Welcome to the storm before the calm as the Bundesliga goes into overdrive before the winter break with the first ‘englische Woche’ – round of midweek fixtures – of the league season. And the penultimate matchday of 2019 promises to be a gripping one, with new leaders RB Leipzig facing an immediate test of their title credentials with a trip to Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit four points back in third place.
Julian Nagelsmann’s team will travel to the Signal Iduna Park full of confidence however after extending their winning streak to six consecutive Bundesliga matches with a 3-0 triumph in at Fortuna Düsseldorf over the weekend. That impressive run – part of a nine-game unbeaten stretch in all competitions – has coincided with a super-charged Timo Werner hot streak, the Germany forward with 10 goals in his last six Bundesliga outings. Dortmund, incidentally the only
side yet to lose at home in the top flight in 2019/20, have some fearsome attacking weapons of their own though, as Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard boast a combined 38 goals and assists between them already this
term as BVB go in search of a fifth straight victory.
Sandwiched in between those two teams are second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach, who slipped off top spot for the first time since early October following a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday. The Foals will therefore be keen to take advantage of any slip-ups elsewhere and can take heart from the fact they have not lost back-to-back Bundesliga games this season. As the team with the best home record so far, with 19 points from a possible 24 at Borussia-Park, Marco Rose’s men will be confident of overcoming promoted outfit SC Paderborn, who have taken just five points on their travels.
Also in the chasing pack are defending champions FC Bayern Munich who returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion on Matchday 15 following two straight losses. Philippe Coutinho gave an exhibition of attacking artistry, registering a hat-trick and two assists in a 6-1 thrashing of SV Werder Bremen, and Hansi Flick’s side will be eager to take that momentum into their trip to
surprise high-flyers SC Freiburg, who are just two points below Bayern. Robert Lewandowski ended a three-game goal drought with a brace against Bremen and will be looking forward to facing the Black Forest side, as the 31-year-old has 14 goals in as many appearances against them.
Elsewhere, fellow European challengers Wolfsburg will be looking to make up ground on FC Schalke 04 when they host the fourth-placed Royal Blues, while
Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who suffered defeat in their Rhineland derby with 1. FC Koln on Saturday, could do with a morale-boosting lift at home to a Hertha Berlin side buoyed by their first triumph under new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
There is plenty at stake at the opposite end of the table too, as Koln – who moved out of the basement with that Leverkusen win – travel to an Eintracht Frankfurt side without a Bundesliga victory since beating Bayern at the start of November.
Meanwhile, Bremen’s downturn in form has embroiled them in the relegation struggle too, so victory over 14th-placed 1. FSV Mainz 05 would see Florian Kohfeldt’s men leapfrog them in the standings. Fortuna are similarly in need of points in 16th place, but face a tough task away to a resurgent FC Augsburg, while surprise package Union Berlin are looking to overtake their mid-table neighbours
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
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