Scott McKenzie is back with his monthly look at what is happening in the Bundesliga, with plenty of things to discuss both on and off the park.
Well it has been a busy month in the land of beer & bratwurst since my last blog as apparently we still have a title race, despite Dortmund coming back from the Allianz with their tail between their legs after der Klassiker a few weeks back however both clubs still insist on making life difficult for themselves but ultimately we still go into the weekend games with a one-point gap in Bayern’s favour. However with with Bayern heading to relegation-threatened Nürnberg on Sunday which will be a local derby but Dortmund on Saturday will get the chance to go on top providing they beat local rivals Schalke in the Revierderby who are coming off an embarrassing 5-2 home defeat last to Hoffenheim but with it being a derby it presents Schalke with a decent chance of points but the pressure will be on Dortmund.
In the race for Europe below the top two, we have Leipzig almost certain of third leaving a fight for the remaining Champions League & Europa League spots which will go down to seventh now that we know the DFB-Pokal finalists. So we have Eintracht Frankfurt on 53 points, Mönchengladbach on 51, Hoffenheim on 50, Leverkusen on 48 & Bremen plus Wolfsburg who are on 46 points in eighth & ninth. We also have to take into account that Bremen won’t be getting into the Europa League through the DFB-Pokal route either.
Currently, I would have Frankfurt as favourites for the last Champions League place with Hoffenheim & Gladbach just missing out on current form but I that could all change depending on how Frankfurt come out of the Europa League ties with Chelsea. There is also the extra caveat that next week that Gladbach is home to Hoffenheim then the following day Frankfurt are away to Leverkusen. Hoffenheim also has Bremen the following week after they host Dortmund which could have a big say on who wins the league & gets into Europe. If things are not decided by the final day we could have some crackers as Frankfurt go to Bayern & Gladbach are home to Dortmund, either way, I think things will be tight as the last fixtures are played.
At the other end, things are almost decided with Nürnberg & Hannover more or less down with the slight chance of catching Stuttgart in the Relegation play-off position. Stuttgart have a faint hope of escaping but I wouldn't count on it. So I would say Augsburg & Freiburg are almost safe plus Schalke to have been extremely lucky to be not in the drop zone considering their season either.
The managerial merry-go-round has very much been ignited with a wave of changes which has taken place immediately or will change in the summer. First to hit the panic button was at Augsburg where Manuel Baum was replaced by Martin Schmidt who is more known from his time at Mainz when he replaced & led the club to Europa League qualification in his time there. This has had the required impact where he has won both his first two games which the most recent had further consequences where they beat Stuttgart 6-0 on former gaffer’s Markus Weinzierl return. Not surprisingly this gave Stuttgart’s sporting director Thomas Hitzlsberger no choice but to fire him with the club in the relegation playoff spot. He has been replaced the club’s youth coach Nico Willig on an interim basis. While there are two other familiar names who will be seeking employment elsewhere at the end of the season.
Firstly Bruno Labbadia can seek another coaching job at one his former club’s that he played for (Not Bayern - I know I was surprised too) when he leaves Wolfsburg after failing to agree a contract extension while in Mönchengladbach it was announced that Dieter Hecking would be leaving at seasons end especially after a disappointing second half of the season although European qualification is still a possibility & will be replaced by Marco Rose who is the current head coach of energy drink Salzburg who will again win the Austrian Bundesliga. Lastly, there will be a change in the capital with the departure at the end of the season of Pal Dárdai at Hertha. Indications are that he will take a break before going back to his old job at Hertha coaching the kids.
As far as the 2. Bundesliga is concerned it is not my favourite subject currently has Hamburg seem to try every avenue currently to avoid promotion going by current form. They are six points behind Köln at the moment after drawing with them recently in Köln but only a point ahead of Union Berlin who they play on Sunday but also only a further point ahead of Paderborn & six ahead of Heidenheim. Also, they will be taking in the disappointment of losing the DFB-Pokal semi-final against Leipzig who just dominated. So it will be an interesting few weeks ahead for HSV with Köln pretty much champions.
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Having taken that information on board, it seems only right to try and get a fix of Bundesliga this coming weekend, and on Saturday at 17:30 on BT Sport 3, lowly Stuttgart host high flying Borussia Monchengladbach. My personal opinion on the Rose appointment is a positive one, and if Hecking can guide Gladbach to a European spot then all the better for The Fowls. Stuttgart will be hoping that a win can put some distance between them and the bottom two, they do feel like a very yo yo club at the moment though.
On Sunday evening at 19:30 on FreeSports, Torino host AC Milan in the Serie A. Torino have been one of these clubs who just whisper under the radar and are in a decent position to push for European football next season, which would be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) achievements in the Serie A this season. Belotti is a striker who deserves the chance to prove himself on that stage, and that is a reason why I'm hoping Torino achieve that aim, hard as it may be.
Milan on the other hand are a bit all over the place. Out of the Coppa Italia after losing to Lazio midweek, their form in the league has completely hit the skids and if they don't sort that out soon, Champions League hopes will once again be a distant memory for the Rossoneri
As always, happy watching!
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