After the midweek DFB Pokal action, it was back to Bundesliga action this weekend with nine hard-fought games served up for our enjoyment.
Borussia Dortmund maintained their unbeaten run and their place at the top, while chasers Bayern Munich suffered another disappointing afternoon. Schalke finally had something to smile about, although Bayer Leverkusen were unable to maintain their recent resurgence.
We had goals galore,a drought ended, a record set for Lucien Favre, a few upsets, and even a social media protest from a player’s wife! So just who were the winners and losers from matchday 10?
It’s a second appearance here in a row for SC Freiburg and one which they fully deserve after a fantastic performance saw them come away from the Allianz Arena with a share of the spoils against Bayern Munich. The Breisgauer’s last point won in Munich was way back in May 1997, but a 1-1 draw on Saturday finally ended that barren run.
A valiant defensive performance looked to have been finally broken by the hosts in the 80th minute when Serge Gnabry fired in a right foot shot that left keeper Alexander Schwolow no chance at his near post. However, they didn’t let their heads drop and were rewarded with an equaliser in the 89th minute to stun the hosts. An exquisite cross from the left from Christian Günter was met by Lucas Höler and the visiting fans high up in the Osttibune were sent into raptures.
The scenes on the sidelines and amongst the travelling support was akin to having won, such was the passion with with they celebrated. The unlikely point also continues trainer Christian Streich’s own impressive personal record against Niko Kovac- he’s not lost any of his five duels with the Bayern coach.
It was the perfect display from Freiburg after their midweek disappointment at being dumped out of the DFB Pokal by Holstein Kiel and the draw delighted Streich. “We didn’t get off to a good start and struggled with Bayern’s counter-pressing. But we didn’t concede a goal at that stage and improved.
“We defended well and had the bit of luck you need towards the end. I have to say it’s extremely difficult for Bayern when a team defend like we did. Our boys run like crazy, so it’s not easy to play against us.”
Schalke/ Mark Uth
Is this the corner turned by the Königsblauen, that finally kick starts their season? Successive wins against Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf proved to be false dawns for Domenico Tedesco’s under-fire side with disappointing displays against Werder Bremen and RB Leipzig following on.
They needed penalties in midweek to progress past Köln in the Cup, but their 3-1 home win over Hannover finally gave the Gelsenkirchen faithful something to smile about.
An average first half which looked like a case of ‘same old Schalke’ was followed by a much better 45 minutes for the home side. Nabil Bentaleb’s 57th minute penalty injected a sense of positivity and they weren’t even rocked too much by Henrik Weydandt’s 70th minute equaliser as Breel Embolo scored a mere 60 seconds later.
Summer signing Mark Uth then eased all of the pressure off of his own shoulders by scoring his first goal for the club to make it 3-1. At Hoffenheim last season, he couldn’t stop scoring, but had failed to find the net in any of his opening nine Bundesliga outings for his new club.
“I’ve finally scored!” he beamed after the match. “The fans have been very patient with me, which I’m so happy about. The fans were definitely as pleased as I was to finally get that goal. Nobody booed or whistled at me – they all backed me, which I’m very thankful for.
“It was a very intense game. We struggled going forwards in the first 15 minutes, but we improved. We were excellent in the second half up top and got the goals we deserved.”
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Forward Trio
How did Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter solve the conundrum of how to fit Sebastian Haller, Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic into his starting XI and not upset the player to miss out? He played all three!
It was the first time the Austrian trainer had shoehorned all three of his in-form frontmen into his line-up, but based on the result seen against VfB Stuttgart, it probably won’t be the last.
Granted Stuttgart’s defence will have better days, but quite simply the pace, power and finishing from the Eintracht strike force was a sight to behold and will cause better back fours than the Swabians problems.
All three were involved in the build-up to the Adler’s opening goal after just 10 minutes with Rebic winning the header that set up Jovic’s shot and Haller following up to fired in Ron-Robert Zieler’s save.
Their second saw Haller with a shot saved by Zieler, only for Jovic to get to the ball and send in a cross, which Rebic was able to head home with the VfB defenders ball-watching.
On this form, they’ll be back in tandem next week against Schalke at home. Domenico Tedesco will do well to spend a couple of hours watching the recent Frankfurt games and trying to devise a plan to stop them. Good luck with that!
RB Leipzig/ Timo Werner
Leipzig made it four wins out of five against their East German rivals Hertha Berlin and jumped up to third in the table with an impressive 3-0 win at the Olympiastadion.
A polished performance from Ralf Rangnick’s side saw them overcome a Hertha team that had looked so impressive in recent weeks, but who had little answer to RB’s attack. Timo Werner was denied by a great save within the first 60 seconds by Rune Jarstein, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. Werner helped himself to two goals and it was only the Hertha keeper, that denied him a hat trick.
Mateus Cunha capped a fine display with a fantastic individual goal and once again the Roten Bullen defence kept a clean sheet for the fourth Bundesliga match in a row and the sixth in all competitions. Both Vedad Ibisevic and Salomon Kalou had chances to equalise at 1-0, but the RB back line held firm, which was particularly satisfying for captain Willi Orban, who was also celebrating his 26th birthday.
