Soccer Germany Bundesliga 5 March 2023
Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich - Match Preview
Relegation battling Stuttgart’s bleak 2023 league record took another hit (W1, D2, L4) last time out as they fell to a 21st straight winless away game in the Bundesliga at rock-bottom Schalke, fatally falling behind within ten minutes. The five-time German champions have a 3-0 win against Cologne in their last home game to thank for entering this round outside of the drop zone, so they’ll hope a return to the Mercedes-Benz Arena can ignite a change of fortunes.
Encouragingly, Stuttgart ended an unwanted all-time Bundesliga record of 31 straight home games without a clean sheet in that Cologne victory, but that poor defensive record still hasn’t stopped them from picking up 15 of their 19 points at home this term. They might struggle to build on that solid record against such strong opposition however, especially with their creative lynchpin Borna Sosa (G2, A6) suspended for the game, as they haven’t won when Sosa hasn’t featured this season (D4, L5).
The top of the table is as tight as it ever has been this season with just five points separating the top-five sides ahead of the round. Bayern Munich headed the standings after the last round of games but could have been knocked off the top spot come kick-off, so they’ll be keen to take advantage of a weakened Stuttgart and in turn extend their run of unbeaten Bundesliga games on Saturday’s primetime TV spot to 25 games (W19, D5).
Bayern’s form has been indifferent by their lofty standards this season, highlighted by already drawing their joint-most league games (seven) since 2010/11, with 12 games still to go. The last two fixtures between the sides both ended 2-2 (at Bayern), but perhaps soothing any doubts around such an outcome again is Bayern’s incredible 12-game winning streak in competitive away H2Hs in Stuttgart, and one more win will equal their longest such run against any opponent!
📋 Players to watch: Gil Dias has popped up when it counts in his short time at Stuttgart, scoring in both of their competitive victories in 2023 within ten minutes of his introduction to each game. In contrast, Bayern’s Thomas Müller is already a household name throughout Germany and could become only the second player after Robert Lewandowski to make 300 Bundesliga goal contributions with one more (G141, A158).
⚡ Hot stat: Stuttgart have conceded a league-high ten goals in the opening 15’ this season whilst Bayern has scored a Bundesliga-high 11 goals in the same period.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Hertha Berlin - Match Preview
Bayer Leverkusen’s impressive continued involvement in the latter stages of the Europa League is juxtaposed with some questionable league form across the last five rounds (W1, D1, L3). Slipping into the bottom half in recent weeks, boss Xabi Alonso will now hope to finish the domestic season as strongly as possible, with a ten-point gap to the top-six ahead of this round leaving their European qualification hopes hanging by a thread.
In fact, Leverkusen’s four-point haul so far in 2023 is their worst start to a new year since the second half of the 2008/09 campaign, a season in which they failed to achieve a European finish. Returning home is unlikely to be the catalyst for success either as Leverkusen are on the verge of losing three straight home league games for the second time this season - that’s something they hadn’t done on even one occasion in any of the previous eight campaigns.
Things are looking a little less dire for Hertha Berlin after two wins from their previous three league games saw them enter this round one point outside of the bottom three. Club captain defender Marvin Plattenhardt helped Hertha secure a clean sheet in their last match (W 2-0), and will likely be key again if they’re to remain in the Bundesliga as the capital club has not won a league game he’s missed this season (D1, L2), whilst last campaign they even recorded a 44% win-rate with him in the team compared to just 7% without!
However Plattenhardt and co will have their work cut out to improve Hertha’s shocking away league form (4 points) which has seen them lose six consecutive away league games - one more would make this their worst run since a nine-game streak in 2016/17. There is a glimmer of hope though as they’re unbeaten in six of their last seven league meetings with Leverkusen (W3, D3, L1).
📋 Players to watch: Moussa Diaby leads the way for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga scoring charts (G7), and each of his last three league goals was the match-winner. Looking to outdo him will be Hertha’s Dodi Lukébakio who became the Bundesliga’s joint-second-highest scoring Belgian behind only Thorgan Hazard with his 33rd strike last time out.
⚡ Hot stat: Hertha has scored seven of their nine away league goals this season beyond half-time.
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