bundesliga.com will keep you up to date with all the latest ahead of Friday night's blockbuster clash between Borussia Mönchengladbach and league leaders FC Bayern München…
Friday 24 January
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola will be making three changes to the first-XI that helped the Bundesliga leaders to a 3-1 victory against Hamburger SV on Matchday 16 in Mönchengladbach tonight: Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Xherdan Shaqiri (pictured) will be replacing Daniel van Buyten, Diego Contento and Mario Mandzukic.
Winter signing Kevin De Bruyne will be enjoying his VfL Wolfsburg debut in Saturday's Lower Saxony derby against Hannover 96, Wolves' head coach Dieter Hecking confirmed in today's pre-match press conference. "He'll definitely start," the 49-year-old said ahead of the Volkswagen Arena clash against his former side. Hecking pointed out De Bruyne, newly-signed from English side Chelsea FC in January, didn't need long to prove a point in Wolfsburg: "It only took him a few days to show his qualities."
FC Schalke 04 may have to do without defender Benedikt Höwedes away at Hamburger SV this weekend. Coach Jens Keller said “he was on the toilet all afternoon” with a stomach upset.
Borussia Dortmund suffered four defeats in their last six Hinrunde matches, so victory at home to this season's surprise package FC Augsburg is of vital importance to Jürgen Klopp and Co. Click here for our exclusive preview on tomorrow's match at Signal Iduna Park.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen forward has been named South Korea Footballer of the Year. The 21-year-old, who enjoyed a fine first half to the 2013/14 season, came top of a poll comprising votes from 200 journalists and officials from the South Korean Football Association. Son has scored seven times and provided two assists in 14 appearances for Sami Hyypiä's men, who trail FC Bayern by seven points going into the second half of the campaign.
Borussia Mönchengladbach will fancy their chances against FC Bayern München tonight, and with good reason. Click here if you still need need convincing that the Foals can cause an upset against Pep Guardiola's team tonight.
FC Schalke 04 coach Jens Keller has confirmed will be will travel with the Royal Blues squad to the Imtech Arena tomorrow, but was giving no hints as to whether the striker will start the game at Hamburger SV. "He will definitely be in the squad, providing nothing changes tomorrow," Keller said at his press conference. HSV's has warned his team-mates they will have to be on their toes if Huntelaar is involved on Saturday. "He's always dangerous and I'm sure he's raring to go!"
FC Schalke 04's attacking powerhouse Kevin-Prince Boateng is eagerly anticipating the Bundesliga restart. The Royal Blues are set to get the second half of their season underway by closing out Matchday 18 with a trip to Hamburger SV and the Ghanain is looking forward to getting back to business:
"Finally it's about collecting points again!"
DID YOU KNOW? Only three different Bundesliga sides have ever managed to remain unbeaten throughout an entire Rückrunde and FC Bayern München have even managed it twice. Eintracht Frankfurt 1976/77 (eleven wins, six draws), FC Bayern 1986/87 (12 wins, five), Borussia Dortmund 2011/12 (15 wins, two draws) and FC Bayern 2012/13 (16 wins, one draw) have all achieved the unprecedented feat. The record titleholders have already come through the entire Hinrunde unscathed and will be hoping to re-create that form in the second half of the season, which kicks-off with an encounter against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
FIFA 14 Predicition: Check out EA Sports' simulated prediction for Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. FC Bayern München, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel:
FC Bayern may be way out in front at the top of the standings right now, but any thoughts of the title being sewn up already are premature: when it comes to monumental catch-ups, the Bundesliga has previous.
Going into the second half of the 2008/09 campaign, ninth-placed VfL Wolfsburg trailed leaders Hoffenheim and Bayern by nine points. Undeterred, the Wolves picked up a whopping 43 points from their next 17 games to romp to the silverware ahead of the game.
Thursday 23 January
VfL Wolfsburg's latest signing Kevin De Bruyne could feature in the Wolves starting line-up for their opening game of the Rückrunde at home to Hannover 96. "I don't see a risk in throwing him straight into our starting line-up," said head coach Dieter Hecking. "It's been clear to see, in the short time that Kevin has been with us, how much quality he has. He's quick on the ball and strong in one-on-one situations. I'll let my gut feeling make the final decision."
'17 cup finals': The first half of the season was a record-breaking one for 1. FC Nürnberg as they went the entire Hinrunde without registering a win. Centre-back Per Nilsson's performances were one of few positives for der Club, but the Swede knows the side need to raise their game to ensure they're not in the midst of a relegation battle come the end of the campaign. "We've got 17 cup finals ahead of us," explained Nilsson in an interview with kicker.de. "We're not going to bury our heads in the sand if we don't manage [to attain safety], but against certain opponents at home we have to go into it with the clear aim of picking up three points. We're starting again from scratch, but the winter break was very good for us."
FIFA 14 Predicition: Check out EA Sports' simulated prediction for Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. FC Bayern München, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel:
Borussia Dortmund were blighted by a string of injuries to key players during the first half of the season, but it appears things are starting to return to normal ahead of the Rückrunde restart. "Mats [Hummels] looks great. He won’t be fit in time to play against Augsburg, but maybe against Braunschweig," said Klopp. "Ilkay [Gündogan] is out on the pitch again, which is great, but we’ve got to be careful with him. Back injuries can be very problematic, but he’s not too far away from returning. Otherwise, everyone else is ready to compete. It’s not a perfect situation, but everyone has worked hard."
With 12 points separating Borussia Dortmund and league leaders FC Bayern München, Klopp was quick to quash any thought of trying to catch the record titleholders. "To really bring the best out of players you’ve got to set a realistic target," admitted the 46-year-old. "We spent a few years as the hunted and now we’re back to being the hunters. Our aim isn’t to catch FC Bayern München, who have a game more still to play, but instead to beat Augsburg. Our priority is qualifying for the UEFA Champions League."
Klopp cautious: First up for the Borussia Dortmund in the second half of the season are the surprise package of the first half of the season FC Augsburg. Head coach Jürgen Klopp is cautiously optimistic, but couldn't hide his excitement at finally "getting going again". "We had very few days off and used the days to work out some of the kinks," explained Klopp. "Our priority was to work on the problem zones that were prevalent in the first half of the season. We’ve got to cut out the mistakes. On Saturday we’ll be facing a highly-motivated and capable side, but it's not outside the realms of possibility that we'll pick up a win."
When asked by bundesliga.com's reporter how he felt his first six months with the record titleholders had gone, Pep Guardiola claimed he was "very happy". However, the Spaniard did admit that there were still things he was keen to "improve upon". "The most important thing is to improve my German. I've got to be able to communicate with my players by using the right words in the right situations. I can't do that 100% right now. It's my biggest problem. However, a year ago today I didn't even know what 'Hallo' meant."
FC Bayern's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola is contending with a lengthy injury list ahead of the Rückrunde opener against Borussia Mönchengladbach. "In Qatar we had everyone fit; the injuries started when we got back to Munich," said the Spaniard. "Now we have to deal with it. Franck Ribery is still a doubt, but there is a chance that could feature against Gladbach. Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured) though, will definitely not play a part: "We want him back but he has to be fit again."
Guardiola gearing up: Talking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Friday's encounter, Guardiola claimed it was "good to be back after the long break". Despite having enjoyed his first experience of the Bundesliga's winter break, his first taste of Germany's top flight has not been forgotten. "Gladbach will be a very tough game. The first match against them was a real awakening in the Bundesliga for me. We lost two years ago against Borussia, but we won there last year. Records don't mean too much."
With Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern München set to kick-off proceedings in the second half of the 2013/14 Bundesliga campaign, bundesliga.com sat down with two legends of German football to get their opinions on the opening clash of the Rückrunde. Andreas Möller (l.) believes the Foals are capable of causing an upset, while Steffen Effenberg (r.) has warned the Bavarians not to underestimate their hosts.
Borussia Dortmund striker may be joining title-rivals FC Bayern München in the summer, but for now the Pole is fully focused on helping his current employers climb the table. "Our aim is to move into the top two," explained the 25-year-old. "Winning against FC Augsburg is a must."
Wednesday 22 January
SV Werder Bremen coach Robin Dutt says vice-captain is struggling to be fit for the club's Rückrunde opener against bottom-of-the-table Eintracht Braunschweig on Sunday. The 27-year-old midfielder has been suffering from angina and has been taking antibiotics. "Aaron won't be able to return to training before Friday," said Dutt. "It's touch-and-go for the weekend. We have to see day by day how the situation develops."
FC Bayern München winger has returned to team training following a knee injury. The Dutch international, who turns 30 on Thursday, sustained a deep cut to his right knee in Bayern's DFB Cup victory over FC Augsburg on 4 December. "I'm not at 100 per cent yet of course, but that's completely normal," said Robben. "It takes a while to get back up to full speed, and today was the first time I've trained with the rest of the team, but I'm really pleased to be back."
Ahead of 1. FC Nürnberg's first Bundesliga match of 2014 against 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday, left-back says he's confident the Franconians, who are yet to win a league match this season, can climb their way out of trouble at the foot of the table. "I really enjoy our style of play, so I'm optimistic on our chances of staying up. I really hope we can win our first game of the Rückrunde. If we win a match, maybe we can start a run of victories."
DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 50 years have passed since Eintracht Frankfurt played their first Bundesliga home match. In March 1964, the Eagles beat Hertha Berlin 4-0 at the Waldstadion, with Willi Huberts grabbing a hat-trick. Frankfurt went on to finish third that season, while Hertha only narrowly avoided relegation.
The next man to take the stage at the press conference at Bayern's Säbener Straße is Thomas Müller, and he adopts a similarly respectful approach to the Reds' opponents on Friday. "Borussia are a good team that deserve to be where they are," said the 24-year-old. "I don't know the stats exactly but they're on a really good run at home. In the last few seasons, we've always had tough games against them."
One man on whom the spotlight will certainly fall at the Borussia Park this Friday is . The 30-year-old defender played for the Foals for three seasons before moving to Bayern in 2012, and he knows all about his former colleagues. "Gladbach are a dangerous team," the Brazil international said in a pre-match press conference. "They pass the ball well and are very compact, and they also have a very good coach. It will be a really difficult game. They play modern football."
Gladbach defender has also spoken today on team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen's decision not to extend his contract at the club, saying it will make no difference whatsoever to the goalkeeper's performance. "Marc is still here, still part of the team and just as focused as ever," the Austrian said to Sky. "The media like to discuss the situation but among the team and in the dressing room, it's not something that we're thinking about."
Borussia Mönchengladbach head coach Lucien Favre is no doubt expecting a hugely difficult test when his side entertain FC Bayern München on Friday, but the Swiss tactician is certainly not lacking confidence ahead of the game. In his pre-match press conference he referred to the need for his side to be brave, saying, "We need to dare to play. We respect Bayern - they're one of the best teams in Europe - but we won't fear them. We'll need to prepare as best we can, but one could very well say that they're already champions with a ten-point lead."
Hannover 96 say it's touch-and-go as to whether Senegalese striker Mame Diouf (muscle strain) will be fit in time for the club's Bundesliga relaunch against VfL Wolfsburg in Saturday's Lower Saxony derby. "We'll take it day by day," a club spokesperson told kicker.de. Diouf has scored five goals in eleven appearances so far this season.
As well as enjoying a spot of cycling, FC Bayern München defender Holger Badstuber has also been hitting the gym and even running this past week as he steps up his rehabilitation programme after a serious knee injury.
In the Gym working out. Listening to Jay-Z...— Holger Badstuber (@Badstuber) January 20, 2014
Click here for the lowdown on the future of former Germany international goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who is a free agent after his contract at 1899 Hoffenheim was terminated by mutual consent.
Next step: running! I feel good!— Holger Badstuber (@Badstuber) January 21, 2014
is set to lead Borussia Mönchengladbach's attack against FC Bayern München on Friday night, and he expects to be doing the same for Germany in Brazil this summer. The six-time German international believes he will be part of the 23-man party picked by Joachim Löw for the FIFA World Cup. "If you've been called up each time since August, then I think that says something," he told Sport Bild magazine. "But there are 25-30 of us and in the end, only 23 will go." The 25-year-old has scored eight times for the Foals so far this season.
Tuesday 21 JanuaryBorussia Dortmund warmed up for the Bundesliga restart in stunning style with a 6-1 friendly win over MSV Duisburg. Over 24,000 spectators watched on as birthday boy Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbed a brace and an assist, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Lewandowski (twice) and Julian Schieber also got on the scoresheet. 1899 Hoffenheim and former Germany international goalkeeper Tim Wiese have parted company. The 32-year-old custodian, whose deal was due to run until 30 June 2016, had been training with the reserves but decided to terminate his contract early. The club announced the news on their official Twitter account:
Die Werderaner Mützenträger pic.twitter.com/sUeCxSdadA— SV Werder Bremen (@werderbremen) January 21, 2014
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could be in contention for a return to action for FC Schalke 04 in their first competitive fixture of 2013 against Hamburger SV this weekend. The Dutchman has not played since October and has seen more of the treatment room than a football pitch this season. "I'm feeling good an am physically ready," he said on Tuesday. "Whether or not I play in Hamburg is up to the coach." Over to you, Jens Keller.
and are fighting to be fit for VfB Stuttgart's clash with 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the weekend. The former is now back in full training after a knee operation during the winter break while the latter is also trying to shake off a knee problem. You can see what Stuttgart got up to during a winter training camp in South Africa by clicking here.
Happy Birthday, Henrikh Mkhitaryan! pic.twitter.com/GYfmKe2zzL— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) January 21, 2014
When SV Werder Bremen host Eintracht Braunschweig this coming Sunday, they will have a wolf in their goal: Raphael Wolf. Coach Robin Dutt has selected him as the side's current number one with Sebastian Mielitz, who started the season between the posts for Bremen, drawing the short straw. "It was a tight race," declared Dutt. "But we feel we have made the right choice." Mielitz is not so convinced, saying he is "very disappointed no longer to be the number one at my club."
Monday 20 January
Aaron Hunt hat das Training heute wegen Adduktorenproblemen abgebrochen. Der 27-jährige wird wohl ein bis zwei Tage pausieren. #Werder— SV Werder Bremen (@werderbremen) January 20, 2014
DID YOU KNOW? On this day in 1968, Matchday 20 of the 1967/68 enjoyed the not so rare feat of a goal-ridden weekend. However, what set this particular Matchday apart is that all 18 top-flight sides scored at least once with a total of 40 goals scored. Chief amongst the results were a 5-2 win for Eintracht Frankfurt against 1. FC Kaiserslautern and a 3-3 draw between 1. FC Köln and FC Bayern München. Furthermore, there was an upset as 1. FC Nürnberg, who went on to win the title that season, suffered a 3-1 loss to Hamburger SV.
Pogatetz on the mend: After suffering a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, 1. FC Nürnberg centre-back Emanuel Pogatetz has begun his rehabilitation process. Der Club, winless during the first half of the season, host 1899 Hoffenheim on the opening day of the second half of the season, but will be without the Austrian international as well as midfield general Makoto Hasebe.
"After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, [Emanuel] Pogatetz has started his rehab. One week in Nürnberg before two weeks in Donaustauf. Get well soon Poga!"
Sunday 19 January
DID YOU KNOW?: On this day in 2012, Borussia Mönchengladbach beat FC Bayern München 3-1 at Borussia Park in the opening game of the second half of the 2011/12 campaign. Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour, before Patrick Herrmann bagged a brace either side of half-time. Bastian Schweinsteiger managed to reduce the arrears late on, but it was too little, too late for the record titleholders on that occasion. An omen perhaps for the two side's encounter on Friday?
Wolf on Säbener Straße: FC Bayern München superstar Mario Götze managed to find time in amongst the Bavarians' hectic mid-season schedule to take in one of this year's blockbuster movies. Based on the tweet below, it seems the 21-year-old was impressed with director Martin Scorsese's latest potential Oscar winning screenplay starring non other than Leonardo DiCaprio. When it comes to the Bundesliga restart the youngster will be hoping to be cast in a starring role of his own against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Nielsen's new home: Settling in at a new club isn't always easy, but Eintracht Braunschweig's new signing Havard Nielsen seems to have settled right in with the Lions. "I feel really good in Braunschweig and in this team," the Norwegian international told the club's official website following the 2014 Wintercup. "Our sporting perspective is strong. There aren't many points separating us from the relegation play-off spot, but we'll have to work very hard. I want to help the team and, of course, to score goals."
Reigning Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München have been handed a boost ahead of the opening fixture of the Rückrunde with several first-team regulars returning to training, including wing wizards Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. The league leaders are keen to bounce back from their 3-0 defeat to Red Bull Salzburg, a loss which based on recent form could be a rarity during 2014 according to head coach Pep Guardiola, who claims his players "always want to win".
Bobic looking abroad: VfB Stuttgart enjoyed a successful trip to South Africa during the winter break and flying the Bundesliga flag as the league's official ambassadors has given sporting director Fredi Bobic a taste of what's capable with progressive marketing strategies in foreign countries. "We've got to further develop ourselves in that respect, but above all, searching out new sources of revenue has to be a collective effort," explained the former German international in an interview with Kicker magazine. "The German market has already been exhausted, but in a global context there are still plenty of possibilities."
It could have been one of the more enticing storylines on Matchday 18, but Dong-Won Ji looks set miss out against his future employers when FC Augsburg take on Borussia Dortmund. The South Korean striker is labouring under the effects of a dead leg and head coach Markus Weinzierl is assuming the worst. "Right now we're assuming that Ji won't be available in Dortmund," said the 39-year-old. "We won't be taking any risks with him." Good news for BVB, who are in desperate need of a win.