The Bundesliga Diaries Editorial – Match Day 29

Borussia Dortmund continue to make things as difficult as possible for themselves in their quest for a first Bundesliga title in seven seasons. After 45 minutes against Mainz, it seemed they would finally have a comfortable game in which to build up some momentum going in to the last few weeks of the campaign. At that point, Jadon Sancho had already scored a brace to put Dortmund 2-0 in front, and BVB were in total control. However, after the break, it was a very different story. Robin Quaison soon made it 2-1 after Karim Onisiwo had earlier hit the post and, had it not been for a heroic Roman Bürki triple-save in the dying minutes, Dortmund would have dropped two huge points. As it is, they are just one point behind Bayern with five matches left.

It may close in terms of points, but in regards to their respective performances, Bayern are on a different planet. This week, they travelled to Fortuna Düsseldorf, who had won nine of their last 14 games. It could have been a potential banana-skin, but in the end, it was anything but. Bayern ran out 4-1 winners and dominated throughout the 90 minutes, with a late Dodi Lukebakio penalty the only blemish on an otherwise imperious display. Despite games against high-flyers RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt and a visit from in-form Werder Bremen still remaining, it is hard to see Niko Kovac’s team dropping any points at all should they continue in this way.

Their game against Leipzig may be their most difficult before the end of the season. Ralf Rangnick’s men have been consistent throughout the campaign, and are now seven points clear of fifth-place after beating Wolfsburg 2-0 this weekend. Timo Werner, who has confirmed he will not sign a contract extension as he yearns for a move away, was on the scoresheet, with Kevin Kampl scoring the other. With just five matches left, Leipzig will have to capitulate to not end the season in the Bundesliga’s top four.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s situation is not so secure. Despite modest expectations before the start of the season, Adi Hütter has impressed everyone in the way he has led Eintracht Frankfurt to the Champions League spots and the quarter-finals of the Europa League. However, they lost the first leg of that quarter-final in Lisbon against Benfica last week, which was their first defeat of 2019, and then followed that up with another, this time to strugglers Augsburg. They are now just one point ahead of fifth, and they will hope that this is not the start of a late-season wobble, which would be a huge disappointment after such a good campaign so far.

The side just behind them is Borussia Mönchengladbach. Fortunately for Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach’s performances continue to be unconvincing, despite them beating Hannover at the weekend. The score was only 1-0, albeit through a delightful Raffael lob in the second-half. They still remain in the hunt for the Champions League, but they will be hoping to show more of their earlier-season form in the run-in. For Hannover, the stats continue to get worse. They are now the third worst side in Bundesliga history after 29 games, with only Tasmania Berlin (10, 1965-66) and Wuppertal (12, 1974-75) recording less than Hannover’s 14 points at this stage of the season. Their relegation is now all but mathematically confirmed.

Nürnberg will be the most likely to join them after drawing 1-1 with Schalke. Der Club needed all three points against a side also at the wrong end of the table and, after deservedly taking the lead through Yuya Kubo in the 82nd minute, it seemed their Bundesliga hopes may still be alive. However, it wasn’t to be, with Matija Nastasic levelling things up just three minutes later. Nürnberg still have five games left to reach survival, but they have a difficult run-in, including games against Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen. The end, for them, is now nigh.

It is now 29 Bundesliga games in a row this season – and 30 overall – in which Werder Bremen have managed to get themselves on the scoresheet, with PSG the only other side in Europe to do so. And, this week, Bremen coupled that with a victory against Freiburg at the Weserstadion. Two headers, one each from Davy Klaassen and Theodore Gebre-Selassie, were enough to better Freiburg’s solitary Luca Waldschmidt goal as Bremen continue their march to the Europa League spots. It will be interesting to see whether they can keep their astonishing goalscoring record up against Bayern next week.

It has been rumoured for a few weeks, and Hertha Berlin’s 2-0 loss against Hoffenheim was the final straw. Manager Pal Dardai has now been relieved from his duties by the Alte-Dame, despite Hertha having another comfortable season in mid-table. It seems that the club from the Berlin capital is looking for more ambition, with Hertha seemingly unable to progress in to a regular contender for the European spots. From a Hoffenheim perspective, it was a fourth win from five which now puts them in sixth-place. Much like last season, Hoffenheim are making a late move up the table.

They will be challenging for the European positions with, amongst others, Bayer Leverkusen. After three losses on the bounce, Peter Bosz’s side were back to winning ways against Stuttgart, coming away with a slender 1-0 victory. Kai Havertz’s penalty was the only goal of the game, with the academy graduate scoring on his 100th appearance for Die Werkself. Stuttgart’s situation is becoming clearer and clearer. As it stands, they will be playing the relegation play-off spot as they remain in 16th place. They will also have to play the next three games, and maybe even more, without Santiago Ascacibar, who was sent off for allegedly spitting at Havertz in the final few minutes of the match.