Bundesliga is coming back in action! After the 6-week winter break all teams now in the combat mode to fight for what they want. Generally the matchup is quite clear cut so there will not be any surprises this week. Here's the tipping of week 18:
Hamburger SV (4th) vs Bayern München (2nd) - Friday: What a restart! It is a close matchup as both teams are back in match form so quickly. Hamburger had sold Nigel de Jong to Manchester City recently so I think their midfield power is weakened a bit. However, the team is focusing on the team work and team chemistry so that I do not think there will a huge impact. The suspension of Ivica Olic is a huge impact indeed as he is the best form striker in the team. So it is quite hard for them to win. On the other hand, Bayern come back to action in style as they beated Stuttgart 5-1 in the Cup match 2 days ago. Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, and Bastian Schweinsteiger are all back in excellent form so they are the real threat to Hamburger and the real key of the match. Bayern only has Massimo Oddo suspended and I do not think it will bring too many impact to the team. Another piece of news that Willy Sagnol is officially retired but it also will not bring impact to the team. As Bayern has more good available players, I believe they will win even away from home.
Last round: Match draw 2-2
My tipping: Bayern win 2-1
Hannover 96 (13th) vs Schalke 04 (7th) - Saturday: Hannover seemed very quiet in the winter break so I think their recent form is a bit in doubt. As they have been eliminated from the DFB Porkal, this is their first formal competition after the winter break. It is doubtful that the regular starters like Jan Schlaudraff, Mikael Forssell, and Szabolcs Huszti are in form to play against Schalke. On the other hand, Schalke seems are back in form as they won in DFB Porkal 2 days ago. Kevin Kuranyi had a good start of 2009 by scoring one goal but I am still in doubt that he is back in top form or not. He has to prove himself again in this match. Same as Jefferson Farfan, he needs to prove himself that he is worth more than 10 million Euro, which Schalke paid PSV Eindhoven last season. I do not think Schalke will win easily, but base on better quality, I think Schalke still have better chance to win.
Last round: Schalke win 3-0
My tipping: Schalke win 1-0
1. FC Köln (11th) vs VfL Wolfsburg (9th) - Saturday: Köln is the other team which is quiet in the winter break, they only had signed 2 new midfielders so far. The warmup match is also tend to be under the raider, so I doubt about their form back to the formal competition. Novakovic will be the only reliable striker again as Lukas Podolski will not join the team until the coming summer. The midfield will be their key to win the match. On the other hand, Wolfsburg is in the top form as they won DFB Porkal against Hansa Rostock 5-1. Grafite is back in top match form as he scored 3 goals in the match. New defender Peter Pekarik may start the match as the original Wolfsburg defense is not trustable. The other new signing Yoshito Okubo maybe at the bench first as the attacking is good enough. I believe the match form will drive this match, and Wolfsburg will have the upper hand.
Last round: Wolfsburg win 2-1
My tipping: Wolfsburg win 2-1
Borussia Dortmund (6th) vs Bayer Leverkusen (5th) - Saturday: This is the blockbuster in the Saturday action. Both teams had played the DFB Porkal last night but the fate was different. Leverkusen had reached the Quarter Final in 6 years but Dortmund had failed to go further. Both teams have not changed too much in the transfer market so the original lineup will continue to be the key. Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels from Dortmund will be the most important players in the game as it will be the real test for them to stop the top form strikers such as Patrick Helmes and Stefan Kießling. On the other hand, Leverkusen's Tranquillo Barnetta will be the most important player in the match as his stamina and dribbling skills can relieve the striking pressure a lot. It will be very even match so I tend to predict a draw for both teams.
Last round: Dortmund win 3-2
My tipping: Match draw 2-2
Hertha Berlin (3rd) vs Eintract Frankfurt (12th) - Saturday: The latest transfer from Hertha Berlin is they signed Marko Babic from Real Betis. He can relieve some pressure from the midfield and helps to improve the midfield creativeness. I believe they continue to be solid in defense so that Frankfurt will find a hard time to attack. As they did not have the DFB Porkal to play, I believe they are in the top level of stamina, but, they also are in doubt of the match form. On the other hand, Frankfurt is also their first formal compeition since the 2009 so I also think that their match form is not good enough. Plus their midfield and the attacks are still not trustable so that I think they find very hard to beat Hertha Berlin. New signed striker Leonard Kweuke may become the crucial player in the match, if he can relieve the pressure from Fenin, who is in low form all around in the first half of the season. As Hertha Berlin has the tougher defense, I believe they will win this one.
