Magath returns to former club Schalke
Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath returns to Schalke for a Bundesliga match on Saturday at a time when his former club is flying high after a 5-2 win at titleholder Inter Milan in the Champions League.
Magath had a role in the buildup to that win having only left Schalke three weeks ago. Two days after being fired, Magath took over at Wolfsburg, which he led to the Bundesliga title in 2009.
Wolfsburg is in 16th place - the relegation playoff spot - and needs the points at Schalke.
Magath is used to playing his former clubs with Wolfsburg his ninth coaching job in the Bundesliga.
"But because things happened so recently this could be emotional," Magath said.
Magath went to Schalke with the ambition of bringing the traditional club its first Bundesliga title in five decades. But he was sent packing less than halfway into his four-year deal.
Magath said he must have done something right too, although Schalke is only 10th in the Bundesliga. Under Magath, Schalke reached the German Cup final and the Champions League quarterfinals. With its emphatic win in Milan, Schalke is now close to a place in the semifinals.
"I can look everyone in Schalke in the eyes," Magath said. "Of course I know our opponent well. That should be a plus, but first we have to take advantage of it."
Schalke has had an inconsistent season in the Bundesliga, one of the reasons that led to Magath's firing.
"But they will be full of confidence now," Magath said of Schalke's stunning triumph in Milan. "They play at home and they have nothing to lose."
Magath's successor, Ralf Rangnick, has made only one notable change in the lineup, bringing in midfielder Alex Baumjohann. Baumjohann was signed by Magath, but then rarely used and finally sent to the reserve team.
"He hasn't forgotten how to play," Rangnick said of Baumjohann, who added: "Magath only saw the negative side in me, now I know what the coach expects of me."
Baumjohann will be motivated to prove a point to Magath, who is aware that the midfielder may not be the only Schalke player with something to prove.
"With all the attention on the match, performance levels might rise - but on both sides," Magath said.
Elsewhere, runaway leader Borussia Dortmund has a tricky match at Hamburger SV. Hamburg has had a disappointing season but still has an outside chance of snatching a place in the Europa League.
Bayer Leverkusen, which is seven points behind Dortmund, has a a relatively easy home match Sunday against next-to-last St. Pauli.
"The probability that Leverkusen beats St. Pauli is something like 98.6 percent," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. "Our chances of winning in Hamburg are not nearly as good."
Klopp's team is coming off a 4-1 victory over Hannover, but the coach insists the title race has not been decided with six rounds remaining.
"The fact is that Leverkusen can win all remaining matches. That's why we have to collect many points if we want to remain at the top," Klopp said.
Bayern Munich travels to Nuremberg for the Bavarian derby hoping to hold on to third place it captured last weekend.
Hannover, which dropped to fourth after losing in Dortmund, hosts Mainz.
Also Saturday, Freiburg hosts Hoffenheim and Stuttgart plays Kaiserslautern.
Eintracht Frankfurt kicks off the round Friday against Werder Bremen, while Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Cologne in the other Sunday match.