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Matchday 17 Preview: the Bundesliga’s only second Englische Woche as Leverkusen host Dortmund

Bundesliga for Africa Preview md 17

The Bundesliga holds its second Englische Woche of the season on Tuesday and Wednesday as the campaign reaches the halfway mark on Matchday 17. Standout games include Borussia Dortmund’s trip to Bayer 04 Leverkusen and a Bavarian derby between FC Augsburg and FC Bayern München.

While Dortmund will be keen to show that Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05 was only a blip, Leverkusen is desperate to turn their form back around after four games without a win when the sides meet at the BayArena –level on points –on Tuesday. This fixture tends to produce fireworks, with an average of over five goals scored across the last seven meetings, so expect much more of the same when Lucas Alario, Leon Bailey & Co. host the dynamism of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho.

Talk of Bundesliga firepower, though, usually only leads to one man: Robert Lewandowski. His 21 goals so far this term is already a new Bundesliga record for a Hinrunde and is over halfway to Gerd Müller’s historic haul of 40 from 1971-72. He and the champions now make the short trip to Augsburg on Wednesday with a four-point lead at the top –their biggest of the season –but will be wary of being caught cold in the January frost. That’s because Die Fuggerstädter has scored inside the first 30 seconds in the last two Bavarian derbies at the WWK-Arena.

Elsewhere at the top, closest challengers RB Leipzig host the season’s still surprising package 1. FC Union Berlin as the league’s tightest defence takes on its second-most prolific attack. The Berliners are only four points behind their opponents and haven’t lost against any team in the top half of the table this campaign. Julian Nagelsmann’s side will look to avoid becoming another victim to Die Eisernen’s march as they aim to end a two-game winless run at the Red Bull Arena.

Not far behind them and clawing at the European places are SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. The former were unlucky to see their five-match winning streak ended in Munich on Sunday, and it saw them leapfrogged in the table by their upcoming LukaJovic-inspired opponents. The Serbian scored twice against FC Schalke 04 on his second Frankfurt debut following his loan from Real Madrid, meaning Eintracht are the only team to win all three Bundesliga games in 2021.

Down at the bottom, though, Schalke’s defeat –combined with Mainz’s point –saw them slip back to the foot of the table. American Matthew Hoppe has proven their great hope with four goals in the last two games –the most of any player in the league in 2021 alongside Lewandowski –and will likely be needed again as Die Knappen look to dig themselves out against fellow strugglers 1. FC Köln, who are themselves winless in five but haven’t lost in Gelsenkirchen since August 2011.

The midweek action kicks off with Borussia Mönchengladbach at home to SV Werder Bremen. The Foals haven’t lost to Die Grün-Weißen in nine meetings and are spearheaded by nine-goal top scorer Lars Stindl. The Gladbach captain has seven Bundesliga goals against Bremen, which is more than against any other club.

Last season’s top two in Bundesliga 2 face off for the first time since their promotion. DSC Arminia Bielefeld finished 10 points ahead of VfB Stuttgart in 2019/20 but are currently eight behind and only two clear of the relegation play-off spot. Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Stuttgart has won a league-best 17 points on their travels this term, but head to the SchücoArena without top scorers Silas Wamangituka and Nicolas Gonzalez.

Mainz may be off the bottom on goal difference but are still winless in eight and now have to attempt to deal with Wout Weghorst, who has equalled Grafite’s VfL Wolfsburg club record of 11 goals after 16 matchdays, and Riddle Baku, returning to his boyhood club for the first time since his summer move and now with a Germany cap in his bags.

Two strikers in more indifferent form meet when Hertha Berlin host TSG Hoffenheim. Matheus Cunha and Andrej Kramaric both started the season brightly but have struggled of late, coinciding with dips for their respective teams as well. Which one will spark their side back into life at the Olympiastadion?

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