Bundesliga wrap: Bayern Munich struggle ahead of Real Madrid clash
Bundesliga wrap: Bayern Munich labour to a win over Eintracht Braunschweig ahead of their Real Madrid clash
Buck up your ideas Bayern
Hello. Miss me? Didn’t think so! Well then, this is the biggest week in Bayern Munich’s season, and to say they prepared for the Champions League semi-final in underwhelming fashion is an understatement. The champions, with a number of high-profile stars in the starting XI, laboured to a win over bottom side and near-relegation Eintracht Braunschweig. It wasn’t until the introduction of Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Meuller, and the finish of the wise old Owl that is Claudio Pizarro that the three points were in the bag for Pep Guardiola’s side. The argument for them is that the Bundesliga title is in the bag and Guardiola is allowing his players to rest. That’s fine, but Bayern won everything in sight in 2012/13 because of momentum. While professional footballers can adapt to anything, this Munich side must find the stop-start nature of the constant rotation a little hard. One more thing to throw in the mix: Bayern are the third consecutive German side that Real Madrid have faced in the knockout stages. End of the run or a bit of a voodoo? We’ll see on Wednesday.
“If you want boring, go elsewhere”
So wrote the social media team at Borussia Dortmund during Saturday’s thrilling win over Mainz. From the outset, Jürgen Klopp’s side just ran and ran at his old club Mainz, and were quickly ahead albeit in controversial circumstances as Oliver Kirch seemed to (well, did) deflect Milos Jojic’s effort with his hand. But thankfully for Thomas Tuchel – who seemed to enjoy suggesting Herr Klopp is off to Spain and Barcelona when questioned about it in midweek – his side were gifted two easy equalisers, including an awful back-pass from ex-Liverpool man Nuri Sahin, who could only watch in horror as Shinji Okazaki stroked home. From then on in, BVB were in superb form, wave after wave of attack, which only worsened for the visitors after they went down to ten men. There’s real momentum with Dortmund now, and the DFB Cup final in Berlin on May 17 may see a different ending for Munich than last time, when they sealed the title.
Oh no, Dino
Hamburg, it must be said from the very start, looked doomed. Another defeat at home, added to the fact Mirko Slomka is yet to pick up a win away from home, and a a very dispirited performance in front of a set of fans who are yet to give up. What could be Hamburg’s best case scenario? A relegation play-off, where they will likely face Paderborn, a club punching so far above their weight that Goliath would eye them nervously. Missing the talismanic Rafael van der Vaart – who has been in brilliant and hardworking form since Slomka took over – HSV never looked like they were accepting of the fact that their season will come down to two games against a team they’re expected to beat. But the Bundesliga 2 side have momentum, and the ‘Dino’ don’t. The situation has moved on from Def Con ‘worry’ to Def Con ‘Bloody Hell’ for Hamburg. With Bayern still to go, expect it to get worse.
Everyone else is still playing to the end
With the DFB Pokal final set to be between BVB and Bayern, the fight for Europe has dropped down a place, meaning Mainz currently hold the final Europa League spot. As for the Champions League, a rejuvenated Leverkusen hold the key once more after they dismissed a poor Nurnberg side who looked beaten before they started. Wolfsburg are snapping at their heels (see what we did there) after their dismantling of HSV, and that fight promises to be an interesting one as we near the season’s end. As for the bun fight of mid-table, everyone is jumping up, pushing down and maneuvering around as best they can as Hannover and Bremen both near-enough secured their Bundesliga futures. Stuttgart were the biggest winners at the bottom with a stunningly convincing against Schalke.
Results: Eintracht Frankfurt 2-3 Hannover, Eintracht Braunschweig 0-2 Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Mainz, Augsburg 0-0 Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen 3-1 Hoffenheim, Freiburg 4-2 Borussia Monchengladbach, Hamburg 1-3 Wolfsburg, Nurnberg 1-4 Leverkusen, Stuttgart 3-1 Schalke