victory since their 3-2 triumph over Dortmund just before the winter break and lost 2-1 at Furth last time out. Should their winless run grow to seven games in all competitions, it will represent their worst spell in almost a year.
But the Red Bulls have just one away league win to their name this season and only Stuttgart and Bochum have scored fewer goals on the road than their nine. That said, they have scored five of those nine in their last three away games, so they are improving under Domenico Tedesco.
Leipzig thumped Hertha 6-0 when they faced off earlier in the season, although both teams had different coaches when that fixture took place.
Mainz vs Bayer Leverkusen (Friday, 7.30pm)
Champions League hopefuls Leverkusen will aim to remain unbeaten in 2022 when they get the matchday underway at mid-table Mainz.
Gerardo Seoane’s men have already struck 18 times since the turn of the year, including five in their last away outing, as they outclassed Dortmund 5-2.
Only Bayern have scored more than Die Werkself’s 58 this campaign, of which Patrik Schick has bagged 19.
The hosts however boast the Bundesliga’s best defensive record, conceding only 24 goals in 22 games. They have also kept a league-high eight clean sheets so far.
The weekend’s other games
Arminia Bielefeld vs Union Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Stuttgart vs Bochum (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Wolfsburg vs Hoffenheim (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Koln vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 5.30pm)
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