OTB's handy club-by-club guide...

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OTB's handy club-by-club guide ahead of Bundesliga return


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The football gods have smiled upon lovers of the beautiful game which returns in the form of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 this weekend.

Anyone who has been to a league fixture in Germany will tell you that it is one of the greatest places on earth to watch football and one of the main reasons for that, is the supporters and the unique atmosphere they create.

The fan experience in the second tier is just as exhilarating as it is in the top-flight so it will be strange to see the games there played behind closed doors.

And yes, there is a German word for this; geisterspiele, which literally means 'ghost games'.

On the other hand, it looks like German football will have more eyes on it than ever before with some predicting a worldwide television audience of 1 billion.

So, as anticipation grows before the first five top-flight matches get underway at 2:30pm this Saturday afternoon, here's a handy guide to all the clubs in the Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich

League position: 1st

Form: WWWWD

Last match: Bayern Munich 2 Augsburg 0; Müller, Goretzka

Next match: Union Berlin (A) - Bayern won the reverse fixture 2-1 in October thanks to goals either side of half-time from Pavard and Lewandowski (see main pic) before a late Polter penalty halved the defecit.

Manager: Hans-Dieter Flick aka Hansi Flick - awarded a new contract last month until 2023 having just been promoted from assistant to interim manager in November, following the sacking of Niko Kovač. He twice won back-to-back league titles as a player with the club in the 1980s while he also lost the 1987 European Cup final with them against Porto.

Top scorer: Lewandowski - 25

Story so far: Germany's most successful club had a clear out at the start of the season, offloading Franck Ribéry, James Rodríguez, Rafinha and Mats Hummels while Arjen Robben hung up his boots. They also bolstered their squad by signing two French World Cup winners in Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard.

The season wasn't going so well, by their high standards, and with Bayern lying in fourth position and four points of then-leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach, Kovač got the boot. The team is playing attractive, attacking football under Flick and they have scored 48 of their 73 league goals this season since he took over while they're currently unbeaten in their last 11 matches (W10 D1).

Player to watch: Serge Gnabry - the player manager Tony Pulis said wasn't for him at West Brom (he was only 20, to be fair!) is having his best ever season in the German top-flight. He destroyed Tottenham on their own patch with a four goal haul in a 7-2 Champions League group win back in October. With 4 goals and 3 assists in his last four league matches, he will be hoping he can regain that form straight away in the German capital this weekend. Also keep an eye out for teenager Alphonso Davies who has been impressing at left-back.

Borussia Dortmund

League position: 2nd

Form: WWWWL

Last match: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 Borussia Dortmund 2; Hazard, Hakimi

Next match: Schalke (H) - Football returns to Signal Iduna Park with a Revierderby clash known as 'the mother of all derbies' in Germany. The reverse fixture this season ended scoreless and interestingly, Dortmund haven't won this home fixture since November 2015 (L2 D1).

Manager: Lucien Favre - no stranger to the Bundesliga when hired by Dortmund in 2018, having previously managed Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hertha Berlin, who knocked St Patrick's Atheltic out of the UEFA Cup in 2008 under the Swiss gaffer. Steered the black-yellows to a second place finish in his first season in charge.

Top scorer: Jadon Sancho - 14

Story so far: Dortmund made millions from the sales of Abdou Diallo, Maxi Philipp, Paco Alcácer, Julian Weigl and a couple of other transfers out last summer and brought Mats Hummels back to the club along with the signings of Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard (brother of Eden) and Nico Schulz.

The first half of the season was mixed and they dropped as low as eighth in October, draws being a problem with six in 17 opening matches. However the signing of Erling Haaland in January has been crucial with the club winning 7 of their last eight matches to move just four points behind Bayern at the summit.

Player to watch: Erling Haaland - a superstar in the making and a snip at the €20m he is reported to have cost from Salzburg, where the 19-year-old had scored an incredible 16 goals in 14 league matches before the turn of the year. He hit the ground running after his move, scoring a 20 minute hat-trick when he was released from the bench in a 5-3 win at Augsburg on his debut. 9 goals in his first 6 league matches is impressive but he'll be hoping to end his two game drought in this Saturday's derby!

