Top of the Table Clash Highlights Bundesliga Weekend

15 October 2009

Coming off the international break, the Bundesliga has two massive clashes at the top of the table. The warm-up match occurs Saturday at 9:30 am Eastern when Werder Bremen hosts Hoffenheim in a 4 v 5 battle from the Weser-Stadion. The main event takes place at 12:30 pm when Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen play at the HSH Norbank Arena (live on GolTV).

Both Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen come into this clash unbeaten with six wins and two draws; Hamburg has yet to lose at home while Bayer have three wins and a draw away from the Bay Arena.

It will be interesting to see how Hamburg start up front. Before the international break, Mladen Petric suffered an ankle injury and won't be seen from until the new year. That, along with the cruciate ligament rupture Juan Paolo Guerrero suffered in September, sees Hamburg down two strikers who have combined for six of their team's goals this season. Will Bruno Labbadia go with only one up front, or will he stick with his 4-4-2 formation? If I had to guess, Marcus Berg will play up front alone, Labbadia going 4-5-1.

If anything for Hamburg, the midfield partnership of David Jarolim and Ze Roberto will have to come up big. Ze Roberto currently leads the team with four goals (tied with Guerrero, but he won't be heard from again more than likely until next season), and can get forward. Jarolim will need to hold the ball up in the midfield. The back hasn't exactly been steady, only seeing one clean sheet to start the season. However, they have only allowed two or more goals once. To have any realistic shot of winning on Saturday, knowing the situation up front, Hamburg will need a clean sheet.

Away from home, Bayer Leverkusen have scored eleven goals. The partnership of Stefan Kiessling and Eren Derdiyok have accounted for half the teams goal output. In fact, the entire spine of Bayer Leverkusen has been pretty resolute with Arturo Vidal and Simon Rolfes in the midfield along with Friedrich and Sami Hyypia at center back. Rene Adler has only allowed five goals this season because of the support he's had in the center of the park.

If there is a weakness for Bayer Leverkusen, it's at left back. Eight games into the season, three players have played at least two games in that position. Michal Kadlec, the man who started the season at left back, hasn't played since match day four. It's got to the point Gonzalo Castro has played the last two games at left back, when he's a natural right back. I expect Castro to play again at right back, with Kadlec going back to the left side.

When it's all said and done, I predict Bayer Leverkusen will continue to lead the Bundesliga. Bayer are pretty settled right now; while I think Ze Roberto will try too hard, attempting to put Hamburg on his shoulders. Expect this to be a tight tense affair, with my prediction being a Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 win.

Other Games This Weekend

Saturday 9:30 AM
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hannover 96: Frankfurt have yet to win at home this season. I don't think that changes here. Prediction: Draw
Koln v Mainz: Mainz have allowed thirteen goals in eight games while Koln have only scored five. If there was any game that Koln could get goals, this is it. Prediction: Koln sneaks a late winner.
Nurnberg v Hertha Berlin: MOMMY DO I HAVE TO! 17 v 18 in the Bundesliga, enough said. Nurnberg can't buy a goal right now, Hertha can't stop giving them up. Prediction: a draw that does nothing for either team.
Freiburg v Bayern Munich (Live on GolTV): How badly do Bayern Munich need Luca Toni up front? Even with Robben and Ribery on the wings, it still isn't clicking on all cylinders. Freiburg though are not playing well at home. The same could be said for Bayern Munich on the road. Prediction: Bayern Munich win this with a late second half goal.
Stuttgart v Schalke (Live on ESPN360): Schalke haven't lost on the road, I don't expect that change here. Prediction: Schalke in a blowout.
Werder Bremen v Hoffenheim: It's an injustice this game is not being shown on TV here in the states. Both sides play technically sound attacking football. The defense is pretty good also. Prediction: a high scoring draw that we won't get to see.

Sunday 9:30 AM
Wolfsburg v Borussia Monchengladbach (Live on ESPN360): Wolfsburg can score, but have given up their fair share of goals. Gladbach have given up their fair share of goals, but haven't done a good job scoring. Prediction: Wolfsburg wins; Michael Bradley plays, but doesn't have a good showing.

Sunday 11:30 AM
Borussia Dortmund v Bochum: Bochum have point blank been dire on the road. While Dortmund haven't scored many at home, I don't think they will have much trouble. Prediction: Borussia Dortmund wins by two.


DoublePivot October 15, 2009 at 11:56 PM  

I wrote a similar question about what Labaddia would do. A fan of HSV told me that it would be a 4-4-2 with Berg and Torun. We'll see. Good roundup.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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