Bundesliga 2011, Week 15 Preview: Gladbach Face BVB In Massive Clash, Bayern Take On Werder

All of Germany's top four teams play each other in a fantastic Week 15 of Bundesliga fixtures

While Week 15 of the Bundesliga doesn't feature any marquee matchups to the degree of the Revierderby, there are a number of interesting matches featuring highly-placed teams. Borrusia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will both be tested this week, as they face off against teams who have made surprise runs into the top four.

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hoffenheim - Friday, 2:30 pm ET

Due to injuries and their struggles with juggling Champions League with the league, Bayer Leverkusen have dropped to sixth place in the Bundesliga. However, as Ross Dunbar wrote for SB Nation Soccer, they are a young team on the rise and there's no reason to believe they won't be competing for European spots all season. On Friday, they take on a ninth placed Hoffenheim team on the fringes of European contention. Hoffenheim will be without Roberto Fermino and Chinedu Obasi, who were both suspended for disciplinary reasons, but Bayer will have one eye on European action ahead.

Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen - Saturday, 9:30 am ET

In recent performances in both the Bundesliga and Europe, Bayern have struggled without the presence of Bastian Schweinsteiger in the middle. Their two recent Bundesliga losses have shown how dependent the side are on their rock in the midfield, as the pair of Luiz Gustavo and Toni Kroos have been unable to take over. They'll be tested again by Werder's tough central midfield. The good news for Bayern is that Claudio Pizarro is still an injury doubt.

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Borussia Dortmund - Saturday, 9:30 am ET

Borussia Mönchengladbach have shocked not only the Bundesliga, but all followers of European football in their incredible run to second place in the Bundesliga table. They faced Bayern on the first matchday of the season, so this game will mark their first real test since being anointed as a genuine European contender. All eyes will be on Marco Reus of Gladbach and Mario Götze of Dortmund, the two young attacking midfielders who have been linked to massive moves abroad. Dortmund will still be without Sven Bender, so Reus could have a huge day.

Kaiserslautern vs. Hertha Berlin - Saturday, 9:30 am ET

Hertha have done well to get themselves up into tenth place, but there's no question that these two teams will be near the drop zone at the end of the season. Yep, it's an opportunity to use the dumbest cliche in football, the "relegation six-pointer". Kaiserslautern are in abysmal form, while Hertha did well to draw Bayer Leverkusen last week in a 3-3 thriller. Expect Hertha to nick a point on the road.

SC Freiburg vs. Hannover 96 - Saturday, 9:30 am ET

Hannover are slightly disappointing this season, as they're struggling to score goals and their captain Steve Cherundolo is starting to show his age. The good news is that they've gotten a bit lucky with their results and are still very much in contention for a place in Europe. Freiburg have been very poor, other than Papiss Demba Cisse. If he can put together a massive game, Freiburg can nick points, but they go as he goes. If he doesn't have a monster game, Hannover will at least take a point and probably win.

VFL Wolfsburg vs. Mainz - Saturday, 9:30 am ET

Mainz has struggled this season without Andre Schürrle as Thomas Tuchel's managerial stock has taken a dip, but they've found a way out of a terrible run of form with two big wins over Stuttgart and Bayern Munich in the last two weeks. The team has no real attacking star, and scoring has been a team effort. They have to like their chances of getting a result on the road against Wolfsburg, who have been poor in two of their last three games. They put a beating on Hannover two weeks ago, but have also recently been embarrassed by Dortmund and Augsburg.

VFB Stuttgart Vs. Cologne - Saturday, 12:30 pm ET

There are not two teams in the Bundesliga with a more extreme variation in their play between home and away than Stuttgart and Cologne. Both are capable of beating any of the big sides at home, but are incredibly poor on the road. Chances are, this game will defy any sort of analysis about tactics and personnel. Stuttgart's home fans are fantastic and Cologne can't get it done away from theirs. Stuttgart might be the more talented side anyway. Expect a win for Stuttgart.

Hamburg SV vs. FC Nürnburg - Sunday, 9:30 am ET

While SB Nation is an American website, there is no bias in this statement: Timothy Chandler is an absolute monster. The Nürnburg wingback has been on a tear this season for a team with no finishers and terrible central defenders. Their best player other than Chandler is Timmy Simons, who is 35 years old. They're in a bit of trouble, and they shouldn't be able to get points out of this game. New Hamburg manager Thorsten Fink has his team out of the drop zone and has not lost since taking over at the club on October 13.

Schalke 04 vs. FC Augsburg - Sunday, 11:30 am ET

Augsburg are simply not a very good side. They're almost certainly going to be relegated, and whoever comes up from the 2.Bundesliga will likely have a better chance of staying up next season. Schalke are coming off of a crippling defeat in the Revierderby, but won mid-week to clinch a place in the Europa League knockout stages. Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Raul and Lewis Holtby are all healthy, while captain Benedikt Höwedes is expected to return to the team. Die Königsblauen should win easily at home.

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