Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04
Friday, 2:30 PM, TV: GOL TV
The hundred twenty-eighth Revierderby looks like a serious mismatch, just as in the first clash between these two sides in 2010-11 when Borussia Dortmund ran out 3-1 winners. BVB could have scored several more then and will come into this game with plenty of confidence after a solid 3-0 victory last week in Wolfsburg. Schalke 04 had been building up some momentum before last weekend, when an early Isaac Vorsah goal sent them down to defeat at home against Hoffenheim. In a statistic that will rile Schalke fans near and far, Felix Magath's team now have just half as many points as Dortmund this season.
Magath had an exciting end to the transfer window, bringing in Anthony Annan and Angelos Charisteas, among others; Jürgen Klopp only picked up 1860 Munich's eighteen-year-old midfielder Moritz Leitner, who was promptly sent out on loan to 2.Bundesliga FC Augsburg. Fortunately for Schalke their defence won't have to worry about marking Shinji Kagawa this time around; the Japanese attacking midfielder wreaked havoc earlier in the season at the Veltins Arena, but a broken metatarsal has ruled him out for the rest of the season. The visitors are in better shape than they were in the first derby this season, but Dortmund still look far the better side and should pick up another victory here as they coast toward the Bundesliga title.
FC Cologne vs. Bayern Munich
Saturday, 9:30 AM, TV: ESPN3.com
At 1-0 down with a half-hour to go in the Weserstadion last week, it looked like Bayern Munich were heading towards another away defeat -- but then up popped Arjen Robben with an airborne tap-in to level the scores. After that, things kept going the visitors' way as Per Mertesacker put through his own net and Miroslav Klose scored his first Bundesliga goal of the season to give Bayern a 3-1 win. The Bavarians will be trying to win back-to-back league away games for the first time this season against an FC Cologne side that were ripped apart by St. Pauli last week in a 3-0 loss. To make matters worse for Cologne, after losing that six-pointer, a dodgy fax machine cost them the services of Hamburg SV's Eric Choupo-Moting at the close of the transfer window. However, Cologne will count on a good game from goalkeeper Michael Rensing, the Bayern academy product who will be taking on his former club after being released over the summer. Frank Ribéry should be back for the visitors, but Robben is a doubt as Bayern look for their first win against Cologne since 2008.
Hannover 96 vs. VfL Wolfsburg
Saturday, 9:30 AM
Steve McClaren was quite busy as the transfer window closed; VfL Wolfsburg picked up Tuncay and Patrick Helmes to strengthen the forward line and added four other players to replace the club's six departures over January. However, they were well beaten at home against Borussia Dortmund last week, and will have a tough time of it against a solid Hannover 96 side. The hosts fell to a disappointing defeat against Leverkusen last week and dropped to fifth place, but will fancy their chances of rebounding at home to a Wolfsburg team who have been very inconsistent and are now just four points above the relegation play-off place.
Mainz 05 vs. Werder Bremen
Saturday, 9:30 AM
Werder Bremen's awful form continued last week as they threw away a one-goal lead at home to Bayern Munich and are now just three points above the drop zone after taking just four points from their last eighteen. Worse, Bremen have been outscored 15-0 in their last five games away from the Weserstadion, and they've taken just one point from those games. Fortunately, they're up against the team with the second-worst home form in the Bundesliga (only ahead of 'Gladbach) -- although they won narrowly in Kaiserslautern last week, Mainz 05 have won just one of their last six at the Stadion am Bruchweg, and have been kept of the scoresheet in all five losses. That bodes well for Werder, who have the second-worst defence in the league and are desperate for points.
FC Nürnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday, 9:30 AM
A comfortable 2-0 win in Hamburg last week gave FC Nürnberg their first league win of 2011, while Bayer Leverkusen were also victorious by a two-goal margin, they beat Hannover 96 at home with first-half goals from Arturo Vidal and Simon Rolfes. Bayer dominated their home game against Nürnberg back in September but failed to score; since then, they've only been stopped from scoring once in the league. Nürnberg are underdogs here with Leverkusen still unbeaten away from home and FCN will have to put up a very good performance to stop the visitors.
TSG Hoffenheim vs. FC Kaiserslautern
Saturday, 9:30 AM
This column knows what you're saying, and it concedes your point -- this game is not very exciting. The only semblance of importance here is that Kaiserslautern are now just three points from the drop zone after losing at home to Mainz 05 last week. 'Lautern have lost their last three in all competitions and are second-bottom of the form table, a worrying place at this time of the season. Hoffenheim picked up a good win at the Veltins Arena last week thanks to an early headed goal by Isaac Vorsah, and the home side will be looking to keep their faint European hopes alive with another victory.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. VfB Stuttgart
Saturday, 12:30 PM, TV: ESPN3.com
Last week's relegation six-pointer resulted in a big win for St. Pauli; this weekend Borussia Mönchengladbach will be looking to get off the bottom of the table for the first time since Week 12 at home to fellow strugglers VfB Stuttgart. 'Gladbach, against all of this column's expectations, picked up another win last week, a very narrow 1-0 against Frankfurt, while Stuttgart fell to Freiburg despite some late pressure and a glorious chance to level the scores for Martin Harnik in the closing minutes. The hosts' victory last week has moved them level with Stuttgart in the table, although they are far behind on goal difference. Mönchengladbach haven't won a home game yet this season, while Stuttgart are yet to claim victory away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Surely something has to give for one side or another this weekend, and the team that can break their duck will like their chances of making an escape from the drop.
Hamburg SV vs. St. Pauli
Sunday, 9:30 AM
The Hamburg derby isn't the biggest in a weekend with several local rivalries, but it may be the most heated. The away supporters and neutrals will be hoping for a very different derby than the first one, earlier this season -- Mladen Petric scored a late equalizer for Hamburg SV, and violence after the game resulted in twenty-six people being injured and thirteen arrests. HSV have become one of the best sides in the league at home, but St. Pauli have found their shooting boots and have scored at least twice in each of their last four matches, including a vital 3-0 win at home against Cologne last week. There will be a great derby atmosphere, and hopefully some more goalmouth action than in the first meeting between the two sides this season.
SC Freiburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Sunday, 11:30 AM. TV: GOL TV
Surprisingly, SC Freiburg are one of the form teams in the Bundesliga; unbeaten in six, they are now within a point of Hannover 96 in fifth place. Eintracht Frankfurt had looked like another side that could make a run for the European places, but they've lost their last three and haven't scored in 2011. Johannes Flum scored the only goal of the game last week for Freiburg as they beat Stuttgart in the Mercedes-Benz Arena, while Frankfurt were beaten at home by last-placed Mönchengladbach thanks to an Igor De Camargo goal six minutes from time. Freiburg have a very strong record at home recently, and they will favour themselves here; for Frankfurt, they simply have to find a way to score goals again.