We may have to wait until Monday to see newly-crowned world champions FC Bayern München in action, but there’s still a host of exciting match-ups on offer on Matchday 21 in the Bundesliga.
FC Bayern returns from the FIFA Club World Cup with a historic sixth trophy in the space of a year, but their attention will immediately turn back to home and retaining their Bundesliga crown. The record champions hold a seven-point lead at the top of the table and now host DSC Arminia Bielefeld at the Allianz Arena. The promoted side will be well-rested, though, with 15 days since their last game after their Matchday 20 encounter with SV Werder Bremen was postponed due to snow.
First up this weekend, though, is second-place RB Leipzig with the chance to lay down a marker and apply some pressure on Bayern. They welcome an FC Augsburg side suffering indifferent form to the Red Bull Arena for their third competitive meeting of the season. Die Roten Bullen have won both sofar in the league and DFB Cup without conceding, while Julian Nagelsmann, who was born near Augsburg and played for the club, has never lost against them as a coach.
While still in the European places, Borussia Dortmund has been on the slide with three defeats in their last four, despite a resurgent Jadon Sancho. They now host one of their recent bogey teams in TSG Hoffenheim, with their sole win in the last six encounters coming earlier in the season. The Sinsheimers have lost back-to-back games for the fifth time in 2020/21 but it’s never been three in a row. And they have fond memories of the Signal Iduna Park, especially Andrej Kramaric, who scored all four in last campaign’s 4-0 humbling –Borussia Dortmund’s heaviest Bundesliga home defeat.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen have also slipped out of the top four, having led the table going into the final matchday of 2020. Die Werkself have brought in January reinforcements such as Tim Fosu-Mensah and Demarai Gray and ended a run of three straight defeats in all competitions with a scintillating 5-2 victory over VfB Stuttgart. Opponents 1. FSV Mainz 05 may be second from bottom but have recently beaten Leipzig and drawn in Dortmund. They actually have twice as many points as Leverkusen in the Rückrunde and will be confident after last week’s win over 1. FC Union Berlin.
Die Köpenicker will be eager to put that result right when they take on the side propping up the table, FC Schalke 04. The Berliners are winless in four but are unbeaten in a top-flight club-record nine games at home. The Royal Blues, meanwhile, have won only once all season and not at all on the road in 20 attempts. Union remain on the fringes of the European places, but Schalke will insist their cause is greater with a nine-point gap to safety and time slowly running out for a miracle.
Sunday’s action features two surprise packages muscling their way into the top four. Only Bayern have more points over the last five games than Eintracht Frankfurt, who have been propelled upwards by Andre Silva’s club-record haul of 17 goals. Visitors 1. FC Köln has also enjoyed a recent upturn and arrives now four points clear of the drop after a morale-boosting Rheinderby wins away at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
It was the Foals who finished fourth last season but currently find themselves outside the European places after a mixed run of results. The same can’t be said of their next opponents, who currently sit in the third spot. VfL Wolfsburg is on an excellent four-match winning streak with a defence built around John Brooks that hasn’t conceded a single goal in that time.
The Mercedes-Benz Arena plays host to an emotional homecoming on Saturday as Sami Khedira–fresh from signing for Hertha Berlin –returns to boyhood club VfB Stuttgart, where he won the title in 2007, and in time for his 100th Bundesliga appearance. The Berliners are on a poor run of form, though, and in desperate need of a change of fortunes. Meanwhile, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s young, promoted side are looking to make it back-to-back home wins after finally breaking their domestic duck a fortnight ago.
Bremen have also been a mixed bag at home and will no doubt have used the extra time afforded by their postponement last week to work on a number of points to benefit forwards Josh Sargent and Milot Rashica. They don’t have an easy job on Matchday 21, though, with SC Freiburg in town and enjoying their best campaign under Christian Streich, the Bundesliga’s longest-serving current coach.