RB Leipzig

League position: 3rd

Form: DDWWD

Last match: Wolfsburg 0 RB Leipzig 0

Next match: Freiberg (H) - the home team will have revenge on their minds here as they look to make amends for their 2-1 loss when the sides last met in October and Klostermann's goal for the losers only came in injury time.

Manager: Julian Nagelsmann - European football's hottest coaching property and the youngest manager in Bundesliga history when he got his first gig as manager of Hoffenheim at the age of 28 in 2016. His playing career came to a cruel end with serious knee injury when he was a 20-year-old at Augsburg. He cites Pep Guardiola as an inspiration but says that PSG manager, formerly of Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel was his biggest influence when they worked together at Augsburg. He took the reins with Leipzig at the start of the season and became the youngest coach to win a knockout Champions League tie when his side beat Tottenham in the last-16 in March.

Top scorer: Timo Werner - 21

Story so far: Their 4-0 aggregate Champions League last-16 win against Tottenham was a landmark result for a club in its 11th season of existence and they are positioned well to finish in the top three for a third time since being promoted to the top-flight in 2016. Ademola Lookman from Everton was their most expensive transfer who arrived with Christopher Nkunku and Hannes Wolf last summer.

Following a mixed bag of results at the start of the season, they hit form in November after hammering Mainz 8-0 and eventually went on to top the table for five weeks. While unbeaten in their last six matches, they drew four of those and need to start turning those sort of results into three pointers to stay clear of the two teams below them.

Player to watch: Christopher Nkunku - top scorer Timo Werner is the obvious choice here but keep an eye out for Nkunku who signed for the club in July from Paris Saint-Germain where he made 50 league appearances. The former France U21 international has scored four goals and notched 14 assists in his first 23 Bundesliga appearances. Spanish playmaker Dani Olmo who was signed in January is another player with a very bright future.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

League position: 4th

Form: WLWDW

Last match: Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 FC Koln 1; Embolo, Mere o.g.

Next match: Eintracht Frankfurt (A) - they beat Eintracht 4-2 last October having been 2-0 up by half-time but they have failed to win the away fixture in this pairing since 2015 and in three attempts.

Manager: Marco Rose - born in Leipzig and at 43 is regarded as highly as Nagelsmann. He helped coach Erling Haaland when the two were at Salzburg where Rose won back-to-back league titles including the double last season. Rose has turned the hugely inconsistent Gladbach into a more solid counter-attacking side this season as they look to qualify directly for the Champions League group stages for just a second time.

Top scorer: Alassane Plea - 8

Story so far: They lost Thorgan Hazard to Dortmund at the start of the season but in came Austrian international defender Stefan Lainer, Swiss international Breel Embolo and Marcus Thuram, son on France World Cup winner, Lilian. The latter pair have scored 13 goals and recorded 11 assists between them.

Five wins in their opening seven games took them to the top of the division and they went on to record impressive away wins against Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen before winning 2-1 at home against Bayern who had led that match in December. They have only lost twice in 2020 (W4 D2) and will need to maintain that kind of form to stay ahead of Leverkusen who are just two points behind.

15 October 2019; Yann Sommer of Switzerland during the UEFA EURO2020 Qualifier match between Switzerland and Republic of Ireland at Stade de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Player to watch: Yann Sommer - a man familiar to Irish supporters who would have seen him between the sticks in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Switzerland last year. While he has kept just 5 clean sheets in 25 league appearances, the ever present's tally of 97 saves is the best record in the league. Thuram is also a burgeoning talent and the team's results tend to waiver when he doesn't play well.

Bayer Leverkusen

League position: 5th

Form: WDWWW

Last match: Bayer Leverkusen 4 Eintracht Frankfurt 0; Havertz, Bellarabi, Paulinho 2

Next match: Werder Bremen (A) - these two sides have produced a lot of goals in recent meetings. Leverkusen were 6-2 winners on their last visit to the Weser-Stadion but needed an Alario equaliser after they took an early lead in last October's 2-2 draw.

Manager: Peter Bosz - the former Ajax head coach was hired midway through last season and a year after he was sacked by Dortmund. The former Dutch international's Ajax team lost 2-0 to Manchester United in the 2017 Europa League final. He steered Leverkusen from 9th place in December 2018 to Champions League qualification.

