December 15, 2017

Five talking points from Matchday 13

Following solid performances from the German national team against Italy and England during the international break, the Bundesliga returned with arguably the biggest match of the season, a repeat of last season’s Champions League final. Reigning champions Bayern Munich opened up a seven-points gap between them and Borussia Dortmund thanks to former Dortmund player Mario Götze, who can’t stop the habit of scoring a decisive goal in der Klassiker. Stefan Kießling’s Bayer Leverkusen raised to the occasion with their narrow win at Hertha Berlin, which proved enough to see them climb to second place in the standings.

Meanwhile, Former Kießling’s side Nürnberg are still looking for their first win of the season, even though they fought hard to earn a point that ends Wolfsburg’s four-match winning streak, a performance can be seen as a a point gain rather than two lost. Eintracht Frankfurt and Schalke played out an entertaining draw and in the bottom of the table clash, Gelson Fernandes’ first goal for Freiburg sent the Breisgau-Brasilianer three points clear of the danger zone after their second win of the season, this time at Eintracht Braunschweig.

Borussia Mönchengladbach extended their impressive winning streak in the first match of the weekend at hot and cold VfB Stuttgart. On Sunday, Hamburg and Mainz registered their second home and away wins respectively, as the only ever-present club in the Bundesliga held their own without the services of skipper Rafael van der Vaart against Hannover, whereas Mainz avoided a late upset to come away with all the points from Werder Bremen.

Effective Bayern punish wasteful Dortmund

The news of the entire Borussia Dortmund’s first-choice defenders missing the match dictated the top-of-the-table clash beforehand, but once the match got underway Jurgen Klopp’s side didn’t look as vulnerable as one would have expected. Manuel Friedrich signed a contract with the club just days before the crucial match after being a free agent since his release from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer and he produced a fine display alongside summer signing Sokratis. Indeed, it was the lack of finishing off the promising moves that left much to be desired from the hosts, as the score stayed goalless at the halftime break despite their clear-cut goal scoring chances.

Bayern, for once, outplayed by their opposition but the much-needed result was sealed courtesy of goals in the final twenty-five minutes of the hotly-contested match. Arjen Robben’s beautiful lob and another effort from Thomas Müller put the match beyond doubt as Dortmund’s untested defense finally exposed after Mario Götze had opened the scoring for last season’s treble winners. The result seemed harsh on Borussia Dortmund as they are now facing the all-important midweek Champions League match against Napoli on the back of three straight defeats. Bayern Munich already booked their place in the knockout stage of the European competition and there will be little doubts, if any, for another Bundesliga victory when they entertain cellar-dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig next week.

Götze scored on his return to Signal Iduna Park 

Borussia Dortmund created far more chances than their visitors but, at the end of the day, it was not the home side who broke the deadlock in Saturday’s title contenders clash, as Bayern Munich’s super-sub and former Dortmund player Mario Götze exquisitely slotted home his effort just ten minutes after entering the foray. Götze opted for muted celebrations and apologetic gestures even though the anticipated booing from the home crowd was resounding throughout the evening. It was the 21-year-old’s second Bayern goal, as he is slowly asserting his role in his new club after struggling with an injury at the start of the season.

Goalless Hoffenheim, finally

Despite escaping the drop via the relegation play-off last season, Dietmar Hopp’s Hoffenheim took the high road for this campaign early on mostly thanks to the fresh-looking attacking department. Recent results haven’t been as flattering as those in the first weeks of the season, though, as the Sinsheim side are only placed two points and places clear of the danger zone.

However, they had one thing in common with league leaders Bayern Munich before the kick-off of Matchday 13 – and that was that they had scored at least a goal in each of their matches. That became history after Augsburg shut Markus Gisdol’s troops down to reflect a well-taken win courtesy of a brace from veteran Halil Altintop. They will look to return to their usual goal-scoring form when they welcome Werder Bremen next week, with just two points separating the sides.

Six-goal thriller at Frankfurt 

On the other hand, Schalke didn’t lose their scoring touch in the weekend, but they could not help conceding either as they recorded their third 3-3 draw of the season at Eintracht Frankfurt. They were in control of the proceeding at the half-time break with a two-goal advantage, but Joselu’s stunning double and another from Johannes Flum, who opened the scoring for Schalke with an own-goal, put the Eagles in contention for their first home win of the season. However, in the end, skipper Benedikt Höwedes came to the rescue as his strike five minutes from time secured a point for the Royal Blues.

Schalke could’ve jumped to fifth place if they had won the match but they won’t have much time to dwell on it as they now face a tricky trip to Romania for the decisive Champions League match on Tuesday against Steaua Bucharest before hosting fellow European-berth seekers Stuttgart at the weekend in the Bundesliga.

Homesick Hannover

Six matches, no points. It’s not a surprising thing to see Hannover struggling on their travels, but it was taken to another level this season as they remained the only club yet to register their first point away from home. Things were looking better for the Lower Saxony side when Szabolcs Huszti took full advantage of a dismal Hamburg’s defensive play to open the score-line on Sunday. But neither the lead nor the inspired form prevented a sensational comeback performance from the hosts as Hannover’s winless streak extended to seven league matches. They will go head-to-head against Europa League participants Eintracht Frankfurt, who last won a league match back in mid-September.

Header courtesy of Reuters/ Kai Pfaffenbach

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical difference, he is interested in every detail of German football. He breathes football to the point that he gets pleasure from nutmegging his innocent kid. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG

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