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Hard knocks take their toll as DW pundits stumble into match day 28

A dire result last week suggests DW's pundits are limping towards the season's end with very little energy left in the tanks. Guzzling sports drinks, they once again drag their tired legs onto the pitch for match day 28.

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DW's pundits have just enough strength to hold a crystal ball

As the Bundesliga season staggers towards its conclusion, DW's soccer pundits are also feeling a bit leggy after a long campaign. After one of our lowest scores of the season two weeks back, it looks as though we have very little left in our tank. But perhaps the international break did us some good (suffice it to say we weren’t called up to the national side), giving us the time to re-focus, to get back to basics. With seven weeks still to go, we need to dig deep and give 110 percent - not only to find some better soccer clichés but also to get our prediction form back on track…

Friday, April 1

St. Pauli - Schalke

St. Pauli are back in the thick of the relegation fight that they’ve been trying to keep at arm’s length all season. As one of the promoted sides from last season this was always going to be a tough campaign, but it looked as though they had the tools to stay up as they got off to a fast start to the season’s second half. More recently, they've succumbed to five straight defeats in as many weeks. Schalke showed new boss Ralf Rangnick the scale of the job at hand when he watched his team roll over and play dead against Leverkusen in their last game. Despite being only five points off the drop zone, Schalke should survive this season and give Rangnick the opportunity to sort out their schizophrenic form. Down to talent and a new coach bounce, we see the pendulum swinging in their favor in Hamburg.

Prediction: Schalke 3-1

Saturday, April 2

Bayern - Mönchengladbach

Frank Ribery celebrates his winner against Freiburg

Ribery is looking to impress his new coach...or a new club

Bayern's players will not only be playing for a Champions League place in the remaining weeks, they’ll also be auditioning for new coach Jupp Heynckes for when he takes over from Louis van Gaal in the summer. This season has shown not only the Dutch coach's shortcomings but also those of the Bayern squad. Those players who want to stay will have to show the new boss they're worthy of a place. Thrashing ‘Gladbach won't convince Heynckes that this current Bayern crop are world beaters, but it will give the players are chance to express themselves. We don’t think the increasingly condemned-looking Gladbach will be looking forward to their day out in Bavaria…

Prediction: Bayern 4-0

Bremen - Stuttgart

While neither team features in the bottom three, the claustrophobic nature of the lower half of the table means this is still a relegation clash between two clubs who should be well clear of danger by now - if results were only based on reputation. Bremen are just four points away from the basement; Stuttgart hover precariously above it by a single point. Werder have woken up in recent weeks after sleepwalking towards the precipice, and are unbeaten in the last four games. Despite three wins on the bounce, Stuttgart just can't pull clear, suggesting that it may be their fate to go down this year.

Prediction: Bremen 2-1

Dortmund - Hanover

Dortmund's Antonio Da Silva (L-R), Mats Hummels and head coach Juergen Klopp react after the UEFA Europa League group J match between Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla FC at Signal Iduna Park stadium in Dortmund, Germany, 30 September 2010.

Can Klopp get Dortmund's heads back in the game?

Are Dortmund running out of steam? Jürgen Klopp's team have been top of the league for the last 17 weeks and have looked infallible for most of them. However, defeat to Hoffenheim and a draw with Mainz in their last two games have knocked a bit of stuffing out of the runaway leaders. They still command a seven-point lead over second-placed Leverkusen but any more slip-ups in the run-in could make it very interesting at the top should their rivals keep winning. The steady Hanover have been a revelation this season and are not the kind of side you want to face when you're looking a little wobbly. The recent 4-0 defeat in Cologne aside, Hanover have proved a hard team to beat. But with a full house at the Westfalenstadion on their side, Dortmund should recover from recent results to get their title push back on track.

Prediction: Dortmund 3-2

Mainz - Freiburg

Two of the league’s overachieving minnows continue to confound, with Mainz maintaining good form to keep in touch with the European places and Freiburg more than safe from dropping into danger. Mainz claimed a point from Dortmund in match day 27 while Freiburg lost to Bayern at home, but not by much. Form suggests that Thomas Tuchel's men should edge out Freiburg, and time will tell whether Robin Dutt's decision to announce he’s leaving for Bayer Leverkusen in the summer will scuttle the rest of Freiburg's season.

Prediction: Mainz 1-0

Kaiserslautern - Leverkusen

Leverkusen's Michael Ballack, center right, embraces keeper Rene Adler after winning the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Schalke 04 in Leverkusen, Germany, Sunday, March 20, 2011. Leverkusen defeated Schalke with 2-0.

Leverkusen kept pace with Dortmund by beating Schalke

Leverkusen showed no ill effects from the rumors (now confirmed) that Jupp Heynckes would be taking over at Bayern in the summer, showing steel and creativity to beat Schalke in their last game. Should Leverkusen combine the tactical nous gained from Heynckes with the fresh wind Robin Dutt could bring, the club could reap great benefits next season. But then who knows? If Dortmund keep stumbling, perhaps Dutt will be taking over the Bundesliga champions in the summer. We reckon Leverkusen's pursuit of Dortmund is unlikely to come unstuck at relegation-threatened Kaiserslautern.

Prediction: Leverkusen 3-0

Hoffenheim - Hamburg

Hamburg had a field day against a clueless Cologne defense in their last game but let in a couple of sloppy goals themselves. Hamburg's rollercoaster season suggests that Hoffenheim are unlikely to have six put past them this week and with the HSV defense more than likely to concede, this could be a close call. Hoffenheim seem to be unsure of their current direction and, marooned in mid-table as they are, will look at the remainder of the season as damage control. Put bluntly, both these teams are basket cases and we don’t see either putting together a performance worthy of a win.

Prediction: Draw 1-1

Sunday, April 3

Cologne - Nuremberg

Michael Rensing and Youssef Mohamad of Cologne during the 6-2 defeat to Hamburg

It was back to the bad old days as Cologne lost 6-2

Cologne must be glad to see five teams between them and the first relegation place but as things are so tight at the bottom, they can ill afford another thrashing like the one meted out by Hamburg two weeks ago. Nuremberg are still challenging for a Europa League spot despite getting beaten by Bremen, and league placing alone should give them the nod ahead of Cologne. But the Billy goats have surprised a few teams since their mini-revival began and a reaction to being beaten 6-2 in their last game may come this weekend in front of their home fans, who’ve not seen them lose in the league since September.

Prediction: Cologne 2-1

Wolfsburg - Frankfurt

Nothing so far has been able to stop Wolfsburg slipping into the bottom three so the appointment of Felix Magath as coach may be the last throw of the dice for the Wolves. Magath managed to win the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg so his record as a miracle worker is well known in Volkswagen city and the players may indeed respond to that in time to save their own hides. Frankfurt, meanwhile, will be bouncing from the Daum effect. New coach Christoph will hope to build on the 2-1 defeat of St. Pauli which preceded his hiring with another victory to push his new team further up the table. However, Magath the Magician may cast a spell of his own…

Prediction: Wolfsburg 2-0

Last week's results: 2 points

Total for the season: 119

Gladbach - Kaiserslautern 0-1 (DW Prediction 2-1)

Hamburg - Cologne 6-2 (DW Prediction 1-2)

Frankfurt - St. Pauli 2-1 (DW Prediction 0-0)

Freiburg - Bayern 1-2 (DW Prediction 1-4)

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

Nuremberg - Bremen 1-3 (DW Prediction 2-0)

Dortmund - Mainz 1-1 (DW Prediction 2-0)

Leverkusen - Schalke 2-0 (DW Prediction 3-2)

Stuttgart - Wolfsburg 1-1 (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: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann

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