Hoffenheim v Hertha
Bayern v Schalke
Hannover v Cologne
Stuttgart v Eintracht
Bremen v Bochum
Dortmund v Hamburg
Leverkusen v Karlsruhe
Monchengladbach v Arminia
Energie v Wolfsburg
With the Cottbus management offering refunds after defeat to Schalke last week, it makes one wonder what they might do after the visit of league leaders Wolfsburg to the Freundschaft. The Wolves haven't been at their best the last fortnight, and were tremendously fortunate to emerge with all three points last week. The old cliché says that a side that wins when playing badly is championship material and that may well prove to be the case, and Energie don't look capable of stopping Magath's array of attacking talent. The only thing that can stop the Wolves right now is themselves.
Bayern could go level on points with Wolfsburg on Saturday should they beat Schalke. However, Bayern have been labouring to wins over pretty poor opposition lately and every time they've gone up against a decent side - they got their arses spanked red raw by Barcelona and Wolfsburg - they've crumbled. Schalke look surprisingly competent since Fred Rutten left and the players withdrew their collective finger from their collective arse and look good for a win in the Allianz. Hamburg are still there or thereabouts and go to Dortmund without Mladen Petric - a huge blow. He was injured in the cup loss to Bremen in midweek - a rehearsal for the UEFA semi-final - and his form had been great in the past month or so. Dortmund are on a four game winning streak in the league and are on the fringes of the European places.
Hertha got back to winning ways and take on fading Hoffenheim in the Friday game. 'Autumn champions', as the league leaders come christmas are known, have never performed so badly after the break as Hoffenheim have. They've not had the luck, but it goes deeper than that. Now their confidence is fragile and a workmanlike Hertha will be favourites here. Stuttgart may yet have a say in this title outcome, if not actually do it themselves. They've left their charge late, but Markus Babbel has been a revelation since taking over from Armin Veh. They take on Eintracht this week who, despite scoring four a week ago, are a dour side. That win put them nine points clear of the drop zone, so expect them to stick the cue in the rack for a but while Mario Gomez and friends should have a field day here.
Down at the bottom, it's do or die for Karlsruhe now. They could score a win this week - it just depends which Leverkusen turn up. They're a real Jekyll and Hyde side and it's a wonder that Bruno Labbadia has any hair left to tear out. Bochum have had a decent set of results recently that's pulled them clear of immediate danger, but that form will be tested by Bremen. While Thomas Schaaf's side haven't been good in the league, their cup form has been impressive and will probably keep Schaaf in a job for next season. He looks set to start that season without Diego who looks like he's on his way out of the Weserstadion.
Massive game at the bottom for Gladbach and Arminia, separated by a single point in 15th and 16th. They're even level on goal difference. Gladbach have been performing well without the results to show for it while Arminia have lost their last three, albeit against Wolfsburg, Bayern (who they made sweat for it) and Schalke. They have been winning the important games - the ones against those sides around them. If they can do that again, they look good to remain a Bundesliga side. Gladbach have the quality, but confidence is low - just witness their penalty woes. This could either be game of the week or a complete load of old pony.