DW's soccer pundits are indulging in a bit if phrenology this week in the hope that their bumpy heads will give some kind of indication as to which way the match day 15 results will go. Good luck with that...
DW's pundits try to get their heads around the Bundesliga
Friday, Dec. 3
St. Pauli – Kaiserslautern
One late summer day in August, Kaiserslautern sat on top of the Bundesliga – which now seems a long time ago indeed. In the three months that have followed the “Lautern top!” headines on the second match day of the season, they've not seen a sniff of the summit since. But after bottoming out in 15th place, Kaiserslautern seem to hit recovery mode. The 5-0 demolition of Schalke last week will have given them even more confidence. St. Pauli should be wary. The minnows from Hamburg’s red light quarter are themselves teetering ominously over the relegation zone after their own fall from grace. A Kaiserslautern side in the mood seen against Schalke will push them over the edge.
Prediction: 2-0 Kaiserslautern
Saturday, Dec. 4
Stuttgart – Hoffenheim
After propping up the league for the first third of the season, it then looked for a while like Stuttgart had solved enough of their problems to get out of danger. Turns out, maybe not - this is still a team with issues, as seen in last week's implosion in Hamburg. The tractor beam of relegation has VfB back in its grip after three games without a win. Meanwhile, Hoffenheim have looked very good at times but have so far failed to capitalize on the topsy-turvy nature of this season, slipping up when a leap up the table was possible due to the results of others. This inconsistency is slowly ruling them out of the running but they should still by too strong for Stuttgart.
Prediction: 3-1 Hoffenheim
Bremen's hero Hugo Almeida listens to the sighs of relief
Wolfsburg – Bremen
After a rollercoaster ride so far, Wolfsburg seem to have found their natural place in the Bundesliga this season – unfortunately, that place appears to be the lower reaches of the table. After recovering from a nightmare start, the Wolves rose to sixth before plummeting again. Now they seem to be catching their breath in 13th. For a team which appears to be one of the more talented on paper, this isn't good enough. This goes doubly for Bremen who have somehow forgotten they are one of Germany's better teams and have decided that mediocrity suits them better. A good 3-0 win over St. Pauli last week should have been routine. Instead Hugo Almeida's hat-trick prompted a sigh of relief. It's hard to pull these two underachievers apart.
Frankfurt – Mainz
The blip Mainz have recently experienced may just be enough to rule them out as potential title winners but they're still in second after arresting a run of three defeats by winning their last two games. Last week's win over Nuremberg was more accomplished than the previous one over Gladbach, which suggests they're back on track. Frankfurt got trounced at Bayern last week, letting in four for the second consecutive week. If Mainz have rediscovered their killer instinct and Frankfurt's defense really have had the stuffing knocked out of them then Thomas Tuchel's high-flyers will keep their distant pace with league leaders Dortmund.
Prediction: 2-0 Mainz
Moenchengladbach – Hanover
Christian Schulz (r.) and his Hannover colleagues battle on
Hanover for the title? No chance. Hanover for the Champions League? That could be worth a flutter. After going down to consecutive 4-0 defeats, Hanover have put together a run of three victories which have hauled them back into the European places after slipping from third to tenth. Now in fourth and with a trio of resilient wins under their belts, Hanover could force their way into third again should Leverkusen – one place above them – lose and they beat Gladbach. Given that their opponents have now bedded themselves in at the bottom of the league, Hannover stand a good chance of doing their bit. The foals, meanwhile, have been beaten by two of the top four so far already and are likely to make it three out of four this weekend.
Prediction: 3-0 Hannover
Freiburg – Hamburg
Freiburg's wings have been clipped of late but their flight up the league has still taken them high enough that a couple of defeats won't send them nose-diving into trouble. There's no shame in losing to Dortmund this season and last week's defeat at Hanover said more about their opponents’ form than their own. Hamburg showed what they are capable of against Stuttgart last week, ending a run of two straight defeats and lifting them two places into seventh. The momentum appears to be with Hamburg – but it'll be close.
Prediction: 1-0 Hamburg.
It could be a long, hard winter for Magath's Schalke
Schalke – Bayern
If Schalke approach this huge match like a Champions League game then we could be in for a classic. If they go into it in the same frame of mind that they've had for most of their Bundesliga campaign to date, this will be a massacre. The 5-0 thumping at Kaiserslautern quickly dispelled the euphoria surrounding the previous result, a 3-0 victory over Lyon. With Bayern unbeaten in seven games and notching 18 goals during that run, the Schalke defense need to be the organized unit they've been in Europe, not the shoddy mess we've seen in the league. If Bayern turn up in the mood to run riot, this could be a very uncomfortable afternoon for former Bayern boss Felix Magath.
Prediction: 3-1 Bayern.
Sunday, Dec. 5
Leverkusen – Cologne
This Rhine derby pits neighbors against each other at a time when they occupy opposite ends of the table. Leverkusen missed the chance to creep closer to the summit with a hard-fought draw against Hoffenheim last week while Cologne did well to keep Wolfsburg at bay in their own stalemate. Cologne have only managed three wins this season so far while Leverkusen have lost just twice. The form card suggests that Leverkusen are favorites for maximum points here – but then Cologne have proved to be obstinate opposition at times, parking the bus at the back and stifling attacking teams to earn valuable points. This could be another example of Cologne utilizing their anti-football.
Dortmund's relentlessness is leaving the pack behind
Nuremberg – Dortmund
The yellow-and-black points machine rolls into Nuremberg on Sunday, with Dortmund unbeaten since the first day of the season. Juergen Klopp's team has dropped a total of 4 points on the season thus far and have won five straight. No one looks forward to taking them on at the moment, especially if you're a team on a three game losing streak. Nuremberg have slipped to tenth after hitting a high of sixth and were soundly beaten away to Mainz last weekend in a display which will put Dortmund's attack on alert. Home advantage would usually count for something but with BVB on such a roll, it's unlikely anything will help.
Prediction: 3-0 Dortmund.
Last week's results: 8 points
Mainz – Nuremberg 3-0 (DW Prediction 2-1)
Bayern Munich – Frankfurt 4-1 (DW Prediction 3-2)
Hamburg – Stuttgart 4-2 (DW Prediction 3-1)
Hoffenheim – Leverkusen 2-2 (DW Prediction 2-2)
Hannover – Freiburg 3-0 (DW Prediction 2-1 )
Kaiserslautern – Schalke 5-0 (DW Prediction 1-3 )
Dortmund – Moenchengladbach 4-1 (DW Prediction 2-0)
Bremen - St. Pauli 3-0 (DW Prediction 1-1)
Cologne – Wolfsburg 1-1 (DW Prediction 2-1)
Total for the season: 66
Three points for a correct score prediction
Two points for a correct margin prediction
One point for a correct winner prediction
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann