It was another grim afternoon for the bottom two in the Bundesliga, although there was joy for the likes of Mainz and Stuttgart above them. Bayern left it late against Wolfsburg, Peter Stöger maintained his unbeaten run at Dortmund, while Domenico Tedesco won the battle of the young coaches as Schalke overcame Hoffenheim.
We had fan protests, dodgy pitches, injury-time penalties, more VAR trauma, and much more. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 23?
Mainz may remain in the bottom three following this weekend’s action, but they did notch up a potentially extremely valuable three points on Friday evening with a 2-0 win away at Hertha Berlin to open up a six-point cushion between themselves and Hamburg in 17th.
The hero of the night for the Nullfünfer was their Swedish attacker Quaison, who scored both of their goals at the Olympiastadion in the capital. He opened the scoring in the 40th minute, after neat footwork on the edge of the penalty box allowed him to create enough space for a shot, which he fired low inside Rune Jarstein’s left post.
The 24-year-old’s second goal mid-way through the second half was also another top finish after he ran on to a long ball, took a touch to control and then stabbed his finish into the Hertha net.
Curiously all five of Quaison’s Bundesliga goals so far have all been scored away from home.
Marco Reus/ Roman Bürki
Borussia Dortmund talisman Marco Reus had a ‘Gute Woche’ last week after making his long-awaited comeback against Hamburg and the comeback continued in fine form with the winning goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday.
It had been mooted that Reus may have been rested having also played 62 minutes of the midweek Europa League tie with Atalanta, but Peter Stöger kept faith with Woodyinho and was rewarded with a match-winning performance.
It wasn’t just that he scored the only goal of the game, but the absolute quality of the finish. Picking up the ball on the right side of the area from an Andre Schürrle pass, he fired in a dipping shot off the underside of the crossbar leaving Yann Sommer helpless.
“I didn’t get a clean contact with the ball when I scored: I actually wanted to shoot further to the left to be completely honest about that” he admitted after the match. “Of course it’s great that it went in nevertheless.
BVB keeper Roman Bürki was also on top-form pulling off a string of important saves to deny Mönchengladbach. Bürki’s eleven saves broke the season record for shots stopped in one game.
“I’m hurting all over,” the BVB custodian said at the final whistle. “That just goes to show how hard we worked for this win today. I try my best all the time and I am well aware that sometimes it doesn’t always come off, but I’m really pleased that it did today.”
Bayern Munich have their detractors, but one thing you cannot criticise is the fact that they possess immense resilience and do not give up on a game until the referee has blown his final whistle. Yes, we have the whole Bayern-Dusel myth/ conspiracy, but the Bavarians have time and again pulled wins from the final seconds of a game and this weekend was yet another example.
Bayern were under-par against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday and looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw after Sandro Wagner had equalised Daniel Didavi’s 8th minute opener. However, with the seconds ticking down, Gian-Luca Itter pulled back Arjen Robben to hand substitute Robert Lewandowski the chance from the penalty spot. There was never really any doubt over the outcome and Jupp Heynckes’ side left the Volkswagen Arena with all three points.
Priority number one for Mario Gomez is scoring the goals to keep VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, but a positive side-effect of achieving that target could well be a place in Germany’s World Cup squad for Super Mario.
Every win is vital for Stuttgart in their battle to stay in the league and Gomez was on target again on Sunday scoring the only goal of the game to see the Swabians to a victory away at FC Augsburg. They now sit 13th on 27 points giving them a four-point cushion over Mainz in 16th.
Gomez scored in the 27th minute firing into the far corner after Erik Thommy’s free-kick had rebounded to him on the edge of the area. After his assist in last week’s win over Borussia Mönchengladbach and his goal the week before against VfL Wolfsburg, there will be growing feeling that the 32-year-old could be a viable choice in Joachim Löw’s World Cup squad for Russia.
Nico Kovac’s Eagles continue to soar at the top end of the table after their Monday night victory over RB Leipzig. Their third straight home win puts them third in the table. They had to come from behind, but goals from Timothy Chandler and Kevin-Prince Boateng saw them to a big win over a real competitor for the European places.
When is it not a bad week for HSV right now? Not only did the Rothosen lose again to seemingly accelerate their plummet towards relegation and Bundesliga 2, but they also incurred the wrath of the Volksparkstadion ultras.
Times are tough at Hamburg right now with the famous Bundesliga-Uhr under serious threat of being stopped. The poor HSV fans have been tortured this season with the abysmal football on show and sections of the ultras have had enough.
Prior to kick-off on Saturday a banner was unfurled with a not-too subtle threat to the players- ‘Bevor die Uhr ausgeht, jagen wir euch durch die Stadt’ (before the clock stops, we’ll hunt you through the city).
After their 2-1 home defeat (their 200th in the Bundesliga) to Bayer Leverkusen, fans twice tried to storm the pitch and gain access to the player’s tunnel. Only the swift reaction of riot police with dogs prevented them.
Tick, tock, HSV. Tick tock…
It’s the 94th minute of Köln’s match with Hannover with the scores level at 1-1. A point really isn’t enough for the Geißböcke in their fight against relegation, but wait! Marcel Risse receives the ball on the right flank, whips in a great cross and there is veteran Claudio Pizarro to head in. Pandemonium breaks out, I know because I’m in the middle of it.
Sat up in the rafters of the Ostribune it’s mayhem as I’m making lots of new friends as random strangers hug me and jump up and down like lunatics. Yes, yes, yes oh bleeping yes!!!
Uh-oh! What’s referee Markus Schmidt doing? Hand over his ear, he’s being informed that Risse was marginally offside before the cross- whistle blown, no goal, jubilation turns to confusion and then to anger. That has just ruined many people’s afternoon.
Borussia Park Ground Staff
On paper Borussia Mönchengladbach had a decent chance against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, but football is not played on paper- it’s played on grass so it came as no surprise that BVB triumphed. However, the state of the grass inside the Borussia Park was far from satisfactory.
The farmer’s field in which I walk my dog each morning is of a better quality than that on display as the Fohlen entertained the Schwarzgelben this weekend. A combination of wet conditions followed by frost caused the pitch to deteriorate to such an extent that drastic action was needed from the groundsmen.
It was patched up as best they could, but that didn’t stop referee Bastian Dankert carrying out a comprehensive pitch inspection with the option of a postponement realistically on the table.
The first of this season’s unpopular ‘Montagsspiele’ (Monday games) took place this weekend (see we can’t even use the word weekend now!) and it is safe to say Bundesliga traditionalists are not impressed.
Eintracht Frankfurt hosted RB Leipzig at the Commerzbank Arena and the Adler fans made their feelings very clear. Fans protested by climbing down from the stands to occupy the area behind the advertising hoardings before kick-off causing a slight delay to the start. When referee Felix Zwayer did finally get things underway, there was a constant barrage of whistles for the opening twenty minutes giving the game a strange atmosphere.
The start of the second half was also delayed after hundreds of tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch around Peter Gulacsi’s goal. No sooner had the stewards cleared the pitch than a second wave of balls rained down onto the pitch.
‘Slip slidin’ away’……that about covers the Fohlen again this week. Four losses on the bounce and zero goals scored. Enough said.
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