Matchday 29 saw Bayern Munich gain the three points they required to secure a sixth-successive title, but there was plenty more action elsewhere to keep the interest high. The race for the Champions League places behind the champions intensified, while there were plenty of twists and turns at the other end of the table as well.
We had players with a point to prove, players losing their heads, and players unwittingly using their heads to score in their own net. So just who were the winners and losers of the match day?
It was always a case of when, not if, for Bayern as they clinched their sixth-consecutive Bundesliga title with a comfortable 4-1 win at Augsburg on Saturday.
Despite a slow start and going behind to an own-goal, the Bavarians, even fielding a number of second-string players, were far too strong for the Fuggerstädter. Goals from Corentin Tolisso, James Rodriguez, Arjen Robben, and Sandro Wagner saw them to the win they needed to secure the Bundesliga crown once again.
Speaking after the match, Bayern trainer Jupp Heynckes paid tribute to his players. “The coach is responsible for the big picture, but first and foremost the players are the protagonists. I have a very well-functioning coaching team; everyone’s doing an outstanding job.
“Everyone played their part in the success. We raised a glass to good music in the dressing room. Everyone can be pleased; it’s magnificent.”
VfL Wolfsburg’s trip to the Black Forest to play Freiburg was a game both sides desperately wanted to win with points very much a must for both die Wölfe and the Breisgauer as they loiter precariously close to the bottom three in the table.
The match-winner for Bruno Labbadia’s side was two-goal hero Daniel Didavi, who showed the quality needed to seal all three points for the visitors. His first came in just the second minute, when he won possession on the edge of the Freiburg penalty area before firing in. His second was a much more straightforward affair, as he tapped in following a superb run and dribble from Divock Origi.
Didavi now has eight goals for the season, and Wolfsburg have a two-point cushion over Mainz in 16th with Freiburg now just a point ahead of them.
The promoted side were a little too close to the relegation zone for comfort going into Fridays ‘little derby’ with Werder Bremen, particularly entering the fixture on the back of a six-match winless streak (five defeats amongst them).
So, to come away from the weekend’s opening fixture with a 2-1 win over an in-form Werder was a real boost to die Roten. Martin Harnik ended his personal barren spell with the opener after 17 minutes, while Felix Klaus added a second before halftime to ease the nerves.
Andre Breitenreiter’s side now look to have a healthy cushion over the teams directly below them, although nobody at the HDI Arena will be taking anything for granted until they are mathematically safe from the drop and secure a second season in the top division.
The Belgian attacker could have been hurt that coach Dieter Hecking opted to drop him from the Borussia Mönchengladbach starting line-up for the first time this season. The 25-year-old Belgian attacker instead responded in the best way possible by coming on at half-time and scoring a brace to seal all three points for die Fohlen against Hertha Berlin.
Down 1-0 at the break thanks to Salomon Kalou’s goal, Gladbach coach Hecking opted to turn to Hazard, sending him on to replace Denis Zakaria in an offensive switch. The tactic paid off with the Belgian equalising in the 75th minute and then scoring what turned out to be the winner from the penalty spot just four minutes later.
Maybe leaving him out of the starting line-up was just the tonic he needed, but it seems unlikely now that he’ll be missing from the side that starts next week away at Bayern Munich.
With last weekend’s 6-0 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich still fresh in their minds, and with half an eye on next weekend’s Revierderby with Schalke, Borussia Dortmund really needed a positive display and result on Sunday when they entertained a resurgent VfB Stuttgart at the Signal Iduna Park.
An impressive Christian Pulisic gave the hosts a first-half lead. Second-half goals from Michy Batshuayi and Maximilian Philipp helped secure a comfortable win.
The Schwarzgelben also handed a first-ever Bundesliga appearance to 17-year-old Barcelona graduate Sergio Gomez, who came on for Marco Reus in the 87th minute. BVB will now be targeting second place in the table, and turn their attention to beating Schalke, the current second-place team, next week.
