The coming weekend will offer a good indictation as to whether Bayern Munich (who hold an 8 point -advantage over their rivals) will walk away with this year’s Bundesliga or whether the challengers can launch a fightback.
One crucial encounter sees last season’s runners-up Leverkusen – desperate for a result if they are to stay clear of the relegation zone – meet Borussia Dortmund ( Bayern’s closest competitors in the championship) in the ‘Westfalenstadion’.
However, Dortmund’s coach Matthias Sammer has warned his team not to underestimate Leverkusen. Sammer has a full squad to choose from with the exception of Addo.
Dortmund need a win to stay in contact with Bayern, while on the other hand Leverkusen need the points to stay avoid droppinginto the relegation zone.
During this week, Leverkusen have signed a contract with Radoslaw Kaluszny from Energie Cottbus with the intention to stabilize the defense after captain Nowotny has injured his knee again and will be absent for a long period.
Bayern Munich meanwhile will be trying to extend their advantage in Bielefeld. Scholl, Ballack, Salihamidzic, Santa Cruz and Deisler will be missing, whereas the youngster Schweinsteiger looks set to make his first start The Brazilian left-wing Ze Roberto despite suffering from flu, hopes to be able to line up.
Werder Bremen have a difficult match in Hamburg against Hamburger SV. Werder’s captain Frank Baumann won’t line up in this ‘north-derby’ after being suspended for receiving his fith yellow card of the season.
Stuttgart and Hertha BSC Berlin, two teams competing for a UEFA-Cup place, meet in what promises to be a tight encounter in Stuttgart. Hertha will be looking to build on their victory against Dortmund, while Stuttgart will be happy fora point, playing 20-year-old newcomer Kuranyi as their only striker in a defensively-minded formation.
Schalke 04 will be confident of a victory over struggling Kaiserslautern.
The other Munich club 1860 host Hannover 96 in the OlympicStadium.
Elsewhere, Bundesliga’s bottom side Energie Cottbus meet VfL Bochum, Borussia Moenchengladbach – for whom loan signing Mikael Forsell may make his debut – face VfL Wolfsburg and Nuernberg host Hansa Rostock.