We now have just nine games until the end of the season, but there was no let-up in the action as matchday 25 delivered another tantalising round of matches in the Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich opened up a 20-point lead at the top with Schalke moving into second place behind them. Eintracht Frankfurt continue to dream of the Champions League, whereas the trapdoor to Bundesliga.2 seems to be getting ever closer for both Hamburg and Köln.
So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 25?
Wow! As far as Bundesliga debuts go, that was pretty spectacular from Florian Müller on Saturday. With both Rene Adler and Robin Zentner out injured, trainer Sandro Schwarz was forced to put the 20-year-old in goal for their potentially vital basement battle with Hamburg at the Volksparkstadion.
With only 19 appearances in the 3.Liga and 8 in the Regionalliga Südwest under his belt, it was a big ask for the youngster, but the pressure didn’t faze him at all and he put in a fantastic performance to help earn the Nullfünfer a point.
He saved early on to deny Sven Schipplock and produced further top saves against both Walace and Filip Kostic. The icing on the cake however came when he got down superbly to save Kostic’s penalty in the second half.
“What Flo Müller managed here on his debut was amazing” beamed trainer Sandro Schwarz after the match.
‘Legend’ is a term that is bandied about a lot these days and quite often it’s not really deserved, but in the case of Stefan Kießling the accolade is more than merited. The Bayer Leverkusen veteran came off the bench on matchday 25 to replace Julian Baumgartlinger in the 88th minute and by doing so made his 400th Bundesliga appearance.
Quite a milestone for the 34-year-old and a long way from his Bundesliga debut back in April 2003 for 1FC Nürnberg against Hamburg. Since then, the striker has gone on to score 144 goals in the top flight.
“The lads were almost happier for me than with the three points” Kießling explained at the final whistle. “It is simply an unbelievable feeling and I’m proud to have done it in this shirt. A wonderful number.”
When you are down at the bottom of the table, every point is precious and you really have to show fight and character to earn them. So Friday’s point earned away at Borussia Mönchengladbach must actually feel like three points for Florian Kohfeldt’s side considering the Grün-Weißen had to fight back from 2-0 down.
It could have been worse than a two-goal deficit going into the break, but whatever was said in the Werder dressing room certainly had the desired effect as second half goals from Thomas Delaney and Aron Johannsson earned Bremen a potentially valuable point.
Andrej ‘Ketchup’ Kramarić
Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kramarić maintained his prolific scoring run with another goal against Augsburg. The Croatian’s sixth goal in five games came when he rose to head home a cross delivered by Benjamin Hübner.
“I’m really happy with how things are going for me at the moment” Kramarić said after the game. “I’m full of confidence right now and that makes things a lot easier in front of goal – not just for me actually, but all the strikers.”
The red-hot striker also unselfishly laid on the assist for Serge Gnabry to score Hoffenheim’s second of the afternoon in their deserved 2-0 win.
Reus continued his marvellous return from his lengthy injury lay-off with another important goal for Borussia Dortmund against RB Leipzig. Having scored on his two previous appearances against Borussia Mönchengladbach and Augsburg, Reus bagged his third goal in three games to help the Schwarzgelben to a 1-1 draw away at the Red Bull Arena.
Coincidentally, the goal against the Roten Bullen means that Woodyinho has now scored against all 18 of the current Bundesliga clubs. In addition his equaliser to Jean-Kevin Augustin’s opener was scored at 19:09 which is a special number for BVB having been formed back in the year 1909. Spooky!
Pick that one out! When Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso made contact with the ball in the 28th minute against Freiburg on Sunday, there was only one place it was going to end up. As expected the back of Alexander Schwolow’s net rippled (or rather nearly burst) as the rocket of a shot flew sweetly in.
Words don’t always do a goal justice. So take a look for yourself (watch it a few times if you want).
— FOX Sports (@FOXSportsnl) 4 March 2018
Hamburg/ Filip Kostic
Saturday’s basement battle with Mainz was a must-win game for Hamburg in their fight to avoid relegation so the fact that they didn’t manage to get all three points against the side in 16th position is a real blow.
Before the game the Nullfünfer had a seven-point cushion over HSV, so it was vital to try to cut that to just four with a victory. It was a much better display from the Rothosen, but they just couldn’t make their dominance pay in terms of goals. Filip Kostic had a penalty saved and also had a goal ruled out for offside by the VAR.
Despite playing the final 30 minutes with a man extra following Leon Balogun’s red card, HSV just couldn’t score the all-important goal they needed. The reaction from the Ultras in the Nordkurve wasn’t as extreme as against Bayer Leverkusen, but there was a banner letting the players know exactly what the fans thought of them.
‘Danke für nichts- Ihr Söldner’ (Thanks for nothing- you mercenaries).
It was always going to be tough for Wolfsburg trainer Bruno Labbadia in his first home game in charge as he came up against one of his former sides. In ten previous games as a coach against the Werkself, he had failed to win a single one, so the writing was on the wall right from the very start.
And so it came to pass that Leverkusen deservedly left the Volkswagen Stadion with all three points to pile more pressure on the Wölfe. Perilously close to the drop zone, Wolfsburg are now level on points with 16th place Mainz and in serious danger of a second relegation play-off in two seasons.
The gallows humour from the fans was not missing with sections of the Nordkurve in the second half singing: “Wir steigen ab, wir kommen nie wieder – wir haben Bruno Labbadia.” (We’re going down, we’re never coming back- we have Bruno Labbadia).
Köln/ Timo Horn
Oh Köln, oh Köln, oh Köln! Forty minutes of the perfect game plan executed brilliantly and then the curse of the shocking bad luck raises its ugly head again at the Rhein-Energie Stadion.
1-0 up thanks to veteran Claudio Pizarro’s seventh minute strike and unlucky to see a Yuya Osako second disallowed, it all seemed to be going swimmingly for Stefan Ruthenbeck’s relegation-threatened side.
However the wind was taken out of their sails when Mario Gomez equalised just before half time. Then the whole boat was sunk when goalkeeper Timo Horn made a horrendous error to let in a harmless shot from Gomez in first half stoppage time to turn the game on its head.
The blow was a huge one and clearly affected, the usually reliable Köln keeper made another poor attempt to save Andreas Beck’s effort on 57 minutes. If a hole would have opened up at the Rhein-Energie Stadion, Horn would have jumped straight in (or maybe he would have missed that too?).
Milos Jojic did manage to pull a goal back with a great direct free-kick, but it proved too little, too late for the beleaguered Geißböcke.
Caglar Söyüncü/ Alexander Schwolow
Some own goals are just pure bad luck, but in the case of Freiburg’s Caglar Söyüncü and Alexander Schwolow, a fair amount of perseverance played a role against Bayern Munich on Sunday.
As Thomas Müller looked to play the ball across the six-yard box, defender Söyüncü back-heeled the ball towards the net and into Müller’s path once again. The Bayern captain’s second stab at goal was clumsy again, but somehow keeper Schwolow made a hash of it and just bundled the ball into the back of the net.
Comedy own goal of the highest order (as if Bayern actually need any help).
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