Bundesliga wrap: Borussia Dortmund’s recovery suffers setback
More Dortmund misery and a title of sorts for Bayern - it’s a wrap!
The ‘Great Escape’ is off…again….
Well now, after matchday 14’s recovery and everything shining in the garden of Borussia Dortmund once more, matchday 15 brought all in yellow and black crashing back to Earth with a huge bump. Defeat in the capital against a willing, but limited, Hertha Berlin was hard to take for Jurgen Klopp, who bemoaned the lack of cutting edge from his side afterwards. This was despite finishing with two strikers as Ciro Immobile was rewarded for his goal in the Champions League and Adrian Ramos was reintroduced to his old club for the second half. But it was former BVB man Julian Schieber who claimed the haunting bragging rights, as his first-half finish sealed a win for Berlin. While usually loathing criticising professionals, it was easy to see this was a goal which never, ever should have gone in. The dependable, but clearly injured Mats Hummels threw himself to the floor while Mitch Langerak was sent for some milk and papers while Schieber slotted home. There was 60 minutes of huffing and puffing after that, but BVB lacked any sort of bite. They’re now third from bottom and host second-placed Wolfsburg in English week on Wednesday. Defeat there could leave a shootout with Werder Bremen for who finishes bottom for the winter break. The second best club in the Bundesliga no more.
Bayern Munich do little to surprise anymore, but even on Saturday, they managed to leave even Pep Guardiola impressed with their ruthlessness. While they were dominant, the league leaders were being matched for chances and effort by Augsburg and entered into the half-time break still goalless. Augsburg, who started the day in the lofty heights of third and an automatic Champions League spot, are traditionally strong in the second half and would have fancied their chances in at least snatching a point. Nope. Nada. Nyet. Not a chance. The machine that is Bayern steamrolled their hosts, scoring four past the former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger who had looked liked Superman in the first 45 minutes. When Arjen Robben grabbed his second, he looked like he had been chewing disco biscuits at half time and was on another planet*. The win, regardless of the fact that Wolfsburg drew, sealed the ‘Winter Championship’ for Bayern, meaning they will head into the Winter Break as leaders. With PSG’s defeat in France, Guardiola’s men are the only undefeated team in Europe. Still two matchdays to go though…
*He didn’t, and was just fine, obviously.
And as for the rest…
We didn’t bet this week, so don’t worry. With a new shiny Chinese player – Xizhe Zhang (yeah, us neither) – in place and bouncing after a hard-fought win over Lille with ten men to qualify in the Europa League, Wolfsburg received a reality check with a draw at home to Paderborn. The Wolves were unlucky as they faced a mix of great goalkeeping and mental refereeing. Mental. Lukas Kruse was already in the process of having one of those days when he pushed Ivan Perisic’s penalty away. At the same end, Paderborn were awarded (and scored) one when Naldo was adjudged to have booted someone in the face. Except he didn’t. Nowhere near did it. Despite a late onslaught, the wolves couldn’t grab a point and head to Dortmund nine points behind Bayern. Schalke were another to suffer European high and Bundesliga low. After confirming another beating by Real Madrid (well, probably), they were beaten at home by Cologne. Roberto Di Matteo’s steps towards full on Anakin Skywalker after he has Vader’s helmet taken off him in Return of the Jedi gained pace. No, you shut up. Hoffenheim have obviously decided to stop defending, sharing more goals as they edged Frankfurt in a five-goal thriller. Bremen and Hannover had the scoring bug too, but six goals later, still couldn’t be separated. Leverkusen and Gladbach tested their European credentials with each other but settled for a point, while Freiburg missed an early penalty against Hamburg in a goalless draw. The Hamburg press gave plenty of credit to skipper Rafael van der Vaart as he pointed the person whom actually saved the ball and didn’t just point – Jaroslav Drobny – one way, before pointing another. Nuisance.
Results: Hoffenheim 3-2 Frankfurt, Augsburg 0-4 Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin 1-0 Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg 0-0 Hamburg, Schalke 1-2 Cologne, Werder Bremen 3-3 Hannover, Mainz 1-1 Stuttgart, Leverkusen 1-1 Gladbach, Wolfsburg 1-1 Paderborn