From the Revierderby to Kai Havertz – a guide to the Bundesliga return | Football

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (Saturday, 2.30pm)

All times BST and broadcast live on BT Sport

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) have 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 a few days before the shutdown by Augsburg – 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 coach Oliver Glasner, which makes them way less exciting than either 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 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 striker Dennis Srbeny doing well since returning from Norwich.

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 midfielder Marcel Sabitzer. Modest Freiburg continue to thrive under their excellent coach, Christian Streich, and hope to make Europe to inaugurate their new stadium next season.

A mural shows Leipzig players Yussuf Poulsen, Timo Werner adn Marcel Sabitzer on a wall of the club shop in Leipzig.

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

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)

Hoffenheim are owned by 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 striker Krzysztof Piatek as they rebuilt after the failed reign of Jürgen Klinsmann. They recently replaced Klinsmann on the club’s advisory board – with Jens Lehmann.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 5.30pm)

Last season’s Europa League semi-finalists, Frankfurt were on a poor run pre-hiatus but have done reasonably well after lost their magical front three of last season: Sebastien Haller (now West Ham), Luka Jović (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. The goat is barred from attending the Bundesliga return due to new hygiene protocols.

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

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (Sunday, 5pm)

Bayern, the champions for the last seven seasons in a row, have looked their best again since Niko Kovac was removed as coach in November and replaced by the popular Hansi Flick. Striker Robert Lewandowski is 31 now but has never looked better, with 39 goals to date. It’ll be interesting to see how 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.

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Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (Monday, 7.30pm)

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 like Davy Klaassen and Nuri Sahin. Currently second-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 a move to Liverpool.

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Written by sortiwa


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