Top scorer: Kevin Volland - 9

Story so far: Bosz looks set to qualify Leverkusen for the Champions League for a second consecutive season having guided them to fourth place and ten points clear of fifth placed Schalke. Striker Julian Brandt was sold to Dortmund last summer while they spent big signing midfielders Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri and Exequiel Palacios (in December) along with Dutch defender Daley Sinkgraven and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Moussa Diaby.

They got off to a great start winning 13 points from their first six matches and they have rarely been in bad form with the December defeats to FC Koln and Hertha the only time they have lost back-to-back matches this term. They have only dropped four points in 2020.

Player to watch: Kevin Volland - the ex-Hoffenheim striker has scored 9 goals and registered 8 assists for Leverkusen this season but missed the last three matches through injury. Copa Libertadores winner with River Plate, Palacios, will be hoping to add to his three league appearances since his winter transfer. The 21-year-old has already won four caps with Argentina.

Schalke 04

League position: 6th

Form: DLLDDD

Last match: Schalke 1 Hoffenheim 1; McKennie

Next match: Dortmund (A) - Daniel Caligiuri scored twice when they last visited Signal Iduna Park in a 4-2 win last April but they might be happy if they keep this 'mother of all derbies' scoreless like their earlier clash with Dortmund this season.

Manager: David Wagner - Jurgen Klopp's friend and former Mainz team-mate got the gig last May, four months after being sacked by then-Premier League club Huddersfield Town. The likeable Frankfurt native has turned the club around after their 14th place finish last season.

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner (left) and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp before the Premier League match at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield.

Top scorer: Suat Serdar - 7

Story so far: Wagner performed massive surgery on the squad and let go of several players last summer including Breel Embolo to Borussia Mönchengladbach for €10m while they spent €15m on the transfer of teenage Turkish international defender Ozan Kabak.

The first half of the season gave Schalke supporters hope as they won eight of their first 17 games and only lost to Bayern, Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen to climb as high as fourth. However they have had a disappointing 2020 and look to have lost their chance to qualify for the Champions League, with just one win this year and 3 defeats and 4 draws in their last 7 matches including 5-0 hammerings to Bayern and RB Leipzig. They are the only side in double figures (10) in the draw column on the league table.

Player to watch: Jonjoe Kenny - the former right-back rival of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman has flourished since sealing his pre-season loan move from Everton. He missed two matches earlier this year through illness/injury but has started every other match and will relish the chance to take on fellow England hopeful Jadon Sancho in the derby this weekend.

Wolfsburg

League position: 7th

Form: DDWWD

Last match: Wolfsburg 0 Leipzig 0

Next match: Augsburg (A) - the last time the sides met in October it finished scoreless but the visitors came out on top in a five-goal thriller in their last clash at the WWK Arena.

Manager: Oliver Glasner - the man who came into the club as a relative unknown worked at Salzburg as an assistant to former Leverkusen, and soon-to-be PSV boss, Roger Schmidt. Glasner was hired after guiding LASK Linz to second place behind Austrian champions Salzburg last season.

Top scorer: Wout Weghorst - 11

Story so far: Wolfsburg got off to a flyer this season and when the October international break arrived, they were the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga. They were helped by multi-million signings Xaver Schlager and Kevin Mbabu while 6ft6 Dutch striker Wout Weghorst has backed up his first season's 17-goal haul in the German top-flight.

At one point they were just six points off the Champions League spots but that gap is now 13. That said, after suffering three defeats on the bounce in the winter, they have turned it around and are unbeaten in their last six league matches.

Player to watch: Koen Casteels - the Belgian netminder has kept two clean sheets in his last three league matches while also wearing the captain's armband. They have only conceded 30 goals in 25 matches of which he featured in 17 having been injured for two months in the autumn. World Cup watchers might remember centre-half John Brooks scoring that dramatic winner for the USA against Ghana in 2014.

Freiburg

League position: 8th

Form: WLLDW

Last match: Freiburg 3 Union Berlin 1; Sallai, Gunter, Koch

Next match: RB Leipzig (A) - this is a tough trip to resume their season with but they will feel confident after their 2-1 home win against the same opposition in the autumn.

