Bundesliga Preview: Dortmund hosts Schalke in Rivierderby clash

Bundesliga Preview: Dortmund hosts Schalke in Rivierderby clash

European Soccer

Bundesliga Preview: Dortmund hosts Schalke in Rivierderby clash

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The Bundesliga title race resumes this weekend after a lengthy layoff with plenty of sides in the hunt for a trophy.

League leaders and defending champs Bayern Munich will seek a return to winning ways in their first match back, while Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Monchengladbach all remain in the top four.

Headlining this weekend’s slate is a Rivierderby between Dortmund and Schalke from Signal Iduna Park on Saturday. Both teams are in the top-six and in need of a victory for different reasons. Weston McKennie and Jadon Sancho highlight the talent in this showdown.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich visits Union Berlin on Sunday while RB Leipzig hosts Freiburg. Closing out the weekend’s action is Bayer Leverkusen’s trip to relegation threatened Werder Bremen on Monday.

Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s top Bundesliga matches:

Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke – Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

Most eyes will be on Saturday’s Rivierderby with Borussia Dortmund and Schalke both looking for a winning return to league action.

Lucien Favre’s side won four straight league matches prior to the postponement of the season back in March. Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland have been a strong offensive combination this season, combining for 23 league goals and 16 assists. The hosts will be without midfielder Emre Can and Axel Witsel though due to respective injuries.

Schalke remains in the hunt for a top-four finish, but need a strong end to the season and things to go their way elsewhere. David Wagner’s side struggled prior to the break, posting a six-match winless run in all competitions. Goalscoring has been an issue for the Gelsenkirchen side, with no players in double-digits for goals this season. Suat Serdar and Weston McKennie will be the two players to watch in midfield for the visitors. Defender Ozan Kabak will miss the clash due to a hip injury suffered back in February.

RB Leipzig vs. Freiburg – Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

RB Leipzig also remains in the title race conversation, currently sitting in third place on 50 points. Julian Nagelsmann’s side were riding a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions prior to the pause in the season, while also advancing in the UEFA Champions League. Timo Werner will be tough for Freiburg to stop after contributing 22 league goals this season, but with Emil Forsberg injured, Marcel Sabitzer is likely to be called on to fill the void in midfield.

Freiburg are one point out of the final Europa League qualification spot and have already taken the scalp of RB Leipzig earlier this season. A 2-1 win back in October over their opposition saw the hosts dominate for most of the match and the club will be looking to do the same away from home. Nils Petersen’s eight goals lead the club, but a lot of pressure will be on midfielder Jonathan Schmid to produce scoring opprtunties.

Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Sunday, 12 p.m.

Bayern Munich’s trip to Union Berlin may look easy on paper, but the hosts will aim to knock off the league leaders after coming close to an upset back in October.

Bayern edged Union Berlin 2-1 earlier this season despite the visitors missing a second-half penalty kick. The visitors are riding a 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions, advancing in the German Cup and UEFA Champions League as well. Robert Lewandowski’s 25 goals has been key, but the playmaking ability of Alphonso Davies and Serge Gnabry will need to be just as important to earn a seventh straight win.

Union Berlin are in 11th place and still alive for a move up into the top-half. The club moved away from the relegation zone due to earlier 2020 victories over Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Augsburg. Leading scorer Sebastian Andersson will miss with an injury so Marcus Ingvartsen is likely to fill the Swede’s presence at striker.

Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Monday, 2:30 p.m.

Werder Bremen’s time is running out to pull a last-second escape from the relegation zone after starting 2020 in horrid form.

The hosts welcome Bayer Leverkusen to town on Monday, looking to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Florian Kohfeldt’s side has only picked up one victory in 2020 and will need more points if they want to avoid a drop into the second-tier. Milot Rashica is a dangerous forward, but he will need help from Josh Sargent, Davy Klaassen, and others to help Bremen pull the upset.

Bayer Leverkusen was riding high prior to the stoppage, posting a 10-match unbeaten run in all comps and putting one foot into the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League. Sitting fifth in the Bundesliga table, Leverkusen isn’t out of the title race, but will need to keep winning in order to have a chance. Kai Havertz’s playmaking and goalscoring ability makes him a dangerous weapon for Leverkusen’s offense, while defensively the club leans on veteran defender Jonathan Tah.

Here’s a full schedule of this weekend’s matches:

Saturday

Augsburg vs. Wolfsburg – 9:30 a.m.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke – 9:30 a.m.

Fortuna Dusseldorf vs. Paderborn – 9:30 a.m.

RB Leipzig vs. Freiburg – 9:30 a.m.

Hoffenheim vs. Hertha Berlin – 9:30 a.m.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – 12:30 p.m.

Sunday

FC Cologne vs. Mainz – 9:30 a.m.

Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – 12 p.m.

Monday

Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 2:30 p.m.

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