After a ridiculous stretch of matches, cup competitions, and a winter World Cup breakm we’ve made it to the final stretch of the season. Teams have roughly a quarter of their season left to secure titles, avoid relegation, qualify for big money tournaments next season, or start to break in new players. It should be a really exciting time and there are no more FIFA recognized breaks between now and the end of the European seasons, so it’s time to buckle in and get to business. Unfortunately, there are some players suffering from illness this weekend, so it sounds like some of the major matches might be missing their key American players.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Bochum - 12:30p on ESPN+
Paxten Aaronson received his first Bundesliga cap ahead of the International break when he was subbed on for the last 7 minutes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-0 loss to Union Berlin. Frankfurt are currently in sixth place but are winless in their last four matches and there are a trio of teams now within striking distance of their Europa Conference League qualifying spot. It was a bit surprising to see Aaronson take the field, as he’s been allowed to leave his club for youth camps with the U.S. That seemed to indicate they didn’t have short-term plans for him, but Paxten has been on the bench for the last four games so perhaps Frankfurt are looking for a little spark down the stretch.
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund - 12:30p on ABC
The battle for the Bundesliga title takes center stage on Saturday afternoon with Der Klassiker. Dortmund currently lead the race by a point, but will need to get over the Bayern hurdle both mentally and on the scoreline if they are going to break Bayern’s 10-year streak of Bundesliga titles. Dortmund have struggled against the German giants, failing to win a match since the 2019 DFL Super Cup and 2018 in league play. It’s a stretch that has covered 10 matches and the teams draw last August was the only point BVB has secured over that stretch. Clearly Bayern are Dortmund’s bogeyman.
Bayern aren’t completely invincible, as they did just sack Julian Nagelsmann after a loss to Bayer Leverkusen caused them to slip to second place. Of course, they’ve replaced him with former Dortmund (and Chelsea) boss Thomas Tuchel, who will be familiar with many of the faces on his opponents side. Unfortunately, Gio Reyna will not be among them as he has been ruled out of the match due to cold symptoms.
- Jordan Pefok and Union Berlin have probably seen hopes of the league title slip away as they’ve fallen four and five points back of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively. They’ll look to maintain Champions League qualification though and will face relegation-threatened Stuttgart this weekend at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Kevin Paredes continues to get minutes for a Wolfsburg side that sit just two points out of qualification for European competition. They take on an Augsburg side that look safe from relegation but with no real qualification hopes for the year. This match will also be at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham have already greatly exceeded expectations by avoiding the relegation battle, but the 9th place side also has an outside shot at qualifying for next season’s European competition as they are eight points behind fifth place Newcastle. They face a Bournemouth side that is in the relegation fight at 10a on Peacock.
- Leeds United will be without Tyler Adams, perhaps for the remainder of the season, as they look to stave off relegation. They will have Weston McKennie and Brenden Aaronson at their services this weekend as they face top of the table Arsenal at 10a on USA Network. Currently Leeds sit in 14th place, but are one of nine teams in a relegation fight where just four points separate all of the clubs.
- Chris Richards and Crystal Palace are at the top of that relegation heap but just three points out of relegation and this weekend will face equally threatened Leicester City, who can jump them with a win. The two sides battle at 10a on Peacock.
- Erik Palmer-Brown and Troyes currently sit in the relegation spots of Ligue 1 and have some work to do to climb out. They can begin that effort this weekend when they face Auxerre, who sit just ahead of them in the table, at 11a on beIN Sports.
- Christian Pulisic received his first start since New Years Day just ahead of the international break and now his Chelsea FC side will face Aston Villa at 12:30p on USA Network. Pulisic also has a “heavy cold” and is likely to miss this match.
- Jordan Morris will try to follow up his amazing four goal performance against Kansas City when the Seattle Sounders take on the LA Galaxy at 7:30p on Fox.
Celta Vigo v Almeria - 8a on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+
Luca de la Torre and Celta Vigo look to work their way into the top half of the La Liga table as they face Almeria on Sunday morning. de la Torre can also do USMNT teammate Yunus Musah some favors as Almeria are currently in a relegation battle with Valencia. Celta Vigo are still seven points back of Villarreal for European Competition but they’ve come up quite a bit since flirting with the bottom of the table themselves in the middle of the season. Luca has started 10 straight matches for Celta Vigo and their rise up the table has coincided with his play.
- Tim Weah missed the international window due to a head injury sustained in Lille’s match the prior Saturday but he could be available this weekend as his team face Lorient at 7a on beIN Sports.
- Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach are solidly middle of the table, 10 points clear of relegation but nine points back of European qualification. They face Köln this weekend at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- John Brooks and Hoffenheim face Werder Bremen at 11:30a on ESPN+. Hoffenheim snapped their massive losing streak two weeks ago with a 3-1 win over Hertha Berlin and now sit just a point ahead of them and out of the relegation zone.
Bonus Monday action:
- Yunus Musah and Valencia are staring down a relegation fight as they currently sit third to last and a point from safety. They will look to begin their climb out on Monday as they face eighth place Rayo Vallecano at 3p on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
Hit the comments to discuss it all!