As the season quickly draws to a close, every game has added significance. Matchday 28 produced another exciting round of games, but what can we expect this weekend? We retain five of the main points of discussion.
1 | Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Adi Hütter shock
Eintracht Frankfurt’s 4-3 victory over Wolfsburg cemented its place in the top four. Despite Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 victory in Stuttgart, the Eagles remain seven points ahead and with Augsburg, Mainz, Schalke and Freiburg still to play, they are in a good position to qualify for the Champions League next season. .
This next Saturday, they face Borussia Mönchengladbach, who have flattered to deceive this campaign so far. Currently eighth, the best they can realistically hope for is a place in the Europa League. However, despite Frankfurt’s clear ascendancy, at least for this term, manager Adi Hütter made the shocking decision to move to Die Fohlen in June to replace outgoing Marco Rose.
The choice of the 51-year-old is puzzling. Frankfurt have an exciting squad at their disposal, and participation in Europe’s premier football club competition would likely allow them to retain star players such as Filip Kostic and André Silva. Gladbach also has a good pool of players, but they will be much more likely to lose big names this summer. A bigger budget may well be offered by Max Eberl, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to replace what they are losing.
The shock of this weekend is therefore one to watch. There will likely be some frustration from Frankfurt’s point of view, especially as they remain on the hunt for a new sporting director after Fredi Bobic announced his departure in a few months. For now, however, Frankfurt players need to focus on work – a Champions League berth is too big a carrot to ignore.
2 | Friedhelm Funkel takes command of FC Köln
Cologne’s defeat against Mainz on Matchday 28 was difficult for Die Geißböcke. After going from 1-0 to 2-1, they were ahead for less than five minutes when Karim Onisiwo equalized before Leandro Barreiro hit in added time. Captain Jonas Hector’s reaction in the aftermath of the clash, as well as in his post-match interview, showed how much the loss hurt.
There had been rumors before the game that a loss would result in Markus Gisdol’s dismissal – so it was no surprise to see Köln announce his exit within hours of the final whistle. Horst Heldt moved quickly to replace him with Friedhelm Funkel, one of the most experienced managers in Bundesliga history – only five men have taken on more matches in the division.
Funkel’s most recent job was at Fortuna Düsseldorf, where he spent four years between 2016 and 2020. He is clearly still capable of doing a good job – he helped Düsseldorf get promoted into the top flight and led them on. to an impressive 10th place in 2018. / 19 campaign.
His credentials are obvious, but he might struggle to make a real impact in such a short time. Köln is currently three points behind safety in 17th place and has only six games left to make a difference. A Rhine derby against Bayer Leverkusen is followed by the visit of RB Leipzig. The last four outings against Augsburg, Freiburg, Hertha and Schalke are therefore likely to decide their fate, and Funkel has no time to waste in his preparations.
3 | Bayern Munich face Wolfsburg after Champions League exit
Despite 17 shots on target against eight of their opponents over the two sets, Bayern Munich were eliminated from the Champions League on Tuesday by Paris Saint-Germain. While the Ligue 1 champions should have scored in Bayern’s 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes, it was the Bavarians who should have been out of sight at the Allianz Arena. With a fit Robert Lewandowski at their disposal, it’s hard to see them lose 3-2 at home as they ultimately did.
Their exit from European competition means they only have the Bundesliga to play for. As it stands, they are five points ahead of Leipzig with six games to go. This weekend they will face Wolfsburg, a team that have been defeated just four times in this campaign’s top flight, away from home. It’s a tough test for Bayern, and of paramount importance – with Leipzig facing a much easier home task against Hoffenheim, Hansi Flick’s men can’t afford to slip away.
These final games of the season could be Flick’s farewell tour as rumors surrounding his potential departure for the German national team continue to circulate. With six trophies already under his belt as Bayern boss, he has already proven himself, but there is no doubt that he will be looking to add a seventh. The Mia San Mia motto the club adheres to demands nothing less.
4 | Union Berlin and Stuttgart compete for a place in the Europa League
Union Berlin and Stuttgart have been two of the Bundesliga’s biggest surprise achievements this season. Die Eisernen avoided the dreaded season two syndrome after remaining relatively comfortably on their feet last season and are currently enjoying seventh place. Stuttgart are just one point behind in the ninth of their first term among the elite, with their styling under Pellegrino Matarazzo receiving praise across the country.
As such, both teams are in the battle for a place in European competition next season – few would have expected this at the start of the season. However, rather than playing for a Champions League or Europa League spot, their performances by the end of the campaign could see them make it to the first Europa Conference League. Sixth place in the league would usually qualify for this competition, but if either RB Leipzig or Borussia Dortmund win DFB Pokal, seventh will be rewarded.
The two-sided approach to potential participation, however, is somewhat at odds. While Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat has said his team will approach the tournament with “all fervor” if they do, Union star man Max Kruse has already shared his disdain for a third continental competition.
This weekend, the two teams face off in a game that could help decide who is the lucky party to participate in the first edition of the Europa League Conference – or unlucky, depending on how you look at it. History may be waiting.
5 | Hertha Berlin enters 14-day quarantine period
Thursday afternoon, relegation was threatened. Hertha Berlin have announced three positive tests for Covid-19, one being head coach Pál Dárdai, his assistant Admir Hamzagic and striker Dodi Lukebakio. Arne Friedrich would take over training and their game against Mainz but a fourth positive case, defender Marvin Plattenhardt, means Hertha and her staff will go into quarantine with their games against Mainz, Freiburg and Schalke postponed.