With a 1st versus 2nd clash at the top, a meeting with vital implications in terms of Champions League qualification, and the Berlin derby, Matchday 27 should be well able to compensate for two weeks without Bundesliga football.
Here are three things to look out for in Germany's top flight this weekend.
The title race to be either wrapped up or blown wide open
It’s a game that has been ear-marked by many for months.
Saturday’s Topspiel sees RB Leipzig host champions Bayern Munich in a contest which could decide whether the Meisterschale returns to Bavaria for a ninth consecutive year or makes its way to Saxony for the first time in Leipzig’s *very* brief history.
In the nine Bundesliga games between the two sides, Die Roten Bullen have only won once, and that was when the Rekordmeister had already wrapped up the title back in 2018. As a result, Leipzig may feel as if this is not only their best chance at victory versus Munich, but also at winning the league title. With star defender Dayot Upamecano switching the white of RB for the red of Bayern next season, and defender Ibrahima Konaté and captain Marcel Sabitzer both linked with moves away in the summer, this may be their last chance.
Julian Nagelsmann will have breathed a deep sigh of relief at the news of league top-scorer Robert Lewandowski’s absence due to an injury sustained on international duty. The loss of defensive stalwarts Jerome Boateng and Alphonso Davies through suspension will be a blow for Munich as well, and reports of infighting between manager Hansi Flick and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić will have been an unnecessary distraction in their preparations.
A Leipzig win here would see the gap at the top close to just one point, but a win for Bayern would put seven points between the two and all but confirm another league title for the Rekordmeister.
The stakes could hardly be higher.
Dortmund with one last chance to salvage their season
Despite underperforming for large parts of the campaign, Borussia Dortmund are still able to save this year by qualifying for the Champions League. Failure to do so would not only lead to a huge loss of pride, but also the likely departure of star names in favour of elite European football.
They take on Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, who sit four points ahead of Die Schwarzgelben and have been one of the great surprises of the season so far. However, Die Adler's form has slightly dipped recently, and they've only recorded one win in their last four games, including a poor loss away to Werder Bremen. For Edin Terzić and his side, they have gone some way in rediscovering their potential as of late, with the draw versus FC Köln on Matchday 26 being the only real blemish in an otherwise impressive Rückrunde.
Frankfurt manager Adi Hütter said during the week that “all the pressure is on Dortmund” in this game. That may be true, as a loss would likely put an end to Die Schwarzgelben's hopes of playing in the Champions League next season since a seven point deficit is perhaps insurmountable at this stage of the season. However, the Austrian will be well aware that letting Dortmund back in the race would be a major disappointment since his side looked almost certain of finishing in the top four only a few weeks ago. Having not qualified for Europe’s elite club competition since 1959, a win on Saturday afternoon would be huge for Die Adler.
All things considered, this should make for a fascinating affair.
More than just bragging rights to play for in the Berlin derby
Despite the first top-flight match between Union Berlin and Hertha Berlin only taking place last season, the passion between these two sides runs deep. The scenes of that game confirmed that this rivalry was no longer the friendly affair it had once been during the times of divided Germany.
Though it’s Union who won the inaugural match and have fared much better this season, the bragging rights have overwhelmingly belonged to their rivals from the west of the city. The two most recent games have finished a combined 7-1 in favour of Die Alte Dame, so Union will certainly feel like they have something to prove on this occasion. They will also not want Hertha spoiling their continued, if unexpected, charge for European football - if results elsewhere go Union’s way, a win here could see them move into a potential Europa League spot.
For Hertha, the three points will also be much sought after, and not just because they'll want to get one over on their increasingly noisy neighbours who have become the biggest club in Berlin in terms of membership numbers in recent months. Pal Dardai’s side are still not safe from relegation, and they won't want their poor season to be condemned further by a loss on Sunday evening. Buoyed by the return of Matheus Cunha to full fitness, Die Alte Dame have come into form right on time for the derby. They've won two of their last three, including a convincing 3-0 victory against Bayer Leverkusen.
Both teams will be desperate to win, and maybe they'll be even more desperate not to lose.