The Bundesliga returns for another round of fantastic action this weekend. First and fourth place are only separated by three points. Plus, the stars are performing and new stars are being born every day. Seriously, would you rather watch boring old Manchester United or bright and entertaining Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gladbach, of course. Duh. Like most humans.
Friday, December 9
Hertha Berlin vs Schalke 04
Rumors have been circling this week that Schalke will be adding Lukas Podolski as a replacement for Raul next summer. For now the Royal Blues are going to just have to rely on the goalscoring phenom that is Klaas Jan Huntelaar. The Dutchman can't stop scoring. He's top of the charts with Mario Gomez. Markus Babbel has Berlin playing very well so far in the campaign but will he have them ready to go against Schalke? Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Raffael have managed to keep scoring goals and get results even when things looked bleak. It's going to be a battle in the capital.
Saturday, December 10
Werder Bremen vs Wolfsburg
Bremen are coming off getting thrashed 4-1 by Bayern last week. Aaron Hunt also saw red for a stupid challenge late in the match. There's a lot of midfield talent on this team that just doesn't seem ready or willing to make the jump from pretty good at times to great. Claudio Pizarro can only do so much to keep this team in contention. On the Wolfsburg side, it appears that Felix Magath has figured out how to keep them from relegation. If they can manage a win in Bremen, they'll likely pull themselves closer to mid-table mediocrity. They're not all there offensively or defensively, but they're trying to figure things out.
Mainz vs Hamburg
Thorsten Fink has turned around Hamburg's season since taking over in mid-October. They're out of the relegation and have, at times, played some decent footy. HSV aren't perfect... far from it. Defensively they can be shockingly naive at times. Mainz have been on a good run of form lately with seven points out of their last three matches. With the home support behind them, Mainz could see themselves moving away from the DAAAAANGER ZOOONE. Yep. That's an Archer reference.
Nürnberg vs Hoffenheim
I'd like to like this Hoffenheim team. They're struggling, and it's not pretty. There's a lot of talent in this squad. Well, there's enough talent. Even though this match is away, it's away to Nürnberg. The goals aren't coming yet. Holger Stanislawski needs to get this team producing more goals. Nürnberg could be heading toward a world of hurt if they don't figure out how to get their act together. They need to be honest with themselves: 15 points after 15 games isn't good enough.
Köln vs Freiburg
Freiburg's still languishing around the bottom of the table. Perhaps they should've cashed in Papiss Cisse this past summer when several clubs were willing to splash the cash for him. Those same suitors will likely still be there in January and/or next summer, but Freiburg could've spent those funds on several players to remain a top flight club. Köln's Ståle Solbakken has managed to keep the ship in the right direction despite some early season turmoil when he named someone other than Lukas Podolski captain. One poor weekend could see them fall to the relegation zone though.
Augsburg vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
Is there anyone out there that thinks Augsburg is going to win this thing? I sure don't. Marco Reus might beat all 10 field players before scoring this weekend. Are you still not watching Reus? There aren't many people playing better than him in the entire world right now. He's out of control good right now. Augsburg are destined for relegation, and Gladbach will make sure they're aware of it.
Hannover 96 vs Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday's final match is a big match for Leverkusen. If they don't take all three points in Hannover, they can kiss the tiny hopes of winning the title goodbye. Yeah, I know they're really on the outside looking in at the moment, but this absolutely kills that chance. Die Workself may be on a slight high from qualifying for the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. It will be interesting to see if Hannover can get back into a European place. Hannover hasn't picked up all three points in league play since October 23 when they beat Bayern 2-1. They have to figure out a way to get things moving in a positive direction again.
Sunday, December 11
Borussia Dortmund vs Kaiserslautern
Dortmund was knocked out of the Champions League midweek. That is definitely not good news for Kaiserslautern. Kevin Trapp will have his work cut out for him keeping Mario Götze and company out of the back of his net. This should be quite the walk for Dortmund. If we're all honest with ourselves, FCK is not a good team. This one could get ugly. When they're on their A game, there aren't many teams in the world better than this Dortmund side. Fantastic group of kids.
Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich
We could be in line for quite the tasty Sunday afternoon match in the Bundesliga when Bayern Munich travels to Stuttgart. Bayern lost midweek 0-2 to Manchester City, but the side was made up mostly of reserves. We've seen just how important Bastian Schweinsteiger is to the team with their struggles since he went down. Is there a player on any team in any country as critical to his side as Schweinsteiger? Stuttgart have the weapons to trouble the Bayern backline --- well, the Bayern backline in recent weeks. Shinji Okazaki can draw one of the Bayern centerbacks out of position allowing Martin Harnik to sneak in behind the defense. Plus, the all important topic is Mario Gomez getting his scoring lead back over Huntelaar. Nobody wants Schalke to win anything this year.