Stuttgart face a feared opponent in the Bundesliga, but have Bruno Labbadia as their coach. Dortmund and Gladbach are afraid of away games and in Cologne they suspect that Bayern are not Bremen. Everything you need to know about Matchday 17 of the Bundesliga.
FC Schalke 04 – RB Leipzig (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.)
These are not good days for anyone who remains loyal to Schalke 04. At the start of the 2023 footballing year, Schalke lost 3-0 at Frankfurt and have only nine points after 16 games, in 18th place. Of course, comparisons are drawn again with the 2020/21 season, when Schalke had just seven points after 17 games and ended up being relegated.
And now RB Leipzig of all places, after all something like the final boss among Schalke’s feared opponents. Schalke have lost four of the last five games against Leipzig, and the RB manager wasn’t even called Marco Rose. Rose has been at Leipzig since September and has averaged 2.2 points per game since then. Not good for Schalke minds either.
FC Bayern Munich – 1. FC Cologne (Tuesday, 8.30 p.m.)
Ah, the people of Cologne. Before the World Cup break, they had failed five times in a row in the Bundesliga and scored just two goals. So they trained at 1. FC Köln, it went pretty well. Werder Bremen came on Saturday and conceded seven goals for Cologne, it was the FC’s highest win in nearly 40 years.
Since then, coach Steffen Baumgart has often warned him, he knows it of course: Saturday is not Tuesday and Bayern is not Bremen.
Bayern are Bayern, they have just become autumn champions for the 25th time. They only managed to win the title three times. According to the statistics, FC Bayern are already 88% champions. What she also says: Cologne will not stop Bayern, the last victory against the record champions dates back twelve years.
Meanwhile, FC Bayern announced the separation of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic the day before the match. Manuel Neuer, injured, loses his closest confidant. For now, former goalkeeper Tom Starke will take over the role of Tapalovic.
TSG Hoffenheim – VfB Stuttgart (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.)
Trips away from Sinsheim to TSG Hoffenheim could be a good thing for VfB Stuttgart. One hour by bus while the landscape of Baden-Württemberg parades outside: cows, industrial areas, sometimes snow. If only it weren’t for football: Stuttgart haven’t won any of their last seven away matches against Hoffenheim.
And that’s why before the next trip to Sinsheim, it’s a bit like it’s still VfB these days: there’s hope, but it’s still closely linked to coach Bruno Labbadia. He should save the club from relegation. How good can Labbadia be? Hoffenheim: Stuttgart have won three times in the Bundesliga against TSG, in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The coach, you guessed it, was always called Labbadia.
Hertha BSC – VfL Wolfsburg (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.)
After all, in one stat, Hertha and Wolfsburg are evenly tied, at least almost. No Bundesliga side use big chances better than VfL, 57% goals. The Berliners are good too, they use 53% of their opportunities. But as is the case with statistics – there is often a catch: Wolfsburg have scored 30 goals and are seventh, Hertha have celebrated only 20 goals and are second to last.
Berlin coach Sandro Schwarz has therefore just said that they know only too well “what situation we are in”. Black, of course, spoke about the relegation battle, his team having lost four of the last five league games and winning only three times. Wolfsburg have won the last five games. The differences between Hertha and Wolfsburg are probably bigger than some statistics suggest.
1. FSV Mainz 05 – Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.)
Away games are not Dortmund’s specialty this season. BVB have lost five of their eight away league games, and Jude Bellingham is out of the ninth due to a yellow card suspension. After all, the opponent is called Mainz 05. Dortmund haven’t lost at Mainz since September 2014 and since then have scored 19 out of 21 points in seven away matches.
Coach Edin Terzic knows that of course, but he has other things on his mind at the moment. For example, defensive negligence, we saw it again in the victory against Augsburg, when BVB conceded three goals. Terzic says: “We can’t assume we’ll win every game if we concede three goals.” You don’t want to contradict him.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfL Bochum (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.)
The thing with Xabi Alonso and Bayer Leverkusen seems to be working. It was not an easy start, but Leverkusen have recently won four league matches in a row and are no longer 16th in the table, but in ninth place. Alonso has changed the statics of Bayer’s game, the defensive is now the trump card and a game changer. For the culture of the game, they are already hoping for Florian Wirtz to return against Bochum.
And there are parallels between Leverkusen and Bochum, who would have thought. They also rely on defending and counterattacking in Bochum, and they are successful there too. VfL have won the Bundesliga three times in a row, the last time being 15 years ago. Only one like Wirtz doesn’t have coach Thomas Letsch on his team.
SC Freiburg – Eintracht Frankfurt (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.)
Freiburg against Frankfurt, fourth against second – that’s a story, of course. And the one that took on a new tone last weekend. Freiburg celebrated Christmas in second place, then lost 6-0 at Wolfsburg, coach Christian Streich was served. He said: “It’s better if I don’t say anything, then I won’t say anything bad.”
Streich then said something else. “no chance” was his team, and in general “very very bad”. Of course, Streich only spoke about the Wolfsburg game, otherwise he’ll be pretty happy with his team. And now Eintracht Frankfurt. A team against which Freiburg have won only one of the last five home games.
FC Augsburg – Borussia Mönchengladbach (Wednesday, 8.30 p.m.)
Augsburg had an exciting game against Dortmund this weekend. FCA were behind and equalized three times, only getting there a fourth time. It was a narrow defeat – and a series they could do without in Augsburg. They have been waiting for a win there for eight Bundesliga games, longer than any other side this season.
From Borussia Augsburg, Mönchengladbach can come in handy. The Gladbachers have lost four of the last six games and away games are not a thing for Borussia anyway. Under manager Daniel Farke, Gladbach are yet to win a league game away from home.
SV Werder Bremen – 1. FC Union Berlin (Wednesday, 8.30 p.m.)
The mood ahead of the duel between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Union could hardly be more different. The Berliners are third in the Bundesliga and even led the table for a few weeks. And now they could set a club record: a win at Bremen and Union would have played the most successful first half of a season in either the First or Second Division.
In Bremen, they are far from that. Last weekend, Werder lost for the third time in a row in the Bundesliga and also conceded seven goals against Cologne. In general, goals conceded: There are 34 in total, only Schalke and Bochum defend less well.