5 things to know about the Bundesliga weekend
Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich is in Morocco, seeking to win
the world club title, so Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund
have an opportunity to make up some ground in the last round before
the winter break.
No matter what, Bayern will spend the break atop the standings,
seven points ahead of Leverkusen and 12 points ahead of Dortmund.
Bayern kicks off the second half of the season on Jan. 24 against
Leverkusen travels to Werder Bremen and Dortmund hosts Hertha
Berlin. Here are five things to know about the Bundesliga
LEWANDOWSKI vs. RAMOS: Dortmund’s home game against Hertha
features the league’s top two strikers, Robert Lewandowski with 11
goals and Adrian Ramos with 10. While Lewandowski is set to leave
Dortmund at the end of the season, Ramos looks likely to stay in
Berlin beyond 2015. The Colombia striker is negotiating to extend
his contract and says ”everything’s been good so far. I can well
imagine staying beyond 2015.” Hertha is enjoying a fine season
after promotion, sitting seventh in the standings.
Dortmund also announced the signing of teenage Japanese
midfielder Mitsuru Maruoka on loan from Cerezo Osaka until June
2015, with a longer option. Maruoka is expected to play for
Dortmund’s reserves at the start.
LEVERKUSEN AND DE BRUYNE: Leverkusen wants to sign forward Kevin
de Bruyne, who scored 10 goals for Werder Bremen before returning
to Chelsea. Kicker magazine says Leverkusen’s representatives met
with the Belgium forward and his agent this week. Other Bundelsiga
clubs, including Wolfsburg, are also reportedly interested in
signing de Bruyne.
Werder has won only one of its last 10 games and had dropped
dangerously close to the relegation zone. The northern German club
is also winless in its last 10 games against Leverkusen, with six
defeats. Werder also has conceded three or more goals in each of
its five matches. Leverkusen is coming off an unexpected 1-0 loss
at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
HAMBURG’S FUTURE: With the January transfer window approaching,
many Bundesliga clubs are looking for players to sign. Hamburg is
seeking to retain the ones it already has. Pierre-Michel Lasogga, a
striker on loan from Hertha Berlin, has nine goals and Hamburg
wants to keep him, although Berlin has said it wants him back.
Hamburg sports director Oliver Kreuzer said he spoke with Lasogga
and his mother, the player’s agent, ”and I think it was
Midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu was another talent Hamburg wants to
keep at least until 2018. Kreuzer said the club would let him go
only for an unspecified high transfer fee. ”For him, the threshold
of pain is very high,” Kreuzer said.
Hamburg hosts Mainz hoping to snap a two-match losing run.
Goalkeeper Rene Adler is still out injured but captain Rafael van
der Vaart is expected to return.
NUREMBERG’S FRUSTRATION: Nuremberg has still not won this
season, 16 matches into the schedule. It led 3-0 last weekend in
Hannover, only to see the home team equalize with a flurry of late
goals, including one that came from a glaring offside. ”Such games
can either make or break a team and I get the feeling that we are
now really determined,” sports director Martin Bader said.
Nuremberg hosts Schalke, which is 17 points behind Bayern in sixth
Schalke has been very inconsistent, but it has managed to
advance to the last 16 in the Champions League and is hoping to
make sure of playing there next season as well. Coach Jens Keller
has been given assurances that he will stay in charge and he can
look to the return of injured players after the break.
FRANKFURT STOPS SLIDE: With its unexpected 1-0 win in
Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt stopped its 10-match winless run.
Frankfurt kicks off the final round on Friday at home against
Augsburg and wants to put together a winning run. ”You can be
behind for a long time but you can also get back quite quickly
too,” coach Armin Veh said.
Augsburg has been surprisingly solid this season and sits
eighth, nine points above Frankfurt. Halil Altintop, whose previous
clubs included Frankfurt, has been one of Augsburg’s most important
players. ”I am really having a great time and team spirit is
written in capital letters here,” Altintop said.