The German Bundesliga returns from the winter break this weekend, kicking off with Schalke 04 versus Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Veltins Arena on Friday night. Victory for the Royal Blues would move them into the Champions League places and level on points with Bayern Munich before the rest of the weekend’s action, whilst Gladbach would end the evening top with a win.
One of the most exciting fixtures for fans to look forward to on Saturday comes at the Augsburg Arena where Borussia Dortmund are in town. FC Augsburg went into the winter break off the back of a 3-1 defeat at RB Leipzig, but prior to that they had won three consecutive Bundesliga matches and five of their last six.
Martin Schmidt’s side face a tough challenge if they’re to start 2020 with a win, but it’s not out of the question. Visitors Borussia Dortmund were in and out of form throughout the opening 17 matches of the campaign. Lucien Favre’s side start the second half of the season seven points behind leaders RB Leipzig and need to find some consistency if they’re to put up a legitimate title challenge this season. A defeat at 1899 Hoffenheim in their final game before the break was a real blow.
Dortmund certainly have the players capable of leading the charge of Leipzig’s lead, and added Erling Haaland to their attack to bolster their chances. But their weakness is in defence. Only Hoffenheim have conceded more goals than Dortmund’s 24 among top half sides. So far this month, no defenders have been added to their squad.
Mats Hummels is a good leader at the back but there have been holes all around him. Lukasz Piszczek’s best days are behind him but continues to play at right-back with Achraf Hakimi playing a more advanced role. Manuel Akanji has made errors alongside Hummels this season, whilst Julian Weigl at centre-back proved to be an horrific move, before departing for Benfica two weeks ago.
Julian Brandt has been excellent in possession in a central midfield role but is a problem in defence. Lined up in the central two of a 4-2-3-1 formation, Brandt has not protected the back four this season, more the back three when Favre has moved to a 3-4-3 formation on occasions.
Augburg should fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet this weekend against this Borussia Dortmund defence. Florian Niederlechner is having a productive season up top for the Bavarian side, with eight goals during the first half of the season. Philipp Max has chipped in with another six from the left wing and should cause Piszczek problems.
Borussia Dortmund are the favourites to win this match but it may not be as comfortable as many expect. Expect both teams to score, which the bookmakers are agreeing with as they have given odds of 1.5 with these both teams to score tips for Saturday.