The Bundesliga resumes Friday after its six-week winter break but not before winter weather finally hit Germany. Snow and ice struck this week after unseasonably warm weather over the holiday season.
Defending champion Bayern Munich opens the weekend slate Friday at
Borussia Dortmund (TV: GolTV, live, 2:30 pm ET). Bayern finished the
fall campaign in third place, three
points behind leader Werder Bremen and second-place Schalke 04, and the
big concern remains its midfield.
Playmaker Sebastian Deisler
retired during the break, ending at the age of 27 a once-promising
career marred by injuries and personal personal problems. On a positive
note, Bayern hopes to soon get back Englishman Owen Hargreaves, who's been out with a broken leg for four months and has been linked in a move to Manchester United.
"Something has to happen in midfield," Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said. "It would
be good if we could find a playmaker."
First-place Werder faces Hannover at home on Sunday (TV: GolTV, delay, 9:30 pm ET), while second-place Schalke travels to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday (TV: GolTV, live, 9:30 am ET) with concerns about the status of captain Marcelo Bordon (leg muscle injury).
Leader Bremen has been toasted across Europe for the quality of its attacking game. Brazilian playmaker Diego was voted the Bundesliga's
best player for the first half of the 2006-07 season in a poll of
fellow ahead of his Bremen teammates Miroslav
Klose and Torsten Frings.
With Klose hobbled and fellow striker Ivan Klasnic out for two months
after needing a kidney transplant, Bremen was reportedly
on the verge of adding Ajax's Swedish forward Markus Rosenberg.
There have been few major mid-season transfers in Germany. Wolfsburg signed Brazilian playmaker Marcelinho, the former Hertha Berlin star, from Turkey's Trapzonspor. Struggling Hamburg signed veteran goalkeeper
Frank Rost from Schalke, where
he was the backup.
ENGLAND. The FA Cup moves
into the fourth round, where EPL leader Manchester United faces
Portsmouth Saturday at Old Trafford (TV: Setanta-PPV, live, noon ET).
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp
has helped former clubs Bournemouth (1984) and West Ham (2001) to major
FA Cup upsets against United. Second-place Chelsea is at home Sunday
its fourth-round match against third-level Nottingham Forest (TV: Fox
Soccer Channel, live, 9 am ET). The best
matchup of the weekend could take place Sunday at the Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal hosts Bolton Wanderers (TV: Setanta-PPV, live, 11 am ET). The
Gunners, who are in fourth place
five points ahead of Bolton, face the Trotters for
the third season in a row in the FA Cup.
SPAIN. Despite winning only
two of its last seven league games, Barcelona is in first place in La
Liga with a game in hand and a chance for an easy victory against
struggling Celta at home on Sunday (TV: GolTV, live, 1 pm ET). Sevilla
and Real, which are tied for second place, are both on the road.
Sevilla, which lost the lead after losing two games of its last three
games and tying the third, visits lowly Levante on Sunday (TV: GolTV,
live, 11 am ET). During another difficult campaign for Real Madrid, one
positive has been its play away from home. The Merengues will look to
pick up their eighth win in 11 away games when they play at Villarreal
on Saturday (TV: GolTV, live, 4 pm ET).