Last weekend we enjoyed a contest between two Berlin sides, and on matchday 30, we will be treated to a Rhine derby, with Borussia Mönchengladbach hoping to curtail FC Köln's push for the European places.
|Alassane Plea.||Photo: Borussia Mönchengladbach|
If this match took place over a month ago, Gladbach would have entered the contest full of trepidation, however a four-match unbeaten run later, the hosts head into the Rhine derby in a buoyant mood.
A ten-point haul from their last four matches has seen Gladbach quash any relegation fears and despite experiencing a disappointing campaign Die Fohlen can still finish in the top half of the Bundesliga table.
Adi Hütter's side also have the chance to claim back-to-back victories after they overcame Greuther Fürth in their most recent outing. Marcus Thuram opened the scoring in that contest before Alassane Pléa dispatched his spot-kick in the 24th minute to register what proved to be the final goal of the encounter.
As well as picking up three points last weekend, Hütter would have been pleased to have seen his side keep a clean sheet for the third time in their previous four games. Although they still hold the fourth-worst defensive record in the Bundesliga, recent performances suggest that Gladbach have found the solution to their defensive deficiencies.
Hopes of a derby day victory received a boost in midweek, when Luca Netz, Ramy Bensebaini and Tony Jantschke returned to training following their respective injury issues and the trio expected to be included in Saturday's squad. There are, however, doubts over the fitness of Thuram, who picked up a knock against Fürth, while Marvin Friedrich is unavailable due to an injury issue.
With five games to play, Köln remain firmly in the hunt for European qualification following an impressive Bundesliga campaign.
Sitting in eighth position ahead of kick-off, Die Geißböcke are just one point behind Hoffenheim, who occupy sixth place.
The fixture list has been particularly kind to Saturday's visitors, who will face teams in the bottom half of the table in all of their final five matches, although Köln will have to be wary about the resurgence of their local rivals.
In terms of their own form, Steffen Baumgart's side have had mixed results in recent weeks, with their last six games evenly split between wins, draws and defeats.
They do, however, enter the Rhine Derby in high spirits after pulling off a superb comeback victory to beat Mainz last weekend. Köln looked destined to lose back-to-back games after goals from Jonathan Burkardt and Karim Onisiwo had given Mainz a two-goal lead, but they fought back, as Ellyes Skhiri and Dejan Ljubičić grabbed a goal apiece to restore parity. Köln's comeback was complete when Luca Kilian stabbed the ball home from close range against his parent club to spark wild scenes of celebration in the RheinEnergieStadion.
As a result of the 3-2 victory over Mainz, Die Geißböcke have now picked up 17 points this season from losing positions, demonstrating the fighting qualities that Baumgart has instilled in this team, and they will need to be prepared for another battle against their rivals on Saturday.
Benno Schmitz could return to the side after recovering from injury, while Sebastian Andersson - who missed the Mainz encounter due to illness - is also expected to come back into the matchday squad. Baumgart will also be boosted by the availability of Timo Hübers and Jan Thielmann, who were both suspended last weekend.
|1||Y. Sommer (C)|
|28||M. Ginter ↪38|
|18||S. Lainer ↪46|
|32||F. Neuhaus ↪46|
|17||K. Kone ↪71|
|36||B. Embolo ⚽|
|20||L. Netz ↩46|
|29||J. Scally ↩38|
|6||C. Kramer ↩46|
|13||L. Stindl ↩75|
|22||L. Bénes ↩71 ↪75|
|19||K. Ehizibue ↪80|
|14||J. Hector (C)|
|7||D. Ljubicic ⚽ ↪80|
|13||M. Uth ↪80|
|11||F. Kainz ⚽ ↪61|
|27||A. Modeste ⚽ ↪90|
|2||B. Schmitz ↩80|
|18||O. Duda ↩80|
|21||L. Schaub ↩80|
|25||T. Lemperle ↩90|
|29||J. Thielmann ↩61|