This weekend’s Bundesliga actions saw some teams extend their impressive streaks, whereas others put an end to their bad runs. At the top of the standings, all the Champions League participants and in-form Borussia Mönchengladbach collected three points from their respective matches. League-leaders Bayern Munich didn’t record their highest victory of the season as many expected, but a first half double from Arjen Robben was enough to keep Eintracht Braunschweig at the bottom of the standings. Bayer Leverkusen recovered from their embarrassing midweek home defeat, their first of the season, against reigning Premier League champions Manchester United in the Champions League, as Son Heung-Min’s brace and a Stefan Kießling goal in between were enough to see off 1. FC Nürnberg. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund had Robert Lewandowski to thank as his late penalties earned Jürgen Klopp’s team a hard-fought victory at Mainz.
Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke raised the stakes before their head-to-head fixture next week with a home win against Freiburg and Stuttgart respectively. In the early match of the weekend on Friday evening, Wolfsburg wasted a chance to keep up with the aforementioned duo, as they only shared the spoils against Hamburg in a typical match of two halves. Hertha Berlin and Augsburg played out for only the third goalless draw this season, while Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen also missed out on a much needed victory, despite a flattering 4-4 draw. Last but not least, Hannover returned to winning ways at the expense of Eintracht Frankfurt, as Mame Biram Diouf scored his first goal since August.
Goals-galore draw of the weekend
As it had been the case multiple times this season, the weekend’s action was not short of a thrilling draw, as Werder Bremen twice came back from a two-goal deficit to earn a point from their trip to Hoffenheim. The Green and Whites held their nerves to level the scoreline at the half-time break after trailing their hosts by two goals to nil. The Sinsheim club restored their two-goal advantage in the second half but the visitors stormed their way back once again by scoring an equalizer in the stoppage time courtesy of Philipp Bargfrede’s first Bundesliga goal.
The first 4-4 draw since the crazy roller coaster between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart a couple of seasons ago helped Hoffenheim to level Bayern Munich in terms of goals scored, despite the disappointing 34 conceded goals being the worst in the league. Hoffenheim will visit Eintracht Frankfurt next week as the Eagles, who progressed from their Europa League group, stayed winless in the league following yet another defeat at the weekend, this time against Hannover, a poor streak which stretches from September. On the other hand, Werder Bremen will entertain the invincible Bayern Munich in the hopes of ending the Bavarians’ 39-match unbeaten run.
Deadly from the spot
Including the three given in the match at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, referees pointed to the spot on a combined eight occasions – twice as many as the previous highest number this season – with all ending up in the back of the net. Sejad Salihović scored his fourth and fifth penalties of the season before Aaron Hunt joined the party with his own composed Elfmeter in that sensational 4-4 draw. The match wasn’t the only one to feature three penalty-kicks in the weekend, as Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski twice scored from the spot to surpass double figures at the top of the goal-scorers chart after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also scored from the spot to level the match for Mainz earlier on. Wolfsburg didn’t miss suspended Diego’s service as a penalty-kick taker, with Ricardo Rodriguez taking over his duties and firing home the equalizer against Hamburg. Schalke’s winger Jefferson Farfán completed the list with one of his two goals against Stuttgart also coming from the penalty spot.
The weekend also saw three direct free-kicks resulting in goals. Hakan Çalhanoğlu was lucky enough to celebrate the opening goal against Wolfsburg after Diego Benaglio was awkwardly beaten from the swerving set-piece, but there were no doubts about the quality of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s and Szabolcs Huszti’s exquisite free-kicks.
Played fifteen, won none
Including the first round DFB-Pokal exit at Sandhausen, Nürnberg have failed to win any of their fifteen competitive matches this season. The Franconians sacked Michael Wiesinger, who had just taken over in January from Wolfsburg-bound Dieter Hecking, after a heavy home defeat against Hamburg in Matchday 8. But, after the 3-0 defeat at second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, new Dutch head coach Gertjan Verbeek is still without a single win in his first five matches in the Bundesliga. Surprisingly enough, even without their first win of the season, Der Club have avoided being at the bottom of the pile courtesy of their league-high eight draws and the awful form of newly-promoted Eintracht Braunschweig.
Schalke showing further signs of improvements
Three days after their stalemate in Bucharest against Steaua, which left them with no other option but to defeat FC Basel in the final matchday of the Champions League if they want to progress to the knockout stages, Schalke comprehensively handed Stuttgart their third defeat in four matches. Jefferson Farfán’s scored his first Bundesliga brace but the award for “Goal of the Match” went to a rare dazzling effort from USA international Jermaine Jones.
Excluding the defeat at the hands of big boys Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, even though both matches were played in Gelsenkirchen, we have to go back to August to find a defeat for die Königsblauen. Despite having lost Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with an injury until the new year back in August, they have scored three or more goals in six of their last eight matches. At the other end of the pitch, Ralf Fährmann kept his second consecutive clean sheet as he is taking full advantage from the absence of regular starter Timo Hilderbrand.
Schalke’s opponents next week in the Bundesliga, Borussia Mönchengladbach, kept their perfect home record intact in the final match of the weekend. A second-half tap-in from Raffael, after a good combination between the in-form duo Patrick Herrmann and Oscar Wendt, was the difference between the fourth-placed side and Freiburg, whose run of two consecutive victories was broken after wins against Slovan Liberec in midweek in the Europa League and Eintracht Braunschweig last weekend.
The Foals extended their impressive winning streak to five matches – a feat that they were not able to achieve throughout the course of their sensational 2011/12 season, in which they finished fourth – and will still be in fourth place even if the result doesn’t go their way against Schalke next week. Gladbach have won all of their seven home matches this season, averaging three goals per match.
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