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Bundesliga: Derbies and six-pointers dominate matchday 29

The Ruhr region derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund headlines Bundesliga matchday 29. It's also a huge weekend at the bottom of the table, with four of the bottom five playin each other.

Schalke vs. Dortmund

Sunday’s Ruhr region derby is the most eye-catching of the Bundesliga’s matchday 29 fixtures. Schalke and Dortmund are separated by just over 30 kilometers (18 miles) and the sides have a fierce rivalry.

The hosts will hope

Dortmund’s Europa League match against Liverpool

on Thursday will have an impact on the fitness of the visiting players but Thomas Tuchel has shuffled his pack effectively in recent weeks. Fringe players like Adrian Ramos and Gonzalo Castro have made a positive impact while also ensuring some of Dortmund’s star names are well rested. With the title still a realistic, if faint, possibility for BVB, it will be interesting to see how many risks Tuchel takes with team selection. He is likely to be without key midfielder Ilkay Gündogan, who missed the midweek match.

Although they are just a point out of fourth, Schalke have already lost 10 games this season and, despite their wealth of young talent, are in real danger of missing out on the European places. Their 3-0 loss to Ingolstadt last weekend was a low point in a hugely inconsistent season and another loss here would pile pressure on coach André Breitenreiter ahead of a trip to Bayern Munich on matchday 30. He’ll hope to have Leon Goretzka back after a shoulder injury.

Wolfsburg vs. Mainz

After their

stunning midweek victory over Real Madrid,

Wolfsburg return to the scene of many of their struggles this year, the league. Now seven points behind fourth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach, the home side appear more likely to qualify for next year’s Champions League by winning it this year than by virtue of their league position. Whether Dieter Hecking’s men can replicate the decisive and rapid counter-attacking style they employed on Wednesday against a Mainz side that likely to be more compact than Real may prove the key to this one.

VfL Wolfsburg v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

Julian Draxler impressed against Real Madrid

Like their hosts, Mainz go into this game on the back of an important win. A thrilling 4-2 victory over Augsburg last time out has put the visitors right back in the European frame after they took just two points from the three games following their shock win over Bayern on matchday 24. Martin Schmidt’s side have been over achieving all season and could find themselves in fourth place on Saturday evening.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hoffenheim

One of two huge games are at the foot of the table as four of the bottom five play each other on Saturday. The hosts have struggled hugely in front of goal without injured talismanic striker Alexander Meier, finding the net just five times in the last nine games. It looks likely that they will have to do without him again on Saturday.

Hoffenheim have had no such troubles in recent weeks, with Julian Nagelsmann’s appointment rousing a squad that looked a relegation certainty at the start of the year. Three wins out of four last month propelled the side out of the relegation places and, as the bottom half’s in form side, they’ll fancy their chances of staying out of trouble.

Werder Bremen vs. Augsburg

The other six-pointer also features a tale of a missing goal scorer. Werder Bremen are likely to be without evergreen striker Claudio Pizarro for the second successive game and may struggle for goals in his absence. Meanwhile, Augsburg’s problems lie at the other end of the pitch. They’ve scored in each of their last nine games but picked up only six points in that time, suggesting there are some serious defensive issues. Werder are a point and a place above their opponents and could put some daylight between the sides with a win.

Fußball Bundesliga Werder Bremen vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05

Werder Bremen may have to do without top scorer Claudio Pizarro

Cologne vs. Bayer Leverkusen

The second of Sunday’s two big derbies probably has more riding on it for the visitors than the hosts. After a patchy start to the second half of the season, Leverkusen have notched up three wins on the bounce and with Javier Hernandez and Julian Brandt looking particularly sharp. Coach Roger Schmidt also expects to have Lars Bender and Stefan Kießling back in contention. They will be looking for a measure of revenge after Cologne beat them 2-1 at the BayArena in November.

The hosts’ 2-0 win over Frankfurt on March 12 and last week’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim leaves them seven points and five places above the relegation playoff spot and a derby win would probably guarantee their safety.

VfB Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich

Since their surprise loss to Mainz, Bayern have kept four consecutive Bundesliga clean sheets, including the scoreless draw with Borussia Dortmund, and picked up 10 points, maintaining their five-point lead. With their

Champions League tie against Benfica

still to come, Pep Guardiola may rest some of his key men, potentially meaning a start for Mario Götze and others currently on the fringes. Arjen Robben is likely to miss this game and the one in Portugal while Kingsley Coman is a doubt for the weekend.

FC Bayern München Mario Götze & Pep Guardiola

Mario Götze (l) will be hoping Pep Guardiola (r) will give him a start

The hosts are in a small group, along with Cologne, Hamburg and Ingolstadt who look safe but are unlikely to make Europe. Their form has been shaky of late and the news that Daniel Didavi will join Wolfsburg on a free in the summer may hurt morale. Stuttgart probably still require at least a one win from the last six games to avoid relegation trouble, but not many would expect it to come on Saturday.

Hamburg vs. Darmstadt

This is another game that could have a significant impact on the bottom of the table. Hamburg’s improved form in recent weeks has seen them move up to 10th in the table, with a seven-point cushion above the relegation playoff spot. Darmstadt have just about kept their heads above water but after four consecutive draws, they will be desperate for three points.

Saturday April 9 (15:30 CET unless otherwise stated)

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hoffenheim

VfB Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich

Ingolstadt vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Hamburg vs. Darmstadt

Werder Bremen vs. Augsburg

Wolfsburg vs. Mainz (18:30)

Sunday April 10

Schalke vs. Dortmund

Cologne vs. Bayer Leverkusen (17:30)

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