Bundesliga wrap: Former Chelsea man underlines superstar status
Life in Dortmund yet and Bayern put on a laser show - it’s a wrap!
Oh winter break, how you’re needed
For long stretches of Wednesday night’s game against Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund were back. Like, properly back. They pressed and pressed and pressed until Wolfsburg were reduced to launching it. Main summer signing Ciro Immobile, who has endured a largely negative spell in the Bundesliga so far, was the spark for everything Dortmund did, chasing and harrying, running down balls so nothing was ever a dead-end. This is underrated in football – in fact, it’s used to beat forward with backhanded compliments about a lot of enthusiasm but little skill. But for the Italian, it was exactly what he needed. He was in the game from first whistle to last, setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener with a delightful whipped cross, while his own goal to send BVB 2-1 up smacked of sheer ‘have that you b*****d’! But, typically, Dortmund were the architects of their own downfall once more. Well Sebastian Kehl was. The former skipper is calling it a day in May, and how it showed. Slow and cumbersome, but when you ask a mid-30s man to anchor a midfield on his own, you’re struggling. A winter break allows Nuri Sahin, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels to build up proper fitness and for a beleaguered Jurgen Klopp to get his squad together, trim away the dead wood and bring in players who will spark them into action.
Arjen Robben, superstar
Let’s be honest – Arjen Robben isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He dives, he can be exceptionally lazy and he seems to be the one who always scores against *your* team. But my word, what a footballer he is. The Dutch player of the year for 2014 reached a century of competitive goals for Bayern Munich with what was probably the least Robben goal of his career – a low stooping header from five yards out. Under Pep Guardiola, he seems to be at the centre of everything, albeit from the right. For a second matchday running, the Bundesliga.com users have voted him player of the week. For someone who splits opinion like he does, that’s not bad going. Away from the Dutchman, Bayern were their usual selves. Freiburg, usually so conservative under the dislikable Christian Streich, had a go at their hosts which was rewarded with only conceding two goals. Usually it’s more, though Roman Burki was to thank for that, with a string of excellent stops. On #SUPERMANU watch, he had a clearing header from 20-yards out and then stood for some time in the centre circle while Bayern attacked. Love him, we do. Bayern also put on a great laser show. That’s mad. Go to Bundesliga’s YouTube to see it!
And as for the rest…
In time covering Bundesliga, we’ve grown to not be surprised by mad stuff. Like two-goals-in-the-last-minute mad stuff. Alex Meier, the Bundesliga’s top scorer, grabbed both those goals to earn Eintracht frankfurt an unlikely point at home to Hertha Berlin. Gladbach eased back into third spot with a huge win over Werder Bremen, whose solitary reply in a five-goal thriller was yet another outstanding free-kick. The Foals overleapt Bayer Leverkusen into third spot, despite Roger Schmidt’s men winning at Hoffenheim through Stefan Kiessling, on goal difference and will finish 2014 in the top four. A shocking result for Hamburg means they were not able to finish 2014 on a high at home as ten-man Stuttgart deservedly grabbed all the points at the Imtech Arena. Schalke recovered from a goal down to win for the first time this season as Paderborn were edged out in their first ever Bundesliga clash. One more weekend to go and then it’s Christmas!
Results: Bayern Munich 2-0 Freiburg, Cologne 0-0 Mainz, Hannover 96 2-0 FC Augsburg, Hamburg 0-1 Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Wolfsburg, Gladbach 4-1 Werder Bremen, Paderborn 1-2 Schalke, Frankfurt 4-4 Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim 0-1 Leverkusen