• Friday, 15 January 2010

    Bundesliga round 18

    Bayern v Hoffenheim
    Monchengladbach v Bochum
    Leverkusen v Mainz
    Eintracht v Bremen
    Hamburg v Freiburg
    Hannover v Hertha
    Stuttgart v Wolfsburg
    Schalke v Nurnberg
    Cologne v Dortmund

    We're back with the start of the second half of the Bundesliga season due for kick off within half an hour of putting fingers to keyboard. The winter break may have done some clubs a favour while others were just getting going and the break came at an inopportune time. One that falls into the latter category is FC Bayern who had shaken off the early season blues that blighted their campaign in it's early days. They've also taken the opportunity provided by the reopening of the transfer window to offload that troublesome dressing room presence Luca Toni and his reported £171,000 weekly wage. A settled side with Ivica Olic and Mario Gomez leading the line has seen them get the results and end 2009 in third place. They're still without Franck RibĂ©ry for the 2010 opener against Hoffenheim. The loss of the French schemer hasn't hurt them greatly in the run-up to the winter lay-off and another win here will see them go top for the first time in two years. Hoffenheim have striker Chinedu Obasi and Isaac Vorsah away in Angola at the Africa Cup of Nations and four others unavailable due to injury or suspension.

    Leaders Leverkusen, still unbeaten lest we forget, resume against home against Mainz and second-placed Schalke also have a home tie, relegation strugglers Nurnberg who strengthened with the loan of a couple of Bayern players, defenders Andreas Ottl and Breno. Hertha begin 2010 ten points adrift of safety and are away at Hannover while another club grateful to see the back of last year, Stuttgart, aim to begin the recovery against Wolfsburg. The champions will lose midfield schemer Christian Gentner to Stuttgart once this season is done with Gentner moving back to Swabia when his contract expires.

    Dortmund, Bremen and Hamburg are all on the fringes of the action at the head of the field and all will start favourites in their respective clashes. Dortmund are away at Cologne, Bremen are in Frankfurt to take on Eintracht and Hamburg have a visit from Freiburg. Gladbach welcome Bochum to the Borussia-Park in an important clash at the lower end of the table.

    It's good to be back.

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