This weekend brought more woe for Hamburg with a thrashing and a change of trainer. Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen did their Champions League hopes the world of good with important wins, while at the bottom the usual suspects continued to struggle.
We had milestone goals, coaching firings, a baptism debut, late drama and season-ending injuries. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 26?
With Hamburg the visitors to the Allianz Arena on Saturday, there were always going to be goals on offer for Bayern and Robert Lewandowski in particular must have rubbing his hands in anticipation before the match.
And so it came to pass that the Bavarians handed out their now annual thrashing to their Northern opponents with a 6-0 win. The Polish striker also predictably enjoyed a prolific afternoon hitting a hat trick and he even missed a penalty!
The penalty he did score to complete his hat trick late on provided quite a milestone with it being the 100th Bundesliga goal he’d scored for Bayern. Lewandowski also overtook Giovane Elber’s record as the club’s all-time leading foreign scorer.
The Bundesliga Torjägerkanone seems a dead-cert for the Bayern striker this season with his tally already on 23 from 24 games, and he will now have his sights on the European Golden Boot.
Manuel Baum’s side came away from Hannover on Saturday with all three points, which will provide a massive boost to the Fuggerstädter going into the final phase of the season.
Having taken just one point and scored one goal in their last four Bundesliga matches, it was looking like Augsburg were going to be sucked into the zone in and around the likes of Mainz and VfL Wolfsburg. They are however now eighth in the table a full ten points clear of the bottom three.
A brace from Michael Gregoritsch (taking his season tally to eleven) and a header from Gojko Kacar saw them to a 3-1 win at the HDI Arena.
The Werkself’s stated intention is to finish as runners-up to Bayern Munich this season and their well-deserved victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach sees them still on course to be in with a shout of second.
“Hopefully we can come second, because of course first place is gone – Bayern have that, but second place is possible,” winger Leon Bailey said after the match on Saturday. “Our hope is to qualify for Europe; that’s our aim and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Bailey was on top form as he was heavily involved in Lucas Alario’s opener and was a constant thorn in both Nico Elvedi and Tony Jantschke’s sides all afternoon. Leverkusen still have to travel to both Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig this season, but aside from those games, have a fairly straight-forward run-in.
Second-place would be an absolutely fantastic achievement for trainer Heiko Herrlich in his first season at the Bay Arena, but then again they’re not called ‘Neverkusen’ for nothing!
It wasn’t just Robert Lewandowski who enjoyed himself against Hamburg this weekend. Franck Ribéry showed that there is plenty of life left in the old dog with a performance that could well have been confused with one from 2007 when he first joined the Bavarians.
The energy, the drive, the attacking danger and the goals were all there to admire at the Allianz Arena. Despite being the elder statesman of the team, there were absolutely no signs that the Frenchman is ready to take a back-seat and let someone younger take his place.
He scored twice, and had Robert Lewandowski not missed his first penalty, he might have been given the chance to complete a hat trick of his own with Bayern’s second spot-kick in the dying seconds. His second of the afternoon was vintage Ribéry as he beat four defenders on a mazy run before firing into the net.
It may have been yet another ‘schlechte Woche’ for Hamburg, but there was one glimmer of positivity from their hammering at the Allianz Arena in the form of teenager Josha Vagnoman.
At just 17 years 2 months and 27 days, the defender became HSV’s youngest-ever Bundesliga player when he came on as a second half substitute for Walace. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!
The future may look pretty grim for HSV right now, but for Vagnoman and fellow youngster Fiete Arp, the future certainly looks rosy (albeit away from the Volksparkstadion).
Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi had to settle for a place on the bench against Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, but that didn’t prevent the winter signing from having a major impact on the game.
Sent on by Peter Stöger in the 63rd minute to replace Maximilian Philipp, the Belgian goal-getter scored just two minutes after Frankfurt’s first equaliser to restore the Schwarzgelben’s lead. BVB looked to have thrown away another couple of points in stoppage time when they allowed Danny Blum to level for the Adler once more.
Batshuayi wasn’t finished though and with virtually the last kick of the game flashed in a 94th minute winner to end the game in spectacular fashion. ‘Batsman’ has now scored five goals in his six Bundesliga appearances this season.
Hamburg/ Bernd Hollerbach
HSV’s seemingly weekly appearance in the ‘schlechte Woche’ section is maintained after their highly predictable thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich and then their decision to replace coach Bernd Hollerbach for the remaining eight games of the season.
The thousands of Hamburg fans who travelled the almost 800km to the South of Germany deserve the utmost respect as they all knew the Rothosen were on a hiding to nothing and that they were going to see their side whooped again. And that’s just what happened with Bayern cantering to a 6-0 win at the Allianz Arena.
Cue excessive and grotesque reactions back in Hamburg where grave crosses were erected outside the Volksparkstadion alongside a banner reading: “Your time is up, we’ll get you all”. The defeat sees HSV remain in 17th and seven points from the relegation play-off spot.
Then on Monday as a new week was getting underway the club revealed they had dispensed with the services of trainer Bernd Hollerbach after just seven games in charge. Since succeeding Markus Gisdol, Hollerbach (a surprise choice) has taken just 3 points from a potential 21. The club have appointed U-21 coach Christian Titz until the end of the season.
“We analysed and discussed the 6-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Saturday at length,” said board member Franck Wettstein. “We concluded, in light of our situation fighting against relegation, that we had to act.”
Hamburg: The joke that just keeps giving.
12 minutes- that was the sum total of Josip Brekalo’s involvement for Wolfsburg at the Rhein-Neckar Arena on Saturday as Bruno Labbadia’s side slumped to a 3-0 defeat. To make matters worse, he also spent the night in hospital. Not the greatest weekend then.
With things already looking grim for the Wölfe, trainer Labbadia opted to take off Divock Origi three minutes before half-time and send on Brekalo. However, nine minutes into the second half, another switch was required with the 19-year-old forced off injured.
A clash with Hoffenheim Eugen Polanski left the midfielder with concussion and saw him to taken to a Sinsheim hospital where he spent the night as a precaution.
16th place and the relegation pay-off berth seems to be like a really powerful magnet pulling both Mainz and Wolfsburg in to it. Neither club have managed to put results together to pull clear (as VfB Stuttgart and Augsburg have done) and matchday 26 once again saw them emerge with no more points on the board.
The Nullfünfer were downed at home by Schalke on the Friday match by a single goal, while the Wölfe were well and truly beaten by Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar Stadion on Saturday.
Sadly, the season is at an end for Hoffenheim’s talented young midfielder after he suffered a muscle tendon injury in his right hamstring in the home game against VfL Wolfsburg. Geiger has been a key element of Julian Nagelsmann’s midfield unit as Hoffenheim have enjoyed a good recent run, which has seen them return to contention for a European place next season.
However, the club will have to do without their home-grown talent for the remaining eight games of the campaign due to the hamstring injury.
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