The DW pundits are on a roll, picking up an almighty 13 points in the last two match days. But they'll do well to pick up where they left off, because we're at the unpredictable business end of the season.
The DW pundits have studied at the master's feet long enough
You might scoff at the weekly assertions about occult powers - or maybe you find the DW pundits' belief in divination endearing. But you can't argue with 13 points in two match days. Beat that, Sawmi. Let's see what we can muster this time round...
Friday, April 15
Mainz - Mönchengladbach
Mainz have been steadily hemorrhaging points since the turn of the year, and it's been five weeks since they last tasted victory. It feels like they're finally settling into their natural league position. But surely a home tie against bottom club Mönchengladbach isn't beyond even their struggling spirits? We can't be so sure, because Gladbach took everyone by surprise by tonking Cologne 5-1 last week, and Mainz have the worst home record of anyone in the top half. So if the Gladbachers are going to beat anyone, we think it might as well be them. Mainz are fighting for a Europa League place, Gladbach are fighting for survival in the Bundesliga. All bets are off. Who wants it more?
Prediction: Mainz 2-1
Saturday, April 16
Hamburg - Hanover
Hanover are surely the most heart-warming story of the season so far - underrated underdogs, the perennial bridesmaids finally sitting at the head table. After all these weeks not daring to trust their eyes, they're still there, slugging it out with the preening, imploding stars of Bayern for a shot at the Champions League next season. Die Roten (“the reds”) probably wouldn't make it out of the group stage, but let's relish the thought nonetheless. The last time these two sides met in the league it ended in a rollicking see-saw 3-2 victory for Hanover. But Hamburg are a tougher outfit now, and last week the very nearly beat the leaders Dortmund - and slaughtered Cologne not long ago.
Prediction: Hamburg 3-1
Magath has brought photographers aplenty, but no wins yet
Wolfsburg - St. Pauli
This one should be a great game, if not for the quality of football, then for the sheer wild-eyed desperation both sides should muster. St. Pauli have lost their last seven (seven!) in a row, while Wolfsburg have picked up just two draws and a win in their last ten games. As a result, they are both staring down the barrel. The spectacle will be akin to two drunken, wounded pugilists bashing away at each other hoping that something soft gives way. This will be St. Pauli's first game since coach Holger Stanislawski caught the lame duck flu that's going round (he, like a few other coaches, is off at the end of the season), while Wolfsburg are being steered by the steady hand of Felix Magath, pushing for his first win. We think surely this and home advantage will make the difference.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 1-0
Hoffenheim - Frankfurt
Hoffenheim are also being piloted by a lame duck, having recently terminated their contract with Marco Pezzaiuoli, and they are now angling for the services of…St.Pauli's Stanislawski next season. To go with their de-motivated coach, Hoffenheim are stuck in mid-table limbo in tenth, and appear to have very little to play for. Frankfurt, meanwhile, have very much to lose in 14th place, but even they are five points clear of the drop zone. Don't expect either side to be particularly spry. Frankfurt are yet to win under new coach Christoph Daum, so perhaps he'll be pushing for a fight. This just in from the nerdy stat department - Frankfurt are the only Bundesliga side that Hoffenheim have never lost to in their three seasons in the top tier.
Prediction: Draw 1-1
Cologne - Stuttgart
Cologne's madcap recent form continued last week with an abject, and frankly embarrassing, 5-1 defeat to bottom club Gladbach. Spring has been silly season for them, with two four-goal defeats, and one victory by the same margin over high-flying Hanover. But the upshot of their fluctuating fortunes is that they have reached a plateau in the league, pretty safe in 11th place. Stuttgart, meanwhile, are still teetering on the brink, and are in particular peril this weekend. A winner in the Wolfsburg - St. Pauli tilt would overtake them, so a defeat to Cologne would put Stuttgart back in the drop zone. On top of the extra pressure, last week's 2-4 home defeat to Kaiserslautern (a game they led 2-1 at the half) won't have done the Swabians' confidence much good.
