In the first week back from the winter break, our panel of footy freaks took it on the chin with their predictions. In an effort to improve their picks, the group has turned to a tried and true method: The crystal ball.
The ball brings the pundits an enormous sense of well-being
What can we say about last week's forecasts? We were still shrugging off the effects of a month of slumber (the panel needs football to maintain consciousness) and so were scarcely awake. This week has been a blur of coffee-drinking, kicker-reading, and most importantly, getting in touch with our old standby predictions prop, the crystal ball. What did we see in its misty depths? Read on…
Friday, Jan. 21
Hamburg - Frankfurt
Hamburg fans will have been mightily encouraged by their team's assured performance against Schalke last week – a game the Northern Germans could easily have won more emphatically than the 1-0 score line would suggest. Unfortunately, little at the club has been steady since. The press has been feasting on two juicy will-he-or-won't-he scenarios: Whether Ruud van Nistelrooy will leave the club for Real Madrid, and another on whether Matthias Sammer will join it as sporting director. Frankfurt, meanwhile, have been licking their wounds after being throttled at home to Hanover. We see a draw.
Prediction: 1-1 draw
Saturday, Jan 22
Bayern Munich - Kaiserslautern
Bayern's shaky season has been short on hugs and kisses
Bayern’s defeat in the previous meeting between the two sides back on match day two that began telling us this season would not be one of unmitigated glory for the Bavarian super club. There's not much shame in losing on the Betzenberg, and Red Devils striker Srdjan Lakic is back to his torrid early-season form, but Bayern would really be in crisis if they didn't manage to take all three points from this one. They've won their last five home matches, and we feel they'll make it six.
Prediction: Bayern 3-1
Dortmund - Stuttgart
It's all over. The title has been won. That's the message that was blared in Germany's sporting press last weekend after Dortmund shredded Leverkusen and saw the rest of the top six drop points too. If BVB passed that test - maintaining their concentration after a month's layoff - with flying colors, this week they have another. How will they play now that everyone is handing them the league title? We think well, or well enough to drop Stuttgart, who have collected a grand total of two points away from home all season.
Prediction: Dortmund 2-1
Mainz - Wolfsburg
Mainz need to open their eyes to their chance at European football
During the winter break, Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel took his squad to Barcelona, where they practiced on a set of pitches that were literally in the shadow of the Nou Camp. If that was meant as a pointed reminder that the club could be playing inside the hallowed ground next year if they kept up their good form, the message didn't get through last week, as Mainz went down to Stuttgart. It had better this week, because Wolfsburg look a much improved side with the addition of Arne Friedrich at the back. Still, we can't see the Wolves getting much more than a draw out of this…which is exactly what they've done for the last seven matches running.
Prediction: 2-2 draw
Freiburg - Nuremberg
Papiss Demba Cisse is hurt and will not play in this game. That alone is most of what you'd want to know, considering he is the league's leading scorer and has struck more than half of Freiburg's goals this season. It's probably too much to ask of late signing Erik Jendrisek to slot in and make up for the loss in production, seeing as how he's played a grand total of 29 minutes as a substitute for Schalke this season. But we like his chances. The 24-year-old tore up the second division with Kaiserslautern the past two years, and was a starter at the World Cup with Slovakia. He is bound to be hungry.
Prediction: Freiburg 2-1
Hanover - Schalke
Slomka might not have such a happy return to the Veltins Arena
This time last season, Hanover were in the drop zone, on 17 points. They enter this game with twice as many, and with no one ahead of them save Dortmund. A startling turn of events, and one that gives Hanover coach Mirko Slomka serious leverage in his negotiations over a new contract. He'd do well to sign it before this match, because we see Slomka's former club Schalke getting back on track with a big win here.
Prediction: Schalke 3-1
Cologne - Bremen
It's been a season of frustration for both of these clubs, though the only one for whom that was unexpected is Werder. It turns out selling your best midfielder (Mesut Özil), and dealing with long-term injuries to your best striker (Claudio Pizarro) and defender (Naldo) is too bitter a pill for any club to swallow. Cologne's poor form has caught few by surprise – the only shock has been that it's happened just as Lukas Podolski has been looking rejuvenated. He's got five goals and as many assists so far this season, and is finally emerging as the team leader everyone in Cologne was hoping he'd be. The only trouble is…the rest of the team.
Prediction: Bremen 2-1
Sunday, Jan. 23
‘Gladbach - Leverkusen
Sam is getting thumbs-up from many...defenders aside
After a first half of the season in which the Foals conceded a dizzying 47 goals, something had to be done about the defense. Admirably, something was. Gladbach went out and bought a new central defense in the form of veteran Austrian international Martin Stranzl and Norwegian youngster Havard Nordveit. Both had good games last week against Nuremberg. Leverkusen, with its considerable offensive firepower (not to mention perhaps the fastest player in the league in Sidney Sam) will present a sterner test. One we don't think they'll pass.
Prediction: Leverkusen 2-0
Hoffenheim – St. Pauli
The Hoff were unlucky last week, fighting their way back on the road in Bremen only to go down to a Torsten Frings goal struck deep into injury time. St. Pauli too felt somewhat snakebitten, having done everything right at home to Freiburg – except contain Papiss Demba Cisse, which meant they had to settle for a draw. Whose luck is likelier to change? We reckon it's Hoffenheim's, though not by much.
Prediction: Hoffenheim 1-0
Last week's results: 3 points
Total for the season: 76
Leverlusen - Dortmund 1-3 (DW Prediction: 1-2)
Bremen - Hoffenheim 2-1 (DW Prediction: 2-2)
Stuttgart - Mainz 1-0 (DW Prediction: 1-3)
Wolfsburg – Bayern 1-1 (DW Prediction: 0-3)
Nuremberg - Gladbach 0-1 (DW Prediction: 2-0)
St. Pauli - Freiburg 2-2 (DW Prediction: 0-1)
Schalke - Hamburg 0-1 (DW Prediction: 2-4)
Frankfurt - Hanover 0-3 (DW Prediction: 1-3)
Kaiserslautern - Cologne 1-1 (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: Matt Hermann
Editor: Rob Turner