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DW's pundits come out of their shell with match day 26 picks

After last week's healthy score, DW's soccer pundits are feeling mighty pleased with themselves. So much so, in fact, that they've dug up their most obscure divining technique yet to predict the results for match day 26.

Tortoise with Bundesliga logo

Don't worry, the shell should be empty before hot coal is used

Believing that it doesn't really matter what device they use - because they're obviously brilliant with whatever - DW's soccer pundits have revived the ancient Chinese fortune telling practice of 'oracle bones' where the diviner takes an empty tortoise shell drilled with shallow holes and places a piece of red-hot charcoal inside it. Apparently the cracks that then form on the surface of the shell are supposed to represent the symbols of future events.

Well, that's that sorted. Let's 'crack' on…

Friday, March 11

Cologne - Hanover

It's unlucky for Cologne that their revival comes at the time when they now have to face two of the in-form teams at the top of the league. Last week's defeat to Dortmund was a narrow one and this match against Hanover could see Cologne beaten again, especially if their Karneval hangovers have stretched into this week. But remarkably, Cologne look in good shape to survive this period, even if trail-blazing Hanover - slayers of Bayern Munich last week - continue their great form.

Prediction: Hanover 2-0

Saturday, March 12

Bayern - Hamburg

Louis van Gaal

It's okay, Louis, we've also had to shut our eyes at times this season

This game will be the real test of how much effect the news of Louis van Gaal’s departure this summer will have on the Bayern squad. With the Bundesliga title beyond them, will they care enough about the rest of the campaign and their lame duck boss to bother? It may not make much difference because Hamburg are in a similar position. Since their 4-2 collapse at home to Mainz last week, Coach Armin Veh has announced he too would be leaving in May, saying the club was “leaderless” and was “heading into dangerous waters.” We reckon that even a Bayern team on 75 percent power and 50 percent interest should still beat this basket case of a Hamburg side.

Prediction: Bayern 1-0

Schalke - Frankfurt

Enigmatic Schalke continue to astound: Champions League quarter-finalists, German Cup finalists but inept mid-table-ists in the Bundesliga. If Felix Magath's team are true to form here, the European hangover which has cursed their league form throughout the season will give Frankfurt a good chance of taking three points and leap-frogging the Royal Blues in the process. With Magath's future in question, Schalke is ripe for the picking. Now all Frankfurt have to do is score - and we think they’re well past due.

Prediction: Frankfurt 2-1

Pierre Littbarski

Time will tell if Littbarski lasts long enough to go down with the ship

Wolfsburg - Nuremberg

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss - i.e. a bit rubbish. Pierre Littbarski has done little to show that he's the man to steady the Wolfsburg ship, holed as it was just under the water line by Steve McClaren's short but disastrous tenure. Littbarski may have to face facts: Wolfsburg have the air of the Titanic about them. They're big but not so big that they won't go down. Meanwhile, Nuremberg are challenging for Europe. A few of Wolfsburg's players may distantly remember what that felt like.

Prediction: Nuremberg 3-2

Hoffenheim - Dortmund

It's hard to see anyone beating Dortmund on the run-in to what would be their first title in a decade. Even when they're not on top form, they're still winning - which is the mark of champions. Hoffenheim, meanwhile, tasted defeat at bottom club Gladbach last weekend and look to have lost what little fight they had left. Each week has seen their batteries drained that little bit more and the Hoff look like they can't wait for the season to be over so they can recharge. (Someone should remind them, however, that if they keep losing they could very well go down.) We think Dortmund will be too much for their tiring legs.

Prediction: Dortmund 3-0

Kaiserslautern - Freiburg

Freiburg's Felix Bastians, Mohamadou Idrissou, Julian Schuster and Johannes Flum, from left, celebrate

Freiburg were good early but are tiring coming into the home stretch

Both of these teams face their remaining games with an air of sad inevitability about them. Freiburg's great charge for European football seems to have run out of steam; a small club which over-performed, it’s now left to settle for its natural place in mid-table after its limited resources were shown to be too little to sustain its heady rise. Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, have been on a downward trajectory from the second day of the season when they were - unbelievably - top of the league. Their brief mid-season recovery has petered out and their goose looks cooked. No wins in seven suggests this game is Freiburg's to lose, as far as we’re concerned.

Prediction: Freiburg 1-0

Bremen - Gladbach

Bremen woke up last week to find themselves one place above the relegation zone. Like a sleepwalker who comes to on the edge of the sixth-floor balcony, they screamed in horror and took immediate evasive action by thumping Freiburg. They’re far from safe and tucked soundly in their beds, however - Werder will need to beat Gladbach to get some real peace. The same cannot be said about Gladbach, who continue to glean little bits of satisfaction from victories like last week's over Hoffenheim. In all honesty though, we think they're a relegated side playing for pride.

Prediction: Bremen 4-1

Sunday, March 13

Andreas Ivanschitz celebrates a goal for Mainz

Back on the up: Mainz refuse to bow out of the race for Europe

Mainz - Leverkusen

Mainz have not given up on their European dream - and they are out to crush those of their rivals. Their last two victories came against teams which were also challenging for Europa League places. Now back up to fourth after slipping to a season-low of fifth place, Mainz look in fine shape to do their great season justice. Leverkusen are holding their nerve in second but Hannover are beginning to breathe down their necks - and Jupp Heynckes team don't usually handle pressure well. If Hanover get the win they need to leapfrog the pharmaceuticals on Friday, serious jitters could set in.

Prediction: 2-2

St. Pauli - Stuttgart

Pauli got stomped at Nuremberg last week and have now lost three on the trot - essentially negating their dream start to the second half, and pulling them right back down toward the relegation zone. Stuttgart continued to give themselves a fighting chance of escape last week in beating Schalke - but they're still in 16th. However, victory in Hamburg could take the Swabians up as high as 12th if other results go their way. Stuttgart will have few better opportunities to get clear and stay clear than to beat Pauli this weekend…whether they will is another matter.

Prediction: 1-1

Last week's results: 8 points

Total for the season: 114

Dortmund - Cologne 1-0 (DW Prediction 3-0)

Stuttgart - Schalke 1-0 (DW Prediction 1-2)

Frankfurt - Kaiserslautern 0-0 (DW Prediction 0-1)

Gladbach - Hoffenheim 2-0 (DW Prediction 0-2)

Hannover - Bayern 3-1 (DW Prediction 3-1)

Nuremberg - St. Pauli 5-0 (DW Prediction 0-1)

Leverkusen - Wolfsburg 3-0 (DW Prediction 3-0)

Freiburg - Bremen 1:3 (DW Prediction 1-1)

Hamburg - Mainz 2:4 (DW Prediction 0-1)

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

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