Bundesliga Matchday 27: Tough Union test in store for Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are still in the Bundesliga title race despite losing top spot to Bayern Munich but they cannot afford another defeat, given next opponents Union Berlin are just two points behind them.
The league leaders will be hoping to make it two wins from two league games under Thomas Tuchel and consolidate their place at the summit as they visit fourth-placed Freiburg.
Should the Breisgau Brazilians fall to defeat, RB Leipzig are primed to pounce on their Champions League qualification place by overcoming Hertha Berlin in the capital.
Fellow European contenders Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt play out a shootout for sixth place, while — at the other end of the table — Hoffenheim’s clash with Schalke could have significant repercussions in the relegation battle.
Game of the weekend: Borussia Dortmund vs Union Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Dortmund have hit a hefty bump in the road. They surrendered their position atop the Bundesliga — and their 10-game unbeaten league run — following a 4-2 loss to title rivals Bayern last weekend before being dumped out of the DFB-Pokal by Leipzig in midweek.
Their next test does not offer the prospect of relief, however, as they face third-placed Union, who would leapfrog them — as Bayern did — should they emerge victorious.
Dortmund boss Edin Terzic will be hoping for a more positive result to mark his 50th Bundesliga game as head coach. Remarkably, only Pep Guardiola (42) and Hansi Flick (40) have won more of their first 50 games than his tally of 31.
This clash sees the division’s two most in-form teams face off — Dortmund (28) and Union (24) rank first and second for points gained in 2023.
Additionally, the former are the competition’s top scorers this calendar year (32 goals scored), while the latter boast the meanest defence in that time (eight goals conceded).
Freiburg vs Bayern Munich (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Bayern are back at the top of the Bundesliga following their victory in Der Klassiker last weekend.
However, they cannot afford to be complacent against next opponents Freiburg, who knocked them out of the DFB-Pokal in Tuchel’s second game as head coach.
Only the visitors (247) have trailed for fewer minutes in the Bundesliga this season than Freiburg (354). The latter have been in a losing position for the shortest amount of time at home (41 minutes), while the former boast the best record on the road (108 minutes).
Freiburg will be hopeful of a spot-kick to boost their chances of a positive result, given the Bavarians have given away at least one in each of their last three league outings, while the hosts have been awarded a joint-league high total of seven.
Hertha Berlin vs RB Leipzig (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Leipzig have lost both of their last two league games after losing just twice in the 17 league outings before that (11 wins, four draws) but will be hoping to channel the positive momentum generated from their 2-0 DFB-Pokal victory over Dortmund on Wednesday night.
They boast a superb record against upcoming opponents Hertha, winning 11 of their 13 Bundesliga meetings (one draw, one defeat), including a 3-2 victory in the reverse fixture.
Hertha have conceded the second-most set-piece goals of any side in the division (20) while the visitors have let in the highest percentage of their goals from dead-ball scenarios (48%).
Marco Rose’s men possess a varied threat, recording a joint-league high 17 different goalscorers so far this term. Sandro Schwarz’s side have only had 10, the second-fewest in the competition.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Frankfurt will be hoping to channel the high of their DFB-Pokal quarter-final victory over Union Berlin and use it to reverse their alarming recent form in the league.
The visitors are winless in their last five top-flight outings (three draws, two defeats), as well as their last seven on the road (four draws, three defeats).
Their record away at upcoming opponents Leverkusen does not inspire much confidence, having lost each of their last eight by an aggregate score of 29-4.
Oliver Glasner’s side must be aware of the threat posed by Moussa Diaby, who has racked up eight goals and five assists since Xabi Alonso took over as Leverkusen boss — only Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani has more goal involvements in that period (15).
Hoffenheim vs Schalke (Sunday, 6.30pm)
Just four points and two places separate relegation-threatened pair Hoffenheim and Schalke ahead of their decisive clash this weekend.
Both sides have endured dire seasons, particularly at home. Only the visitors have picked up fewer points (13) and wins (three) on their own patch in the league than Pellegrino Matarazzo’s men (14 points, four wins).
History favours Hoffenheim, however, who have lost just one of their 14 competitive home games against Schalke (eight wins, five draws).
Schalke will hope to lean on their solid defence, boasting the second-best goals conceded record since the midway point of the season (seven) and exploit Hoffenheim’s leaky back line, which has led them to shipping a league-high 19 goals in the same period.
The weekend's other games
Mainz vs Werder Bremen (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Augsburg vs FC Cologne (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Wolfsburg (Sunday, 2.30pm)
Bochum vs Stuttgart (Sunday, 4.30pm)
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