Another matchday, another Bundesliga best-mark - or three - for FC Bayern Munich: GOAL! opens this week, though, with a look at resurgent Schalke 04's bid for a direct place in next season's Champions League. In addition, with plenty still to play for at both ends of the table, there is the usual comprehensive preview package, a look at a young Foal galloping towards the very top and an interview with one half of the new management team aiming to take Wolfsburg back to the top. Be sure to tune in!
Still chasing third
It's not so long ago that qualification for European competition next season in any shape or form was looking decidedly dicey for a Schalke 04 side slipping inexorably down the table after a strong season start. Then, new head coach Jens Keller's tactics started to take a grip and the Royal Blues went into the Matchday 29 six-pointer against Bayer Leverkusen on the back of five wins in six outings and looking to pull within a point of their third-place visitors. It was not to be, but in the wake of an enthralling encounter at the Veltins Arena, the mood in the Schalke camp is anything but downbeat.
Top Game I
Qualification for the Europa League is the name of the game for Borussia Mönchengladbach over the final five matches of the season, but a 2-0 defeat at Stuttgart last Sunday did not do much to help their cause. This time around, Lucian Favre's men have home advantage against a team battling for all they are worth to avoid the drop, FC Augsburg, in the Friday evening matchday opener. A thoroughly merited 2-0 home success against Frankfurt at the weekend left the Bavarian Swabians three points clear of Hoffenheim in the relegation play-off slot, and now just three shy of fourth-bottom Düsseldorf. The form of Markus Weinzierl's team has been proscribing a steady upward curve since league action restarted and the hosts will be taking nothing at all for granted as they seek to get back on the European track by notching their third straight home win.
Alongside midfield general Juan Arango, Patrick Herrmann is the player Borussia Mönchengladbach rely on for the bulk of their creative forward play. The 22-year-old Gladbach youth team product makes up in skill and acuity what he lacks in stature and brawn and, having consistently represented Germany from U-16 level onwards, was called up by Joachim Löw as a replacement to the senior squad for the recent home World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan. As Lucian Favre continues working to hone a Foals side capable of mixing it up at the top end of the standings over the longer term, Herrmann is one of the key figures in his forward planning.
3 Minutes with...
...Klaus Allofs. A prodigious marksman in the Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 in his own day, Allofs joined Werder Bremen as general manager in 1999. Subsequently, as sporting director alongside head coach Thomas Schaaf, he oversaw a golden era for the Green-Whites as they tussled with Bayern Munich for domestic supremacy over the best part of a decade, winning the league and cup double in 2004 and qualifying for the Champions League five times. Last November, that long-standing partnership came to an end as Allofs took up a new challenge, in the same capacity, with VfL Wolfsburg. Now, with Dieter Hecking also fresh on board as coach, the 56-time Germany international hopes to help the ambitious Wolves back into the Bundesliga elite - sooner rather than later.