Earlier this week, I interviewed Richard Kharman, the co-presenter for the only English-language FC Schalke podcast, to see how he thinks the Bundesliga will finish at the end of the season.
Who do you think will win the Bundesliga and why?
Perennial favourites Bayern Munich are pushed by newcomers RB Leipzig, bogey team Mönchengladbach and rivals Dortmund.
Leipzig have shown they are more than capable to take the reigns away from Bayern, but are they ready? They have the talent, speed, star power and coaching.
Dortmund started the season well before going south. But with the winter signing of Erling Braut Haaland and the rise of Gio Reyna, Dortmund have seen a resurgence to scoring and winning ways.
Gladbach were the darlings of the Hinrunde with new Bundesliga manager, Marco Rose. They virtually held the top spot from start to finish but lately have tapered off just a bit.
Unfortunately for all three teams, Bayern have woken up. Despite this being one of the weakest Bayern teams in a long time, this team has found a way to rally together and start to dominate teams once again.
Bayern are scoring goals by the boat full and look to take the title once again. The champ is the champ until they are beaten and I see no reason to go against them yet.
The race for Europe (last UCL place/2 UEL places)?
The cream of the crop are really riding in the Bundesliga and teams are beginning to separate themselves. The top 4 look set with Bayern, Leipzig, Dortmund and Gladbach. In no particular order. These four clubs are starting to pull away from the pack. The harder question is who will make Europa league?
Currently Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke hold those spots with Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Freiburg close behind. A conservative bet is to say the current holders will keep their spots, but I would vote against that.
Bayer look to be gaining momentum as the Rückrunde goes on and should be a lock for Europe. Scoring and defence have returned. They also registered a big victory over Dortmund recently.
Schalke, however, have been the second worst performing team in the Rückrunde after having a great Hinrunde. Schalke’s lack of quality or ideas in the final third, lack of defence and plethora of injuries is likely to cost them an opportunity at Europe.
Wolfsburg have been the most consistent team recently out of those contending for the Europa League, so I would not be surprised to see them sneak in above the Royal Blues.
Who will go down & who will finish in the relegation play-off place?
Werder Bremen and Paderborn currently hold the relegation spots, with Fortuna Düsseldorf holding the play-off position.
Paderborn seem certain to go down this season. You have to admire the way they want to play attacking football, no matter the opponent. Unfortunately for them, they cannot defend to save their lives and that will be their undoing.
Don’t be surprised to see Werder jump over Düsseldorf. They have more quality and I’d back them slightly more with their backs against the wall. Düsseldorf have been rough but don’t have enough quality to stay up. Werder will find a way to muster up enough to get them to a relegation playoff spot, but not enough to catch Mainz and Hertha Berlin, who are having poor seasons themselves. Can Werder win a playoff match is still to be determined. But they will make it difficult for every opponent to the very end.