Bayern and Schalke need a win if they want to stay in the title race.
There is just one problem. They play each other.
Bayern have been thoroughly disappointing in their last two matches. Last weekend's scoreless draw with Freiburg was disappointing and full of ineptitude. While midweek's 0-1 in Basel is more understandable, the inability to find the back of the net is disconcerting. Bayern haven't been in great form since before the winter break. It's obvious that there are problems, and it doesn't seem that Jupp Heynckes knows how to solve them. It doesn't help that Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are far from being in their best form.
I dare you to find a player in better goalscoring form at the moment than Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Dutch international has scored 33 goals in 33 matches for the club in all competitions this year. He's been unbelievably impressive and will challenge Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng to be on the top of their game. Last week Raul scored his 400th career goal, and you can bet he's ready to start on his next century of goals this week.
Bayern dominated the reverse fixture in at the Veltins-Arena. Schalke barely generated any scoring opportunities. It will be interesting to see what Huub Stevens has planned for the massive match at the weekend.
Hertha Berlin have a great chance to create space between themselves and the relegation zone, but a loss drops them into it.
The match on Saturday will be their first under new manager Otto Rehhagel. Unfortunately for Berlin, they're coming off of six straight losses since the new year and will be desperate for a good start under the new boss. It will start up front where there struggles to find goals have lead directly to their downfall. With only one goal scored in their last five league matches, Rehhagel must find a way to get Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Raphael on the score sheet.
They travel to Augsburg where the hosts are coming off of last week's 4-1 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen. Augsburg haven't been in good form for some time, but they're just one victory away from finding themselves out of the relegation zone. At home against a side struggling like Hertha, anything shorter than a victory will not cut it. Only one side has scored fewer goals than Augsburg this season, so an outstanding defensive performance will be necessary if they're to come out of this with a win.
Gladbach should win at home against Hamburg.
They should win. They're a better side than Hamburg, and they're style of play will likely cause the Hamburg defense a lot of problems. There are two things to keep an eye on in this match.
The first is the play of Hamburg goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny. Word came this week that Hamburg were in negotiations to sign current Leverkusen goalkeeper Rene Adler for next season. Drobny is an experienced professional, so you would not expect shakiness in his confidence to arise with the probability of being replaced next season.
The second thing to watch is how Gladbach adjusts to playing without Partrick Herrmann. The talented midfielder had six goals and six assists to his name on the season until he broke his collarbone last week against Kaiserslautern.
Friday, February 24
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Hamburg - 20:30 CET / 2:30 PM ET
Saturday, February 25
Stuttgart vs Freiburg - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Mainz 05 vs Kaiserslautern - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Wolfsburg vs Hoffenheim - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Köln vs Bayer Leverkusen - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Augsburg vs Hertha Berlin - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Werder Bremen vs Nürnberg - 18:30 CET / 12:30 PM ET
Sunday, February 26
Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 - 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM ET
Borussia Dortmund vs Hannover 96 - 17:30 CET / 11:30 AM ET