Prediction: Cologne 3-2
Lakic and Co. are battling to hang on to top-flight status
Kaiserslautern - Nuremberg
Kaiserslautern's Eastern European attacking force is looking a little worse for wear, with target men Ivo Ilicevic and Adam Nemec still missing through injury. Not that that seemed to hurt them much last week, as the dynamic Croatian duo of Srdjan Lakic and Stiven Rivic put three past Stuttgart between them. To the surprise of many, the Red Devils have won three of their last four, while sixth-placed Nuremberg have struggled a bit, despite their draw in the Bavarian derby last week. But Nuremberg's pride was stung by their defeat to Kaiserslautern at home in November, and they'll be out to put things right.
Prediction: Draw 2-2
Bremen - Schalke
In many a recent season, this would've been the tie of the weekend, an unmovable-object-versus-irresistible-force-type clash, with both sides vying for a Champions League spot. This season, it's a drab mid-table kick-around. True, Werder aren't free from relegation worries yet, but they're undefeated in six games and looking safer by the day. Schalke will perhaps still be giddy from their European giant-killing, and with Manchester United waiting in the wings, the Royal Blues could be forgiven for having little interest in continuing their improbable push toward a Europa League place (which they can still win by winning the German Cup anyway). We figure Werder have more to play for, and they have Claudio Pizarro back in the starting line-up.
Prediction: Bremen 2-0
Sunday April 17
Bayern - Leverkusen
Robben's red-card suspension could mean trouble for Bayern
The clash of the weekend by a country mile, this. Neither side can afford to lose, or even draw, if they want their season to end up as anything other than a bruising disappointment. Having cut the gap at the top cut from 12 to five points over the last five matches, Leverkusen can scent Dortmund's blood in the water, and will go all-out to ensure their brilliant five-win run continue. As for Bayern, if captain Philipp Lahm is to be believed, now that they've lost the Louis-van-Gaal shaped millstone hanging round their necks, they're free to finally assert their super-club authority. Or, at least get serious about the fight for the third Champions League place, around which Uli Hoeness has developed an existential obsession. On the one hand, there's a big blow for Bayern - Arjen Robben is suspended. On the other hand, Leverkusen haven't won this fixture for over 20 years. Game on!
Prediction: Draw 2-2
Dortmund - Freiburg
The timing here is decisive. By the time this kicks off, Dortmund will know what happened in Munich, and this know too what level the pressure gauge is at. If Leverkusen win, then a choke for the ages could well and truly be on. But all things being equal, this should be a nerve-settling gimme for Dortmund. Freiburg's top-half place is all down to their good form at the start of the season; since then they have been very average. Even last weekend's 3-2 victory over Hoffenheim was a squeaky-bum affair that needed an improbable 10-man second half comeback. Plus, Freiburg fans are saying openly they've already achieved a better season than expected, so why strain ourselves now?
Prediction: Dortmund 2-0
Last week's results: 6 points
Total for the season: 132 points
Frankfurt - Bremen 1-1 (DW Prediction 3-1)
Schalke - Wolfsburg 1-0 (DW Prediction 3-2)
Hamburg - Dortmund 1-1 (DW Prediction 2-2)
Freiburg - Hoffenheim 3-2 (DW Prediction 1-2)
Hanover - Mainz 2-0 (DW Prediction 1-2)
Nuremberg - Bayern 1-1 (DW Prediction 0-1)
Stuttgart - Kaiserslautern 2-4 (DW Prediction 2-0)
Mönchengladbach - Cologne 5-1 (DW Prediction 1-0)
Leverkusen - St. Pauli 2-1 (DW Prediction 3-1)
Three points for a correct score prediction
Two points for a correct margin prediction
One point for a correct winner prediction
Author: Ben Knight
Editor: Matt Hermann