As we enter the festive period, the Bundesliga action keeps providing thrills and spills as we reach the home straight ahead of the Winterpause. Bayern got back to winning ways, while Dortmund and Schalke drew again after last week’s Klassiker thriller.
We had goals aplenty, red cards, injuries, more VAR controversy as well as another coaching casualty. So, just who were the winners and losers of matchday 14?
Bayern got back to winning ways following their defeat last weekend to Borussia Mönchengladbach and with their title challengers mostly faltering, the Bavarians have opened up a six-point lead at the top of the table with three games left before the Winterpause.
It took a while to get going against Hannover, but goals from Arturo Vidal (again!), Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski (who else?) were enough to seal a 3-1 home win.
The win sets them up nicely for their final Champions League group game against Paris St Germain on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena. Both sides have qualified for the knock-out stage, but Bayern will be keen to avenge their earlier defeat in Paris and finish as group winners.
Hoffenheim/ Serge Gnabry
Last week’s 3-0 loss to Hamburg and a disappointing run of form was put well and truly to bed at the weekend as Hoffenheim thumped RB Leipzig 4-0 at the Rhein-Neckar Arena. Serge Gnabry, who hasn’t exactly rediscovered his top form from last season was a double scorer, with his second a real screamer as he lobbed keeper Peter Gulacsi from fully 45 meters.
Mark Uth scored his seventh of the season with Nadiem Amiri also on the scoresheet. “We’ve beaten one of the best teams in the league today. Those are my players. How good this victory feels” coach Julian Nagelsmann said at the final whistle.
“This game should now stand as a benchmark for us – regardless of who we play. This is how I want the team to continue.”
Augsburg find themselves knocking on the door of the European places following their 3-1 win over Mainz. Manuel Baum’s side are now seventh hot on the heels of Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim.
Alfred Finnbogason scored twice to take his tally to eight for the season while fellow scorer Michael Gregoritsch is one behind on seven. The win ended a run of five wins in a row for Mainz against the Függerstädter at the Opel Arena.
Under normal circumstances a point garnered away at Schalke would be a positive, but in Köln’s current plight a solitary point is not really that helpful- a win is what the Geißböcke urgently need.
However one positive from their 2-2 draw at the Veltins Arena was the two-goal performance of Sehrou Guirassy. The Frenchman has come in for a bit of criticism this season for his displays up front and has not been able to shake off his calamitous miss against Werder Bremen (the Köln fans reportedly tossed his shirt back when he threw it into the crowd after the game!).
His first goal, while not the prettiest of efforts was important to get Köln back on level terms and his second saw him keep his cool from the penalty spot to help clinch a point when it looked like Amine Harit’s goal had condemned Peter Stöger’s side to yet another loss.
Die Wölfe produced arguably their best performance of the season on Sunday as they easily dispatched Borussia Mönchengladbach (the conquerors of Bayern Munich last weekend).
Their 3-0 win was graced by an early opener from Yunus Malli with his fourth goal in his last four games and a second from Daniel Didavi. The best goal was saved until last with Josh Guilavogui firing in a vicious drive that took a deflection off Denis Zakaria to leave Yann Sommer without a hope of saving it.
So the axe has finally fallen on poor Köln trainer Peter Stöger. The writing had been on the wall after the club’s worst ever start to a league season, but the Geißböcke had been loyally sticking with the coach, who led them into Europe last season.
The point gained away at Schalke was only their third of the season and they are a full eight points behind 17th placed Werder Bremen and eleven points from safety with just three games to go before the Winterpause.
What went wrong requires an article all of its own, but the rot has set in an it became inevitable that a change was required after sporting director Jorg Schmadtke resigned a few weeks ago. The club’s U-19 coach Stefan Ruthenbeck has been put in charge for the next three games.
Maximilian Philipp/ Gonzalo Castro
As if things weren’t already gloomy for Borussia Dortmund right now, two serious-looking injuries at the weekend have put another black cloud over the Signal-Iduna Park. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended, Maximilian Philipp returned to the attack against Bayer Leverkusen, but only lasted five minutes before being stretchered off with what looked a nasty injury. Philipp looked to twist his knee following an innocuous challenge with Jonathan Tah.
“We suspect a serious knee injury for Maximilian Philipp,” BVB sporting director Michael Zorc told reporters after the match. Gonzalo Castro was also forced off with what is suspected to be knee ligament damage. It looks as if both players have played their last game in the Hinrunde and could well be set for a lengthy spell in the treatment room.
It was a case of what could have been for Bayer Leverkusen against Dortmund on Saturday. A goal ahead thanks to Kevin Volland’s ninth goal of the season, the Werkself looked quicker, stronger, hungrier and more confident than their opponents.
That was until referee Robert Hartmann changed his mind over the yellow card he awarded defender Wendell after consultation the VAR and reviewing the footage pitchside.
To be fair the Brazilian showed no malice in his effort to block Gonzalo Castro’s cross, and you can understand why at the time a yellow card was given. The replay however was not pleasant viewing and it is hard to argue a red card wasn’t warranted.
From then on, with a man less, Leverkusen ceded possession to Dortmund and could only emerge with a 1-1 draw. A costly sending off for Heiko Herrlich’s side.
Last season Leipzig were breathing down the neck of Bayern Munich right up to the final game of the Hinrunde, but costly defeats like the one suffered away at Hoffenheim are why the Red Bulls are a full six points behind the Bavarians with three games left before the winter shutdown.
The 4-0 defeat at the Rhein-Neckar Arena was their heaviest loss of the campaign so far and will be a bitter pill to swallow for Ralph Hasenhüttl and his squad.
Bayer Leverkusen Marketing Department
Yo, ho, ho! Well not exactly at Bayer Leverkusen. With the club shop and on-line store doing brisk business in the run-up to Christmas, the club have been forced to remove a thousand advent calendars from sale following a production error.
With the festive countdown calendars ready to deliver a chocolate surprise each day in the run-up to Christmas Day, it was noticed (too late) that old sponsors TelDaFax were used on the box rather than actual current sponsors Barmenia Versicherungen. Back in 2015 the club were forced to pay back nearly €13 million to the bankrupt energy company.
Bah humbug! Not wanting to waste 120kg of finest chocolate, the redundant stock has been donated to a Leverkusen charity for under-privileged people.
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