Germany’s contingent participating in the Champions League and the Europa League were most impressive in mid-week with all seven clubs avoiding defeat. Some of them were expected to suffer from the continental hangover on their return to domestic football, so how did they fare? TheHardTackle reviews all the action from matchday 11 in the weekly review column, Beer And Bratwurst.
Bayern prove Veh right with a steady performance
Prior to the match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich, Armin Veh spoke to Bild about his side’s chances against Germany’s most successful club: “I have wondered whether it makes any sense at all me travelling. I have never won at the Allianz Arena.” Going into a game against Bayern with that sort of mindset isn’t most advisable but after all that Veh has done with Eintracht this season, there was a glimmer of hope against the Bavarian giants.
Veh made one change to his side from last week, replacing Olivier Occean with Karim Matmour as his lone striker. Jupp Heynckes still had to do without the services of Holger Badstuber and Luis Gustavo, thereby making just one change, Toni Kroos coming in for Thomas Müller, to the side that played in midweek against Lille.
Both sides had their fair share of attacking opportunities but the clear cut chances were falling more often to Bayern. Kevin Trapp was called upon a few times and the 22-year-old did not disappoint. Bayern finally did manage to break the deadlock when an Eintracht corner was punched away by Manuel Neuer, resulting in a counter. A good through pass to Javi Martinez gave the Spaniard ample space to square the ball for Franck Ribery, who tapped into an empty net from a few yards out.
The second half began with a scare for Bayern, when Bamba Anderson’s thunderous header rattled the crossbar just five minutes in. This wakeup call made the hosts shift a gear upwards, with Ribery being Bayern’s most lively attacker. Trapp was regularly called into action, and just like in the first half, was almost impossible to get past. About 75 minutes into the game, Ribery was brought down by the sloppy Vadim Demidov and Bayern were awarded a penalty. The young Austrian, David Alaba, stepped up and made no mistake from the spot. The game was done and dusted; Bayern continue to keep a tight grip on the top spot.
Dortmund start slow but get back to winning ways
With their last win having come more than a month ago, hosting Dortmund was always going to be a mammoth task for lowly Augsburg. Ja-Cheol Koo’s return from injury did provide a glimmer of hope for the Bavarians but this resulted in Knowledge Musona sitting on the bench.
Dortmund’s superb performance against Real Madrid in midweek had taken its toll on the players, forcing Jürgen Klopp to go without Neven Subotic and Sebastian Kehl. Surprisingly, the ever present attacking trio of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze and Marco Reus, got yet another start.
Dortmund started the game with a bang, thanks to a superb freekick from Marco Reus. The German international curled the ball into the top corner from an extremely narrow angle, scoring one of the top goals of the week. Augsburg’s spirits weren’t dampened by this goal, as they continually tested Roman Weidenfeller. The first half went through a quiet patch towards the latter part, and Dortmund went into the break with a slender lead.
Six minutes after the restart, the visitors increased their lead through a scrappy finish from Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker latched on to a neat pass from Götze and scuffed a shot that trickled through the legs of the Simon Jentzsch. Markus Weinzierl replaced Tobias Werner with Knowledge Musona and was rewarded almost immediately when Musona’s right footed shot ricocheted off the post.
Dortmund’s dominance grew and they finally finished off the game with a third goal in the 70th minute. A neat bit of passing between Lewandowski and Reus led to the Pole’s second off the night. Augsburg were handed a consolation goal when Sascha Mölders headed past Wiedenfeller.
Dortmund may have got the three points but the big question will be whether Klopp’s decision to field a full strength attacking unit might go on to hurt Dortmund in the near future. Given Augsburg’s standing, many believe that the likes of Ivan Perisic and Mortiz Leitner would have been more than enough to do the job.
Bremen unlucky to leave Gelsenkirchen without a point
Like their Ruhr rivals, Schalke had a memorable Champions League game that probably left the side drained after the ninety minutes. Yet, Huub Stevens chose to field ten of the eleven players who played on Tuesday, with Atsuto Uchida being replaced by Kyriakos Papadopoulos in defense. Eyes were on the domestically unimpressive Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Bremen hadn’t lost in their last three games and made the trip to Gelsenkirchen with confidence growing. Assani Lukimya was given a spot in the center of defense instead of Sebastian Prödl. Bremen lined up with their staple 4-1-4-1, Aaron Hunt and Kevin de Bruyne being the key figures in their attempt to silence the Royal Blues.
Schalke began the brighter side, coming close through a cheeky flick from Huntelaar that was saved by Sebastian Mielitz. Bremen then responded with a goal thanks to a Huntelaar mess up that gave Zlatko Junuzovic enough time to play Aaron Hunt into the box. The in-form Hunt blasted a low strike across the outstretched Lars Unnerstall to take his goal tally to six this season. Bremen came close once again, this time Sokratis’ header hammering the crossbar.
Schalke finally woke up in the second half, getting the equalizer just before the hour mark. Christian Fuchs’ freekick was headed in by Roman Neustädter leaving Mielitz with no chance. Just ten minutes later, Julian Draxler was found in a lot of space at half line and played a cross field ball to Jermaine Jones on the right flank. With Bremen’s defense stretched, Jones returned the ball to Draxler who pulled a leaf from Aaron Hunt’s book and finished with a low shot past Mielitz.
Bremen’s push for an equalizer was desperate and came within inches of stealing a point. A stoppage time goal-line save by Lewis Holtby was what it took to give Schalke the three points. Huub Steven’s young side continues to stay on Bayern’s tail and seem like the only realistic title contenders. With Holtby and Draxler getting better with each and every game, one can only imagine what lies in store for the German national team.
Hannover pulled off a sensational comeback against in-form Stuttgart after going two goals down in the first half. Borussia Mönchengladbach also looked set to go down against newly promoted Greuther Fürth, but were then assisted by the ill-discipline of the Cloverleaves and recorded a 4-2 win just like Hannover. Diego was back at his best, aiding Wolfsburg to a surprise 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen. Feriburg and Hamburg played out a goalless draw, while Fortuna Düsseldorf shared the spoils with Hoffenheim. In the Friday kick off, Mainz managed a sloppy 2-1 victory over Nuremberg.
1. Fortuna Düsseldorf is the only side to be winless in their last five games.
2. None of the Bundesliga’s top five goalscorers managed to hit the back of the net this weekend.
3. Only seven of all the ninety-nine Bundesliga games played so far have been goalless.
4. Along with Inter, Real Zaragoza and Manchester United, Bayern are only the fourth side in Europe’s top five leagues that is yet to draw a game domestically.
5. Marvin Compper’s sending off on Saturday takes Hoffenheim’s red card tally to four for the season.
Player of the week
Diego: Wolfsburg’s form all season has been woeful and the Brazilian attacker hasn’t helped at all. In a complete turnaround of events, Wolfsburg picked up a remarkable victory over Leverkusen this weekend with Diego at the center of it all. The former Atletico Madrid man opened the scoring with a curling freekick and scored his second of the night with a neat finish. The game was more or less complete in the first sixteen minutes thanks to this genius.
Flop of the week
Marvin Compper: Hoffenheim may have conceded an early goal but began to look extremely menacing thanks to the trickery of Joselu. Markus Babbel’s men even managed an equalizer before half time and came out the stronger in the second half. Things rapidly went into disarray thanks to Compper’s stupidity when he was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the space of four minutes. If not for the 27-year-old’s recklessness, Hoffenheim could easily have been level on points with Hamburg and Werder Bremen.
Goal of the week
Diego’s freekick was a delight but Marco Reus’ set piece from a far narrower angle is the cream of the crop for this week.