After the midweek DFB Pokal quarter-finals were decided, it was back to Bundesliga action this weekend with nine mouth-watering clashes to savour. Bayern overcame Schalke in the big game on Saturday, but there was disappointment for Leverkusen. The usual suspects at the bottom continued to struggle.
We had a triple-Doppelpack, more goalkeeping chaos, the return of a legend, soaring eagles and goals aplenty. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 22?
The Friday night game that opened matchday 22 saw RB Leipzig continue their good recent run with a 2-0 win over FC Augsburg. The opening goal, which incidentally was the club’s 100th in their short Bundesliga history, came from the unlikeliest of sources- centre back Dayot Upamecano.
It may have been Leipzig’s century top flight goal, but it was the 19-year-old French defender’s first. The strike in the 17th minute was an acrobatic finish from a rebound after Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz could only parry Yussuf Poulsen’s header.
So this is what the Champions League places look like Adler fans. Make yourselves comfortable and enjoy it while you can. Frankfurt’s impressive win over Köln capped a fine week which saw them reach the semi-final of the DFB Pokal for a second season running.
Niko Kovac’s side were rampant in the second half at the Commerzbank Arena scoring three goals in an awesome eight-minute spell. The four goals were also shared about with Ante Rebic, Marco Russ, Simon Falette and Marius Wolf all on target.
The poor form shown at home in the Hinrunde, (they had the third worse record) looks to be a thing of the past and the immediate future looks bright as the club sit in the Champions League places with a place in the DFB Pokal final still in their sights. The Eagles are soaring right now!
It was the sight thousands of Borussia Dortmund fans were desperate to see- Marco Reus back in the BVB starting XI and strutting his stuff back at the Signal Iduna Park.
Making his first appearance since suffering a cruciate ligament injury last May, the 28-year-old attacker made it look like he’d never been away with an assured performance that had the Dortmund faithful purring in delight. Reus was the player injecting pace and creativity into the attack against Hamburg and he can be delighted with his 70 minute appearance. He was involved in the build-up to the first goal for Michy Batshuayi playing the ball to Christian Pulisic, who provided the assist.
“It was very exciting and really great to be back with the team and to soak up the atmosphere. I was delighted and am happy that we were able to crown it with a home win” he said at the final whistle.
The win was not just a welcome return for the BVB idol, who captained the side, but also saw the Schwarzgelben notch their 500th Bundesliga home win.
Adam Szalai/ Andrej Kramaric
It was a case of a triple-Doppelpack at the Rhein-Neckar Stadion on Saturday as Hoffenheim downed Mainz 4-2. Emil Berggreen scored both for the visitors, while for Julian Nagelsmann’s side both Adam Szalai and Andrej Kramaric scored a brace.
With Mark Uth on the bench it was up to the Hungarian Szalai and the Croat Kramaric to score the goals for the home side and both delivered. The pick of the bunch has to be the direct free-kick stroked majestically home by Kramaric to make it 4-2 in the 88th minute. The set-piece goal was also Hoffenheim’s 500th scored in the Bundesliga.
The Eurosport commentator covering the match humorously compared the Croatian forward to a bottle of ketchup. You wait a long time and nothing happens (his recent goal drought of 18 games) and then it all comes out at once (one last week against Hertha and two on Saturday).
Unlike the previous four VfB Stuttgart trainers, Tayfun Korkut managed to win his first home game in charge of the Swabians after a 1-0 victory secured a valuable three points on Sunday against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Eyebrows aplenty were raised when it was revealed he was the man chosen to succeed Hannes Wolf when he was dismissed recently. Korkut certainly did himself no favours with his coaching record at either Hannover, Kaiserslautern or Bayer Leverkusen, but the Stuttgart-born trainer can be pleased with the start he has made taking four points from his first two matches.
VfB have opened up a four-point gap over Mainz in 16th thanks to Sunday’s victory secured by Daniel Ginczek’s first half goal.
The Grün-Weißen built upon last week’s impressive win at Schalke by taking another three points at home to VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday. Werder’s battle to avoid relegation was given a massive boost after goals from Ludwig Augustinsson and Florian Kainz (2) saw Florian Kohfeldt’s side to a second win in a row.
With a winnable match against Freiburg next weekend and then a six-pointer against Hamburg in the Nordderby after, it could be that Bremen move well clear of the drop zone in the coming weeks.
It was a bad day at the office all round for Bayer Leverkusen as they suffered their second home defeat of the season (Bayern Munich the other) at the hands of Hertha Berlin. For the second game in a row, the Werkself also failed to find the back of the net themselves, after scoring in all their previous matches this season.
Hertha’s first goal from Valentino Lazaro was well worked, but the normally dependable Jonathan Tah made a huge error for the second scored by Salomon Kalou. “Somehow I had the feeling that we could have played another hour today and not scored” trainer Heiko Herrlich bemoaned after the game.
The defeat combined with results elsewhere means that Leverkusen have dropped out of the top four with RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of them now in the standings.
It is a second (unwanted) appearance in the ‘Schlechte Woche’ section in a row for Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann this week. Following his blooper last weekend against Werder Bremen, the Königsblauen number one was at fault again for both of Bayern Munich’s goals in their 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
The Bavarians opened the scoring in the 6th minute when Fährmann could only weakly parry a shot from Thomas Müller into the path of the deadly Robert Lewandowski. Worse was to come thirty minutes later when the goalkeeper allowed himself to be beaten at his near post by Müller. The Bayern forward later admitted it wasn’t a shot, but a cross, although Fährmann still allowed too much space to be exposed.
“The first ball I wanted to push over the bar. The second goal I thought that he was going to square. I should not have done that with Thomas Müller. They were two bitter goals to concede” the keeper explained to SKY after the match. “I am not a machine, but I should have defended differently.”
It may be Karneval time in Mainz right now, but there is very little to celebrate for the Nullfünfer this week. After being knocked-out of the Cup in midweek by Frankfurt, Sandro Schwarz’s side suffered their third consecutive league defeat after losing to Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Goals from Emil Berggreen kept them in the game, but it always looked like a game the hosts were going to emerge from victorious. The loss sees Mainz continue to occupy a place in the bottom three and with Stuttgart and Werder Bremen above them both winning.
Dieter Hecking/ Borussia Mönchengladbach
‘Slip slidin away’ sang Simon and Garfunkel back in 1975 and it could very well be the perfect song to sum up Borussia Mönchengladbach at the moment. Going into the Winterpause the Fohlen found themselves sitting in sixth, but just two points behind Schalke in second.
Now after three successive losses Gladbach are tenth and starting to see the European places drifting away. Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Stuttgart was also the third league game in a row in which they had failed to score. At the Mercedes Benz Arena, they were woeful in the first half and looked far off the pace in every department. They did improve in the second with the introduction of Raffael, but in the end left empty-handed.
Next up is Borussia Dortmund, which will provide another stern test. Slip slidin away?
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