The Werkself produced a fantastic display at RB Leipzig to emerge from Red Bull Arena with all three points after a 4-1 victory. A pulsating first 45 minutes ended all-square with goals from Marcel Sabitzer and Kai Havertz.
The second period however belonged to Leverkusen as they blasted three goals past Peter Gulacsi to stun Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side. Goals from Julian Brandt, Panagiotis Retsos, and Kevin Volland secured the club’s first-ever win at Leipzig and helped Bayer leapfrog RB into a top-four position.
Monday night football may not be overly popular, but Leverkusen certainly enjoyed their first taste of it.
It may sound cliché to say Saturday’s clash with Mainz at the Rhein-Energie Stadion was a relegation ‘six-pointer’, but the stakes were terribly high for both sides. Köln in 17th desperately needed all three points against the 16th placed Nullfünfer to close the gap to just three points.
In the end, the Geißbock fans were left hugely disappointed as their side were only able to secure a draw. Jonas Hector’s headed opener gave them hope, but they then allowed the shortest player in the Mainz line-up to score a headed equaliser in the second period.
While safety is not out of the question, Köln’s quest for the ‘Great Escape’ has taken a serious blow as beating fellow strugglers Mainz was one of the key goals for the final six games of the season.
When you add in that both Wolfsburg, Hamburg and Hannover all won, it was yet another disappointing weekend for the Rheinlanders.
The only real dampener on the Bayern Munich title-winning party at Augsburg was the own-goal from centre back Niklas Süle, which gave the home side a well-deserved lead in the 18th minute.
Jerome Boateng was the real villain of the piece, getting robbed easily by Sergio Cordova, who advanced on Sven Ulreich before firing goalwards. The Bayern keeper pulled off a fine save only for the ball to slam into Süle’s face and then directly into the net.
His face would have hurt, but so too would have his pride. Luckily, the four goals that followed all came at the other end, and the former Hoffenheim defender ended up celebrating his first Bundesliga title.
With Hamburg, VfL Wolfsburg, and Hannover all picking up wins and Mainz taking a point, it wasn’t the best of weekends for SC Freiburg.
Up against a fellow struggler, Christian Streich’s side fell to their third-consecutive defeat at a time when points are all-important. Freiburg also continue to struggle to score goals, having scored just four in their last nine matches. Not the ideal situation when you are loitering too close to the bottom three for comfort.
“Everyone knows that we’re not going to win games 4-3 in our current predicament, because we’re just not capable of creating goal-scoring chances at the moment,” Streich bemoaned after the match.
“We’ve done so well lately, and the players have gone above and beyond the call of duty, but we really need to experience that winning feeling again.”
Last week it was Freiburg coach Christian Streich who flipped his lid, but on matchday 29 it was Mainz defender Giulio Donati’s turn to completely lose his head and get himself sent off.
With the Nullfünfer winding down the clock at the Rhein-Energie Stadion to secure a 1-1 draw and frustrate Köln in their key relegation clash, Italian right-back Donati took out Leonardo Bittencourt on the sidelines with a challenge that almost launched the Köln midfielder into orbit.
Referee Benjamin Cortus was rather lenient in only dishing out a yellow card for the brutal tackle, but being let off the hook didn’t seem to go down well with Donati. Instead of considering himself lucky, he went after Bittencourt again put his hands into his face. A second yellow card duly followed leading to the ‘Ampelkarte’ and his sending off.
Donati then lost the plot. At first he refused to leave the field and only did so when Mainz Sporting Director Rouwen Schroeder physically ushered him from the pitch. He then refused to return to the dressing room and instead tried to watch the final minutes from the stands, leading to a clash with Köln stewards, who received a mouthful of abuse for their troubles.
It was the 28-year-old’s fifth sending-off in the past four years and his second this season against Köln. He was sent off against the Geißböcke in the Hinrunde also for an incident with Leonardo Bittencourt (a straight red card).
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