It was back to Bundesliga action after yet another international break with nine exciting match-ups for our enjoyment. Jupp Heynckes continued to work his magic at Bayern with another win, Dortmund continued to falter and Köln continued to suffer atrocious luck.
Werder Bremen grabbed their first win, while Schalke and Mönchengladbach continued to climb towards the top. Drama, controversy, goals, red cards, the weekend had it all. So, just who were the winners and losers of matchday 12?
Königsblauen fans are going to have to start taking the altitude sickness tablets if this carries on. A 2-0 home win over Hamburg on Sunday combined with other results sees Schalke up in second place in the Bundesliga table six points behind Bayern Munich, but more importantly for them, three ahead of rivals Borussia Dortmund.
The three points against HSV were far from straightforward but a rare Franco Di Santo goal from the penalty spot and a second from Guido Burgstaller sealed the points. Defender Naldo was absolutely immense against Fiete Arp — a player 17 years his junior — and Weston McKennie also had another stand-out game.
It has been five years since the clubs occupied such heady heights in the table, and sets them up superbly for next weekend’s Revierderby, where they will have to be considered favourites.
New hair style, but the same old Lewandowski! After Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, it was the Polish striker’s turn for a go on the communal bottle of hair dye, but the change in colour clearly had no effect on his goal output. Having previously scored 16 goals in 12 previous games against Augsburg, he duly netted a double on Saturday to help Bayern to a 3-0 win.
With his main rival for the Torjägerkanone Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dropped from the Dortmund squad this weekend, it gave Lewandowski the chance to open up a gap in their personal duel, which now sees him on 12 goals and Aubameyang three behind.
If VfB Stuttgart could pick up points away from home, they’d be title contenders! The Swabians have accumulated 16 points this season putting them in 11th place. All of those points though have been picked up at their Mercedes-Benz Arena home with the latest three coming on Friday against Dortmund.
If Hannes Wolf could somehow find a way to transform that form to their travels, then the promoted side would be looking at European qualification rather than nervously over their shoulder at the trapdoor back to the second tier. Friday’s match was costly, however, for VfB as they lost leading scorer Chadrac Akolo and forward Daniel Ginczek to injury, with Akolo likely to miss the next two matches and Ginczek to be out even longer.
The long-suffering fans at the Weser Stadion finally have something to cheer about as the Grün-Weißen managed their first win of the season in some style against Hannover. Florian Kohfeldt, in charge for the first time at home since being given the trainer gig, oversaw a 4-0 win with Max Kruse scoring a second half hat-trick.
The win was their first in fourteen matches covering the end of last season and the start of this and lifts them out of the bottom two for the first time this season. Could this be the start of Werder’s resurrection?
It’s all well and good proudly standing there with an unbeaten record, but when you also have a record of zero wins, the shine is taken off somewhat. Since succeeding Andries Jonker as Wolfsburg trainer Martin Schmidt had overseen seven consecutive draws and must have been wondering whether the nickname ‘Schublade’ was going to stick.
At home to Freiburg on Saturday the stalemate specialist finally got his first three points with a 3-1 victory. When Bartosz Kapustka pulled one back in the 68th minute to make it 2-1, it looked like the same old story for the Wölfe, but Yunus Malli added his second of the game two minutes later to set up a maiden win for Schmidt.
Gladbach have suffered some pretty demoralising defeats this season (6-1 v Borussia Dortmund and 5-1 v Bayer Leverkusen), but to their credit they have bounced back and following an impressive display against Hertha Berlin the Fohlen have moved up to fourth in the Bundesliga table.
Three goals in the opening 20 minutes from Lars Stindl, Thorgan Hazard and Raffael put them well and truly in the driving seat at the Olympiastadion in Berlin and although Hertha did respond, Dieter Hecking’s side ran out 4-2 victors. They have the third worse defensive record in the league, but currently sit in the top four- go figure!
Oh dear! A second successive appearance in the ‘schlechte Woche’ column for poor old Peter Bosz. He must be looking back upon the opening weeks of the season and rubbing his eyes in disbelief at what he sees before him right now. His week started going wrong when the club opted to discipline Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by dropping him from the squad to face Stuttgart on Friday. Depending on which version of events you read, the prolific striker was punished for turning up late for training or allowing a film crew to use the club’s facilities without permission.
Bosz’s week then got even worse when his side kicked off the weekend action at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Comical/ suicidal defending from Laurel and Hardy Bartra and Bürki allowed Stuttgart to take a very early lead and despite being given a lifeline through a penalty, more poor defending allowed the hosts to run out 2-1 winners and subject the Schwarzgelben to a fourth defeat of the season
A one-time six point lead over Bayern has now become a nine point deficit.
Henrich’s contribution on Saturday for Bayer Leverkusen can be summed up quite succinctly: seven minutes, one chance created, one save and one red card. Sent on at the start of the second half by trainer Heiko Herrlich against Leipzig, he hardly had the chance to implement the tactical instructions given to him by the coach before he was back down the tunnel after receiving a straight red card from referee Harm Osmers.
Had Bernd Leno pulled off the save that denied Marcel Sabitzer on 52 minutes all would be well. However, Henrichs is clearly not a goalkeeper and his deliberate handball gave the official no choice and also allowed Leipzig to score their second of the afternoon.
Oh you’d like another spoonful of woe and misery? Yet another week goes by and the ‘C’ word is not just whispered but openly screamed at Köln after another VAR-aided defeat heaped more angst on the poor Geißböcke.
Crisis. Crisis. Crisis. Things are bad at Köln, but it must be an even harder and a bitterer pill to swallow when bad luck just seems to be the norm. A single goal scored via the penalty spot from ex-Kölner Daniel Brosinski was enough to see Mainz to victory.
That Pablo De Blasis clearly dived for the penalty and that Felix Brych didn’t go to review the incident on the pitchside monitors will incense fans of Köln, but that sort of sorry luck is par for the course this season.
Hamburg’s young Japanese, who stands at just 1m63 and weighs in at 58kg is not going to be the most physical of players and against Schalke he was struggling to compete for the ball without resorting to fouling. Booked on 28 minutes for pulling back Daniel Caligiuri after giving the ball away, he was on a knife-edge and looking a liability and contributing little, HSV trainer Markus Gisdol chose to haul him off after just 35 minutes. He’ll have better days.
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