Bundesliga wrap: Robert Lewandowski in form ahead of Madrid tie
Bundesliga wrap: Robert Lewandowski warms up for Tuesday's Real Madrid clash with a goal against Wolfsburg
Lewandowski is a man on a mission
There were times during Borussia Dortmund’s excellent comeback win over Wolfsburg that Robert Lewandowski was taking their potential loss personally. He charged around with desire of John McLean in Die Hard 3 while showing the same strength of any of the Terminators. When BVB needed the goal to get them level, he provided it with a show incredible bravery. His flicked header, as he knew full well it would, came with the price of being smashed into his back, but the Pole got up to celebrate. His team-mate Marcel Schmelzer said in midweek that Real Madrid would want to finish the tie in the first leg, because they had Lewandowski in their heads, and few disagreed they had achieved that. Except Lewa, who knows an early goal will get inside the heads of Madrid’s defenders, who are still in counselling after Lewandowski’s four goals in 2012/13. Would anyone rule out a BVB comeback? Possibly won’t happen, but that early goal would make matters very interesting.
Friday nights are made for magic
Hamburg versus Bayer Leverkusen on a Friday night isn’t one to grab your attention, normally, but this was a cracker. From the moment Hakan Canhaloglu smashed one in to put the Dino ahead, only for in-form and up-that-minute-hero Rene Adler to act like his “Allo, Allo” namesake and spill one in, it was simply a cracker. But what that game was crying out for was a much-maligned veteran balding centre half to join in an attack and volley home like he was Zinedine Zidane, Terry McDermott and Marco van Basten rolled into one. A great goal to cap off a great game as Adler restored his pride with a last-gasp win. Teams in the relegation battle aren’t going quietly, as HSV showed with a real battling performance, epitomised by their skipper Rafael van der Vaart, who’d run 10k before injury forced him off after 75 minutes.
A sad footnote to this was the surprising, but not shocking dismissal of Sami Hyypia as Leverkusen’s head coach. The former Liverpool man was overseeing a slump in form, with the Werkself dropping out of the Champions league places. His reputation will be damaged by this, but not destroyed.
Hamburg moved out of the bottom three with that win over Leverkusen. Come 24 hours later, they’re back in it. Stuttgart, this time, became the ones to try the leap out of the pit of despair (you can have that one for free Sky). Alongside Nurnberg, they knew that nothing more than a win would be enough. They succeeded – the Frankonians didn’t. Gertjan Verbeek’s men are now in trouble as Huub Stevens’s side sits in the all-important 15th place. Hamburg are back in the play-off place, but predicting, and knowing, who will be the ones to go down, won’t happen until the music stops on Matchday 34. Complicated enough as it is? Then thrown Braunschweig into the mix, with their superb derby win over Hannover now leaves them one win – and defeats for the other three – from safety. With a worse goal difference however, it’s still going to be tough for the Lions. But it is not anywhere near a settled situation, so strap yourselves in for the ride.
You didn’t think we were going to ignore it?
So, in the 54th match, Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run came to an end. The last time the Bavarians were beaten was in 2012, also when they last failed to score, as they did on Saturday. The opponents were Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz, respectively, while it was their Southern neighbours Augsburg who inflicted the first Bundesliga defeat on Pep Guardiola. It wasn’t a surprise – the Spaniard fielded a much-changed time, including three young debutants. Tom Starke was also slated to start, but injured himself in training so Manuel Neuer was back in his rightful position after missing out against Hoffenheim. Augsburg were worth their win, no doubt, but the headlines are with Bayern. They are without a win in three now, and with Bastian Schweinsteiger out of Tuesday’s second leg with Manchester United, there are some in the North West daring to dream. Guardiola will also be missing Thiago, but there is a school of thought that Pep will have enjoyed the defeat on Saturday, so he can light the fuse of the proverbial rocket. Who knows? But one thing is for certain, there are more nerves in Munich than there were two or three weeks ago.
Results: Hamburg 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg 1-0 Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Mainz, Nurnberg 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach, Stuttgart 2-0 Freiburg, Werder Bremen 1-1 Schalke, Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Wolfsburg, Eintracht Braunschweig 3-0 Hannover 96, Hertha Berlin 1-1 Hoffenheim