Last round: Hertha Berlin win 2-0
My tipping: Hertha Berlin win 3-0
1899 Hoffenheim (1st) vs Energie Cottbus (16th) - Saturday: The latest news is Hoffenheim had loan Boubacar Sanogo from Werder Bremen. It is very doubtful for me if he can replace Vedad Ibisevic, who scored 18 goals in Bundesliga but has the season ending injury. This is because Sanogo is very poor in finishing so that he may bring more harm to Hoffenheim. However, as Timo Hildebrand had joined the club, I believe the team is becoming solid in defense. Even Ibisevic is injured, I believe Demba Ba and Carlos Eduardo are too much for Cottbus. On the other hand, Cottbus had signed so many players in order to improve the overall strength, but I do not believe the effect will come to the team in this match. The key of Cottbus is still the attacks. If they cannot give any pressure to Hoffenheim in attacks, they will go back home with empty handed.
Last round: Hoffenheim win 3-0
My tipping: Hoffenheim win 2-0
VfB Stuttgart (10th) vs Borussia Möchengladbach (18th) - Saturday: Stuttgart had a very slow restart after the winter break as they were beaten 5-1 against Bayern 2 days ago. It is humiliating for them and it also proves that they are not ready. They must pick up the pace soon so that they will bring surprise for us in this match. Mario Gomez is the only player who is ready for the restart and he will be the most important player in this match. The defense must wake up now and concentrate to the game play. So this is the other factor they must watch out for. Gladbach is the other team right now. They made so many changes in the winter break showed they made the last ditch effort to save themselves from relegation. I seriously doubt their team chemistry so that I predict to see there are only 11 individual players on the field, not an one team. The new goalkeeper Logan Bailly will be the most important player in the team, and let's see how long he can hold.
Last round: Stuttgart win 3-1
My tipping: Stuttgart win 3-0
Werder Bremen (8th) vs Arminia Bielefeld (14th) - Sunday: Werder Bremen showed that they are ready for the season restart with a hard fought win against Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the DFB Porkal match. Hugo Almeida, Claudio Pizarro, and Diego are back in form so that they will be the main factor to drive the team to win the match. The only concern is the defense. New signed defense midfielder Alexandros Tziolis needs to be further proven his ability and the influence in the team. Also, Per Mertesacker is still the only player who can trust in the entired defensive line. On the other hand, Bielefeld needs to rely on Vlad Munteanu to create goals against Werder Bremen, but I concern if the other players can match him to finish his creativeness. I believe Munteanu will have a busy time in this match as he is the only player who can trust in attack. So this match Werder Bremen can effectively control the midfield and keep pressure on the opponent.
Last round: Match draw 2-2
My tipping: Werder Bremen win 3-0
VfL Bochum (17th) vs Karlsruher SC (15th) - Sunday: This is the critical relegation avoiding match. Bochum is very desperate to seek for their second win of the season and now here comes a chance. New signed striker Diego Klimowicz will be very important for Bochum and the whole team are looking for his scoring ability to lead them to win. However, the departure of Tomasz Zdebel will hurt the team a lot, so that it is very crucial for the team to control the midfield. On the other hand, Karlsruher had loan Dino Drpic for fortifying the defense, but Maik Franz will have a long injury as he needs to undergo the surgery. More bad news is, they lost to Wehen in the DFB Porkal at home, it shows they still cannot pull out of the trouble from the first half of the season. However, it is lucky that they should not care about this match too much, as they have more important match to come, that is this match. The key of this match is the midfield. The winner of this match is because they can control the midfield.
Last round: Karlsruher win 1-0
My tipping: Match draw 1-1
So that's it for my tips. Have a good week!