The powers of that most marvelous organ, the human mind, often come up against their limits than when confronted by the accidents and blunders that determine a soccer match. But, heck, there’s no harm in trying.
Sometimes it's easier to understand the big bang than the Bundesliga
You apply logic, study past form, compare man-to-man match-ups, and what happens? Balls hit aluminum or ricochet into the net from long range after taking dozens of deflections. Journeymen players suddenly channel their inner Iniesta or established stars inexplicably discover they are unable to execute even the simplest of passes. Sigh. The life of a pundit ain't easy.
But if it weren't hard, it wouldn't be fun. So here's goes nothing in match day 20.
Friday 28 January
Leverkusen have been scoring the goals they need to win
Leverkusen have made an art of playing just slightly better than most of their opponents this season, while Hanover have racked up wins despite playing slightly worse. The hosts will probably find it initially difficult to break the visitors down, but Jupp Heynckes finally seems to have instilled the mentality that the only thing that matters is three points.
Prediction: Leverkusen 2-0
Saturday 29 January
Schalke have a one-game winning streak, which for them this season qualifies as being on a roll. The Hoff have had a turbulent winter and added Ryan Babel and Edson Braafheid this week. It's doubtful, though, that they can make an immediate impact. They didn't in the German Cup mid-week - Hoffenheim crashed out.
Prediction: Schalke 2-1
Werder Bremen - Bayern Munich
On paper, a no-brainer. Bremen are self-destructing, while Bayern have Arjen Robben back and looked hauntingly imperious last week. But Bayern have a terrible record in Bremen, and we bet Werder's chaos kids will be motivated enough to claw out a point.
Prediction: 2-2 draw
Bad news for Dortmund - Shinji Kagawa broke his foot at the Asian Cup
The Wolves have now successfully dismantled their title-winning squad from 2008-9 and are bouncing around like some over-charged electron. What's more, playmaker Diego doesn't like defense, which he'll need to play against Dortmund's swarming midfield. Gotta go with the favorites here.
Prediction: Dortmund 2-0
Nuremberg - Hamburg
Nuremberg have been somewhat misfortunate not to have gotten a win since the re-start. Hamburg, meanwhile, have picked up two victories by the hairs on their chinny-chin-chins. Will they be mentally up for a match in cold weather against a defensive-minded opponent they are supposed to beat? We don't think so.
Prediction: Nuremberg 2-1
St. Pauli - Cologne
St. Pauli are also very unlucky not to have racked up three points in either of their past two matches, while Cologne profited from opponents' blunders against Kaiserslautern and utter lack of commitment against Bremen. This is going to be an ugly dogfight, but the Hamburgers will want it more.
Prediction: Pauli 1-0
Kaiserslautern - Mainz
Kasierslautern got bounced from the German Cup by MSV Duisburg mid-week
Speaking of ‘Lautern, they are rubbing their behinds after last week's spanking in Munich, while the bloom is off the rose at Mainz. Not all that much separates these sides on paper, and they've both had recent difficulties scoring goals. Don’t tune in to this one.
Prediction: 0-0 draw
Sunday, January 30
This is one of the more ill-tempered local rivalries in German football so the match could come down to whichever team better controls its emotions. Stuttgart's defense is suspect, but Freiburg are without Papiss Demba Cisse and normally wouldn't fancy their chances away in this fixture.
Prediction: Stuttgart 2-1
'Gladbach will be relieved to be playing away since they've been wretched at home - they’ve yet to win a single league match in front of their home crowd this season. Frankfurt has failed to score in their first two matches in 2011 and will be missing Theofanis Gekas. Call us nuts, but this could be a chance for the team with the Bundesliga's worst defense.
Prediction: Gladbach 2-1
Last week's results: 4 points
Total for the season: 80
Hamburg - Frankfurt 1-0 (DW Prediction: 1-1)
Bayern Munich - Kaiserslautern 5-1 (DW Prediction: 3-1)
Dortmund - Stuttgart 1-1 (DW Prediction: 2-1)
Mainz - Wolfsburg 0-1 (DW Prediction: 2-2)
Freiburg - Nuremberg 1-1 (DW Prediction: 2-1)
Hanover - Schalke 0-1 (DW Prediction: 1-3)
Cologne - Bremen 3-0 (DW Prediction: 1-2)
Gladbach - Leverkusen 1-3 (DW Prediction: 0-2)
Hoffenheim - St. Pauli 2-2 (DW Prediction: 1-0)
Three points for a correct score prediction
Two points for a correct margin prediction
One point for a correct winner prediction
Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Matt Hermann