Borussia Dortmund in the eye of the storm
"It's always calmest in the eye of the storm," said Thomas Tuchel, ahead of Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League. And the storm clouds continue to gather over Dortmund. On the pitch, Dortmund are looking to bounce back from two consecutive defeats - although the reverses in Darmstadt and Lisbon featured two completely different performance's from Tuchel's team. In the Bundesliga last week, a rotated starting XI featuring Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic and debutant Dzenis Burnic crashed to a deserved 2-1 defeat. In Lisbon on Tuesday, Tuchel had a point when he said his team were unlucky after dominating much of the game and restricting the hosts to a single shot on goal. But while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was guilty of extreme profligacy in front of goal, Benfica took their chance.
The storm clouds are gathering off the pitch too as Dortmund prepare to face Wolfsburg in front of an empty Südtribüne, having accepted the DFB's punishment for the actions of some fans in the last home game against RB Leipzig. DW will be on hand to see how they cope against a Wolves side who put in an impressive second half performance to beat Hoffenheim last week. "If there's ever a good time to play Dortmund it's probably now," said coach Valerien Ismael, ahead of a fixture which also sees former Dortmund hero Jakub Blaszczykowski return to the Westfalenstadion.
Are RB Leipzig still in the title race?
RB Leipzig may be benefitting from some goodwill following the abuse suffered by their fans in Dortmund two weeks ago, but they come into this game on the back of two straight defeats for the first time this season. Last week's 3-0 home defeat against Hamburg left them seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich, with some suggesting that the title race could already be over. Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner returned to action last week but were stifled by Hamburg's deep defensive line and will be hoping for more success in the Rhineland. David Upamencano could be a doubt after Ralph Hasenhüttl dragged the struggling teenage center back out of the firing line last week.
The protests against the controversial Red Bull-backed club are set to continue despite the incidents in Dortmund, although Borussia Mönchengladbach fan groups have announced that any demonstrations will be peaceful, legal and creative.
The Foals were one of only five teams to take points off Leipzig in the first half of the season, playing out a 1-1 draw in the Red Bull Arena in September. They are unbeaten domestically under Dieter Hecking including four wins on the bounce. The experienced new coach has restored confidence and stability to Gladbach and has reverted to his favored four-man defense, the success of which is borne out by three straight clean sheets against Freiburg, Fürth (in the cup) and Bremen. But having lost their Europa League round of 16 first leg at home to Fiorentina on Thursday night, could Leipzig take advantage of a European hangover?
Schmidt for Schmidt at Leverkusen?
Bayer Leverkusen's last league game was preceded by chatter that a decision had already been taken to dismiss Roger Schmidt, regardless of how his team fared against Eintracht Frankfurt. Furious sporting director Rudi Völler was quick to deny the rumors as Leverkusen went on to a comfortable 3-0 victory. The quality which Roger Schmidt has at his disposal is undeniable but the individual parts have too rarely functioned together as a whole, which accounts for the side's disappointing 9th position in the table. Last Saturday, Julian Brandt, Kevin Kampl, Karim Bellarabi and Javier Hernandez combined brilliantly for Leverkusen's second goal - exactly the sort of football that they need to produce more often if they are to make up a seven point gap and qualify for the Champions League, starting on Friday night in Augsburg.
Augsburg have already scored as many goals in their first four games of 2017 as they did in their previous seven and recorded a dramatic late win over Werder Bremen in their last home game. One thing's for certain, if there is a first goal here it will be the 50,000th in the Bundesliga!
Bundesliga Matchday 21
Augsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen (20:30 CET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. VfL Wolfsburg (15:30 CET)
Hertha BSC vs. Bayern Munich
Mainz vs. Werder Bremen
TSG Hoffenheim vs. SV Darmstadt 98
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Ingolstadt
Hamburg vs SC Freiburg (18:30 CET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. RB Leipzig (15:30 CET)
1.FC Köln vs Schalke 04 (17:30 CET)