It has been a barren few months for English players abroad. Of course there has been a handful of leagues which have continued throughout the global pandemic but unfortunately there has been no Englishman brave enough to compete in Belarus, Turkmenistan and Nicaragua.
That all changes this weekend though with the return of the top two flights of football in Germany. There are 11 players for us to watch out for in these two leagues so let’s take a closer look at the fixtures that matter to us.
Saturday 16th May
2:30pm: Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke
Arguably the biggest match of the weekend is the Revierderby between these two great rivals. Dortmund are still eight wins behind Schalke in the all time results in this fixture, despite the Yellows having performed better in recent years.
It goes without saying the star of the show is Jadon Sancho. The 20-year-old winger has a remarkable 30 goal involvements this season in 23 league matches. Speculation persists that this season could be his last in Germany with a number of Premier League clubs queuing up to bring him home but let’s hope the Bundesliga can convince him to stay a little while longer for this blog’s sake.
He’ll be going up against Jonjoe Kenny. The pair both played the full ninety the last time these two sides met back in October in a 0-0 draw. The defender on loan from Everton has been quietly going about his business this season and has missed just two league games for Schalke. Boss David Wagner has made it no secret he wants to keep the England youth international in Germany, depending on whether the Toffees are willing to let go the right-back. He’s chipped in with three assists and a goal from defence this season and although he is likely to be on the opposing flank to Sancho on Saturday, he’ll be hoping his presence in the back line can help them achieve another clean sheet against their rivals.
2:30pm Augsburg v Wolfsburg
It seems an awful long time now since Reece Oxford made that incredible Premier League debut for West Ham against Arsenal at the age of 16 and his career has not progressed as many would have expected after that performance in 2015. On one hand, he is at a Bundesliga club but on the other, he has made just 34 league appearances since that impressive debut.
After spending time on loan in Germany during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, the England youth international made the move permanent to the continent last summer, joining Augsburg for £1.8m. He began the season as one of their first choice defensive midfielders, making eight appearances in the club’s opening ten league matches. However, he hasn’t played since and hasn’t been part of a match day squad since December. Whether he will feature this week is unknown but last month he was linked with a move back to England following a failed move from Middlesbrough in January.
Augsburg are not completely out of relegation trouble yet, being just five points above the relegation playoff spot, so still have a lot to play for.
2:30pm Fortuna Düsseldorf v Paderborn
The return of football in Germany could bring a Bundesliga debut for one Englishman. Former Everton youngster Antony Evans joined Paderborn in the January window and made the bench three times for his new club before the halt in proceedings.
Paderborn may have had an eye on next season when signing Evans with his only previous senior experience having come during loan spells in League Two and League One and with the side currently rock bottom of the Bundesliga, they may not want to take a gamble. However, that might be exactly what they need if they are to avoid relegation at the first attempt as they had not won in their previous six matches before the lockdown so trying some new players may be what they need.
Evans was in fine form for Everton U23s move his move abroad, could he get the chance to help keep Paderborn up? He could get a chance starting with week’s journey to Fortuna who are one of the sides they are looking to catch.
2:30pm RB Leipzig v Freiburg
It has been a remarkably frustrating season for Ademola Lookman who has not been able to replicate the form he showed on loan in Germany back in 2018. Having joined Leipzig permanently last summer for £16m, he’s played just 245 minutes of action and does not have a goal or an assist to his name. Compare that to his loan spell where he contributed five goals and four assists in just 11 matches shows that there is a lot of work to be done for the former Everton man to rediscover his form.
Admittedly, he hasn’t been given the chances he would have hoped for since returning to Germany with just eight appearances and with the arrival of Dani Olmo at Leipzig in January, his chances of starting now seem even more slim. No wonder Newcastle were interested in bringing the winger home in January.
With nine games of the season left to play, Leipzig are right in the mix at the top of the table and are just five points off Bayern in top spot. Lookman has shown in the past he has the magic to win games and an improvement from him could be the spark his side need to take their title rivals down to the wire.
5:30pm Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The season started off so promisingly for Keanan Bennetts. He made the bench for Mönchengladbach in a Bundesliga match for the first time at the start of the season having spent the previous campaign developing for the club’s B team in the fourth-tier. However, things would soon take a downward turn as the former Spurs man picked up an injury which has virtually kept him out of action ever since.
The 21-year-old hasn’t played a game of any sorts since September last year but the left winger has posted pictures of him back in training lately so hopes are high for a return. The left winger is yet to make his competitive debut for Gladbach’s first team but has impressed for the side in friendlies. He could be a wildcard option for the club who are just six points off the top of the table in fourth place.
Saturday 16th May
12pm Bochum v Heidenheim
Into the second-tier now where we could see up to five Englishmen in action. A loan spell with Bochum has brought a first taste of senior football for Arsenal youngster Jordi Osei-Tutu. The 21-year-old is primarily a defender but has been versatile member of the squad this season. He’s played 12 league games so far for Bochum who are hovering just above the relegation playoff spot with nine games to play.
Osei-Tutu has played in his familiar right back position but also in right midfield and as a more advanced right winger and has two goals and an assist from his 12 appearances. In the last two games before lockdown, the boy from Slough started back to back games as a right winger. Where he’ll be used on Saturday vs 4th place Heidenheim remains to be seen.
12:30pm Greuther Fürth vs Hamburg
Another former Arsenal lad in Germany, Xavier Amaechi has been a regular part of the Hamburg side this season but has found his game time limited. The 19-year-old has been on the bench 16 times in the league this season but has only played once. He has however scored three times in four games for the B team in the fourth-tier.
Hamburg are a massive side and are desperate to return to the Bundesliga after suffering relegation for the first time in 2018. They have the chance to do that this season as they currently sit in third place a point off Stuttgart in the automatic promotion places.
Hopefully Amaechi will get the chance to help the side achieve promotion in the final games of the season.
12:30pm St. Pauli v Nürnberg
St. Pauli are famous across Europe for their impressive fan culture and match day atmosphere and Matt Penney (pictured at the start of this article) got to experience that when he celebrated scoring a screamer in their derby against their fierce rivals Hamburg earlier in the season. The left back on loan from Sheffield Wednesday certainly had an unforgettable experience that day.
Despite the goal, he has been in and out of the side this season due to a muscle injury at the end of the 2019. He has still made 12 league appearances, mostly at left back and before the lockdown had featured in three matches in a row so will be hopefully getting a start against relegation threatened Nürnberg.
Sunday 17th May
12:30pm Wehen v Stuttgart
Stuttgart currently sit in second place and have two Englishmen on their books as they travel to third bottom Wehen this Sunday.
Nathaniel Phillips has had an interesting season. The defender started the campaign on loan with Stuttgart playing eight times, returned to Liverpool to help them defeat Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup before then heading back out on loan to Germany. Since his return, he has been a rock at the back for Die Roten, starting seven consecutive games, helping to keep four clean sheets.
When Phillips returned to the club in January, he was joined by Clinton Mola. Just 18 at the time of the transfer, the versatile youngster joined Stuttgart from Chelsea for £360,000. The England U19 international was more accustomed to playing in defensive midfield for his former club but has made all three of his appearances in Germany so far as a left back.
The pair could well line up alongside each other in the run in for promotion.