Bundesliga 2012, Week 18 Preview And Fixtures: The Bundesliga Is Back!

Bastian Schweinsteiger talks to journalists during a press conference of Bayern Muenchen at 'The Grand Heritage Hotel' in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Bundesliga returns from the winter break with an outstanding match on Friday between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich

I've been anxiously waiting for the Bundesliga to return from it's lengthy winter break...

FINALLY THE BUNDESLIGA IS BACK!!!

Return of the Schweinsteiger

Bayern Munich travels to Borussia-Park on Friday in an attempt to exact revenge on Borussia Mönchengladbach. If you remember back to the season's opening round, Gladbach stunned the Allianz Arena thanks to Manuel Neuer's blunder. Will this match be any different? Yes. Why? Bastian Schweinsteiger returns to the pitch in his first competitive fixture for Bayern since being assaulted breaking his collarbone in a Champions League match against Napoli on November 2. It's difficult for me to be non-biased about the Bayern midfielder. For my money, there's no player in Europe more valuable to his club's performance than Schweinsteiger. His command of the midfield for his club is rivaled only by a certain Barcelona midfielder. Gladbach won't be able to stop the machine that is Die Roten this week even with the fantastic Marco Reus.

Relegation Six Pointer

Freiburg host Augsburg in a match best described with the aforementioned cliche. Papiss Cisse stayed in Freiburg for the first half of the season, but he finally was transferred this week. Without Cisse pestering Augsburg's backline, it's difficult to see from where the goalscoring will occur. Stefan Reisinger is a competent forward but can he lead an attack for a struggling club? I like Augsburg in this match. I'm sorry Freiburg supporters. I think your club is going down.

How Long Does Felix Magath Have?

Felix Magath's second run at Wolfsburg has not started as well as he wanted. Die Wölfe is sitting just out of the relegation zone, and Felix is trying to buy a million players in this transfer window. In the last friendly before the second half of the season starts, Wolfsburg lost to fourth division club FC Magdeburg. This week they host FC Köln and the masterful Lukas Podolski. Will Prinz Poldi hammer in the first nail of Magath's coffin? Keep an eye on Köln's Milivoje Novakovic. I like the Slovenian international to grab a goal in this one.

Dortmund and Hamburg Has Turned Into An Injury Party

Sunday's Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg match was going to be a great contest with some exciting attacking talent on the pitch. Unfortunately, injuries have sprung up on both sides, and we're looking at five likely starters missing out. Dortmund is expecting to be without the services of Roman Weidenfeller, Lukasz Piszczek, and Mario Götze. It's going to be interesting to see who Jurgen Klopp chooses to replace Piszczek. Does he go with Patrick Owomoyela or does he throw all caution to the wind and go with Kevin Großkreutz? Hamburg will be missing Mladen Petric, Gökhan Töre, and Ivo Ilicevic. I think this means we'll get to see a lot more of Lam Zhi Gin and Son Heung-Min. Both players are really young and really exciting. I'm really excited to see both players get some significant action against the talented Dortmund defense.

Full Schedule

Friday, January 20

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Bayern Munich

Saturday, January 21

Hoffenheim vs Hannover 96

Schalke 04 vs Stuttgart

Wolfsburg vs Köln

Freiburg vs Augsburg

Nürnberg vs Hertha Berlin

Kaiserslautern vs Werder Bremen

Sunday, January 22

Hamburg vs Borussia Dortmund

Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz

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