This week, the Bundesliga’s first Sunday duo of April features a quartet of teams for whom European qualification isn’t on the agenda. But that won’t necessarily translate into a brace of dull affairs, and first up is a battle of two Rhineland rivals desperate for a win after seeing their respective runs of form tank in the early spring.
So just who could make a difference, and how confident are the likes of Draft Kings that Bayern can ward off the threat of Dortmund? That’s all coming soon enough, but first we take a look back at how these Teutonic titans became such deadly enemies in German football’s greatest rivalry.
Just ten rounds of the regular Bundesliga season remain, and with this Sunday representing the last action prior to a week-long spring international break, it could be the day that Bayern Munich put one hand on an eleventh straight German crown.
Sunday’s action begins with a clash between a Freiburg team potentially fatigued from their midweek trip to Italy and a despondent Hoffenheim squad, which began this week as the only Bundesliga side without a single point across the German top-flight’s last five rounds.
It often takes something unique to get the edge over one’s rivals in any relegation dogfight, and in the case of VfB Stuttgart, it could ultimately be a core of three Japanese players who are regular features in the starting XI under coach Bruno Labbadia.
But even fresher in the mind is Schalke’s bravery in a similar must-win encounter against Stuttgart, putting two goals in the onion sack to send the Veltins Arena wild. It was a perfect end to an otherwise torrid February, though the Royal Blues’ hard work has only just begun.
If the title race wasn’t already on a knife edge, it certainly is now, with the Bundesliga’s top-three now level on points in the Bundesliga’s podium positions.
Their million-to-one title dreams just got all the more real with such a significant underdog road win, and the fact that they came from 1-0 down inside the space of just 11 minutes to get it is a resounding testament to their indomitable spirit.
After living for generations in the shadow of their illustrious neighbors Hertha Berlin, Urs Fischer’s ever-battling underdogs Union Berlin have now wrested power of the capital.