Manager: Christian Streich - named as the coach of the year by leading German sports magazine Kicker after taking Freiburg to fifth place in 2013, their highest league finish in nearly 20 years. He is the Bundesliga's longest-serving gaffer after taking the job when the club was bottom of the table in the winter break of the 2011-12 season. The club's top brass held their nerve after relegation in 2015 and the 51-year-old got them promoted as champions, ahead of RB Leipzig, the following year.

Top scorer: Nils Petersen - 8

Story so far: The club spent several million signing the likes of Italian winger Vincenzo Grifo from Hoffenheim and French right-full/winger Jonathan Schmid who have both helped take the club high enough to taste European qualification after they finished eight points clear of relegation last season.

Key results such as a 2-2 draw against Dortmund and 2-1 win against Leipzig at home, demonstrate how Streich has improved his team with the help of a change from a flat-back four to a three man defence with wing-backs this season. They need to rediscover their early season form having lost 4 of their 8 matches so far in 2020.

Player to watch: Robin Koch - the 23-year-old has been deployed both at centre-back and and defensive midfield this season. His performances impressed Germany boss Joachim Löw so much, he handed Koch his first international cap in a friendly against Argentina last October before he played in the Euro 2020 qualifying win against Belarus.

Hoffenheim

League position: 9th

Form: DLDLL

Last match: Schalke 1 Hoffenheim 1; Baumgartner

Next match: Hertha Berlin (H) - Die Kraichgauer came out on top of a five goal cracker when the sides met in the German capital last October. The visitors had relinquished a 2-0 half-time lead before finding a 79th minute winner from defender Benjamin Hubner.

Manager: Alfred Schreuder - the Dutch manager took over last summer following the departure of Julian Nagelsmann to RB Leipzig. He played an important role as assistant to Erik ten Hag, helping engineer those famous Champions League victories against Real Madrid and Juventus last season before their unlucky defeat to Tottenham in the semi-final. Before his stint with the Dutch club, he worked as an assistant to Nagelsmann.

Top scorer: Andrej Kramaric - 7

Story so far: The club spent millions signing the likes of Diadie Samassékou, Ihlas Bebou and Robert Skov last summer while more cash was splashed on Jacob Bruun Larsen and Munas Dabbur in the January transfer window but that has not seen their form improve so far this year.

After a five match winning run in October/November, including wins against Bayern and Schalke, they have been patchy and have only won four matches in their last 14 games (L7 D3). They can take confidence from wins against Dortmund and Leverkusen in that particular run.

Player to watch: Munas Dabbur - the season looked over when the Israeli striker suffered a knee injury after just six league matches following his €12m transfer from Sevilla in January. The fit-again striker scored 72 goals in 128 appearances with Salzburg where he won three league titles and you get the feeling if he can get his first, the sharp finisher could go on a scoring streak.

FC Köln

League position: 10th

Form: LWWWL

Last match: Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 FC Koln 1; Uth

Next match: Mainz (H) - Köln will be looking to avenge the October loss to the side sitting just above the relegation zone. The visitors were beaten 3-1 despite taking an early lead.

Manager: Markus Gisdol - the former Hoffenheim and Hamburg boss was only appointed in November after Achim Beierlorzer was relieved of his duties with the club second from bottom in the table. Gisdol has form, having saved Hamburg from the drop three seasons ago, and is working under former Köln player Horst Heldt who was also appointed in November - as the club's sporting director.

Top scorer: Jhon Córdoba - 10

Story so far: Köln scored 84 goals in Bundesliga 2 last season as they regained their top-flight status at the first attempt following their relegation the season before. The first half of the season was dire for the west-German club with just two victories to show for their efforts after 14 games (L10 D2).

After Gisdol and Heldt came in, the turnaround was remarkable and since mid-December they have won 8 of their last 11 matches while claiming the scalps of Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Schalke along the way.

Player to watch: Jhon Córdoba - it is hard to look past their top scorer who has been key to the team's turnaround in the second half of the season. The 27-year-old Colombian, in his third season with the club, has scored 9 goals in the his last 12 appearances, two of those as a sub.

Union Berlin

League position: 11th

Form: LDWLW

Last match: Freiburg 3 Union Berlin 1; Andersson

Next match: Bayern Munich (H) - if Andersson had not missed from the spot in Munich last time out they could have snatched a famous point. A late Polter penalty meant they only lost 2-1 to the current leaders.

