Bundesliga 2012, Week 4 Preview And Matches: Schalke Hosts Bayern In Huge Saturday Tilt

ATHENS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: Kyriakos Papadopoulos of Schalke 04 FC reacts during the UEFA Champions League first leg match between Olympiacos and Schalke 04 at the Karaiskakis Stadium on September 18, 2012 in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

The Bundesliga returns Friday for Matchday 4, but the big action is Saturday when Schalke host Bayern Munich.

The Bundesliga returns Friday afternoon after the first group stage matches for the Champions League and Europa League. All three German clubs in the Champions League came away with victories in close scorelines. The four clubs in the Europa League will be disappointed to come away with only draws, but at least none of them lost. So... unbeaten after Matchday 1! Yay!

Friday, September 21

Nürnberg vs Eintracht Frankfurt - 20:30 CET / 2:30 PM EDT

Nobody would've predicted that Eintracht Frankfurt would be sitting at a perfect record after their first three league matches, but here we are. They've looked pretty good so far this season, but they haven't had the toughest schedule. Nürnberg have looked on their own so far this season with an unbeaten record. A key to both sides is their newly acquired Japanese midfielders. Nürnberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake and Frankfurt's Takashi Inui have been amazing additions to the Bundesliga so far this season. I'm expecting a terrific and entertaining match from these two sides on Friday.

Prediction: Nürnberg 3 - 2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Saturday, September 22

Schalke vs Bayern Munich - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT

Wait. Already? Geez. I haven't prepared myself for this massive match. Bayern will go to Gelsenkirchen prepared to pick up all three points and continue their perfect run at the start of this season. Schalke are coming off a big win away from home in the Champions League against Olympiacos. There are slim chances that they could be without Jermaine Jones and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but both guys should be ready to go by match time. Bayern rested Mario Mandzukic on Wednesday night with the forward only making a late substitute appearance. Look for Bayern to press and really test the Schalke backline about which I still have my doubts.

Prediction: Schalke 1 - 2 Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg vs Greuther Fürth - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT

Felix Magath's side have struggled this season. They picked up a win on the opening matchday against Stuttgart, but if we've learned anything it's that Stuttgart isn't very good. Fürth have had a rough go of things to start the season, but they also "lucked" into facing Bayern Munich and Schalke in two of their first three matches. Wolfsburg put in a good shift defensively against Augsburg last weekend. It was necessary after the pummeling they took in Matchday 2, and they showed well. If Wolfsburg can grab a goal in the first half and bring Fürth out, they'll find more room in the attack for a second.

Prediction: Wolfsburg 2 - 0 Greuther Fürth

Mainz vs Augsburg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT

Mainz and Augsburg have struggled tremendously this year. They've combined for two points and three goals so far this season. If you're a Mainz or Augsburg fan, this match is appealing. Otherwise...

Prediction: Mainz 0 - 0 Augsburg

Hamburg vs Borussia Dortmund - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT

Oh, poor Thorsten Fink... You've started the season with three losses, and your fourth match against the champions. Hamburg have been an absolute terrible this year. BVB are still working Marco Reus and returning-from-another-injury Mario Götze into the starting lineup, but I feel for Hamburg fans this weekend. BVB are coming off of a win midweek against Ajax and will probably come out flying. What kind of rope does Fink have here? If he's starting the season with four losses and the next two matches are away to Gladbach and home against Hannover, I don't know how he survives.

Prediction: Hamburg 0 - 3 Borussia Dortmund

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs Freiburg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT

Düsseldorf have really surprised me with how well they've played to kick off the season. With 5 points acquired in their first three matches, they're sitting seventh in the table. They've kept three clean sheets to start the year. All of this is beyond impressive. Freiburg are just behind them in eighth with four points. I think Düsseldorf will come back to earth a bit this weekend, and Christian Streich's Freburg side will get the job done away from home.

Prediction: Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 - 2 Freiburg

Sunday, September 23

Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Mönchengladbach - 15:30 CET / 9:30 PM EDT

It's been a rather slow start to the Bundesliga campaign for Borussia Mönchengladbach. With a draw against Düsseldorf and a loss at home to Nürnberg, these are points you don't expect the side to be dropping. Lucien Favre is still trying to find the best fit for his new players. Granit Xhaka has been superb since joining this summer, and Luuk De Jong finally picked up his first goal since signing. Sami Hyypiä and Sascha Lewandowski are trying to get this Leverkusen side to perform up to their abilities. Their last match against BVB is tough to gauge how they'll do for this match, because the champions are currently in a different class. Favre gets his side motivated for this one, and they come out victors.

Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 0 - 2 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Werder Bremen vs Stuttgart - 17:30 CET / 11:30 AM EDT

Oh, woe is me, Stuttgart. You've had a rough start to this season that's for sure. Only one point in your first three matches, and that came against newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf. At the beginning of the season, I actually thought you good enough to surpass Schalke and finish in third place. I'm not convinced that's going to happen now. Bremen are an interesting case. I think they're good but not that good. I like their talent, but they haven't fully put it together yet. I think they'll figure things out sooner rather than later, but it won't be this weekend.

Prediction: Werder Bremen 1 - 3 Stuttgart

Hoffenheim vs Hannover - 17:30 CET / 11:30 AM EDT

I'm sorry, Markus Babbel. I'm sure that you've enjoyed having this job at Hoffenheim, but I'm not sure how much longer you'll have it. Hoffenheim have been terrible this season, and this week they have to play one of the most impressive teams in the Bundesliga. Hannover have looked good in their draw against Schalke, their beat down of Wolfsburg, and their last second win against Werder Bremen. I am only slightly concerned for their offensive production this weekend with the suspension of Szabolcs Huszti, but Hoffenheim is so bad I don't think they'll have that big of an issue.

Prediction: Hoffenheim 0 - 2 Hannover

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