German Bundesliga 2011, Week 6 Preview And Schedule: Bayern Munich-Schalke The Weekend's Big Match

The Bundesliga continues this weekend with a spectacular Sunday doubleheader featuring Borussia Dortmund traveling to Hannover 96 and Schalke 04 playing host to the returning Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich.

The first round of group stage matches in European play have passed, and it's time to get back to domestic soccer. It's a busy weekend in the Bundesliga, capped off by a wonderful Sunday doubleheader. The weekend ends in Gelsenkirchen with the biggest match of the season so far. Bayern Munich, the current leaders in the Bundesliga standings, travel to face fringe title contenders Schalke 04, who currently sit in fifth place. 

Friday, September 16

SC Freiburg vs VfB Stuttgart

The weekend kicks off with Freiburg looking to gain some respect back after they were abused 7-0 last weekend by Bayern Munich. They'll need a better performance Julian Schuster and Johannes Flum. The two were completely dominated against Bayern and conceded possession from the opening whistle. Stuttgart makes the trip after a very impressive 3-0 victory against Hannover 96 last weekend. Stuttgart's Shinji Okazaki continues to impress me when I see him. I think he'll make the difference in this one. Pick: SC Freiburg 0 - 2 VfB Stuttgart

Saturday, September 17

Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs 1. FC Köln

I don't know how many time I'll start a preview like this, but Köln are awful. Is the pressure of taking over the captaincy from Lukas Podolski affecting Pedro Geromel? I don't see how you can argue against it. Geromel conceded two penalties within minutes of each other last week. That's absurd. Ståle Solbakken created a minor controversy before the season when he chose Geromel to be his captain instead of Podolski. Will the manager go down in flames with his captain? Leverkusen should make easy work of their opponents this weekend. Does Michael Ballack return to the lineup again? I think he should. He's played well recently. Pick: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3 - 1 1. FC Köln

Hamburger SV vs Borussia Mönchengladbach

I'm making a statement here, and I want you to remember it. If Hamburg doesn't get a victory at home against Gladbach, Michael Oenning should be fired. Their great fans have suffered through a despicable start to the season, and it's only continued. How does this team only have one point after five matches? Gladbach's start to the season has been great. Juan Arango is in great form for Gladbach. Marc-André ter Stegen in the goal for the Foals always give them a chance to win. Pick: Hamburger SV 1 - 2 Borussia Mönchengladbach

1. FC Nürnberg vs SV Werder Bremen

Bremen continue to impress early in this campaign. They're currently sitting on top of the table level on points with Bayern Munich (second on goal differential). Even after they sold Per Mertesacker to Arsenal at the transfer deadline, the club still put up a clean sheet last weekend. Now that Claudio Pizarro has returned from his injury, things should continue to improve for Bremen. Thomas Schaaf has done a really good job so far this season and should be commended. Nürnberg has a solid centerback combination in Philipp Wollscheid and Timm Klose. Both should prove a touch task for the Bremen front line. Pick: 1. FC Nürnberg 1 - 2 SV Werder Bremen

1899 Hoffenheim vs VfL Wolfsburg

The biggest shock occurred last weekend when Felix Magath's Wolfsburg seemed to pull one out of nowhere in their upset of Schalke. Mario Mandzukic put on his goal scoring boots and put two into the Schalke net. The real test for Wolfsburg will be if they can put two good performances back to back. Hoffenheim made no mistake last week in their 4-0 defeat of Mainz 05. Ryan Babel and Roberto Firmino were able to get goals last week, and they will look to get behind the Wolfsburg back four. Pick: 1899 Hoffenheim 2 - 0 VfL Wolfsburg

Hertha BSC Berlin vs FC Augsburg

Hertha pulled off the shocker of the season last week when they picked up an improbable victory away to Borussia Dortmund. Raffael was fantastic in the attack scoring one goal and hitting the post another. There's not a lot of positive things to say about Augsburg at the moment. It was always going to be an uphill climb for them this season. Maybe they can be happy that they're not in 18th place yet. Pick: Hertha BSC Berlin 1 - 0 FC Augsburg

1. FC Kaiserslautern vs 1. FSV Mainz 05

This is a very good opportunity for Kaiserslautern to finally get their first win of the season. Neither club has lit the world on fire at this point. Mainz met the heel of Hoffenheim's boot last week in a 0-4 defeat. Pick: 1. FC Kaiserslautern 1 - 1 1. FSV Mainz 05

Sunday, September 18

Hannover 96 vs Borussia Dortmund

Both clubs suffered defeats last weekend, and both settled for draws in their midweek European encounters. The big test for Dortmund is if they can finish the dozens of chances they create. Mario Götze and Shinji Kagawa open channels to Robert Lewandowski who needs to do better with the chances he receives. I think it's time for Jürgen Klopp to make a big decision and sit Kevin Großkreutz for a match. Ivan Perisic should get the start at that position, because he brings a different creativity to that position. Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal will have his work cut out for him in this one. He'll have to be on his toes for 90 minutes. If Hannover are to score in this one, it's likely coming from Mohammed Abdellaoue. Pick: Hannover 96 1 - 2 Borussia Dortmund

FC Schalke 04 vs FC Bayern Munich

Bayern travel to Schalke in the biggest match of the season to date. The biggest story line in this match is the return of Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to his boyhood club. Bayern come into this match off of their destruction of Freiburg last weekend, and their 2-0 victory in the Champions League. Will Arjen Robben make his return for this match? Will he be needed? Toni Kroos filled in admirably for the last several matches with Robben missing. The big change for Bayern this season has been their defense which hasn't allowed a goal since Neuer's flub against Gladbach on opening day. Schalke have Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Raul scoring goals to start the year, and the return of Jefferson Farfan to the lineup opens things up dramatically for them. This will be the first real test for the Bayern defense this season but can Schalke do enough to win this match? Pick: FC Schalke 04 1 - 3 FC Bayern Munich

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