Football-starved Europeans will be able to gorge on top-level action for the first time in weeks with the return of Germany”s Bundesliga on Saturday.
While the most fanatic fans have been making do with matches from Belarus during the COVID-19 lockdowns — with mixed results — the resumption of one of Europe’s most prestigious leagues will pique many supporters’ interests.
The Bundesliga has openly touted for support across France, Spain and the UK to tune in this weekend, even unveiling a nifty personality test that allows fans to pick the team most suited to them, depending on whether they like easy glory (Bayern Munich) or rooting for an underdog (Schalke).
But with all 18 Bundesliga clubs playing over Saturday, Sunday and Monday night — and all nine games televised — choosing who to watch and when for those not au fait with German football could be a challenge. Luckily, Euronews has stepped up to give you a steer.
At 2.30 pm on Saturday, Borussia Dortmund — currently 2nd in the league — take on Schalke, in sixth. A win for Dortmund, who are playing at home against their sixth-placed rivals, would close the gap with current Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich to just one point.
Schalke lost their last five games before the league was suspended in March, including a five-nil thrashing at home by RB Leipzig, whereas Dortmund are on good form in the Bundesliga (despite being dumped out of the Champions League by Paris St Germain in March).
Oh, and just to ramp up the drama, Dortmund and Schalke — both hailing from the Ruhr region — are regional rivals with bad blood that goes all the way back to 1925. The game even has its own name — the Revierderby — and can, in British parlance, get proper tasty.
But for those who prefer a down and dirty relegation scrap to a top of the table grudge match, Dusseldorf take on Paderborn in Dusseldorf, also on Saturday at 2.30 pm.
The two teams, on 22 points and 16 points respectively, are 16th and 18th in the Bundesliga, and both face relegation if they can’t pull back some points over the next few weeks.
Even if Dortmund do get a result on Saturday, Bayern Munich will have the chance to claw back their five-point lead at the top of the table on Sunday at 5 pm, when they take on Union Berlin. Despite Bayern being away from home, the odds of a Berlin win are currently 16/1.
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Finally, on Monday night at 7.30 pm, Bayer Leverkusen play away to Werder Bremen, who currently languish at 17th in the table and are without a win five games. Leverkusen, who are in fifth (eight points behind Munich), have won their last three games in the Bundesliga.
As for players, the Bundesliga’s official site has helpfully listed the stars that are most likely to be smashing balls in the onion bag this weekend.
In the Dortmund vs Schalke game, there is Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, the former – a Norwegian – has scored nine goals in eight appearances this season while the latter has 14 goals and 15 assists in 23 games this season.
The Bundesliga’s second top scorer, Timo Werner, will play at 2.30 pm on Saturday when his club, RB Leipzig, take on Freiburg. Werner has a stonking 21 goals in 25 appearances – but only one in last seven league games, so he will be looking to come out firing on all cylinders.
On Sunday, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski will likely start for Munich in his attempt to beat Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season. Lewandowski is currently on 25, but missed the last two games before the lockdown pause due to injury.