Germany as a whole were dealt a blow midweek when their most formidable team were cast aside by Portuguese champions, FC Porto. Bayern Munich lost 3-1 in Portugal and have it all to do to book their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Wolfsburg compete in the Europa League and will be hoping to restore some pride to German football.
Meanwhile domestically, the relegation battle continues to mount and the battle for the final automatic qualification spot for the Champions League kicks off on Friday evening. There was also the shock news that Jurgen Klopp would be leaving Dortmund at the end of the season after 7 years with the club.
Eintract Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach
The Friday evening kick off takes place in Frankfurt with ‘Gladbach on their travels hoping to build on their 6 game winning run in the Bundesliga. That was briefly interrupted by a dismal exit in the DFB Pokal to lower league opposition, Arminia Bielefield but they bounced back in tremendous fashion with a 3-1 home victory against Borussia Dortmund.
As for Frankfurt they’ve surprised many people this term and will be aiming to try and nick one of the Europa League spots from Schalke or Augsburg. However, they have a tough run in starting with Gladbach before still having Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen left to play.
Haris Seferovic and Alexander Meier have formed an unlikely but solid partnership upfront this season, scoring 27 goals between them. However Bundesliga top goal scorer Meier, is out through injury as is Carlos Zambrano and Marco Russ. Frankfurt were disappointing against Munich last time out and have gained just 1 point from their previous 3 games.
Gladbach have been very astute in terms of defending this year, conceding just 22 goals in 28 matches, second only to Munich. It would appear unlikely they alter too much from the side that beat Dortmund so comprehensively last time out but they’ll still be missing Martin Stranzl and Cristoph Kramer.
Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich
Bayern’s scouts have the pleasure of being able to watch their own side in action this weekend whilst casting an eye on potential transfer targets for next season. Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland are two Hoffenheim players who look destined for bigger clubs and Munich will undoubtedly be sniffing around.
Pep Guardiola will be devastated at their midweek collapse to FC Porto midweek in the Champions League and are evidently missing the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger through injury. Bayern have won their last 5 out of 6 meetings between the 2 sides and Hoffenheim have gained just 2 points from their last 6 games away from home.
Medhi Benatia joined the growing injury list at the Allianz Arena but Franck Ribery has returned to training recently following an ankle injury in March. The French winger didn’t make the squad against Porto but could make the substitutes bench on Saturday. Schweinsteiger is also suffering from an ankle injury but could make a return shortly.
David Abraham meanwhile returned from his respective injury against Schalke but Niklas Sule is still ruled out through his long term injury for Hoffenheim’s only injury concern.
Wolfsburg v Schalke
Wolfsburg have only 3 days to prepare for the visit of Schalke on Sunday with their commitments in the Europa League on Thursday night against Napoli. Schalke will have had a full week to prepare for the Bundesliga’s high profile game this weekend and will take confidence from their 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim.
Roberto Di Matteo will be disappointed his side aren’t challenging for the Champions League places and will have to be content on cementing a place in the Europa League. Schalke stormed to a 3-0 lead earlier in the season but Wolfsburg clawed 2 goals back to make it a nervy finish for Schalke but they held on.
Bas Dost was missing that day and Wolfsburg look a stronger outfit with the Dutch forward leading the line. He grabbed both assists in their 2-0 victory at Hamburg and will be the spearhead of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Luis Gustavo is usually 1 of the 2 holding midfield players but he has been ruled out through suspension after accumulating too many yellow cards. The Brazilian will be back in contention and could come in for Maximilian Arnold.
Di Matteo could spring the changes after his side have had back to back stalemates against Freiburg and Augsburg. Despite having 21 shots against Freiburg, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wasn’t on song and he hasn’t scored since their 4-3 win against Real Madrid back on 10th March.