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By Rich Murray
In a two-part upset on Friday, Hamburg defeated visiting Leverkusen, 1:0. Not only did relegation zone-dweller Hamburg defeat 9th-place Leverkusen, but the match’s lone goal came from defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who is on loan to Hamburg from Leverkusen. The win gives Hamburg an important 3 points in their struggle to escape the league’s relegation zone and tied in the table with league rival Werder Bremen going into Saturday’s matches. In another blow to Leverkusen, midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has been suspended for 4 months, meaning he will miss the rest of the season, depriving the club of their best scorer. The suspension stems from a 2011 dispute with Turkish club Trabzonspor, which had reached an agreement with Calhanoglu to have him transfer there from Karlsruher SC, after which Calhanoglu extended his contract with Karlsruhe. Much of the league will be watching Saturday’s match between Dortmund and Leipzig at Signal Iduna Park. Many are wondering if Leipzig has replaced Dortmund as the league’s principal rival to Bayern München, and Bayern themselves will face longtime Dortmund rival Schalke earlier in the day. Leipzig defeated Dortmund earlier this season and Dortmund’s fans refused to travel east then to even watch the pair’s first-ever contest. This time, about 8000 visitors are expected from Leipzig. Also worth watching is a likely face-off between young stars Julian Weigl and Naby Keita, which may well determine which team comes out on top. In Munich, captain Philipp Lahm will be making his 500th football appearance and Xabi Alonso his 100th. If goaltender Manuel Neuer can shut out Schalke, it will be his 100th shutout while playing for Bayern. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga this weekend, watch for the debut of Bojan Krkic, who is on loan to Mainz from Stoke City FC, and Sunday’s derby when Darmstadt under coach Torsten Frings travels to nearby Frankfurt. Frankfurt has been hot lately, now having climbed into 3rd place, while Darmstadt seems destined for relegation to the 2. Bundesliga next season.
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