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Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (Saturday, 2.30pm)

The Revierderby is the big one this weekend, a fierce tussle between regional rivals which cranked up a notch in 1969 when visiting Schalke players were bitten by a pitch-invading dog at BVB’s old Rote Erde stadium. The 25,000-capacity home terrace known as the “Yellow Wall” will be silent, giving David Wagner’s Schalke (an enormous club in their own right) a chance to upset the form book. Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, whose form this season has been sublime, already has a Revierderby winner to his name.

Augsburg v Wolfsburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)

Few coaches can have waited longer for a mid-season debut than Heiko Herrlich, the former Dortmund striker who was appointed by Augsburg a few days before the Covid-19 shutdown – and he’ll have to wait some more. Having broken quarantine by nipping out to get toothpaste on Thursday, he’s unable to take part here. European hopefuls Wolfsburg have concentrated on a solid defence under their coach, Oliver Glasner, which makes them way less exciting than the 2009 Bundesliga winners headed by Edin Dzeko and Grafite, 2015’s Kevin De Bruyne-led German Cup winners or many of their shambolic incarnations in between.

Fortuna Düsseldorf v Paderborn (Saturday, 2.30pm)

Fortuna looked to be heading for relegation before Christmas but the arrival of the former Manchester City forward Uwe Rösler as coach has seen a strong upturn. They are still in the relegation play-off spot (third-bottom will play the third-placed team in the second division across two legs, providing the regular season finishes). Paderborn were relegation favourites with a miniscule €11m (£9.75m) annual budget after successive promotions. They are bottom but have been competitive, with the striker Dennis Srbeny doing well since returning from Norwich.

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RB Leipzig v Freiburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)

Leipzig are universally detested by fans of rival teams for their corporate model, taking over Markranstädt’s playing licence in the fifth tier in 2009 and climbing the leagues, funded by Red Bull. Even their staunchest opponents now accept they are here to stay, and Julian Nagelsmann’s arrival as coach has worked wonders for the already-accomplished likes of Timo Werner and Marcel Sabitzer. Modest Freiburg continue to thrive under their excellent coach, Christian Streich, and hope to qualify for Europe to inaugurate their new stadium next season.

A mural shows Leipzig players Yussuf Poulsen, Timo Werner and Marcel Sabitzer on a wall of the club shop
A mural shows Leipzig players Yussuf Poulsen, Timo Werner and Marcel Sabitzer on a wall of the club shop. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)

Hoffenheim are owned by the software billionaire Dietmar Hopp, deeply unpopular with Bundesliga fans for ploughing millions into what was a modest village team. They have stayed out of the relegation scrap despite injuries affecting their top scorer, Andrej Kramaric. Underachieving Hertha were Europe’s biggest spenders in January, bringing in the striker Krzysztof Piatek among others, but Jürgen Klinsmann left the following month and they need to rebuild. They recently replaced Klinsmann on the club’s advisory board – with Jens Lehmann.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 5.30pm)

Frankfurt, last season’s Europa League semi-finalists, were on a poor run pre-hiatus but have done reasonably well after losing their magical front three of last season: Sébastien Haller (now West Ham), Luka Jovic (Real Madrid) and Ante Rebic (Milan). Gladbach, Germany’s team of the 70s, were pre-Christmas pacesetters and are still just about in the title race. Marcus Thuram (Lilian’s son) has had a huge impact up front in his debut Bundesliga campaign.

Cologne v Mainz (Sunday, 2.30pm)

This is a clásico of sorts, between the two German cities famous for celebrating Karneval most wildly. Cologne last won the title in 1978 – when they had Toni Schumacher in goal – but their perennially optimistic fans are in especially good spirits. Markus Gisdol’s promoted side had won eight of the last 11 before the hiatus, while lowly Mainz are heavily reliant on the improved Swede Robin Quaison, who has 12 Bundesliga goals this term and an eye for the spectacular.

Cologne’s mascot Hennes IX is seen in his enclosure at the city’s zoo
Cologne’s mascot Hennes IX is seen in his enclosure at the city’s zoo. The goat is barred from attending the Bundesliga return because of new hygiene protocols. Photograph: Thilo Schmülgen/Reuters

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (Sunday, 5pm)

Bayern, the champions for the last seven seasons, have been back to their best since Niko Kovac was removed as coach in November and replaced by the popular Hansi Flick. Robert Lewandowski is 31 now but has never looked better, with 39 goals this campaign . It will be interesting to see how the top-flight debutants Union get on without their loyal fans, a few thousand of whom even refurbished their stadium when the club were skint in 2008.

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (Monday, 7.30pm)

The 2004 double-winners Werder are clinging on to the glory years, with that team’s captain, Frank Baumann, their sporting director, but are in deep trouble despite recognisable names such as Davy Klaassen and Nuri Sahin. Currently second from bottom, as it stands they would be relegated if the season is not completed. Peter Bosz is rehabilitating his reputation with Leverkusen and has one of the Bundesliga’s must-watch players in Kai Havertz, revitalised in 2020 and linked with Liverpool.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Bayern Munich 25 47 55
2 Borussia Dortmund 25 35 51
3 RB Leipzig 25 36 50
4 Borussia M'gladbach 25 19 49
5 Bayer Leverkusen 25 15 47
6 Schalke 04 25 -3 37
7 Wolfsburg 25 4 36
8 Freiburg 25 -1 36
9 Hoffenheim 25 -8 35
10 Cologne 25 -6 32
11 Union Berlin 25 -9 30
12 Eintracht Frankfurt 24 -3 28
13 Hertha Berlin 25 -16 28
14 Augsburg 25 -16 27
15 Mainz 25 -19 26
16 Fortuna Dusseldorf 25 -23 22
17 Werder Bremen 24 -28 18
18 Paderborn 25 -24 16


Andy Brassell

The GuardianTramp

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