After last week’s 3-2 win at home against Bayer Leverkusen, Dortmund appeared to have weathered the storm that has recently plagued them. However, those hopes were quashed as they somehow managed to lose to strugglers Augsburg 2-1. The Bavarian side had won just one of their previous 16 games, but a brace from former Schwarzgelber Ji Dong-Won gave them the advtantag Only Paco Alcacer was able to offer a reply.
Whilst Dortmund combust, Bayern are flying. On paper, a trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach looked a difficult fixture. But, in the end, it was anything but. Within just two minutes, Javi Martinez had put the visitors 1-0 up, and Thomas Müller, back in the starting XI after four games, soon made it two. Lars Stindl did reduce the deficit for Die Fohle, but two goals from Robert Lewandowski and a strike by Serge Gnabry after the break completed the 5-1 rout. This was arguably their best performance of the season, and it means they are now just two goals behind first place.
Hard times have hit the Ruhr. We have already mentioned Dortmund’s difficulties, but things are an awful lot darker for their local rivals Schalke 04. Saturday saw them succumb 4-0 to Fortuna Düsseldorf. In an already disappointing season, Die Königsblauen have hit new lows. The scenes following the match were ugly, with the club’s fans berating both the players and the manager, Domenico Tedesco, who bravely took the support’s criticism and abuse. The Ultras behind the goal even demanded that captain Benjamin Stambouli give them his armband, which he duly did. Tedesco remains in charge, for now, with the general consensus being that the players are as much to blame for their current situation.
In contrast to Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt are having one of their best seasons in living memory. Already in to the last 16 of the Europa League, they are within touching distance of the top four. And their 3-2 victory against Hoffenheim will have done their aspirations no harm, although they did do it the hard way. 2-1 down with just 2 minutes left on the clock, their perseverance paid off, first with Sébastien Haller heading in to make it 2-2 before Goncalo Paciencia clinched all three points in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Pacienca translates to patience in English, and this is exactly what the Eagles needed. For Hoffenheim, it is now 19 points dropped from winning positions. Those dropped points would put them just one point off the top two.
Another week, another Bayer Leverkusen victory. This is something we have been, and it was no different on matchday 24 as they brushed off Freiburg 2-0. This was a match-up between the two hardest working sides in this year’s Bundesliga, with both covering an average distance of over 120km per game. Here, they hit new heights, going above the 256km between them. From a technical point of view, however, Freiburg were no match for their opponents, with Charles Aranguiz and Leon Bailey sealing a deserved victory.
At the bottom, we were treated to another proverbial six-pointer, this time between Stuttgart and Hannover. And it was Markus Weinzierl’s side who were able to pick up all three points. Not only that, but they did so with a four-goal margin as the game finished 5-1. Ozan Kabak and Steven Zuber both scored twice, with Gomez grabbing the other goal. Only Jonatas could reply for Hannover. This victory moves Stuttgart away from the direct relegation places and gives them something to build on in the coming weeks. For Thomas Doll and co, however, things like increasingly bleak. Incredibly, Hannover look worse since Doll took over at the end of January, which takes some doing as they have spent most of the season in the bottom two.
A loss for Hannover gave Nürnberg a chance to get themselves off the bottom of the table. Unfortunately, that required them to beat RB Leipzig, who look more and more solid towards the top of the division. However, Der Club were awarded a dubious penalty just seven minutes in. They could not have wished for a better chance to go ahead, but Hanno Behrens’ kick thundered the crossbar. The way things are going for Nürnberg, it seemed inevitable that Leipzig would take advantage. And so they did, with Lukas Klostermann scoring the only goal of the game. They now jump up to third following Mönchengladbach’s loss. For Nürnberg, just like Hannover, any chances of survival look slim.
The first half between Hertha Berlin and Mainz was, for the lack of a better word, painful. In front of just over 33,000 fans, Hertha’s second lowest attendance of the season, the two sides created little, and it looked as though the game would peter out. Fortunately, the second half was more eventful. Mainz took the lead through a Niklas Start own goal, but Marko Grujic was on hand to level things up just four minutes later. Then, with 30 minutes left, Stark made up for his earlier error to score what would eventually be the game’s winner. Both sides could have scored more, with Ondrej Duda for Berlin and Anthony Ujah for Mainz hitting the woodwork, but Hertha held on to keep their European hopes alive.
The weekend’s final game saw Wolfsburg host Werder Bremen. Again, this is game that will not live long in the memory. Anthony Brooks put Die Wölfe ahead nine minutes in to the second half before Max Kruse scored an equalizer in the last third of the match. The goal was a historic one: Bremen have now scored in every single league match this season, with the current 24-game run the best in their history. Along with PSG and Juventus, they are the only club to do so in Europe’s top five leagues this campaign. On a grander scale, however, this draw keeps them in no man’s land, with this the fifth time in six matches that they have shared the points. Wolfsburg, however, are well ensconced in the battle for the European positions.