- Dortmund in the driving seat as Leverkusen list.
- Goalscoring superpowers set to collide in Cologne.
- Foals get familiar with Schalke and HSV.
A Dortmund carnival float piloted by a giddy Thomas Tuchel, Bayern Munich's kryptonite and Warren Beatty-related Gladbach fixture confusion feature in our Matchday 23 statistical preview.
In what was German Karneval week, it was hard not to imagine a beaming Thomas Tuchel driving a black and yellow float carrying giant effigies of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through downtown Dortmund. BVB’s heroes returning from fortress Freiburg to effusive fanfare following a second successive Bundesliga triumph. Tuchel’s 100th top-flight victory as a coach was earned with a first Sokratis goal of this Bundesliga campaign and Aubameyang’s first double since early December. Bayer Leverkusen beware, Borussia Dortmund are boasting big improvements ahead of Saturday’s footballing festival at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK.
Watch: Highlight's of Dortmund's Matchday 22 win against Freiburg.
Only Bayern Munich have picked up more points  in 2017 than Borussia Mönchengladbach and Die Schwarzgelben , the latter racking up more shots on goal in their previous two games than at any other time this season. Then there was the feat of keeping back-to-back Bundesliga clean sheets in two 3-0 successes against Wolfsburg and Freiburg – a first for Dortmund in 2016/17. Indeed, a recent run of just two wins in ten games in all competitions is quickly slipping from BVB’s collective memory.
Yet while the denizens of Dortmund are delighting in a dramatic upturn in team fortunes, the Leverkusen legions are lamenting their side’s lack of luck. A decade since they last endured a dip in form as unfavourable as this, coach Roger Schmidt needs to quickly steady Die Werkself's listing ship. Last week’s reverse against Mainz was defeat number ten for the Factory Workers this season, already matching last term’s total Leverkusen losses.
Currently in eighth, Leverkusen sit one place behind Cologne, who host leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday. The RheinEnergieStadion promises to pulsate with the prospect of Bundesliga goalscoring superpower Anthony Modeste (on 17 goals) pitting his prowess against the legendary Robert Lewandowski (19). You could forgive the Billy Goats for bleating nervously with Bayern threatening to barnstorm Casa Cologne. Carlo Ancelotti’s charges danced past Hamburg 8-0 last weekend and are the only side yet to lose this year, top scoring in the Bundesliga (54) while conceding the fewest goals (13).
But even Superman suffered the sting of the dreaded Kryptonite and by uttering the name SG Wattenscheid 09, Cologne coach Peter Stöger could at least force the Bavarian behemoth to flinch. Bayern have won just 47 per cent of their games with Cologne, and only against Dortmund and Wattenscheid is that percentage lower. From 1990 to ‘94 Wattenscheid battled bravely in the Bundesliga, even enjoying two wins against a champion Bayern team containing Lothar Matthäus, Christian Ziege and Olaf Thon. There is hope, then, for Saturday’s hosts to claim a first victory against a team in the top eight this term and what would be a first win against a side leading the Bundesliga since 2008.
And finally, those working in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s ticket office will have done more double takes than Warren Beatty at the recent Oscars ceremony when eyeing the Foals’ fixture list this month. HSV, Schalke, Schalke, HSV, Schalke are not the lyrics of a catchy summer song we’re penning at Bundesliga towers. It is, in fact, Gladbach’s current run of games. Dieter Hecking’s men have only two opponents in the first half of March, with Saturday evening’s Bundesliga encounter at home to the Royal Blues preceding the teams’ UEFA Europa League tie. Gladbach’s DFB Cup match with Hamburg, meanwhile, is one of two away encounters with the Red Shorts, the second a Bundesliga contest on 12 March.
More numbers next week!