Bundesliga: Dortmund and Frankfurt go head-to-head for Europe | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 09.03.2018
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Bundesliga: Dortmund and Frankfurt go head-to-head for Europe

One of the most interesting matchups on Matchday 26 comes when Franfurt travel to Dortmund. The two are level on points and are in the thick of the battle for qualifcation for next season's Champions League group stage.

Eintracht Frankfurt have been one of the Bundesliga's most pleasant surprises over the past two seasons. Niko Kovac's men are currently in fourth place in the standings, which, under rule changes that are to come into effect next season, would be good enough to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

However, with just four points separating the teams between second and sixth place in the standings, staying there won't be easy. And this Sunday, Eintracht travel to one of those direct rivals for a Champions League berth; Borussia Dortmund have the same number of points, but are one place above Frankfurt based on goal difference.

The Signal Iduna Park has not been kind to Frankfurt in recent years - the last time they left with three points was in February 2010. And Dortmund have been in fine form of late - at least until Thursday. That's when they were upset 2-1 at home to Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League. However, BVB remain unbeaten in the Bundesliga since Peter Stöger took over as head coach back in December.

Sunday's late contest will also be a matchup between the Bundesliga's second-best offense (Dortmund) and its second-best defense (Frankfurt). Eintracht have gotten to where they are this season based largely on the fact that they have conceded just 27 goals. They may have only scored 33, but Kovac's players have made them count. Dortmund have scored 50, second only to Bayern, but also lost their top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January transfer window. However, his replacement, Michy Batshuayi doesn't look all that shabby either, having scored three in his first five Bundesliga contests.

The 'Football God' is (almost) back

Bundesliga | 18. Spieltag | FC Schalke 04 vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Getty Images/Bongarts/L. Baron)

Alex Meier appears close to returning

Frankfurt will likely have to do without midfielder Omar Mascarell due to an injury, and the man Eintracht fans have labled a "football god," Alex Meier is still working on his recovery. There appears to be light at the end of that tunnel, though, as after an absence of nine months, Meier played 16 minutes in a friendly against Russian third-division side FC Kazanka Moscow in midweek. The Bundesliga's top scorer in 2015 won't be ready on Sunday, but he hopes to be back in the next few weeks.

"Otherwise I wouldn't have worked hard every day in rehab," the forward told reporters. 

Sebastian Rode, Andryi Yarmolenko and Erik Durm are the only absentees for BVB, all due to long-term injuries.

Similar courses of action

The fact that the two clubs are level on points in the standings is not the only thing that connects them. Both sets of fans have been vocal in their protests against Monday kickoffs, protests that also received support from both Eintracht's President Peter Fischer andthe Borussia Dortmund hierarchy. BVB and Eintracht are also two of the most active clubs in the Bundesliga when it comes to countering racism and right-wing extremism.

"Eintracht stands for tolerance and openness," Axel Hellmann, an Eintracht Frankfurt board member, said at a Thursday press conference to unveil a new German football league (DFL) anti-racism initiative.

"In these times, football clubs have a responsibility." 

The DFL initiative is to be implemented on Matchday 27 under the slogan "Strich durch Vorurteile" (stamping out predjudice).

Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund vs FC Augsburg (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Dortmund fans protesting against Monday kickoffs.

Elsewhere on Matchday 26

* Werder Bremen host Cologne in the third Monday match of the season. Further protests against Monday kickoffs are expected, with ultra fan groups on both sides having announced that they plan to boycott the fixture. On the sporting side of things, Cologne's relegation looks all but sealed, and Bremen will be looking to cement the club's place in the Bundesliga with a home win.

* Hamburg head to Munich to face champions and league leaders Bayern in a fixture that in recent history has tended to be a lopsided affair. In the last seven games between the two at the Allianz Arena, Hamburg conceded a grand total of 44 goals. The list of results include 8-0 (twice), 9-2 and 6-0 scorelines. Hamburg, on the other hand, managed to score a grand total of three goals.

* Leverkusen host Gladbach in a derby that could prove to be crucial in the fight for a place in Europe next season. Leverkusen would move into a Champions League berth with a win against their Rhineland rivals, while for Gladbach it's a must-win if the club intends to keep its Champions League hopes alive.

Matchday 25 fixtures

Mainz vs. Schalke (Friday, 8:30 p.m. CET)

Hoffenheim vs. Wolfsburg (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)

Hannover vs. Augsburg

Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

Bayern Munich vs. Hamburg

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (6:30 p.m.)

Stuttgart vs. RB Leipzig (Sunday, 3:30 p.m.)

Borussia Dortmund vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (6:00 p.m.)

Werder Bremen vs. Cologne (Monday, 8:30 p.m.)

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