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- Off The Pitch
The Bundesliga seems to have concluded frightfully early this season, as just 25 weeks into the season it seems as though the Europa League spots are all that are left to contest. The race for the title, if you could even call it that, ended following yet another Bayern victory over Düsseldorf, and Dortmund fell to Schalke in the Ruhr derby.
Both of the aforementioned games were a pleasure to watch, and were definitely not easy wins for the victors. Bayern München came from a goal behind on two occasions to beat Fortuna Düsseldorf at the Allianz Arena. A man of the match winning performance and a goal from Franck Ribéry helped Bayern to their 21st win in 25 games, a statistic reflective of their incredibly consistent performances. Goals from Mathias Bolly and Andreas Lambertz either side of a Thomas Müller strike were cancelled out by Ribéry and Boateng with four minutes to spare. A close call for Bayern, although one they could have afforded.
The same cannot be said for Borussia Dortmund, who lost hold of whatever slim chance they had of catching their Bavarian rivals upon losing 2-1 to Schalke in the Veltins-Arena. Julian Draxler opened the scoring in the twelfth minute with a sweet strike from the edge of the box, who marked his hundredth appearance for the club with his tenth goal this season. Their lead was soon doubled as slack defending from Mats Hummels, supposedly suffering from a bout of illness, gave Klass Jan Huntelaar an acre of space to finish.
To quote the commentator of “Bundesliga Review“, whose name I cannot remember, “The Hunter eats those for breakfast”. The sloppy Hummels was replaced by Nuri Šahin at half time, and Marco Reus came on for Kevin Groβkreutz. This double substitution gave Dortmund a boost, although not one large enough to overcome the two goal obstacle which stood in their way. Reus set up Robert Lewandowski for his seventeenth goal of the season. The Borussen Revolution seems to have taken the ultimate hit, and Klopp will need to rebuild for next season if he wants to challenge Guardiola’s men.
The third main talking point to be drawn from the weekend’s football was Wolfsburg’s demolition of a Freiburg side who had lost just one of their previous nine matches. Wolfsburg are just playing for pride at this stage, as they are equally distant from the European and relegation places. But by god did they give their travelling fans something to cheer about.
After going behind after just 2 minutes to a Max Kruse goal, Wolfsburg’s players went about submitting their names for the goal of the month competition. A Cedrick Makiadi own goal was swiftly followed by a 30-yard Vieirinha volley, which is worth a Google. So too was Wolfsburg’s third, as Ivica Olic pulled off an overhead kick to put the ball into the bottom corner. And this was all before the twenty-fifth minute. Olic put the game to bed with his second in the second half, as he headed the ball past Diego Benaglio. Goals from Johannes Flum and Diego Ribas for Freiburg and Wolfsburg respectively were trivial, as Die Wölfe had the points in the bag already.
Augsburg v. Nürnberg:
Goals from Kiyotake and Esswein all but ensure that Augsburg will need to win the play off to stay in the top flight next season.
Mainz v Bayer:
Mainz did Dortmund a favour on Saturday when they took all three points against Bayer Leverkusen. A Bayer win would have salted Dortmund’s fresh wounds by putting them into third place, just seven points ahead of a resurgent Schalke side, although their undoing at the hands of Tuchel’s Mainz, who are just one point off the European places.
Greuther Fürth v Hoffenheim:
The basement battle was one of vital importance. Hoffenheim’s 3-0 win puts them two points off the play-off place, and really puts the heat on F.C Augsburg. The Fürth fans have had very little to cheer about, and Saturday was no different. Nice to see the players talking to a bunch of fans through the fence after the 90 minutes, then.
Mönchengladbach v. Bremen:
A draw for Die Föhlen was an unfair result, I feel. Patrick Herrmann slotted home, only for the referee to harshly, very harshly rule it offside as the ball through brushed off Amin Younes’ leg as he let it slip through. Peniel Mlapa opened the scoring for ‘Gladbach in the 72nd minute with a header from six yards, only for Aleksander Ignjovski to cancel it out five minutes later. ‘Gladbach still just three points off the Europa League spots.
Stuttgart v. Hamburg:
Artjoms Rudnevs’ goal keeps Hamburg in sixth place. The game against Augsburg next week is vital for both sides.
Hannover 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt.