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article imageBundesliga: Matchday 23 Preview February 22-24

By Karl Gotthardt     Feb 21, 2013 in Sports
Freiburg - Bundesliga Matchday 23 kicks off with the Friday evening opener between SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Three points separate the two sides, occupying spot four and five. FC Bayern currently holds a 15 point lead over the remainder of the pack.
With FC Bayern leading head and heel over the top of its closest contenders by 15 points, all eyes will be on Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen in their quest for second and third place. Bayern hosts Bremen on Saturday in an attempt to continue their post Christmas run to add three more points to their balance sheet. In 22 starts, the Bayern side has only been defeated once, won 18 and recorded three draws.
The weeks since the winter break have been brutal, with five match days, the international week, UEFA League and Champions League competitions this week, followed by the DFB Pokal next week, the three top clubs, Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen, have to take strategical considerations into account. Bayern, with a strong bench has some options and Dortmund demonstrated that they are not a push over either after defeating the Gunners in London.
Freiburg and Frankfurt will be battling for fourth and fifth spots on Friday and that match could go either way. On Saturday Munich hosts Bremen and Munich will attempt to maintain its top spot monopoly or hope to build on it. Statistically that match should go to Bayern. Stuttgart will host Nuernberg, a difficult match for the Schwaben. This match will be two days after today's Euro League match.
The matchday on Saturday continues with Hannover hosting Hamburg. These two clubs are separated by four points and Hannover will attempt to make hay despite its contest today in the Euro League. Augsburg hosts Hoffenheim in a match up of relegation zone clubs. Augsburg is potent at home and Hoffenheim will have a difficult task to maintain its one point lead over the Bavarians.
Stuttgart hosts the Franken from Nuernberg and although this match should go to Stuttgart, Nuernberg has a tough side, with plenty of work ethic. With Stuttgart's away match in the Euro League today, Nuernberg could take one if not all three points. Mainz 05, a strong home side, will be hosting Wolfsburg. The factory team will be in action next week against Kickers Offenbach in the DFB Cup quarter final and this will influence the strategy for this match. Mainz has the advantage and should take the points in this contest.
On Sunday two matches remain when Gladbach hosts Dortmund and tail light Greuther Fuerth meets Leverkusen. Despite Dortmund's upcoming DFB Cup game against Munich this should be easy pickings for the defending champion. Newcomer Greuther Fuerth has only won two games in 22 starts and Leverkusen should easily hold the upper end in this contest. .
Champion's League
The first leg of the round of 16 Champions League concluded yesterday with Schalke 04 edging a 1-1 draw against Galatasaray and Bayern Muenchen recorded a 3-1 win against the Gunners, while Dortmund played 2-2 against Shaktar Dontesk last week. All three teams are in a good starting position for the second leg to be played next month.
Euro League
Today Leverkusen, VFB Stuttgart, Hannover 96 and Gladbach will attempt to get through to the round of 16 in the Euro League. Only Hannover has home pitch advantage, but needs to overcome a 3-1 deficit from its first leg result against FC Anzi. Leverkusen lost its home match in the first leg and has to overcome a 1-0 deficit in Lisbon. Stuttgart's 1-1 first leg home game result against Genk is not insurmountable. Gladbach has a more difficult task since Lazio scored three away goals in the first leg. All four German teams will be challenged in today's matches.
DFB Pokal (German FA Cup)
Another consideration in this weekend's encounters is next week's DFB Pokal (German FA Cup) quarter finals. Six of the eight clubs are in the top flight and next Wednesday sees the giants take to the pitch. Bayern Muenchen will be hosting Borussia Dortmund in the quarter finals. Last year Bayern won no trophies and Juergen Klopp's Borussia defeated Bayern and won the DFB Pokal. Will Dortmund be a cup spoiler for Bayern again? This upcoming match will influence the starting eleven in this weekend's competition.
Back to Matchday 23
There are many considerations leading up to this weekend's games. The venues will be filled and the battle for Euro League spots will continue for the majority of the field. Whether or not the top three can increase the gap from the rest of the field remains to be seen. The relegation zone and this year's league champion are all but decided, but the battle at the bottom will be for the 16th spot and the last chance relegation spot to play against the second leagues third side.
While Bayern, remains on the top, Dortmund and Leverkusen still have some faint hope to get to the top, but that hope is dwindling. Perhaps either team has to settle for second spot and a Champions League berth for next year. There is little doubt that both Jupp Heynckes and Juergen Klopp are focused on next week's DFB Cup quarter final.
Friday February 22
SC Freiburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0
Saturday February 23
FC Bayern vs Werder Bremen 6-1
VfB Stuttgart vs 1.FC Nuernberg 1-1
FC Augsburg vs 1899 Hoffenheim 2-1
Hannover 96 vs Hamburger SV 5-1
FSV Mainz 05 vs VfL Wolfsburg 1-1
Schalke 04 vs Fortuna Düsseldorf
Sunday February 24
M'gladbach vs Borussia Dortmund
Greuther Fuerth vs Bayer Leverkusen
1---------FC Bayern------- 23---19---3---1-----63:8-----60
4---------Frankfurt----------23---11---5---7-----38:34 ---38
7-------- Hannover----------23---10----3--10-----46:42----33
18--------Greuther Fürth---22-----2-----6---14----13:36----12
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