There is plenty up for grabs as we enter the second half of the Bundesliga season. Bayern Munich are, unsurprisingly, the favorites to win the title, with Hansi Flick’s side holding a seven-point advantage at the time of writing. It is not a done deal just yet, but it is hard to see Bayern slipping up from here.
The race for the top four is much more keenly contested, with RB Leipzig, Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach in a six-way battle for three spots behind Bayern. Several other sides will have their eyes on a Europa League place.
At the bottom, Schalke needs a miracle to survive after winning just one of their first 19 matches. Mainz are also struggling in the battle against relegation, but none of Koln, Hertha Berlin or Arminia Bielefeld is out of the woods just yet.
It promises to be a fascinating few months in the world of German soccer, so we have picked out the Bundesliga fixtures 2021 top 10 games to watch.
All dates are subject to change
The Revierderby is the biggest in German soccer. Schalke and Dortmund have both had their fair share of ups and downs in recent years, but the former are currently at their lowest ebb in some time. Schalke are nine points adrift of safety right now, and could be set to suffer their first relegation since 1988.
Dortmund are not exactly flying either. The club is in a state of limbo right now as it prepares to appoint a new permanent manager this summer. Victory over their arch-rivals could belatedly kick-start Schalke’s season, but Dortmund will be desperate to inflict more misery on the Royal Blues.
RB Leipzig might have hoped to mount a title tilt this term, but they will only be able to reel in Bayern Munich if the perennial champions suffer an uncharacteristic collapse. Still, second place would be a fine achievement for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
Borussia Monchengladbach would happily settle for a spot anywhere in the top four. They are in fine form at the moment, and this could be one of February’s most watchable Bundesliga fixtures if they maintain their momentum in the weeks leading up to this clash.
The biggest of all Bundesliga fixtures pits Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund. Der Klassiker is one of the most entertaining games in European soccer, and this meeting at the Allianz Arena in early March should be no different.
Dortmund would dearly love to give Bayern a bloody nose, but they have not beaten them away from home in the Bundesliga since a 3-0 win in April 2014. Nothing can be ruled out given Dortmund’s individual talent in forward areas, but Bayern will expect to win this one.
It is no longer a surprise to see RB Leipzig towards the top of the table, but few expected Eintracht Frankfurt to be in fourth place at the midway point of the campaign. After all, Adi Hutter’s side finished in mid-table last time out, losing almost half of their 34 games.
Frankfurt are going well in 2020/21, however, and a win at Leipzig would boost their top-four bid immensely. This is one of the Bundesliga fixtures you will want to keep an eye on in March, not least because only Bayern have scored more goals than Frankfurt after 19 game weeks.
It is interesting that major European capital cities do not tend to produce the best soccer teams. Manchester and Liverpool have dominated in England, Milan and Turin in Italy, and Munich in Germany. Paris Saint-Germain are France’s best but they have never won a European Cup.
For a long while, Hertha Berlin were the only representatives of Germany’s capital. But Union Berlin are making waves this season and look set to finish above their local rivals in the table. This is one of the spiciest Bundesliga fixtures you could wish for.
RB Leipzig have made tremendous progress in recent seasons, and are now firmly established as one of the Bundesliga’s leading teams. Yet despite that, they continue to struggle against Bayern Munich – only one of their 11 meetings with German soccer’s powerhouse club has ended in victory.
Leipzig will hope to make it two from 12 when Bayern travel to the Red Bull Arena on April 3. Who knows, a home win in this match could even open up the title race.
As mentioned above, Frankfurt are one of the surprise packages in the Bundesliga this term, along with Union Berlin and Wolfsburg. The Wolves finished second back in 2014/15, but since then they have twice had to contest the relegation play-off.
Wolfsburg did rise to seventh last term, but no one expected them to be challenging for the Champions League this time around. Perhaps they will have dropped off by the time the Bundesliga fixtures in mid-April come around; if not, this will be an intriguing game to watch.
Koln’s biggest rivals are Borussia Monchengladbach, but there is no love lost between them and Bayer Leverkusen either.
Both teams could have something to play for by the time this game rolls around: Koln are battling to avoid a bottom-three finish, while Leverkusen are in the mix for a Champions League place at the time of writing. Both sides will relish the chance to boost their own ambitions while harming those of the other on April 17.
Hertha might be seven points clear of the automatic relegation spots, but the gap separating them from the play-off place is too small for comfort. Hertha will hope to be in a better position in three months’ time, but that might be wishful thinking judging by their performances to date.
Arminia Bielefeld currently occupies that play-off place. The promoted side will probably be the underdogs when they head to the capital, but that might actually suit them.
There are nine Bundesliga fixtures scheduled for the final day of the campaign, and this one stands out above the other eight. Neutrals will hope that both teams have something riding on the game. There is even a chance that this could be a winner-takes-all encounter for a Champions League place.
Dortmund and Leverkusen are two of the division’s most entertaining sides when they are on form, so this should be an enjoyable affair regardless of the standings.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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