Week 11 of the Bundesliga certainly lived up to expectations with der Klassiker delivering a real classic as Borussia Dortmund overcame Bayern to lay down a real marker of intent and take a seven-point lead into the international break.
Borussia Mönchengladbach secured second place thanks to a hat trick from Alassane Plea, while RB Leipzig continued to be imperious at the back. The bottom two both won, but couldn’t move away from the relegation places.
We had plenty of great goals, pulsating matches, and the usual Bundesliga excitement. So just who were the winners and losers from matchday 11?
By Alaasane Plea’s standards, the previous three Bundesliga games without a goal represented something of a drought for him, but he more than made up for the dry spell in front of goal with a stunning hat trick against Werder Bremen to sentence the Grün-Weißen to a third successive defeat.
Having scored five goals in six games previously, the summer signing from Nice had failed to find the target against Mainz, Freiburg or Düsseldorf. He was however to put Werder to the sword at the Weser Stadion.
Plea’s first came in the 39th minute when a fantastic touch and strength inside the area saw him bamboozle both Davy Klaasen and Martin Harnik before firing in a terrific shot. Just two minutes into the second half, he was on the end of a training ground set-piece with Thorgan Hazard picking him out from a corner and the striker fired in a low shot that went through Jiri Pavlenka’s legs.
He then completed his hat trick just three minutes later as he arrived in the six-yard box to turn in Oscar Wendt’s low left wing cross.
“I am delighted with the win” Plea revealed after the match. “We have been really good at home so it was important to get the win away from home. We are a great bunch and it is working for us at the moment.
“I have nothing but praise for my teammates. They have taken to me so well and I really feel part of the team. I just want to help them out with my goals and bring success to this club.”
The bottom two
After three dismal games in charge, new VfB Stuttgart coach Markus Weinzierl was able to finally celebrate his first three points with a 2-0 away win over Nürnberg at the Max Morlock Stadion.
After a fairly even first half, they broke the deadlock in the second 45 minutes with Baumgartl scoring the Swabians first goal for some 378 minutes and surprisingly came via a set-piece (they’d only scored one other this season). Their second goal also arrived following a Dennis Aogo corner with Eric Thommy lashing home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box, which couldn’t have been placed nearer the top corner.
Halil Altintop (ex Schalke, Frankfurt and Augsburg midfielder) was hired this week as the clubs new set-piece coach. Is it coincidence that Stuttgart broke their goal drought with two set-piece goals? Altintop will of course say no.
The only real downside for Stuttgart was that Fotuna Düsseldorf also won. Friedhelm Funkel’s side emerged with an impressive 4-1 home win over Hertha Berlin.
The sending off of left-back Maxi Mittelstäst after just 41 minutes for two yellow cards turned handed the advantage to Düsseldorf and they certainly capitalised on it. A ferocious strike from Usami gave Rune Jarstein absolutely no chance and it was one-way traffic from there on.
Rouwen Hennings tapped in the second on 63 minutes with Hertha overwhelmed, and substitute Benito Raman scored twice more meaning that Davie Selke’s late goal for the visitors was nothing but a consolation. Fortuna and Stuttgart remain 17th and 18th respectively, but the wins boost confidence and bring down the gap to Hannover and Nürnberg above them.
After a second win in a row for the Nullfünfer, they find themselves in the heady position of 9th in the table (just two points behind Werder Bremen). Not many sides go the Schwarzwaldstadion and come away with three points so easily, but Sandro Schwarz’s side overcame a Freiburg side, that had stunned Bayern at the Allianz Arena last weekend.
Jean-Philippe Gbamin scored an absolute beauty to give the visitors the lead after just six minute as he rifled home an unstoppable shot from 25 yards out.
The other Jean-Philippe- this time Mateta, then doubled their lead as he headed home a cross from Jean-Paul Boetius just after the quarter-hour mark. Both Gbamin and Mateta had scored in Mainz’s previous win over Werder Bremen.
Roland Sallai did pull one back for Freiburg in the 72nd minute, but Mainz almost immediately restored their two-goal cushion with substitute Karim Onisiwo scoring his first goal for two years after some hesitation from the home defence.
