Last week, an alien abduction prevented us from bringing you our predictions for match day 16. This week, probed, rested and ready, we're hoping for a big week to make up for the dropped points.
The pundits believe their time in the stars gave them new wisdom.
Friday, Dec. 17
Moenchengladbach - Hamburg
Friday night's encounter features two of the Bundesliga's most out-of-form teams, each collecting just three points from their last five league matches. Hamburg coach Armin Veh appears out of answers to improve his team's poor play, all but admitting as much after last week's hammering at home to Leverkusen. Gladbach's Michael Frontzeck, meanwhile, might well need a win to stay in his job. In that we've said that before about the stern, bald man this season and he's gotten the job done (witness the 4-0 win at Cologne on match day 12), we like his chances.
Prediction: 2-1 Moenchengladbach
After a dire start, Schalke are finding their groove
Saturday, Dec. 18
Schalke - Cologne
The billy goats took all three points off of high-flying Eintracht last week, but did so in the ugliest - and most fortunate - of circumstances. They could have easily gone 3-0 down within the first 20 minutes, but didn't and got a goal from 19-year-old debutant Christian Clemens early in the second half. Then they held of for dear life. Schalke, for their part, have been bossing around the likes of Bayern, Benfica and Mainz in recent weeks. Expect to find a broken Cologne somewhere under an avalanche come Saturday evening.
Prediction: 4-1 Schalke
Bremen - Kaiserslautern
The fight Bremen put up against Dortmund last week was as credible as any team's has been over the last couple of months, and on another day they might well have eked out a draw rather than a 2-0 loss. That good showing, coupled with Kaiserslautern's pitiful away form this season (two wins, six losses), means Werder should head into the break three points richer.
Prediction: 2-0 Bremen
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
The Great Steve McClaren Experiment in Wolfsburg is beginning to look like a failure. After spending big to get his Englishman for the touchline (not to mention his Brazilian, Diego, for the number 10 shirt), Dieter Hoeness might just have to head back to the drawing board come January. Word is Edin Dzeko will get his big-money move to Manchester City, Mark van Bommel will be on his way in from Bayern, and - providing Hoffenheim lower the boom on Saturday - McClaren will be heading down to the Jobcentre. And so it will come to pass…
Prediction: 2-1 Hoffenheim
Eintracht will have to show a lot of fight to take down Dortmund
Frankfurt - Dortmund
Dortmund's effort in Spain on Wednesday night was valiant, but wasn't good enough to get the win over Sevilla they needed to stay in the Europa League. It could also prove one exertion too many ahead of a tough match at Eintracht on the weekend. Coach Michael Skibbe's men have hit a rough patch recently, losing three of four, but have had some tough luck along the way. We see that luck changing on Saturday, helping produce a surprise result.
Prediction: 1-0 Frankfurt
Nuremberg - Hanover
Just when you're ready to write off Nuremberg as rubbish, and Hanover as merely fortunate, they go and prove otherwise. It was Nuremberg who were lucky last week, drawing at Hoffenheim on the back of stingy defending and late, opportunistic behavior in front of goal. And Hanover? They're just good. The Reds' 2-1 win over Stuttgart was a master class in counter-attacking football, led by Didier Ya Konan. It's a shame that the Ivorian will miss this week's match, but his running partner from earlier this season, Mohammed Abdelloue, is back from his break in training to replace him, and that should be enough to tide the team over.
Prediction: 1-0 Hanover
Mainz fans ought to have a good time in Hamburg this weekend
St. Pauli - Mainz
The St. Pauli pirate brigade's Roger is not looking so jolly these days - they've lost six of their last eight, and most of those losses weren't even close (see: 3-0 defeats to Schalke, Bremen and Bayern). Fortunately for Pauli, Mainz is in a funk of its own, losing five of their last seven. But all but one of those losses was close - unlucky even, some might say. Thomas Tuchel and co. should have enough juice to satisfy their fans at the Millerntor…before the happy out-of-towners head to the nearby red light district for round two.
Prediction: 3-1 Mainz
Sunday, Dec. 5
Leverkusen - Freiburg
By now Leverkusen must be aware that it is one of the few sides in the Bundesliga with even an outside chance to overhaul Dortmund for the title. 11 points is a tall order, but do-able - so long as a couple of big ifs fall into place. Dortmund must start losing games (something they've done just once so far), and the Pharmaceuticals must find the mental toughness to turn the games they've been drawing up to now (a whopping five on the season) in to wins. This project has to start now, against Freiburg, and we reckon it will.
Prediction: 3-2 Leverkusen
Labbadia is already off to a good start at Suttgart
Stuttgart - Bayern
Many a commentator has remarked in the days since Bruno Labbadia's appointment as Stuttgart's new coach that he has come at an opportune time. The journeyman coach had three matches to win over the squad and the club's fans. First, a gimme against a Danish tomato can called Odense (duly won, 5-1), then two dates with Bayern Munich - in the league on Sunday, then in the Cup on Wednesday. Take two out of three, or even a fighting draw with Bayern in the league, and he can go into the winter break on a high. We think he'll manage it.
Prediction: 2-1 Stuttgart
Last week's results: N/A
Total for the season: 66
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Author: Matt Hermann
Editor: Chuck Penfold