5 Things We Learned From Match Day 18 in the Bundesliga

by Liam McClintock

Schalke need to keep hold of Lewis Holtby until the end of the season to progress up the table and have a chance at the final Champions League spot.

English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur had hoped Holtby would be joining them in the winter transfer widow but that seems unlikely now with Schalke rejecting their bid, citing a move now wouldn’t make much sense.  After Holtbys’ performance against Hannover on Friday night to kick off the second half of the 2012/13 Bundesliga season in which the midfielder set up two goals for his side and also scored, new Schalke boss Jens Keller will do well to keep Holtby beyond January or even persuade the youngster to stay at the Veltins-Arena.  After a disappointing end to the Rückrunde they’ll need Holtby to avoid another season threatening finish.

Bayer Leverkusen bosses Sami Hyypia and Sascha Lewandowski tactically spot on against Eintracht Frankfurt

The coaching duo nullified the dangerous attacking midfield trio of Maier, Inui and Aigner to perfection, and although the away side had more possession, Leverkusen dominated the chances statistic to maintain their undefeated home record this season. Frankfurt have been a breath of fresh air this season in the Bundesliga. Sebastian Jung was even called up to the German national team due to his team’s great start and is seen in some quarters as the long term successor to Phillip Lahm, yet Leverkusen really sparkle especially when Andre Schürrle, Gonzalo Castro and Stefan Kiessling are on form, with the trio again involved in the scoring at the weekend. Leverkusen deserve their current second place position with the future looking very bright.

Mario Mandzukic might be the signing of the season for Bayern Munich.

€ 13M was what it cost for the Croatian international to join Bayern Munich from Wolfsburg in the summer. Boy has he repaid that, firing Bayern to the top of the Bundesliga with 11 goals in 16 games. His recent run of games might have coincided with Mario Gomez being injured but the German international has found playing time a little more limited than it once was as Mandzukic has taken to the Bayern first team like a duck to water. While Dante has been just as impressive € 13M looks like peanuts for one of the league’s best goalscorers as Bayern look to wrestle the Bundesliga title back from Dortmund’s tight grasp.

Hoffenheim are in real danger of being relegated as Augsburg close the gap to the relegation play-off spot to 1 point

At the beginning of the season, Hoffenheim signed Erin Derdiyok from Leverkusen, Tim Wiese from Werder Bremen and promoted Kevin Volland to the first team following a successful loan spell at 1860 Munich. Few would have thought they would find themselves in 16th position with 13 points after 18 games. The club had signed these players in an attempt to better their mid-table finishes since they were promoted but they are still finding results hard to come by. Marco Kurz faces a lot of pressure coming into the job, and with the club eight points adrift of Nürnberg and the schedule intensifying they find themselves needing something short of a miracle to avoid the relegation play off or worse yet, automatic relegation.

And finally

Dortmund smash Bremen away to remind Bayern they’re still in the hunt despite a huge gap.

The Reus and Götze show was on display for all to see as the young Germans ran riot away to Werder, inflicting on them their second worst home defeat in league history. A match that saw the return of Nuri Sahin in yellow and black was a no contest as Dortmund plundered Bremen and sent out a message to Bayern that they were still contenders, despite the 12 point gap. Dortmund need Bayern to drop points if they are to overtake the Munich club, but as long as they keep playing the way they did at Bremen, there are whispers that the Champions League is not their only priority anymore.  Suffice to say, Dortmund will continue to keep the pressure on Bayern for the remainder of the season and not make it as comfortable a finish as the standings suggest.

Header courtesy of dpa

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Author:Liam McClintock

Liam is a 29-year-old English football writer hailing from Liverpool. He is also a Bundesliga fanatic who follows Borussia Dortmund. Follow Liam on Twitter @Jolly_Conductor
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