Bundesliga Matchday 24: Leaders Bayern bid to extend gap in Frankfurt
Table-toppers Bayern Munich will be looking to keep their charge towards a 10th straight Bundesliga title on track this weekend.
The Bavarian giants head to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday evening, while Borussia Dortmund will try to stay within sight of their great rivals when they travel to struggling Augsburg on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the race for Europe and battle to avoid the drop entwine as Freiburg host lowly Hertha Berlin.
Game of the week: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Bayern can go nine points clear at the top — at least overnight — with victory at Eintracht Frankfurt, who have lost three on the spin at the Waldstadion.
Julian Nagelsmann’s visitors were stunned by Bochum in their last Bundesliga away trip, losing 4-2 — but they did return to winning ways with a 4-1 home win over Greuther Furth last time out.
Robert Lewandowski bagged a brace in both games, meaning he has now scored two or more goals on 14 occasions for club and country this season.
As for Eintracht, they have failed to score in three of their last four matches — including their previous two at home, succumbing to 2-0 defeats against Arminia Bielefeld and Wolfsburg.
However, the Eagles are one of only two Bundesliga teams — the other being Dortmund — to beat Bayern twice in a row in the league since 2002.
Filip Kostic’s late strike sealed a 2-1 success when these sides met at the Allianz Arena in October, with Eintracht winning the previous encounter last February by the same scoreline.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Augsburg vs Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 4.30pm)
Their title chances are looking slim, but all Dortmund can do is keep winning — and they will look to make it four straight away league victories when they head to Augsburg, who have won just once at home since November.
BVB bounced back from their 5-2 home loss to Leverkusen by beating Union Berlin 3-0, then hitting Borussia Monchengladbach for six. In doing so, Marco Rose’s men kept only their third and fourth clean sheets of their league campaign.
Augsburg do tend to score against Dortmund, having found the net in each of their last 16 Bundesliga meetings. However, they have also conceded 53 goals against the Black and Yellows — more than against any other team in their top-flight history.
Dortmund could be missing Erling Haaland through injury for this one. But they did win October’s reverse fixture without him, as Raphael Guerreiro’s penalty and a Julian Brandt strike secured all three points in a 2-1 triumph.
Freiburg vs Hertha Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Freiburg are still firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish — and they could move back into the Champions League places by beating a Hertha side winless since before Christmas. What is more, the side from the capital have not tasted victory on the road since October.
That does not bode well as they travel to take on a team who have only lost twice at home since March. Nor does the fact that they have only scored nine away goals this term.
The hosts’ strong campaign has been built on rock-solid defensive foundations, with the Breisgau Brazilians conceding the joint-fewest goals in the league — 26, along with Bayern and Mainz. Christian Streich’s team have kept only two home clean sheets this season though.
Freiburg ran out 2-1 winners when these sides met back in October, with Nils Petersen netting the decisive goal.
Union Berlin vs Mainz (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Union Berlin remain in Champions League contention — but they must arrest a run of three straight defeats, which has seen them slip to ninth in the table. Mainz sit level on points with the hosts but have one of the division’s worst away records.
Reassuringly for Union, they are tough to beat at home, losing just twice in the league at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei since the opening day of last term. They have not scored for three games, however, which is their longest goalless run in the top flight to date.
Mainz may have won three and drawn one of their last five league matches but they have lost eight out of 11 on their travels this term. The visitors did hold Freiburg to a 1-1 draw in their last away outing though, which will give cause for optimism.
Bo Svensson's men lost this season’s reverse fixture however, with Taiwo Awoniyi's brace delivering a 2-1 defeat.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Arminia Bielefeld (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Bayer Leverkusen’s four-match winning streak came to an end as they lost 3-2 at Mainz on Matchday 23. And returning to winning ways will not be an easy task, with Arminia Bielefeld losing only one of their last eight.
But the hosts continue to bang in the goals and their current tally of 60 is their highest-ever after 23 games of a league campaign.
Patrik Schick has scored 20 of those. Of all Bundesliga players to have scored five or more goals this term, only one has converted a higher proportion of their shots than the big Czech forward’s 34%.
That player? Arminia’s Masaya Okugawa, who has a conversion rate of 42%. The Japanese midfielder has accounted for more than a third of his side’s goals, with only bottom team Furth finding the net fewer times than Arminia (22).
The visitors will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their previous encounter with Leverkusen, which ended in a 4-0 victory for Die Werkself.
The weekend's other games
Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart (Friday, 7.30pm)
Greuther Furth vs Koln (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Wolfsburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Bochum vs RB Leipzig (Sunday, 2.30pm)
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