FINALLY, football is back this weekend as the German Bundesliga returns to our screens… but only our screens. There’ll be no fans in any of the stadiums, but there’ll be live football nonetheless.
Personally, I cannot wait for it to get back underway and the first weekend back looks set to be a cracker – not least with the Revierderby taking place. Actually, that seems a good place to start…
For those who don’t know, the Revierderby is the name given to the game any time any of the teams from the Ruhr region of North Rhine-Westphalia face off against eachother. It’s most commonly associated with the fiercest and most notable of all the rivalries in that area of the country – Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund.
The sides have already met once this season when they played out a goalless draw at the Veltins back in October. Throughout the last 50 years, this derby has always been so close.
Since 1963 – the Bundesliga era – there’s just one win between the two teams. Currently, Dortmund have 33 revierderby wins to their name while Schalke have 32. However, this game at set to take place at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park wherein Dortmund have won 20 games to Schalke’s 12 in the 47 games played there in Bundesliga since ’63.
Home advantage may not be as much of an actual advantage for Dortmund as we’re used to it being this time though. The famous yellow wall will be empty this weekend – so there’ll be nobody to roar Dortmund across the finish-line. Schalke picked up a win at Signal Iduna Park last season too – so they’ll be fancying their chances this week.
In fact, Dortmund have won just one of the last seven Revierderby games. To be fair, Schalke have only won two of those games with the other four being draws so, if you’re a betting person, the statistics seem to favour a draw.
Bayern take on the seasons surprise package
This Sunday, Bayern make the trip to the capital city to take on Union Berlin – the surprise package of the Bundesliga this season. They currently sit 11th in the league, a healthy eight points clear of the drop zone with nine games left in the season.
They’ve already faced each other in Bavaria this season and, as you’d expect, Bayern took all three points – but Union ran them close. The two highlights of Union’s first ever season in Bundesliga are most definitely the 3-1 win over Dortmund back at the beginning of the season as well as beating Hertha 1-0 in only the fifth EVER Berlin derby in the Bundesliga.
Five Berlin based teams have played in the Bundesliga over the years, but it’s been rare to get two in there at the same time. Tasmania 1900 Berlin, Blau-Weiß Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin and of course, Hertha, all came before Union in the top division.
The main point here is that all of the other teams mentioned represented the old ‘West Berlin’ – while Union represent the East side of the city. When they faced off against each other earlier in the season, it was East vs West for the first time ever in the top division. Union came out on top too, winning it 1-0 with a late penalty!
What’s more, they’re set to play each other once more in the second week back from the COVID enforced break – which should be epic. While Hertha have revived their season somewhat, Union still sit above them in Bundesliga – but only by two points.
This weekend, Hertha make the trip to face Hoffenheim in what will surely be a very tough game. It’ll be interesting to see where they both land points-wise after this weekend. Going into the derby on May 23, it’d be nice if they’re still just a couple of points to give it that extra edge. If Hertha win, they go ahead – or vise versa based on how this weekend goes.
I personally see them both losing this weekend – which would set things up perfectly for the derby.
Tight at the top – any dropped points could be huge
In something of a plot twist based on recent Bundesliga history, we actually have a title race this year in Germany. There’s been a few teams all bunched up at the top of the league this season and the lead has changed hands a number of times – with all of Borussia Monchengladbach, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich enjoying spells at the top.
Currently, Bayern occupy the top of the tree and have a four point gap to Dortmund in second position in the league. With Dortmund preparing for the visit of their bitter rivals Schalke, we could see another twist to the tale in the title race this weekend.
There’s five teams in the mix right now, with just eight points separating Bayern at the top and Bayer Leverkusen down in fifth. After that, there’s a bit of a drop to Schalke in sixth – so the title race is a five-horse race. Which could be very entertaining for Bundesliga fans.
However, with Bayern facing Union Berlin – a game they should win – the onus is really on the rest of the top five to do the business this weekend, but none of them have easy games at all. Well, there are no easy games in the Bundesliga really…
Obviously Dortmund face Schalke, while RB Leipzig will be hosting eighth placed Freiburg – who have taken a few scalps this season – including that of Leipzig. In October, Frieburg picked up all three points against football’s newest major club with a 2-1 win at MAGE SOLAR Stadion.
Meanwhile, ‘Gladbach make the trip to Eintracht Frankfurt for an away game that could test them. Frankfurt do sit in 12th position but, despite their lowly league position, they have some very decent players who can hurt teams – as proven when they battered Bayern 5-1 back in November.
Finally, Leverkusen have arguably the most winnable of all the fixtures for the top five as they make the trip to Bremen to take on Werder Bremen in the Monday night game. Bremen currently sit second from bottom and look a sure thing for relegation – or at least the relegation play-off position.
Bremen haven’t actually managed to win a Bundesliga game since February 2nd, going winless in their final five games before lockdown began – picking up just a single point in the process. Mind you, their last win did come against Borussia Dortmund – so they’ve still got the ability to hurt the top teams.
All-in-all, we’re set for a bumper weekend as football makes a return in Germany. I’m properly excited for this, and so should you be.