Mario Gomez of Muenchen controles the ball during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and FC Basel at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Bundesliga returns this week with Bayern Munich pulling slightly closer to Borussia Dortmund, and Hamburg have the opportunity to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Bayern Munich: Not Done Yet
Bayern Munich appeared to be dead in the water last weekend. They were coming off of the previous weekend where they were beaten 2-0 by Bayer Leverkusen. Their most recent Champions League match saw them defeated 1-0 in Basel. Borussia Dortmund were playing some blinding football and pulling away with a 7 point lead.
Then the tiny club from Sinsheim came to Munich. The frustrations of recent performances were unleashed on Hoffenheim in a goalscoring assault. They put seven goals in the net past a helpless Tom Strong. Mario Gomez found his scoring touch once again, and Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery found the net. Bayern were dominant. The club then watched later that afternoon as Augsburg held Dortmund to a 0-0 draw. Seven points became five.
Bayern hosted Basel in the second leg of their Champions League tie this week and unleashed another 7 goals thrashing. Gomez's four goals brought his four day total to seven. That's quite the haul for the Germany international.
If the club's recent performances are any clue as to what Saturday's match with the struggling Hertha Berlin could bring us, I expect we'll see a lot of goals. Bayern can't afford to lose focus now, and Gomez spoke clearly with the official Bundesliga website this week when he said, "Every game's a cup tie for us now." If they lose focus, they lose the league.
Hamburg has a huge opportunity on Saturday to put some additional distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Thorsten Fink's side can put seven points between themselves and 15th place with a win at home in the Imtech Arena. Freiburg come to town with the opportunity of pulling themselves out of the relegation zone.
A win for the hosts would be a massive opportunity to begin to put this season to bed after the disastrous first few months under then-manager Michael Oenning. They were destined for trouble after picking up only 3 points out of their first possible 21. Finding themselves in a position to separate themselves from the drop zone must be a godsend to the club.
Lucky for Hamburg, they have already faced the top four clubs twice this season, so their final nine matches won't feature any of them. Every club in the Bundesliga would like their chances to stay up if they could avoid Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Schalke in their stretch run.
Friday, March 16
Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart- 20:30 CET / 2:30 PM ET
Saturday, March 17
Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Mönchengladbach - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Borussia Dortmund vs Werder Bremen - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Augsburg vs Mainz - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Hamburg vs Freiburg - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Nürnberg vs Wolfsburg - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich - 18:30 CET & 12:30PM EST
Sunday, March 18
Kaiserslautern vs Schalke 04 - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST
Hannover 96 vs Köln - 17:30 CET & 11:30AM EST