Five talking points from Matchday 20

This weekend’s Bundesliga action was filled with high-margin victories, as only one match ended in a draw while the other eight fixtures all ended in comfortable wins – with the exception being the Friday night encounter, as Bayer Leverkusen dug deep to come away with all the points from Borussia Park in a rather dull affair thanks to another match-winning strike from Son Heung-Min. In the Bavarian derby, Bayern Munich picked up a routine victory against revitalized Nürnberg, while Borussia Dortmund recorded an emphatic shattering at Werder Bremen. Schalke’s strong performance against Hannover meant that all four top sides to collected wins from the weekend’s matches. Moving down the table, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt both relied on three 1st half goals to register vital wins against bottom sides Hamburg and Eintracht Braunschweig, respectively; whereas Wolfsburg scored three times after the break to end Mainz’s impressive unbeaten streak. Meanwhile, Augsburg kept up their own recent good form with an overwhelming win at Stuttgart. At the other end of the table, Anthony Modeste returned to the score-sheet after a long absence to rescue an invaluable point for Hoffenheim at fellow relegation-strugglers Freiburg.

Die Foals’ slump continues in Favre’s 100th game in charge

Lucien Favre’s 100th league match in charge of Borussia Mönchengladbach resulted in an unwanted record for the Foals, as they’ve now lost their first three Rückrunde matches for the first time in the club’s storied history following a lackluster display against second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night. After going the entire first half of the season unbeaten at home, not to mention only dropping two points in the process, ‘Gladbach have now lost twice in a row in front of their supporters, which leaves them falling to sixth in the standings after the more than satisfactory third-place standing at the winter break. Of course they will now have the luxury of not facing the top two teams anymore, as they prepare to return to form when they visit struggling Werder Bremen next week. An additional worry for Favre’s side is their bad record in front of goal since the league’s resumption, as they scored only once in their last three matches.

Adrián Ramos for Torjägerkanone?

The Colombian striker is arguably playing to his full potential this season, providing goals with the deadliest of finishes for great effect of Hertha Berlin’s spectacular season. Ramos stayed with the capital club during the dark times when the side was relegated, not once but twice, and now rumors have it he is seen as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund when the prolific Polish striker leaves at the end of the season. But first, the striker has got some competition from the likes of none other than Lewandowski himself, Mario Mandžukić and last season’s winner Stefan Kießling, as he bids to finish top of the Bundesliga’s goalscoring chart. Ramos’ brace against Hamburg still keeps him top of the pile, having one more goal than the Bayern-bound striker, despite Lewandowski scoring twice this weekend in Dortmund’s romp over Bremen. Besides the Torjägerkanone, Ramos will set his target to feature in this summer’s World Cup for Colombia, as an injury to talismanic Radamel Falcao, which will probably see the Monaco’s forward out of the showdown, might open the gate for the Bundesliga’s current top-scorer.

Hamburg’s unprecedented record in danger

As the only ever-present club in the Bundesliga’s 5o year history, in addition to having players of Rafael van der Vaart’s caliber in their squad, one might struggle to believe that Hamburg are flirting with relegation. The Red Shorts let go of Torsten Fink following an embarrassing 6-2 defeat at Dortmund and all seemed to work out for new coach Bert van Marwijk at first as he made the most out of the partnership of skipper van der Vaart and Pierre-Michel Lasogga. However, their form has gradually hit the lowest point, and this week’s defeat at home against Hertha Berlin left HSV with no points from their last six league matches, losing the last three by the  same 3-0 scoreline. Next week will be crucial for Hamburg, as they will play against the only side currently sitting beneath them in the standings: Eintracht Braunschweig. A win at any cost, then, will probably change HSV’s campaign to the better.

Former League Champions in danger of playing in second division

Of the three clubs – besides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – to have recently lifted the salad bowl, two are currently struggling to find their way out of the relegation zone. Under the guidance of current Eintracht Frankfurt coach Armin Veh, Stuttgart caught everyone by surprise in the 2006-07 Bundesliga season by winning the title. Now they find themselves at the wrong end of the table and a frustrating defeat at home to Augsburg on Sunday extends their losing streak to five matches.

Moreover, Werder Bremen won the title exactly ten seasons ago, but dire times reign at the club now.  Robin Dutt faced a stiff challenge to return the colorful club back to the good days when he took over the Werder coaching job in the summer but, from the looks of it, it’s hard to see the side improving. Having lost 7-0 at home against Bayern Munich just before the Winterpause, the Green-Whites suffered another heavy defeat this weekend in front of their vociferous supporters by the hands of Borussia Dortmund.

On paper, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Werder Bremen are much better than the likes of Augsburg and Mainz, but the results keep pushing the underdogs to the unlikely European places while the three “big” clubs fight for their lives at the other end of the table.

FC Augsburg finally settled in the Bundesliga

Escaping the drop in both of their prior Bundesliga seasons by the skin of their teeth left many to rate Augsburg as a firsthand candidate for relegation at the start of the season. However, Markus Weinzierl and co. are not just playing to secure their league status this time out, as it seems, thanks to a fantastic season so far by the Bavarians. That run continued at Stuttgart on the weekend, as they comfortably extended their unbeaten streak to eight games thanks to a 4-1 away victory.

Top scorer Andre Hahn bagged a brace with Augsburg finally able to score four goals for the first time in a Bundesliga match away from home. Stuttgart started the match in strong fashion, but they got their punishment for not taking their chances, as they chased a two-goal deficit at the halftime break. They were counting on the goal scoring prowess of Vedad Ibišević for an unlikely comeback, but the Bosnian striker rather picked up a straight red card, which made it even more of a walk-in-the-park scenario for the eighth-placed side. With one eye in Europa League places, Augsburg can take a solace from the fact that they already surpassed their season expectations ahead of the remaining league fixtures.

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical differences, he's interested in every detail of German football, if not any kind of football. Wolfsburg's industrious away win at Hamburg started his Bundesliga obsession back in 2005. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG

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