Manager: Urs Fischer - the former St Gallen and Zurich defender won back-to-back titles as manager of Swiss club Basel in 2016 & 2017 while claiming a double success in the latter year. He landed the job in Germany in June 2018. The 54-year-old ensured that Union became the first club from the former East Berlin to play in the Bundesliga after they beat Stuttgart on away goals in last season's play-off. He is expected to be in the dugout on Sunday despite abandoning the obligatory quarantine that all clubs committed to for 'personal reasons'.

Top scorer: Sebastian Andersson - 11

Story so far: The Bundesliga debutants have enjoyed a fanstic season so far but with just 10 points separating them and Fortuna Düsseldorf in 16th position, there is still work to do to ensure their top-flight status for next season. There were a couple of shrewd defensive signings made at the start of the season in the experienced two-time league winner with Dortmund, Neven Subotic and former German under-20 international Marvin Friedrich. They have the joint best defensive record, along with Eintracht Frankfurt, with just 41 goals conceded.

The Berlin outfit suffered three defeats on the bounce at the turn of the year but have won 10 points from a possible 21 in 2020 and after the visit of the league leaders, they will be feeling hopeful of bagging more points in the derby against Hertha and home game against Mainz.

Player to watch: - Christopher Trimmel. Swedish striker Sebastian Andersson is the standout player from an attacking perspective but keep and eye out for the veteran Autstrian right wing-back who has 9 assists this season and has teed up Andersson for 6 of his 11 top-flight goals.

Eintracht Frankfurt

League position: 12th

Form: LLLWD

Last match: Bayer Leverkusen 4 Eintracht Frankfurt 0

Next match:  Borussia Mönchengladbach (H) - Die Adler will be looking to avenge a disappointing 4-2 defeat against a side that have their sights firmly fixed on Champions League qualification.

Manager: Adi Hütter - it's that difficult second season for the Austrian who has won league titles with Salzburg in his native country and in Switzerland with Young Boys. Hutter steered the club to a 7th place finish last season and they made it to the Europa League semi-finals, only to lose on penalties against Chelsea. Interestingly, he won one of his 14 international caps as a sub in the famous 3-1 win against Ireland (post-Harry's Challenge) at Lansdowne Road in 1995.

Top scorer: Gonçalo Paciência - 7

Story so far: It was always going to be a tough season after Eintracht's three musketeers Sebastian Haller (West Ham), Ante Rebić (AC Milan - loan) and Luka Jović (Real Madrid) were offloaded for a combined €100m. The trio scored 41 league goals between them last season but new signings like Bas Dost and André Silva along with Gonçalo Paciência have failed to hit the same heights.

Hütter's men have only won back-to-back league games once this season and they had lost three consecutive matches before the season came to a halt in March, including a defeat to newly-promoted Union Berlin, leaving themselves just six points above the relegation zone.

5 September 2017; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland in action against Filip Kostic of Serbia during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Player to watch: Filip Kostić (pictured) - the left-sided midfielder, who scored his first international goal for Serbia against Ireland in the 2-2 World Cup qualifier in Belgrade four years ago, was signed from Hamburg for €14m. He has registered 4 goals and 9 assists in 23 league games this season. 6ft4, 20-year-old French left-back Evan N’Dicka is another player worth keeping an eye on.

Hertha Berlin

League position: 13th

Form: DDLWL

Last match: Hertha Berlin 2 Werder Bremen 2; Stark, Cunha

Next match: Hoffenheim (A) - the team from the capital have lost their last two meetings against this Saturday's opposition, and in especially disappointing circumstances last October after drawing level from 2-0 down, they ended up losing 3-2.

Manager:  Bruno Labbadia - the former Wolfsburg, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Leverkusen coach became the club's third manager of the season when he was appointed after the bizarre departure of Jürgen Klinsmann who replaced Ante Čović in November. Journeyman coach Labbadia will be in charge of the team for the first time this weekend.

Top scorer: Dodi Lukebakio - 5

Story so far: Aside from a three match winning streak in September/October, which included wins against two clubs currently in the bottom three, it's been a disappointing season for Hertha who, like Eintracht, are only six points above the relegation zone. Klinsmann's much heralded arrival after the departure of Čović failed to re-ignite the season with just 4 wins earned in the next 12 matches and after he wasn't given more power over the club, the former Germany international manager left.

