After what can only be described as an interesting week in Europe, the Bundesliga returns this weekend with a full slate of games. Obviously, the big one is Schalke hosting Bayern Munich. HOWEVER, you should also keep an ey in Hannover, Wolfsburg, and Mainz.
Friday, September 20
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Eintracht Braunschweig
Braunschweig finally took their first Bundesliga point last weekend in their 1-1 draw with Nürnberg. That was truly a big moment for the side. Unfortunately, a visit to Borussia Park isn't an easy place to be successful.
Time & Location: 20:30 Local / 2:30 PM Eastern; Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach
Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 - 0 Eintracht Braunschweig
Saturday, September 21
Hannover vs. Augsburg
Augsburg have been on a hot streak of three straight wins heading into Saturday's matchup against Hannover. However, that hot streak has come against not-so-good teams. Hannover's a good team and will take all three points on the day.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; HDI Arena, Hannover
Prediction: Hannover 2 - 1 Augsburg
Wolfsburg vs. Hoffenheim
Will Wolfsburg ever get used to playing with Luiz Gustavo in the side. He was sent off again last weekend in a loss to Bayer Leverkusen. Hoffenheim have been one of the surprise sides of the season. They're currently on 8 points and can make a huge statement with a win in Wolfsburg.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg
Prediction: Wolfsburg 2 - 2 Hoffenheim
Nürnberg vs. Borussia Dortmund
Nürnberg aren't very good. I know that's a simple way of describing them, but it's true. They're not good. However, Borussia Dortmund had such a mindbogglingly bad game against Napoli in the Champions League. It'll be interesting to see if Mats Hummels can go this weekend after suffering an injury in the match. BVB still have the talent to overcome this loss, but if it's a patchwork defense, things could get dicey.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Grundig Stadion, Nürnberg
Prediction: Nürnberg 0 - 2 Borussia Dortmund
Mainz vs. Bayer Leverkusen
This has the potential to be the match of the weekend. Mainz are a very good team and are still underrated by many after their stellar start. They're sitting only three points behind Leverkusen and could really make a move with a big win on Saturday. Leverkusen may have struggled midweek against Manchester United, but they should come back and put in a better performance against Mainz. I expect we'll see Stefan Kießling impose himself on the Mainz backline and grab a goal or two.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Coface Arena, Mainz
Prediction: Mainz 1 - 2 Bayer Leverkusen
Hamburg vs. Werder Bremen
Hamburg are totally getting the "new manager bump" in Saturday's game. Plus, Werder are awful. Are they going to try to out-awful each other? Maybe.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Imtech Arena, Hamburg
Prediction: Hamburg 1 - 0 Werder Bremen
Schalke vs. Bayern Munich
The big match for the weekend is SChalke and Bayern Munich going one on one in the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke appear to finally be getting their season under control after their very poor start under Jens Keller. What did Keller do to fix the problem? Well, the signing of Kevin Prince Boateng sure helped things for the better. He brings a unique toughness to the team that was missing before he arrived (okay, really sans Jermaine Jones). It also helped that the competition wasn't the best. Bayern are coming off a big Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow, and Pep Guardiola's side will be looking to put together another solid performance. They don't want to risk dropping too many points early with BVB seemingly rolling through league play at the moment.
Time & Location: 18:30 Local / 12:30 PM Eastern; Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen
Prediction: Schalke 0 - 2 Bayern Munich
Sunday, September 22
Freiburg vs. Hertha Berlin
I thought Freiburg were going to be better than they are currently playing. While I still maintain that they'll get "there", it doesn't look like it's going to be in the near future. I like this Hertha Berlin side more than I thought I would at the beginning of the season. They'll take all three points here.
Time & Location: 15:30 Local / 9:30 AM Eastern; Mage Solar Stadion, Freiburg
Prediction: Freiburg 1 - 2 Hertha Berlin
Two wins on the trot for new Stuttgart manager Thomas Schneider will get a stern test with Eintracht Frankfurt visiting. Frankfurt have started to put together a few good performances in recent weeks, and new signing Vaclav Kadlec has done something that nobody else on Frankfurt was doing. He's scoring goals. The game should be a fun one.
Time & Location: 17:30 Local / 11:30 AM Eastern; Mercedes Benz Arena, Stuttgart
Prediction: Stuttgart 1 - 1 Eintracht Frankfurt