The Bundesliga Diaries Editorial – Match Day 32

The title race has gripped Bundesliga fans throughout the year, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund going head to head to see who will lift the trophy in May. However, after nine months of intense action, the race has been all but run, thanks to a contrasting matchday 32 for the two.

Bayern were up first, playing Hannover at the Allianz Arena. Munich struggled against Nürnberg last week, but it always seemed unlikely that the visitors would be able to cause any kind of upset, despite themselves fighting for survival. And Niko Kovac’s side were soon 2-0 up, with Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka scoring in the first half. A tough second period could have been on the cards for Bayern after Jonathas converted a soft penalty for Hannover after VAR intervened, but his red card just 10 minutes later ended any hopes of a Hannover comeback. In the week he revealed he will not extend his contract and will leave the club in the summer, Franck Ribery scored the third to make the victory more comfortable.

Is was then up to Borussia Dortmund to keep the title pressure on Bayern as they faced Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion. Much like Bayern, they raced into a 2-0 lead despite being without the suspended Marco Reus, with Mario Götze and Paco Alcacer scoring. However, as has too often been the case this season, their second half performance could not match the first, and this time they paid for it. In the space of five minutes during the second period, the hosts were soon level at 2-2, and Dortmund were unable to retake the lead. With Munich leading by four points with just two games left, one more win for the Bavarians will clinch the title.

Two huge results in the title race, but both were upstaged by Bayer Leverkusen’s annihilation of Eintracht Frankfurt. In a game that may have big consequences for the Champions League places, it was expected to be a tight game as Leverkusen looked to close the gap to Frankfurt, who sit in fourth. However, with Adi Hütter’s side perhaps struggling to recover from their high-paced Europa League semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Die Werkself tore through the Eagles, winning 6-1. All of the goals were scored by the 36th minute, with Leverkusen setting a record for the quickest time to score six goals in a Bundesliga game in the process. Frankfurt are still in fourth and hold the advantage, but Leverkusen are on the same number of points and are now just five goals behind.

The good news for Frankfurt is that the other sides in the European race also failed to win over the weekend. It helped that Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hoffenheim were facing each other, of course, with the eventual draw doing little to help either club’s aspirations. Once again, Hoffenheim will rue their inability to hold on to leads, with Julian Nagelsmann’s side leading twice in this fixture before being pegged back on both occasions. How they were unable to secure all three points is a mystery, as they controlled the game and had a hatful of chances. Fortunately for Mönchengladbach, Yann Sommer was usually on hand in goal to save them.

Leipzig have already qualified for the Champions League and, such has been their form in recent weeks, the league title was still a remote possibility. That ended on Friday night, as they drew 3-3 with Mainz. In correlation with the running theme of the matchday, Leipzig were unable to hold on their lead. They were 3-1 ahead early in the second half thanks to a Lucas Klostermann double and a Timo Werner strike. However, Mainz came back, scoring through Moussa Niakhaté and top goalscorer Jean-Philippe Mateta to secure a point. Die RotenBullen face Bayern next week in what will be a dress rehearsal for the DFB Pokal final at the end of May.

Stuttgart’s hopes of securing automatic survival were already hanging by a thread, but they are now officially over. They had to beat Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion this weekend to have any realistic hopes of finishing above 16th, but it wasn’t to be, as Berlin comfortably moved in to a 3-0 lead. Mario Gomez was on hand to reduce the deficit, but Nico Willig’s side were unable to cause Berlin enough problems to get anything from the game. They will now be in the relegation play-off and will wait to see who will be their opponents from the 2.Bundesliga, although there is still a slight possibility they could be relegated automatically.

For that to happen, however, Nürnberg will need to win their last two games. That seems unlikely, as they have won just once in 2019, with the latest defeat coming on Saturday against Wolfsburg. It was plain-sailing for Die Wölfe, who deserved their victory, which was secure thanks to goals from Felix Klaus and Marcel Tisserand. As such, they remain in the fight for the top four. For Nürnberg, relegation is all but confirmed.

Throughout the season, Schalke have been in real danger of the drop. However, this weekend, they secured their Bundesliga survival, albeit with a dour 0-0 draw against Augsburg. With Stuttgart unable to win, a point was all that was needed. Die Königsblauen will therefore still be in the top flight next year, but big changes are needed in Gelsenkirchen to ensure this campaign does not repeat itself.

Freiburg and Fortuna are both in no-man’s land, with no chance of European competition qualification, but also no fear of relegation. As such, their match this weekend had nothing riding on it. In the end, it ended 1-1, with David Kownacki scoring for Düsseldorf to peg back their opponents after Vincenzo Grifo had scored from the penalty spot. The only other meaningful action came in the form of a red card, with Janik Haberer sent off just after the break for Freiburg.