The Bundesliga returns with a big match on Friday between Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. With a victory, Freiburg can move ahead of Frankfurt for the league's fourth Champions League place.
The Bundesliga returns to action this weekend after a bag of mixed fortune in midweek European action. In the Champions League, Bayern Munich went to Arsenal and crushed them, and Schalke grabbed a 1-1 draw on the road in Istanbul against Galatasaray. In the Europa League, there was far less about which to be positive. Stuttgart were the sole club to move on to the next round earning a 2-1 aggregate win over Genk. Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, and Hannover were all knocked out by Lazio, Benfica, and Anzhi Makhachkala respectively. Eesh. Hopefully that won't damage the coefficient too much.
Friday, February 22
Freiburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt - 20:30 CET / 2:30 PM ET
Freiburg's stellar season has continued, and they're now only three points behind Friday's opponent, Eintracht Frankfurt. Christian Streich has put players in the right positions, and they have succeeded for him this year. Max Kruse and Daniel Caligiuri in particular have stood out all season long. Eintracht Frankfurt were extremely poor at the weekend in a 3-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund. BVB were down to ten men after only thirty minutes, but Frankfurt were unable to do anything with the man advantage and looked quite inept at times.
Prediction: Freiburg 2 - 1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Saturday, February 23
Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Bayern Munich crushed Arsenal in London on Tuesday, but it was far from the Bavarians best performance. They're now unbeaten in their last 19 matches and will likely extend that to twenty heading into next week's massive clash with Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal. It's tough to find a weakness in this Bayern side, and it's even tougher to see Werder Bremen being the team to end this unbeaten run. Bremen came back twice against Freiburg last week, but they were unable to come back the third time to earn a point. They're floating in an area where they're seemingly safe from the relegation zone, because they're high enough to avoid the bottom teams catching them. However, they're close enough to the Europa League places that, if they put together a little run, they can latch onto a spot.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2 - 0 Werder Bremen
Stuttgart vs Nürnberg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Stuttgart had been massively struggling since returning from the winter break, but they picked up their first win in a 1-0 win against Hoffenheim. Thursday they picked up a massive 2-0 victory over Genk in the Europa League and advanced to the next round of the tournament. Every week I'm going to keep reminding myself and you that I picked Stuttgart to finish in second place this season. Gross. Nürnberg grabbed a point against Hannover with a goal in stoppage time. They have the ability to really push forward this week and put even more distance between themselves and the relegation zone, but it's going to be extremely difficult.
Prediction: Stuttgart 2 - 1 Nürnberg
Augsburg vs Hoffenheim - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Is this what they call a "relegation six pointer"? Hoffenheim sit in the relegation playoff place, but are only one point ahead of Augsburg in the table. The Hoff are playing better lately, even if the results aren't their to show it yet. The defense has greatly improved since Heurelho Gomes joined in the winter transfer window. However, the offense isn't producing like they should. Augsburg lost to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend to snap a five match unbeaten run that stretched back to December. The return of Sasha Mölders has invigorated this side, and it's easy to see them pipping Hoffenheim and getting into the relegation playoff place before the season end.
Prediction: Augsburg 2 - 1 Hoffenheim
Hannover vs Hamburg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
The Hamburg revolution is in taking place right now. Thorsten Fink's side has taken ten out of a possible fifteen points since returning from the winter break. Rafael Van der Vaart, Artjoms Rudnevs, and Heung-Min Son have been in excellent form so far this year. A win this weekend will see them further secure their hold on a Europa League place and potentially find themselves in a Champions League place. Hannover needs to put aside their last few weeks of middling performances and really step up this week. If the result goes against them, they could find themselves on the outside looking in on a Europa League place.
Prediction: Hannover 1 - 2 Hamburg
Mainz vs Wolfsburg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Mainz have only lost twice in their last nine matches and, with a win this weekend, could see themselves back in the Europa League places. Adam Szalai has put together a fantastic campaign and has twelve goals to his name. Mainz took the reverse fixture in the first half of the season in Wolfsburg 2-0, and it's tough to see a different result this time around. It will be interesting to see if Thomas Tuchel rests some starters for the club's massive midweek DFB Pokal quarterfinal match against Freiburg.
Prediction: Mainz 2 - 0 Wolfsburg
Schalke vs Fortuna Düsseldorf - 18:30 CET / 12:30 PM ET
Schalke will look at their last two matches as potentially putting their horrid form behind them. They grabbed a draw on the road in Mainz, and they picked up a big draw on the road midweek in the Champions League against Galatasaray. They're still a mess at the back, but Fortuna Düsseldorf doesn't have the team to capitalize on this.
Prediction: Schalke 2 - 0 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Sunday, February 24
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Borussia Mönchengladbach bombed out of the Europa League against Lazio and will have to deal with Borussia Dortmund this weekend. In the reverse fixture earlier this season in Dortmund, BVB ran away with a 5-0 beatdown. It's tough to see there being a big difference this weekend, but there is a small chance for Gladbach. BVB have the massive DFB Pokal match with Bayern Munich on Wednesday, so we'll have to see if Jürgen Klopp rests any players. Otherwise, BVB should win easily.
Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 - 3 Borussia Dortmund
Greuther Fürth vs Bayer Leverkusen - 17:30 CET / 11:30 AM ET
Greuther Fürth dismissed manager Mike Büskens on Wednesday with the hope of putting a little life back into their campaign to try to avoid relegation. I really hope that the Fürth supporters will get to see a victory on their home turf before the season's out, but I don't see it happening this weekend against Bayer Leverkusen. Die Werkself will be looking to put a little more space between themselves and Eintracht Frankfurt for the third and final guaranteed Champions League place for next season.
Prediction: Greuther Fürth 0 - 2 Bayer Leverkusen