With the Bundesliga boasting an unbelievably tight title battle involving more teams than ever, our favourite division is setting the standard for excitement across the European game. What’s more, as we head towards a 19th matchday that looks set to add even more drama, fans of Germany’s top tier will be on the edge of their seats once again this weekend.
Hoping to bounce back from their blip against Borussia Dortmund last time out, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and head coach Xabi Alonso will be keen to get back to winning ways when they get the ball rolling in the Bundesliga’s latest round of fixtures against battling FC Augsburg under the Friday-night lights. Once that game draws to a close, the focus will switch to a weekend that is set to test the mettle of several of our title contenders.
As it stands, just five points separate leaders FC Bayern Munich from Eintracht Frankfurt back in fifth, the two teams’ 1-1 draw last Saturday highlighting just how close it is between the teams at the top. 1. FC Union Berlin are only one point off the defending Bundesliga champions in second with 36 points and then follow RB Leipzig (35), Borussia Dortmund (34), SC Freiburg (34) and Eintracht.
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VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern’s opponents on Sunday, are seventh, and with a former coach of the Bavarian giants ready to welcome his former side to the Volkswagen Arena, anything can happen. As a player, Niko Kovac was a Bundesliga winner with Bayern while he also led the club to a league and DFB Cup double back in 2018-19 as coach. He has transformed the fortunes of Wolfsburg this season, recently taking the team up the standings following a six-game winning run. Although SV Werder Bremen put a halt to the Wolves’ impressive sequence last time out, Kovac & Co. will be keen to bounce back against a Bayern side that have drawn their last three matches.
The day before that mouth-watering prospect of a fixture, the chasing pack will be competing to displace the current league leaders when they go into battle on Saturday. Union, who have already led the standings for seven matchdays this term, host 1. FSV Mainz 05 with Urs Fischer’s men in position to take provisional pole if they can wrestle maximum points from a visiting side that put five goals past VfL Bochum on Matchday 18.
Meanwhile, third-placed Leipzig – now unbeaten in an incredible 16 games in all competitions and winners of six of their last seven in the Bundesliga – visit 1. FC Cologne, the Billy Goats unbeaten in their last three. Leipzig goal-king Christopher Nkunku may still be out injured, but in-form attacker Dominik Szoboszlai will need to be watched closely by Steffen Baumgart’s men.
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Dortmund and Freiburg are locked on 34 points inside the league’s top five, making their meeting on Saturday all the more enticing. The Black-and-Yellows have won all of their Bundesliga games so far in 2023, a run that takes in last weekend’s highly impressive victory away to Leverkusen, in which teenaged midfielder Jude Bellingham captained Edin Terzic’s team. Christian Streich’s Freiburg will provide yet more formidable opposition this time around, especially with the Black Forest outfit overcoming Augsburg in their last outing. With Frankfurt’s hungry Eagles hosting troubled Hertha Berlin, the Bundesliga’s top six could be set for one more shake-up come Monday morning.
And, lest we forget, the always exciting fight to stave off relegation also heats up. Bottom-placed FC Schalke 04 travel to Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Royal Blues needing to add to the point they recently gained against Köln. Matched on 16 points at the wrong end of the standings, Bochum and VfB Stuttgart play TSG Hoffenheim and Bremen respectively.
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