Bundesliga wrap: Are Borussia Dortmund too good to go down?
After a bruising week in Europe, the Bundesliga returned to what it does best. Scoring plenty of goals past each other.
Too good to go down, right?
Being bottom of the Bundesliga in September or October was embarrassing for Borussia Dortmund, but manageable. There were injuries – Mats Hummels missed most of the opening months of the season, while Jurgen Klopp must have hung on to Marco Reus’s leg every time he left for international duty, begging him not to go and get injured again…which he duly did. Ilkay Gundogan made a long-awaited return while the re-signed Shinji Kagawa found his form. His Manchester United form, not his Borussia Dortmund first spell form. A first win in eight, albeit via a comical own goal by Borussia Monchengladbach’s World Cup winner Christoph Kramer, relieved some pressure and lifted BVB into the lofty heights of fourth from bottom. Since then, Klopp’s men let a two-goal lead slip at Paderborn, coupled with another Reus injury, and matchday 13 saw a shocking defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles are not a bad side, so it’s not shocking that way, but the manner of the loss has to raise serious alarm bells. Well, duh. Most post-match pictures have Klopp hugging and cajoling his yet-again disappointed players. Do they need that? Do Matthias Ginter and Roman Weidenfeller need an arm round their waist or a proverbial rocket up their unmentionables? Dortmund face the shame of being bottom in the winter break. Few teams stay up when in that position. It’s now a serious point in saying that instead of fourth place being an achievement, fourth from bottom could be instead. The winter break can’t come soon enough.
Have a break lads, you worked hard in the week, just win one-nil this time
First of all, a confession. Bayern lost us money this week. But now that’s out of the way, let’s stay objective. The lazy sods could have scored two more, but no, they didn’t. After dominating Manchester City in the midweek Champions League clash with only ten men, Bayern headed to the scene of their quickest ever Bundesliga title win in Berlin. Traditionally a happy hunting ground for the leaders, they quickly found their stride and were one ahead through Arjen Robben’s lovely left-foot finish. They didn’t score anymore after that, which was very un-Bayern like. And a bit selfish of them too. We’re not bitter. The efforts of playing for an hour with ten-men in midweek showed as Bayern selfishly laboured towards a single-goal victory. That said, buoyed by their first win on the road at Cologne in matchday 12, Hertha had plenty of positives to take from the defeat, coming close many times to scoring, with one ruled out – correctly – for offside. Meanwhile, likely Ballon d’Or nominee Manuel Neuer was his usual mental self. A flying header and some tricky skills 30 yards out meant the German number one was well in the game. Will he be voted the world’s best? Unlikely, but he deserves to be rated in the top three. All of his adventures are purely for the fun of the game. No ego and no silliness. Bravo Manuel (and at least YOU tried to win our bet).
Goals, goals, goals, we’re looking for a good time
There were 35 goals in the nine Bundesliga matches on matchday 13, and at least 20 per cent of those were goal of the season candidates. From Zlatko Junozovic’s David Beckham impression (never has ‘postage stamp’ been more apt) to Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s delightful dink, the standard of finishes over the weekend was just fine. On Schalke’s talismanic Dutchman, the Hunter reached a milestone of 100 goals in all competitions for the club with a hat-trick against Mainz. How Royal Blues’ fans would have wished it had shown up in midweek against Chelsea. Wolfsburg maintained the chase of Bayern as they saw off fellow Europa League participants Gladbach. The Wolves, so easily picked off by Everton, represent the nearest challengers to Munich, meaning that 2013/14’s record title could be beaten. Leverkusen took Rhein derby plaudits with a thrashing of Cologne while Werder Bremen lifted themselves out of the bottom three with a crushing win over Paderborn. Despite recent improvements, Hamburg dropped into the relegation zone with defeat at Augsburg while the returning Huub Stevens made an instant impact at Stuttgart, as they beat Freiburg in the Friday night fixture.
Results: Freiburg 1-4 Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin 0-1 Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 Cologne, Schalke 4-1 Mainz, Werder Bremen 4-0 SC Paderborn, Augsburg 3-1 Hamburg, Hoffenheim 4-3 Hannover, Wolfsburg 1-0 Gladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Borussia Dortmund