The new forward pairing of Krzysztof Piatek and Matheus Cunha who were signed in January scored 3 goals between them in the two matches before the season was halted and have given the supporters a small bit of hope heading into the last nine matches of the season.

Player to watch: Arne Maier - the 21-year-old defensive midfielder has been compared to Toni Kroos but almost headed for the exit door in January after the signing of Santiago Ascacíbar in January. He made four appearances after the transfer window shut and seems to be a player Labbadia fancies.

16 September 2008; General view Olympic Stadium, home of Hertha Berlin, Germany. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Augsburg

League position: 14th

Form: LLLDL

Last match: Bayern Munich 2 Augsburg 0

Next match: Wolfsburg (H) - the sides drew a blank when Wolfsburg hosted the fixture back in October. Augsburg will take confidence from the fact that they have won 18 of their 27 points at home this season.

Manager: Heiko Herrlich - the 48-year-old was appointed in March after Martin Schmidt was sacked following the defeat to Bayern. A 1997 Champions League and two-time league winner with Dortmund, Herrlich's only previous top-flight experience was with Leverkusen but they let him go in 2018 after only a season-and-a-half in charge. Bizarrely he will miss his first game in charge after breaching quarantine rules by leaving the team hotel to buy toothpaste.

Top scorer: Florian Niederlechner - 11

Story so far: There was massive upheaval at the club last summer as 14 senior players departed and 16 new ones came in. They leaked an eye-watering 71 goals in the previous season and finished just above the relegation zone so with just 52 goals conceded to date, you could say they are marginally improved - but not enough to save Schmidt's skin.

Augsburg enjoyed a six-match (W5 D1) unbeaten run in the winter before they hit the skids starting with a 3-1 defeat to RB Leipzig just before Christmas. They have earned just 4 points (W1 D1) since then and need to start picking up a lot more as Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf are currently within five of them and there are trips to both of those sides yet to come.

Player to watch: Florian Niederlechner - scoring 11 goals this season for a struggling club is pretty impressive and it has certainly kept Augsburg out of the basement. The 29-year-old German striker is enjoying his best season in front of goal and in the 13 matches (W7 D6) in which they have picked up points, he has either scored or notched an assist in 9 of them.

Mainz

League position: 15th

Form: DWLDW

Last match: Mainz 1 Dusseldorf 1; Oztunali

Next match: Köln (A) - the chance for Mainz to do the double against the hosts whom they came from behind against to win 3-1 last October. The match included the October goal of the month winner by Robin Quaison which you can watch below.

Manager: Achim Beierlorzer - he was appointed by Mainz in November, less than a fortnight after being sacked by this weekend's opponents. Beierlorzer only got the Köln job last summer but lost 9 of his first 13 games in charge. He also worked previously as an assistant to Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig.

Top scorer: Robin Quaison - 12

Story so far: Last term's finish in 12th has been followed by an up and down season, their third under former player Sandro Schwarz, after a high turnover of playing staff in the summer. Out went 11 while in came 9 including Swiss midfielder Edmilson Fernandes from West Ham United and Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel from Monaco.

Schwarz was heaved out in November after an 8-0 tonking at RB Leipzig and 3-2 home defeat to Union Berlin. Beierlorzer led them to four straight defeats in December/January but the club held their nerve and that might pay off. Premier League winner with Cheslea Jeffrey Bruma is anchoring the back three since coming in on loan from Wolfsburg in January. They took 8 points from the 15 on offer in their last 5 matches before the suspension.

Player to watch: Robin Quaison - the 26-year old stepped into the fray after last season's 14-goal top scorer Jean-Philippe Mateta was ruled out through injury for the first 14 league matches. Quaison has scored 7 goals in 15 international appearances for Sweden, 5 in 9 competitive outings. Granted that 6 of his 12 league goals this term came in the form of hat-tricks against Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin but to be the fourth highest scorer in the division, with a club just a place above relegation, is a very good achievement.

Fortuna Düsseldorf

League position: 16th

Form: DDWLD

Last match: Mainz 1 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1; Karaman

Next match: Paderborn (H) - Fortuna have suffered a couple of big defeats to Dortmund and Bayern but the 2-0 loss to minnows Paderborn is arguably their most embarrassing of the season and is something they'll want to put right.

