Germany is the first of the major European countries to welcome football back this weekend, albeit behind closed doors. All eyes will certainly be on the Bundesliga and a successful resumption will hopefully pave the way for a return to UK football in the not too distant future.
It will be intriguing to see the effect of no crowds and how players react to a fairly long absence as the business end of the season reaches a crucial climax. Most clubs have nine fixtures to complete and there is plenty at stake across the division.
Both teams to score
Augsburg v Wolfsburg
The hosts have lost four of their last five fixtures in a poor run that has seen them drop towards the relegation playoff zone.
Star forward Florian Niederlechner has been the shining light and his goals have kept the club away from the immediate relegation trapdoor, however. Their home form has been strong enough to suggest Wolfsburg will not have an easy afternoon as well.
The visitors are in a battle to secure a top-six finish and hopefully a place in the Europa League once more. They are in the Last 16 this year although that event has somewhat distracted them with indifferent league form. On reflection, this is a tricky contest so with both sides capable of goals, that looks the best option.
Dortmund to win and both teams to score
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke
Dortmund are four points behind leaders Bayern Munich and still very much in the Bundesliga title race. They have won four straight matches in the Bundesliga and in Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland have two of the competition’s outstanding players.
It will be interesting to see how Dortmund fare on home soil without their usual 80,000 fanatical fans and opponents Schalke are right in the thick of a top 6 challenge despite a seven-game winless streak that has yielded just four points. They will be boosted by the return from injury of key midfielder Suat Serdar who will be looking to add to his seven goals this campaign.
I expect Dortmund to win but Schalke can be competitive, especially in this fierce derby fixture.
Both teams to score
Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin
A game that pits two clubs together in poor form although the extended break may help improve matters for both.
Hoffenheim have actually beaten Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen this term but their inconsistency has also seen ten top-flight defeats and they are currently ninth but still chasing a top 6 finish.
Hertha should be clear of relegation but will need points to ensure they stay away from the drop zone. The team strengthened in January with Krzysztof Piatek and Matheus Cunha notable captures and they look strong enough to finish mid-table now.
Dusseldorf to win
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn
Two teams in relegation trouble and this is a match neither can afford to lose.
New manager Uwe Rosler needs no introduction to English fans and since taking over the reins at Dusseldorf. He’s helped ensure an upturn in fortunes with just one defeat in six, although four games have been draws.
Paderborn arrive sitting at the bottom and six points behind their hosts and after successive promotions, it has proved hard to bridge the gap at the top level. They play entertaining, attractive football but have the second-worst defence in the section which has seen them fall to the foot.
Dusseldorf face an extremely tough run in and realistically must take maximum points against lesser clubs around them to avoid the drop.
Leipzig to win to nil
RB Leipzig v Freiburg
Julian Nagelsmann is a manager often linked with big clubs across Europe and he has certainly helped Leipzig this season as they remain in the race for the title and at least a top-four place. They have a friendly-looking set of fixtures and could well close the current five-point gap on leaders Bayern.
Keeping hold of star forward Timo Werner last summer was crucial and the German International has netted 21 goals already this campaign.
Freiburg made a great start to the season but things have dipped after the winter break and with only three wins in 2020 and seven goals in eight matches they need to improve to maintain a top 6 push.
Monchengladbach to win and both teams to score
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach
Frankfurt appear safe for this season and may have to settle for midtable with hopes of finishing higher looking remote. A 3-0 home loss in the Europa League against Basel followed three straight Bundesliga losses, and morale will be low.
Monchengladbach are fourth with a slender two-point advantage but will be confident of securing a Champions League berth, especially as their remaining fixtures look generally kind. With only one loss in their previous seven games, they can maintain that good run on the road here.
Koln to win
Koln v Mainz
This pair have just four draws between them in league matches this season so expect a positive result on Sunday.
The hosts are five points off a Europa place so will feel success here can keep the momentum building. If the season had started in 2020, The Billy Goats would be in fourth place and if they can continue this incredible run, they may just reach the top six places after all.
Mainz are four points above the relegation playoff position and still in need of points to avoid the drop. Former Koln manager Achim Beierlorzer will make a quick return to the Mungersdorfer Stadium, having been dismissed in late 2019, and will be keen to prove a point. Whether his players have the ability remains to be seen and they have been too reliant on forward Robin Quaison in a rollercoaster campaign.
Bayern Munich to win and Both Teams to score
Union Berlin v Bayern Munich
Holders Bayern are once again in pole position to retain their crown although this season has been far from straight forward. Another club who changed their manager mid-season, The Reds have recovered from a stuttering start under Hansi Flick as they look to make it eight successive title wins.
Veteran Polish striker Robert Lewandowski continues to lead the line and has bagged 25 in the Bundesliga so far. With German Cup and Champions League still on their radar, Bayern look set for an exciting finish to this interrupted season but have a squad capable of completing a unique treble.
Berlin are enjoying their first-ever season in the top flight and a solid recruitment drive in the summer has reaped its rewards with the club looking safe in mid-table. This is a tremendous achievement and their partisan fans have helped them record six wins on home soil.
Bayer Leverkusen to win and over 2.5 match goals
Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen
Bremen are enduring a torrid season and may well be facing automatic relegation, four points adrift of the relegation playoff spot and eight from guaranteed safety. With only one home win, fans may be glad this game is taking place behind closed doors and with opponents Leverkusen riding the crest of a wave, it will be difficult to avoid another loss at the Weserstadion.
Leverkusen have a top-four place in their sights and with seven away victories will be confident of adding to that tally on Monday night. Exciting youngster Kai Havertz has been an influential figure and with six goals and five assists in 2020 he has been involved in more goals than any other German playing in the Bundesliga.