The Bundesliga returned this weekend from the international break with stars returning from all corners of the globe having started their preparations for the World Cup. Attention however was firmly back on domestic football with nine top matches served up.
Bayern demolished Dortmund while Hoffenheim also handed out a hammering to poor Köln. Schalke maintained second spot, while Leipzig also continued their winning run. Down at the other end of the table, none of the bottom six managed to get a win.
We had a pair of six-goal thrashings, a controversial sending-off, a trainer meltdown, great individual performances and top goals. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 28?
Hoffenheim/ Serge Gnabry
On Saturday Hoffenheim notched up their best ever Bundesliga win since joining the top flight back in 2008. Their 6-0 victory over a luckless Köln has put the Sinsheim club firmly back on track in their quest to achieve European football again next season.
The architect of their impressive win was Serge Gnabry, whose two goals set Julian Nagelsmann’s side on the way to the three points. His opening goal in the first half saw him beat three Köln defenders with a mazy dribble before firing into the roof of Timo Horn’s net. He doubled the host side’s lead with a well-placed drive at the start of the second period.
Cologne-born Mark Uth showed little remorse for his hometown club by adding two goals of his own to take his season’s tally to twelve. Substitute Lukas Rupp added one while Steven Zuber scored the sixth to cap a fine display at the Rhein-Neckar Stadion. Despite the mauling, Andrej Kramaric was not to be found on the scoresheet ending his tremendous run of 7 goals in 7 games.
Hoffenheim now lie 7th in the table, just three points behind Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt who currently occupy the Europa League places.
In Travis Timmons’ recent interesting article, he speculated about what life in the Bundesliga would be like without Bayern Munich. Well, if you were to take the Bavarians out of the equation, then Schalke would be storming to their first-ever Bundesliga title.
Die Königsblauen extended their winning run to six games on Saturday with a 2-0 home win over SC Freiburg. Die Breisgauer did put up some resistance but a second half penalty converted by Daniel Caligiuri was the catalyst for victory with Freiburg’s Nils Petersen subsequently being sent off.
Guido Burgstaller rifled in a second for Domenico Tedesco’s side eight minutes later to put the result beyond doubt and cement Schalke’s place in second with 52 points. If they can maintain this form and clinch a top four place, it would be a fantastic debut season for young coach Tedesco.
Bayern Munich/ Robert Lewandowski
It was less a case of ‘der Klassiker’ on Saturday evening and more a case of ‘das Massaker’ as Bayern Munich well and truly put Borussia Dortmund to the sword at the Allianz Arena.
The final result of 6-0 could have been a lot worse for a sorry Dortmund side, who simply had no answer to the rapier-like attacks Bayern rained down on them. By half-time the result was beyond doubt with Jupp Heynckes side blasting in five goals.
Thomas Müller was like a man-possessed, Robert Lewandowski seemed destined to score every time the ball came his way, Franck Ribéry was running riot and plenty of BVB players simply looked unable to cope with the intensity of what was being thrown at them.
In the end Lewandowski helped himself to another hat trick, with James, Müller and Ribéry getting the others. The only downside on a glorious evening was that Schalke’s earlier win meant Bayern were unable to clinch the title. The performance was more than worthy of starting a Bundesliga-winning party.
Beating Bayern Munich for the first time last week would have had the gloss taken off it had RB Leipzig failed to back it up against Hannover this weekend.
A rare non set-piece goal from Emil Forsberg and a header from captain Wili Orban set Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side on the road to three points, but it was more than a little hairy for them and by the end they escaped by the skin of their teeth.
Salif Sané pulled one back for the home side only for Yusuf Poulsen to restore RB’s two-goal cushion. Substitute Niklas Füllkrug headed in 11 minutes from the end and then thought he’d grabbed an equaliser in the 82nd minute only to see referee Guido Winkmann rule it out for offside. Marvin Bakalorz hit the post late on, but Leipzig held out to take the win and secure fourth place in the current table.
Should we be at all surprised by what is happening at the Weser Stadion? We’ve seen it all before. The season starts appallingly and Werder are set for relegation. They sack their coach and install the U-21/ U-19/ U-12 coach in rather than an experienced hand.
