The Bundesliga Run-in – Impact On Your Fantasy Teams
With six games to go in the Bundesliga season, Bayern Munich are close to sealing the title again, although the challenge of Borussia Dortmund cannot be underestimated.
Both teams have won the last three league matches and are well clear of the chasing pack, although the battle for European qualification places involves five teams fighting for just four places, so one club will have to miss out.
At the bottom, a run of five defeats in a row has left Hannover staring down the barrel of relegation and they sacked Thomas Schaaf in a bid to avoid the drop, while five other clubs are in danger of dropping out of the top-flight.
Here’s what daily fantasy football players should watch out for in the closing weeks of the season.
The title race
Bayern are overwhelming favourites to lift the Bundesliga title again, with the return to fitness of winger Franck Ribéry providing Pep Guardiola with an extra burst of creativity.
Guardiola will be desperate to pick up as many trophies as possible before leaving the club for Manchester City at the end of the season, but the Champions League run could distract them.
However, Bayern’s nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund are also in Europe and have five points to make up on the league leaders in the last few weeks of the season.
In most other years Thomas Tuchel’s side would have collected enough points to be top of the table, but Bayern have only been beaten twice all season and it is difficult to see them slipping up.
Dortmund themselves have won 21 of their 28 league games this season, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 23 league goals to fire his side into title contention.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has also had a terrific season, hitting double figures for both goals and assists, while Marco Reus has scored 10 goals and insists he is happy at the club despite regularly being linked with a move away.
For Bayern, Robert Lewandowski has had his best season yet, with 25 league goals from just 23 Bundesliga starts, while Thomas Müller has scored 19.
Bayern have suffered from a raft of defensive injuries, meaning youngster Joshua Kimmich has been partnering David Alaba in recent weeks, but the solidity of Manuel Neuer in goal has helped Bayern to three straight 1-0 wins.
The scrap for Champions League qualification places looks likely to go to the wire in the Bundesliga, with only one more spot available behind Bayern and Dortmund.
Hertha Berlin currently occupy third place in the league, but they are only three points clear from the chasing pack, which includes Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, Mainz and Schalke. Even Wolfsburg – eighth in the league but in the Champions League quarter-finals, cannot yet be counted out of the race for third place.
Bayer Leverkusen are in the best form of the group, winning their last three Bundesliga fixtures, and they can also call upon regular goalscorer Javier Hernández, whose 15 league goals suggest Manchester United were unwise to let him leave the club. Bayer also have the lethal set piece specialist Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who is one of the league’s best free-kick takers.
Borussia Mönchengladbach have an excellent goal difference, which could be key at the end of the season, with Raffael in double figures for goals and assists this season. Gladbach hammered Hertha 5-0 in their last Bundesliga clash, which is likely to be a huge confidence boost.
Mainz beat Augsburg in their last league game to break a run of three matches without a victory, with Yunus Mallı recording assists in each of his last two league appearances.
Hannover look dead and buried, with a 10-point gap to make up to even get off the bottom of the table, but five other sides are still in danger of dropping into the second tier of German football.
Eintracht Frankfurt are currently in 17th place and they face fellow strugglers Hoffenheim in their next match, although their opponents have won three games of their last five to climb away from trouble. Frankfurt were impressive in a narrow 1-0 loss to Bayern last time out, with only a Ribéry wondergoal giving Guardiola’s side victory.
Augsburg occupy 16th and they have had a rotten season; it is hard to believe they started the campaign in the Europa League. Despite their struggles, defender Paul Verhaegh is worth consideration for daily fantasy football players – he has converted six penalties from six attempts this season.
A point above Augsburg are Werder Bremen, who are level with Hoffenheim, with Darmstadt a further point higher in the table after drawing five of their last six league fixtures.
A key man in the survival battle could be Hoffenheim’s Kevin Volland, who has scored eight goals and provided five assists in a fine individual campaign.