Joelinton/ Vincenzo Grifo
A third successive league win was the perfect tonic for Hoffenheim as they got over their midweek elimination from the DFB Pokal at the hands of RB Leipzig.
Chief architects of the win were striker Joelinton and midfielder Vincenzo Grifo. With Julian Nagelsmann making eight changes from the midweek Cup loss, Grifo was handed only his second start of the season and responded with a goal via the penalty spot as well as two assists.
Brazilian Joelinton bagged a brace and was even generous enough to allow Grifo to take the penalty he himself had won. “We prepared very well and then we implemented everything that the coach asked of us. We controlled the game very well in possession and ultimately we deserved to win” he said after the match.
“I was absolutely delighted and very happy with my two goals. It’s nice to be able to help your team. We simply have a good team and a good coach. I’ve learnt even more here. We have another important match on Wednesday against Lyon, where we have high hopes.”
Here at the Fanatic we asked the question earlier in the week as to whether the change was going to come at VfB Stuttgart after defeats in both Markus Weinzierl’s two games in charge. The answer came on Friday evening in emphatic fashion and it was a big no!
Having lost 4-0 in their two previous league outings, probably the last thing the Swabians needed was an in-form strike trio of Haller, Rebic and Jovic coming at them, and they had little answer to the Frankfurt attack.
The 3-0 scoreline was a perfect reflection of the game, but more worrying perhaps than the goals conceded (and the defending on show was extremely worrying) was the fact that throughout the entire 90 minutes, they didn’t have a single shot on target.
There is a huge amount of work to be done at the Mercedes Benz Arena and they will be desperate to come away from next week’s trip to Nürnberg with something before going into the next international break.
Thomas/ Lisa Müller
What’s that line in the wedding vows? ‘In sickness and in health, for better and for worse’? I’m not sure though that it says anything about standing up for your man when his boss does something you disapprove of.
Bayern had a bad day against Freiburg emerging only with a 1-1 draw, and Thomas Müller once again had to accept a place on the bench. Watching from the WAG seats in the stands was Mrs Müller and like many Bayern fans, she was non-plussed about the quality of football being served up by the champions.
When trainer Kovac opted to send-on her husband in the 71st minute, she sarcastically took to social media to vent her frustration. Posting on her Instagram feed she aimed a not very well disguised dig at the Bayern coach- “More than 70 minutes before he finally has a brainwave”.
Now that’s just what you need- your wife taking a dig at your coach. Whoops! “It was out of emotion” the midfielder explained sheepishly after the match. “In retrospect, I don’t think it was super, but she just loves me- what should I do?”
Kovac also reacted calmly saying, “There’s nothing to clarify. Obviously it wasn’t Thomas himself who wrote that.” That maybe so, but are we now going to see antagonistic tweets and Instagram feeds from Wahiba Ribéry or Bernadien Eillert (Arjen Robben’s wife). Or will we be hearing Tammy Wynette’s classic ‘Stand By Your Man’ as Bayern’s new stadium anthem?
Would the real Bayer Leverkusen please step forward! After the pressure was seriously mounting on trainer Heiko Herrlich, the Werkself responded with a 6-2 win over Werder in the league and then a 5-0 victory over Mönchengladbach in the Pokal in midweek.
There was however a return to their ‘ugly’ side with a 4-1 home defeat to Hoffenheim on Saturday. Injuries to Karim Bellarabi and Sven Bender were a blow, as despite a good second 45 minutes, Leverkusen succumbed to a cleverer TSG side. The defeat leaves Heiko Herrlich once again in the spotlight and Bayer in 13th behind the likes of Mainz, Freiburg and Augsburg and far from their aspirational Champions League berth.
What a week! To just call it ‘schlecht’ seems an understatement. The home draw with Freiburg, which can only be seen as two points dropped, was another very un-Bayern display and will have the critics and doom-mongers out in force.
Then there was the Lisa Müller Instagram mentioned above, and the fall out from the Halloween party, where Rafinha’s tasteless Arab costume rightly stirred up controversy. The Football Leaks revelations published in der Spiegel this week were just the final straw in a pretty dire seven days for the club.
Bayern are not the most-loved by large sections of the football public, and discovering that they have been secretly looking into possibly jettisoning the Bundesliga to pursue a European Super League just adds another reason to dislike them for those detractors.
To have a bad game and make an error that leads to the opponent scoring must be a terrible feeling for a Bundesliga professional. So just imagine how bad Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Kaan Ayhan must be feeling having been involved in all three of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s goals at the Borussia Park on Sunday.
His handball led to Thorgan Hazard’s penalty minutes into the second half and it was his lazy, misplaced pass on 67 minutes that was pounced upon by Florian Neuhaus leading to Jonas Hofmann scoring the second.
His dismal afternoon was compounded when Hazard’s shot eight minutes from time took a deflection off him to beat Michael Rensing.
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