Manager: Uwe Rösler - a big favourite of Manchester City supporters where he played over 175 times, the former East German international forward took the reins at Fortuna in January. Before this, his first managerial assignment in Germany, he has had spells with the likes of Malmö in Sweden, Molde in Norway and Brentford, Wigan, Leeds United and Fleetwood Town in England.

Top scorer: Rouwen Hennings - 11

Story so far: The man Rösler replaced, Friedhelm Funkel, guided the club to an impressive 10th place finish on their return to the top flight last season. They got off to a bad start this term, losing 6 of their first 7 matches and the pressure was building on Funkel by the new year at which point he had managed just four victories which left them just three points above Paderborn at the bottom.

No goals scored in defeats against relegation rivals Werder Bremen and then Leverkusen were enough to seal Funkel's fate. Rösler has seen the team lose just once but they need to start turning draws into wins having claimed just a point from 4 of the 6 games under the new boss.

Player to watch: Erik Thommy - the left-sided midfielder has hit a rich vein of form under his new gaffer and bagged 3 goals in his last 4 games. He has scored 5 altogether this season, along with 4 assists. The 25-year-old German native is predominantly right-footed and likes to cut in off the wing which he did in style to score in a 2-1 win against Union Berlin last December - a goal that you can watch in the video below.

Werder Bremen

League position: 17th

Form: DLLLL

Last match: Hertha Berlin 2 Werder Bremen 2; Sargent, Klaassen

Next match: Bayer Leverkusen (H) - after Toprak put the ball into his own net, Werder Bremen came from behind to lead 2-1 in the reverse fixture last October. Alas, Alario popped up to deny the visitors all three points.

Manager: Florian Kohfeldt - a former reserve team coach with the club who stepped up as interim boss late in 2017 before landing the job on a permanent basis that same year. He guided the club to an 11th place finish before improving on that and finishing 8th in 2018-19.

Top scorer: Milot Rashica - 7

Story so far: The club's decision to be frugal in the transfer market may come back to haunt them and especially after not signing a replacement for Max Kruse who had a hand in 20 of their league goals last season before moving as a free agent to Turkish club Fenerbahçe in the summer.

They have only managed 27 goals this season, less than bottom club Paderborn, and having lost 9 of their last 10 games it is really hard to see how Kohfeldlt and his players can survive the drop as they lie eight points off safety.

Player to watch: Milot Rashica - the 23-year-old Kosovo international hit a purple patch earlier this season scoring 7 goals in 10 games. The team picked up 7 valuable points during that spell. If the left-sided midfielder can rediscover that form, then maybe the four-time Bundesliga champions would have some hope of staying up.

Paderborn

League position: 18th

Form: LLLLD

Last match: Paderborn 1 Köln 2; Srbeny

Next match:  Fortuna Düsseldorf (A) - the home game against the same opposition was one of Paderborn's four wins this season but their record of two wins and three draws on the road does not bode well.

Manager: Steffen Baumgart - a striker and journeyman who made over 500 appearances as a professional footballer. Baumgart achieved back-to-back promotions with the club from the North Rhine-Westphalia after his appointment in April 2017 when they were in the third tier.

Top scorer: Streli Mamba - 5

Story so far: They resisted the temptation to spend any money and instead attempted to find a few rough diamonds after they sealed promotion to the top-flight. Top scorer, Mamba - an injury doubt for the weekend, came in from fourth-tier Energie Cottbus; former Germany U21 international Abdelhamid Sabiri joined from Huddersfield Town, while right-back Laurent Jans came on loan from Metz in France. Dennis Srbeny signed from Norwich City in January.

Two of their 4 wins this season came in the last 9 games but having lost their last 4 matches before the season unexpectedly paused, the hope of making up 10 points on Mainz seems all but gone.

Player to watch: Kai Pröger - with 7, he is top of the assist charts at the club from the right wing. By all accounts he gave Bayern starlet Alphonso Davies one of his toughest days in a red shirt when Paderborn lost 3-2 away in February.

=

You can watch all of the action live on BT Sport who have compiled this list of matches and where you can watch them.


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