At this point of the season, results matter more than performances. At least that is what Lucien Favre and co will be insisting. Once again, his Borussia Dortmund were underwhelming during matchday 26, but in the end, the 3-2 victory in Berlin is all that counts. In all fairness to their opponents Hertha, the opposition was tough, and Pal Dardai’s men will feel that Salomon Kalou’s double should have earnt them at least a point. But Dortmund should be beating such sides more convincingly. Instead, they needed a stoppage-time winner from talisman Marco Reus to come away with spoils.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, continue to swat away all those that come before them. At least domestically. The Bavarians were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool in midweek as they crashed out of the Champions League, but their response against Mainz 05 was emphatic. The final score was 6-0, with James Rodriguez netting his first Bundesliga hattrick. However, questions still remain over whether his loan move from Real Madrid will be made permanent at the end of the season. Also on the scoresheet was Alphonso Davies who, in doing so, became the first player born in this century to score for Munich. Following their impressive performance, they returned to the top of the table, and the margin of victory only increases their goal-difference lead.
It had been coming, but last week it finally happened: Domenico Tedesco was relieved of his duties as Schalke 04 manager. Unsurprisingly, the 7-0 loss to Manchester City made his position untenable. Huub Stevens was quickly installed as interim manager, returning to the club for his third spell. They faced RB Leipzig this weekend, and the Königsblauen faithful felt impelled to share their feelings about the current state of affairs. With banners, they thanked Tedesco for his time at the club and made it be known that the players should shoulder most of the blame. They demanded a clear-out of the current playing staff, which is expected to happen in the summer. On the pitch, little had changed. Schalke lost their fourth Bundesliga fixture in a row, albeit due to a solitary Timo Werner goal. For Leipzig this victory puts them one step closer to qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Wolfsburg also confirmed an impending manager change, albeit under different circumstances. Bruno Labbadia has done a fantastic job with Die Wölfe so far this season, but his relationship with the club’s Sporting Director Jörg Schmadtke has been less than pleasant. In this case, Schmadtke prevailed, with Labbadia leaving the club at the end of the season. It seems a bizarre decision, especially with the side putting in performances like the one against Fortuna Düsseldorf at the weekend, where they prevailed 5-2. Wout Weghorst was the star of the show, scoring the first hattrick of his career, as well as assisting the other two as Wolfsburg jumped to within 5 points of the Champions League places.
Stability is key in football, and Werder Bremen appear to currently be bearing the fruits of supporting their manager Florian Kohlfeldt. They faced Bayer Leverkusen, one of the division’s in-form sides, on Sunday, and tactically bettered their opponents. They went in to an early 2-0 lead thanks to swift counter-attacking goals from Max Kruse and Milot Rashica. Peter Bosz brought on star performer Kai Havertz, who had started on the bench, and Paulinho during the interval, and when Leon Bailey scored a sumptuous free-kick, it appeared that a comeback was on the cards. But Kruse was once again on hand to wrap up the points with a fantastic third goal, again on the break. Kruse has been one of the star performers in the Bundesliga this season, and the calls continue to grow for his recall to the German national squad.
Whilst others below continue to stake a claim for the top four, Mönchengladbach are in freefall. Earlier in the season, Die Fohle would have easily dispatched a Freiburg side at the Borussia-Park, where they won their first nine games of the season. However, they have now failed to win in their last four games after the 1-1 draw on Friday night. Vincenzo Grifo, who has been reinvigorated by his return to Freiburg on loan in January, put his side ahead, before Alassane Pléa scored soon after to level it up. For the remaining 74 minutes, little of note happened. Mönchengladbach are now just one point ahead of fifth.
It is Eintracht Frankfurt who sit just below them, and the sun continues to shine on Adi Hütter. His side’s 1-0 win against FC Nürnberg, courtesy of a Martin Hinterregger goal, keeps up their unbeaten run in 2019, and Champions League qualification looks a more realistic objective with each passing game. Add on their impressive Europa League run, in which they have now reached a Quarter-final encounter with Benfica, and Niko Kovac becomes more and more of a distant memory.
This weekend was realistically Hannover’s last chance to give themselves any hope of staying the the Bundesliga. And they even went 1-0 up against Augsburg through Hendrik Weydandt. It wasn’t to be, however, as Augsburg had enough in the second half to claim all three points. They eventually won 3-1, and are now 11 points above the automatic relegation zone. Thomas Doll, the second Hannover manager already this season, may not have much time left to save his job.
For Hoffenheim, the same old story repeated itself. They took the lead against Stuttgart through Andrej Kramaric, who is now the joint-top record goalscorer for the club in the Bundesliga. But once again, they were unable to see the game out. Steven Zuber was the man who pegged them back, who is of course on-loan from Hoffenheim. Cleary, he did not enjoy his time at the club, as his celebration was joyful to say the least. RB Leipzig, Julian Nagelsmann’s future employers, will be casting a worrying eye on the Hoffenheim manager, who has seen his side drop 21 points from winning positions this campaign.