The Bundesliga Diaries Editorial – Match Day 22

​There have already been inklings of Dortmund feeling the pressure in the last couple of weeks. However, following their 0-0 away at bottom club FC Nürnberg, they now appear to be in the midst of a full-blown crisis! This is now the third Bundesliga game in a row from which they have come away with just a point. And last week’s 3-0 Champions League defeat at Tottenham makes it four competitive games in a row without a victory. With Marco Reus again missing due to injury, BVB lacked the creativity to break down a Nürnberg defense revitalized by the dismissal of Michael Köllner. After the final whistle, Interim manager Boris Schommers was clearly overjoyed with the vital and unexpected point.

That results means that the gap to Bayern is down to three points after it had stood at seven just two weeks ago. This is thanks to the Bavarians’ narrow victory over local rivals Augsburg. Much like BVB, Munich were unspectacular themselves, and even trailed on two occasions, but a double from Kingsley Coman was enough to eventually see them over the line to win 3-2. To edge closer to the leaders will surely give them a boost as they prepare for their Champions League encounter against Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

Just like the title race, the battle for the European spots continues to tantalize. And it is Bayer Leverkusen who currently look the best of those directly below the top two. Their 2-0 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf was a lot more dominant than the scoreline suggests: they recorded a season-record 1053 passes, which equated to 85% of the overall possession. Düsseldorf were unable to muster a single shot on target, such was their opponents’ control of the game. Leon Bailey, in particular, was impressive as he continues to play an important role for Leverkusen since Peter Bosz’s arrival.

Leverkusen’s three points allowed them to overtake Eintracht Frankfurt, who drew 1-1 at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Frankfurt’s league form has not been as strong as it was earlier in the season, but it seems that Adi Hüttler and co’s eyes may be turning towards the Europa League. This was evident through the omission of Bundesliga top scorer Luka Jovic who was left on the bench having played the full 90 minutes for his side in the Europa League fixture away at Shakhtar Donetsk. For Mönchengladbach, it was their second game in a row without a victory, although there was a clear improvement from their 3-0 loss against Hertha Berlin last week.

Wolfsburg are also in the hunt for Europe, and their 3-0 victory over Mainz will have done them no harm in their quest. Wout Weghorst was on the scoresheet again, netting his fourth goal of the season following one of several handball VAR calls during this 22nd matchday. The victory sees them move up to sixth place in the table, also leapfrogging Frankfurt.

Just like Die Wölfe, both RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim emerged victorious. The former were able to clinch a 3-1 victory away at Stuttgart, whilst the latter easily dispatched Hannover. Stuttgart were able to put in a better performance than we have seen from them in recent weeks, but it was not enough for them to get anything against a consistent Leipzig outfit. Hannover, however, were clearly outclassed by Julian Nagelsmann’s side. Thomas Doll looked to finally realize the true size of the task that faces him as he attempts to keep his team in the Bundesliga.

Other than Dortmund versus Nürnberg, the weekend’s only other goalless game was between Schalke and Freiburg. In terms of quality football, we were left more than wanting, but there were still a couple of action-filled moments to mention. These came in the form of two red cards: one for Schalke in the first half, given to Suat Serdar for an atrocious tackle on Mike Frantz, and one for Christian Gunter of Freiburg for two yellow card offences late in the second period. After this match otherwise devoid of entertainment, Freiburg and Schalke sit in 13th and 14th place respectively.

On a more positive note, the match between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen was the scene of a historic Bundesliga moment. Davie Selke first put the hosts 1-0 up at the Olympiastadion, and it looked like it would be back-to-back wins for the side from the capital. However, in the 96th minute, Bremen were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty box. And it was Claudio Pizarro who was on hand to put the ball in to the back of the net, via a deflection, to earn his side a last-gasp point. In doing so, he became the oldest ever goalscorer in the Bundesliga, aged 40 years and 136 days. Already a Bundesliga legend, Pizarro once again writes his name in to the annals of German footballing history.