Bundesliga wrap: Bayern prepare for Madrid clash by beating Bremen
Bundesliga wrap: Barrie White takes a look at all the action in Germany as Bayern Munich win
Showdown with a shadow
When Real Madrid set up to face Bayern Munich, they will find a tortured soul. Pep Guardiola, without being over-dramatic, will be hurting on two fronts. Firstly, the death of his great friend and confidant Tito Vilanova. Guardiola insisted the champions pay their tribute to the former Barcelona boss, who died aged 45 on Friday, with a minute’s silence, as well as black armbands. For a club and league with zero connection to Tito, it is not over the top to state how brilliantly observed that tribute was. Secondly, on the football front – Bayern trailed 2-1 at half-time to an impressive but not outstanding Werder Bremen. Both goals came from counter attacks, in the exact same style as Madrid’s on Wednesday. One can only imagine what the ‘Pep’ talk was because, after the break, Bayern came out flying. Two for Claudio Pizarro – against his old club – and one apiece for Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and the northerners were blown away. But still Pep wasn’t happy. He told the media afterwards that he was disappointed with his side for the first time. What better chance to say sorry to the boss than reaching a fourth Champions League final in five years.
The future’s bright, the future’s….yellow and black
A thrilling 2-2 draw at the Bay Arena between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund has thrown up a number of different things: a) the word thrilling being used about Leverkusen and b) there is some talent in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen have shown some real desire, togetherness and also no shortage of skill since coming under the short-term care of caretaker coach Sascha Lewandowski (no relation). The appointment of Roger Schmidt as coach next season should the Werkself become a more attacking unit, rather the dour and defensive side they were under sacked boss Sami Hyypia. With exciting players like Stefan Kiessling, Heung-Min Son and the hugely-talented teenager Julian Brandt, Leverkusen have a real chance of entertaining and winning in the Bundesliga. As for BVB, they are steadily going about their business. Jurgen Klopp shook off the speculation with Manchester United – insisting he has been quoted without actually saying anything – and is building a nother young side that he hopes will derail the Munich juggernaut. Milos Jojic is showing to be a shrewd investment, while Adrian Ramos and Dong-Won Ji will provide competition to replace Robert Lewandowski. Added to the permanent signing of Nuri Sahin from Madrid, and Klopp will back his side to challenge, provided they stay fit and healthy.
Shinji the scorer
“Remember the name”, cried one Barcelona-night loving commentator. Of course, Clive was talking about Wayne Rooney, but we’re talking about Shinji. Not Kagawa, but Okazaki. The Mainz man is now the most successful Japanese star in the Bundesliga. His 14 goals made him the highest-scoring Japanese player in one season, overtaking his more-famous namesake. He has also scored more doubles than any other Japanese player, and if Mainz are to push for the extra European spot, he will be crucial to their charge. While the demand for Far Eastern players has diminished in England, Okazaki’s stock is very high in Germany. But a decent offer from outside of these borders might tempt him to try his hand elsewhere.
And then there was four…
After Hamburg failed to yet again to win on the road, it meant that Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen, Hannover 96 and Freiburg all guaranteed their Bundesliga futures. The ‘Dino’ may have only doomed theirs. With the boost of Nurnberg and Braunschweig both losing on Saturday, and Stuttgart claiming only a point in a boring 0-0 at Hannover on Friday, a win for HSV at Augsburg would have at least made them safe from automatic relegation, and given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding a play-off. They were 3-1 down at half-time. Two of the goals were creditable – the third was symptomatic of their season. Rene Adler, or to quote some HSV supporting friends of mine “Rene F*****g Adler”, seem to defy the law of physics and someone managed to parry a straightforward effort into his top corner. Finger pointing, cross words and shouting between players was nothing as compared to some of the suggestions and signals coming from the travelling supporters. The ‘Dino’ is sick and needs to get better soon. Some think relegation will be the cure, but one thing is certain: a positive result for either Nurnberg or Braunschweig can see Hamburg into the bottom two. Why? Next up is Bayern.
Results: Hannover 0-0 Stuttgart, Bayern Munich 5-2 Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg 2-2 Freiburg, Hoffenheim 0-0 Frankfurt, Mainz 2-0 Nurnberg, Hertha Berlin 2-0, Leverkusen 2-2 Borussia Dortmund, Augsburg 3-1 Hamburg, Schalke 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach