Bundesliga 2012, Week 24 Preview And Fixtures: Who Survived The International Break?

Franck Ribery of Muenchen shoots a free-kick during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and FC Schalke 04 at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Week 24 of the Bundesliga is upon us? Already? This season's flying by... here's your preview.

Will Injuries Cost Bayern A Shot At The Title?

Bayern Munich are sitting three points behind Borussia Dortmund in the table, but they're still within striking distance. For now. Even though Bastian Schweinsteiger returned to light training this week, Bayern may face a dangerous Bayer Leverkusen without Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber.

Ribery and Badstuber were removed from Wednesday's friendly between France and Germany due to injuries. Ribery suffered a severe thigh bruise, while Badstuber was stopped with back pain. Both are likely to play, but Bayern need Ribery in the form that he's been in lately. Thomas Müller and Jerome Boateng also picked up knocks in the match, but they are expected to play.

Bayern has been struggling to find the form they had in the first half of the season since play resumed after the winter break. They appeared to find some great form on the back of Ribery against Schalke last weekend, and they'll need to maintain that form for a shot at overtaking Dortmund.

Distraction - Codename: Podolski

Köln didn't need another distraction as they slide closer and closer to the relegation zone. Rumors have been circulating all season long that star player Lukas Podolski would be seeking a move away, again, from his club.

Word dropped this week that Podolski was gearing up for a big summer move to Arsenal. Without talking about how the move would be a good one for club and player, all the talk is now going to be all about whether Lukas will be leaving this summer.

Focus is needed at the moment. The Billy Goats are only sitting four points out of the relegation zone, and they've lost five out of six matches since the winter break. Köln is relying on Podolski to get them through this rough patch and keep them in the Bundesliga at the end of the season. A distraction is the last thing they need.

Hertha Berlin Are In Free Fall

Hertha haven't won a match since October 29. Wow. That was a lifetime ago. They've currently lost six matches in a row and are on their third manager of the season. Last week's 0-3 thrashing at the hands of Augsburg placed them in the relegation zone. Oh yeah, Augsburg is the team that jumped them to get out.

With Otto Rehhagel running the show at the club now, perhaps he can find... something. Anything really. They need a spark to get back on track and out of the relegation zone.

Fixtures

Saturday, March 3

Hertha Berlin vs Werder Bremen - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Hamburg vs Stuttgart - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Kaiserslautern vs Wolfsburg - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Hannover 96 vs Augsburg - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Freiburg vs Schalke 04 - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Borussia Dortmund vs Mainz 05 - 18:30 CET & 12:30PM EST

Sunday, March 4

Nürnberg vs Borussia Mönchengladbach - 15:30 CET & 9:30AM EST

Hoffenheim vs Köln - 17:30 CET & 11:30AM EST

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