Wow! Just wow! Those that watched the big clash between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in the Klassiker would have been left in little doubt that BVB mean business this season and under Lucien Favre are developing something very special.
It wasn’t just the fact that they beat Bayern 3-2 at the Signal Iduna Park to open up a seven-point lead over the Bavarians, it was the manner of their performance and sheer resilience. Bayern probably had their best 45 minutes in a long while in the first half and deservedly led.
However, the pace, vitality and incisiveness of Dortmund going forward overwhelmed Bayern and in the end nobody could begrudge the home side their win, even though Robert Lewandowski very nearly rescued a point at the death.
The current outlook and trajectory of the two clubs couldn’t be more opposite at the moment. Dortmund are youthful, vibrant, exciting and heading upwards. Bayern on the other hand are looking old, pedestrian, idealess, and potentially giving up their Bundesliga crown.
Werder’s pre-season proclamation that they were targeting a top six finish this year looked to be fully justified after the great start made to the season. However, Florian Kohfeldt has now suffered three successive league defeats and now has a task he isn’t used to- getting his side back to winning ways after a run of losses.
Borussia Mönchengladbach were probably one of the worst teams they could have faced with the Foals in top form and Alassane Plea looking to end a mini goal drought.
The Grün-Weißen’s problems are two-fold right now. They’re not scoring enough goals and it start contrast to the dynamic forward play of Borussia, the front line of Max Kruse and Martin Harnik lacked pace and incision. With Claudio Pizarro’s introduction, there were not enough crosses for the Peruvian to feed off.
Secondly, the defence, which had been looking good in the early weeks is slowly reverting to the ‘bad old days’ under Alexander Nouri will individual errors and a lack of unity letting them down.
“We’ve just spoken about the situation in the dressing room, because everyone’s going away tomorrow” Florian Kohfeldt explained at the end of the match on Saturday.
“It wasn’t a dramatic drop in our performance level in my eyes. It’s individual errors, that we need to clearly address and work on. Apart from the first half in Mainz, when we were very poor, we can’t criticise ourselves in the three defeats.”
In Kohfeldt we trust?
Hertha Berlin/ Maxi Mittelstädt
Just like Werder Bremen, Pal Dardai’s Hertha have seen the bubble burst on their good start to the season in recent weeks. Their second half collapse against Düsseldorf led to their second successive defeat and means that the Old Lady haven’t actually won since they beat Bayern Munich on matchday 6.
The turning point on Saturday at the Esprit Arena was clearly the sending off of fullback Maxi Mittelstädt. Two needless bookings picked up saw the Hertha left-back dismissed just before half-time and the hosts played the perfect game in the second period with their man advantage.
Hertha are now down to 8th and with the likes of RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt all maintaining their good form, the capital club are in danger of becoming bogged down in the mid-table places rather than challenging for European places as their early season form suggested.
Domenico Tedesco/ Heiko Herrlich
Both coaches are still finding their seasons bogged down and failing to replicate the form and success of last season and despite assurances from those above them must surely be nervous about the prospect of losing their jobs.
One week, Schalke look like they might finally be about to turn their abysmal start to the season around, the next they return to their insipid football and suffer another deserved defeat. On Sunday they were the latest team to be given the ‘Frankfurt treatment’ with Eintracht winning 3-0 at the Commerzbank Arena.
The Königsblauen are now just two points better off than bottom side VfB Stuttgart and all the positivity from last season is running out. Tedesco’s future is not up for discussion says manager Christian Heidel. What must be up for discussion though. Is how to get out of the negative spiral they’re in.
At Leverkusen, Heiko Herrlich faces a similar problem with the wins over Werder and Mönchengladbach now fading after successive defeats to Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.
The Werkself are only one point better off than Schalke and see the likes of Mainz, Freiburg and Augsburg moving away from them in the table.
Let’s keep this short. Seven points adrift, Kovac under fire, Franck Ribéry slapping reporters, fifth in the table, things unravelling at Bayern. Another bad week for Bayern. Another good week for the Bayern-haters.
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