Yet again the Bundesliga did not fail to deliver as we enjoyed another weekend of top football with thrills, spills and drama aplenty. We were treated to seven goals at the Allianz Arena, a Goal of the Season contender, more VAR controversy and yet another coaching casualty. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 20?
In the avian world, the eagle is at the top of the food chain, but in the world of the Bundesliga, it is rare to see the Adler of Eintracht Frankfurt enjoying such a reputation.
However, under coach Niko Kovac, the Eagles of the Commerzbank Arena are beginning to spread their wings and climb the table. Their 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday evening saw them temporarily sitting second in the table behind champions-elect Bayern Munich.
Eintracht’s Achilles heel in the Hinrunde was their home for, but early signs are that they are about to turn that around, which could set up a concerted push for a European place come the end of the Rückrunde. Kevin-Prince Boateng scored the opener on Friday with Luka Jovic adding a stoppage-time second. Coming on the back of their 3-1 away win over VfL Wolfsburg last weekend, it looks like the Eagles are set to soar.
Freiburg striker Nils Petersen finished the Hinrunde with a bang scoring seven goals in five games and he is carrying that form with him into the Rückrunde. A two-goal haul at the Signal Iduna Park took his season total to ten and very nearly set-up a shock win over Borussia Dortmund.
After Shinji Kagawa had fired BVB into a 9th minute lead it would have been easy for Freiburg to crumble, but they quickly got back on level terms on 21 minutes. With the ball looking to be running over the bye-line, Janik Haberer did superbly to cut it across for Petersen to fire in at the near post beating former teammate Roman Bürki.
Petersen’s second midway through the second half was a piece of pure genius. He read Nuri Sahin’s intentions and latched onto a poor touch from the Dortmund midfielder. In one movement, he spotted Bürki off his line and from fully 30 meters launched an audacious lob goalwards. The precision of his effort was a thing of beauty and his spectacular effort flew into the net for will no doubt be a serious contender for Goal of the Season.
With 12 minutes played at the Allianz Arena it looked very much like Bayern’s poor record against Hoffenheim was set to continue and like Julian Nagelsmann was going to engineer another win over the Bavarians. Two quick goals from Mark Uth and Serge Gnabry sent the Kraichgauer into a commanding position, only for Bayern to hit back with five goals of their own.
Two goals in quick succession from Robert Lewandowski and Jerome Boateng got Jupp Heynckes’ side level before half-time and the second 45 minutes witnessed further goals from Kingsley Coman, Arturo Vidal and Sandro Wagner against his former side.
The wins ends a run which had seen Bayern take just one point and score one goal from their previous three meeting with the Sinsheim club.
Schalke’s veteran centre-back chalked up his 337th Bundesliga appearance in the Königsblauen’s 2-0 win over Stuttgart at the Mercedes Benz Arena, making him the Brazilian with the most Bundesliga appearances of all-time. His appearance on matchday 20 took him one clear of compatriot Zé Roberto.
Breaking the appearance record however was not enough for the 35-year-old as he had the added bonus of heading in Schalke’s opening goal taking his season’s tally to five.
Naldo made his Bundesliga debut back in August 2005 for Werder Bremen and 12-and-a-half years later he’s still doing the business in the German top-flight. “I hope to be able to play for Schalke even longer than 2019, but whatever the case, I’m not thinking about quitting yet,” he recently told Bild. “Personally, I feel very good; I’m pleased that I can contribute to success.”
Sandro Wagner’s Johnson
That Sandro Wagner would come back to haunt his former side when they met on Saturday was almost a given and the German international striker duly wrapped up a 5-2 win for Bayern Munich with a goal in the 90th minute having replaced Joshua Kimmich six minutes earlier. The goal came ten-and-a-half years after his last for the club back in 2007.
However, it was not a trademark header or volleyed finish that got the forward his first league goal since returning to Bavaria. It wasn’t with his left-foot, nor with his right, but rather than with his……err……penis that he scored.
Some accounts will say he bundled the ball over the line, but Wagner himself has confessed to his ‘johnson’ being involved. “It may be that my penis played a part” he told Bild. “It was there, I’m just not sure. It happened so fast, but it was still very pleasant.”
Was he cock-a-hoop? Is he happy playing second fiddle? Or is he glad just being a ‘member’ of the squad?
Let’s move on.
The Werkself reclaimed second place in the table from Schalke with their 2-0 home win over Mainz on Sunday. The victory over the Nullfünfer at the Bay-Arena also saw Heiko Herrlich’s side set a club record in the Bundesliga scoring for the 25th consecutive league game.
Man-of-the-moment Leon Bailey scored the first with an absolute screamer before Wendell added a second from the penalty spot.
Last week saw the sacking of Markus Gisdol at Hamburg and following a 2-0 home defeat to Schalke, it was the turn of Stuttgart trainer Hannes Wolf to face the Sunday morning meeting informing him that his tenure as VfB coach was at an end.
From guiding the club to promotion to the sack in the space of just eight months. It may be a little harsh on the coach, but in the high pressure world of the Bundesliga, club management are bound to get a little fidgety as the Rückrunde progresses and their side continues to hover around the relegation places.
For a more in-depth look at the Wolf sacking, check-out our article: The Bundesliga Sack Race: Stuttgart Fire Hannes Wolf
Roman Bürki vs BVB Fans
Just when you thought there might be a bit of positivity coming out of the Signal Iduna Park, there comes a disappointing display where they were lucky to come away with a point against Freiburg and more controversy after the match.
Forget the booing of want-away striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the strife now seems to be between goalkeeper Roman Bürki and the fans of the Schwarzgelben.
The Swiss keeper reacted angrily at the final whistle in a post-match interview in which he took a swipe at supporters in the East and West stands. “Sometimes I get the feeling the East and West stands think: ‘I’ll go to the stadium on Saturday, see what’s on and whistle my own team’. I don’t hear any support from these stands. These whistles are the wrong method, they should stay at home.”
Sporting Director Michael Zorc however wasn’t impressed by Bürki’s comments and moved quickly to calm the situation. “The statement is inappropriate and the content is wrong. I recommend the players watch the 90 minutes again – because they must be careful that they do not whistle themselves.”
Bürki himself had an afternoon to forget against his former club as he was lobbed from 30 meters by Nils Petersen for the Breisgauer’s second goal, while also being beaten at his near post for their first.
With the club out of the European places, with Aubameyang on the verge of leaving and with players criticising the fans, it definitely not a case of Happy Families at Borussia Dortmund right now.
RB Leipzig left-back Marcel Halstenberg’s season and his dreams of making it into the Germany squad for the World Cup look to be over after the defender suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 26-year-old was injured in a midweek training session ahead of this weekend’s clash with Hamburg at the Red Bull Arena.
He will undergo knee surgery and will be out of action for several months. The injury comes at a time when he was seriously pushing to be selected by Joachim Low for the summer World Cup tournament in Russia. Halstenberg made his Nationalelf debut against England in the friendly in November at Wembley.
Borussia Mönchengladbach attacker Thorgan Hazard saw his 100% record from the penalty spot this season come to an end against Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday and it probably cost his side a share of the spoils.
The Belgian had successfully dispatched all four of his previous penalties this season so when die Fohlen were awarded a spot-kick in the 78th minute at the Commerzbank Arena, it looked as if they were set for a point.
However, Hazard fired his shot against the bar to waste the opportunity and Frankfurt went on to add insult to injury by scoring a second goal of their own in the 92nd minute to clinch all three points.
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