Then comes the resurgence and the Grün-Weißen end the season pushing for a European place. Florian Kohfeldt seems to have read the Werder script and the weekend home win over Eintracht Frankfurt has taken Werder clear of the drop zone and was their fourth win in five matches (they drew the other). Bremen have now gone nine Bundesliga home games unbeaten under Florian Kohfeldt and equalled their club record.
So Kohfeldt has read the script. Congratulations to Werder. The only problem is chapter 2 where next season plays out the same way and Kohfeldt is fired in December…..
The sooner Köln put Saturday’s result out of their minds the better. That may however be harder said than done as they were not just beaten- they were blown away by Hoffenheim.
The second half collapse saw the Sinsheim club score six and it could have been worse had Julian Nagelsmann’s team taken their first half chances. Köln are not bottom and still have vital games against Freiburg, Mainz and VfL Wolfsburg to come. The ‘Great Escape’ is still mathematically on, but the defeat to Hoffenheim will have hurt.
Nils Petersen/ Christian Streich
Schalke fully deserved their win at the Veltins Arena on Saturday, but Freiburg were left fuming at referee Tobias Stieler, who awarded a penalty to the hosts and then subsequently sent-off both Nils Petersen and trainer Christian Streich.
The decision to award Schalke a 63rd minute penalty looked harsh at first glance with Breel Embolo seemingly not in control of the ball and taking a dive over Manuel Gulde. Replays however showed it clearly was a spot-kick. Freiburg captain Petersen however didn’t have the benefit of the TV replay and complained vociferously to the official.
Stieler duly flashed a yellow card at Petersen for his complaints. The problem was that the Freiburg striker had his back to the referee and supposedly did not see the caution. When Daniel Caligiuri duly dispatched the penalty, Petersen continued to berate the referee and was a second yellow card and then dismissed.
So, Petersen is off having been unaware of the first caution and cue Christian Streich going ballistic on the sidelines in disbelief at what he’s just seen. He was not a man to be calmed down and despite two assistants holding him back, his epic rant at the match official ended with him also being sent to the stands.
There is history between Tobias Stieler and Freiburg with the referee mistakenly sending off Caglar Söyüncü earlier in the season against VfB Stuttgart before admitting his error.
This is the wrong time of the season to be suffering a dip in form, but that’s just what is happening to Bayer Leverkusen right now. The Werkself had the international break to get the derby defeat to Köln out of their system, but they put in a damp squib of a performance at home to Augsburg failing to score at home for only the third time this season.
They were the better side at the Bay Arena at were unlucky to have Julian Brandt’s goal ruled out by VAR, but Leverkusen were not dangerous enough up front and suffered a blow in their bid to finish in the top four.
As it stands they are a point behind RB Leipzig, who they face next week at the Red Bull Arena. They also play Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund in the coming weeks- both of whom are direct competition for a top four berth.
Heiko Herrlich needs to get Leverkusen firing again.
Borussia Dortmund/ Peter Stöger
I think we can safely say BVB are going to be looking elsewhere for a trainer next season with incumbent Peter Stöger doing himself no favours with Saturday’s abject display at the Allianz Arena.
Der Klassiker is one of the games everyone looks forward to in the Bundesliga calendar, but Saturday’s dubbing at the hands of Bayern will be one match (amongst many this season) that Dortmund will be keen to forget pretty damn quickly.
Losing to the champions-elect in itself is not a disgrace, but to go down in the manner the Schwarzgelben did on Saturday evening is something else.
“We’re not playing like a team with the ambition of being the second-best in Germany” Stöger admitted after the final whistle had put them out of their misery. “Perhaps a hammering like this will even do us good, by allowing us to be even more critical in our evaluation.”
Judging by Saturday’s performance, the evaluation can really only be highly critical.
The ‘Schlechte Woche’ section wouldn’t be complete without a goalkeeping howler and joining the exulted company of Florian Müller, Bernd Leno, Ralf Fährmann and Philipp Tschauner we have Eintracht Frankfurt’s Lukas Hradecky this week.
Having fought back to 1-1 with Werder Bremen at the Weser Stadion on Sunday, the Adler conceded a second goal which unfortunately goes down to their normally reliable Finnish keeper.
The custodian was left embarrassed after he misjudged a header from defender David Abraham, allowing the ball to loop over him and through his last-gasp effort to save it.
“It was clearly my fault, I just misjudged the ball,” the 28-year-old said after the match. “I am sorry for the team.”
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