Winter is upon Germany and the winds of change are beginning to blow in the Bundesliga. Comebacks and shocks were aplenty this weekend in the world’s most unpredictable league. TheHardTackle recaps all the entertainment from the Bundesliga in the weekly review column, Beer And Bratwurst.
Hamburg’s Sloppiness Goes Unpunished By Augsburg
In the early kick off this weekend, Augsburg hosted Hamburg with the hope of moving out of the relegation zone. The hosts started strongly with Knowledge Musona pulling the strings from the right flank, but it was a moment of brilliance from Heung-Min Son that gave Hamburg an undeserved lead. The South Korean international cut in from the right flank and curled the ball into the far corner to get his fifth goal of the season.
The goal didn’t dampen Augsburg’s spirits as the huffed and puffed at the Hamburg goal. Musona and Stephan Hain looked very lively for Augsburg and provided regularly for the wasteful Tobias Werner. Wave after wave of attack came down Augsburg’s right flank but some lackluster passing and finishing saw the hosts go into the break trailing by a goal.
Aristide Bancé was thrown onto the field by Markus Weinzierl with the hope of adding some physical presence to Augsburg’s attack but Hamburg came out the more confident side. HSV began to dominate proceedings and got their second of the night when Son, Rafael van Der Vaart and Artjoms Rudnevs linked up brilliantly. Son played the ball to van Der Vaart who threaded ball with incredible precision to find Rudnevs in the box. The Latvian striker had no problems in putting the ball past Simon Jentzsch.
Augsburg are languishing in 17th position, needing a strong set of performances if they are to end the Hinrunde outside the relegation zone. Hamburg’s rise over the past few weeks has been nothing short of sensational and they occupy a comfortable 7th place in the standings. Things could have been a lot different had Augsburg taken their chances in the first half.
Harsh Conditions In The Black Forest Not Enough To Stop Dortmund
Dortmund came into this game on the back of a memorable 2-1 victory over Real Madrid. Unfortunately for the German champions, the city of Freiburg in Bresigau was most unwelcoming with its extreme weather conditions. With the field covered in snow, Dortmund fans and players must have only been hoping for their side to come out free from injuries and not been as bothered about the result.
The snow covered field prevented Dortmund from playing their usual slick passing game and Freiburg took full advantage of this. The hosts attacked with a lot of vigour and came extremely close on a few occasions, with Erik Jendrisek almost forcing Lukas Piszczek to head the ball into his own net. In Karim Guede, Freiburg had a powerful striker who ran with great heart and regularly troubled the Dortmund defense. Just like Augsburg, the Bresigau Brazilians failed to hit the back of the net.
Passing statistics were at a woeful level, with the average pass success percentage being somewhere around 50-60%. With this in mind, Dortmund probably realized that shooting from range and utilizing set pieces were their best options. And Klopp’s men did just that to take the lead. A Marco Reus freekick was beautifully glanced into the far corner by Neven Subotic and Dortmund had a somewhat undeserved lead. This goal seemed to shatter Freiburg’s hope as Dortmund began to attack with their usual flow and confidence. Mario Götze then blazed a fairly simple chance over the bar and Jendrisek missed a sitter at the other side of the pitch. With the game opening up a lot more, Dortmund began to look a lot better and they killed the game in the last few minutes when Robert Lewandowski played Götze through on goal. The young German international made no mistake this time around as he coolly slotted past Oliver Baumann. Not the best performance by any means, but it is these sort of results that could help Dortmund catch up with Bayern Munich.
Leverkusen Finally Pick Up A Win At The Allianz
Bayer Leverkusen had failed to win at the Allianz Arena for 23 years and most Bundesliga experts would have expected that number to increase to 24 on Sunday. The game started off just as most people had thought, with Bayern Munich dominating Leverkusen. The most successful side in Germany kept testing Leverkusen’s incredibly shaky defense but were unable to get past the phenomenal Bernd Leno.
Leverkusen didn’t even have a sniff at Bayern’s goal for almost the entire first half and it seemed just a matter of time before Bayern began to start pumping in the goals with the ease that they have displayed throughout this season. Yet, against all odds Leverkusen found themselves going into the break with a 1-0 lead. André Schürrle found himself in a lot of space behind the Bayern defense and played in an average cross that was terribly dealt with by Philipp Lahm. The ball trickled through to Stefan Kießling, who scrappily tapped into an empty net.
The second half was no different from the first with Bayern constantly attacking and Leverkusen on the back foot. Out of sheer desperation, Jupp Heynckes replaced Holger Badstuber with Xherdan Shaqiri with the hope of an equalizer. Leverkusen’s defense seemed to have grown in confidence with their lead and managed to soak up most of the pressure that this attacking Bayern side had to offer. Leverkusen’s joy was finally shattered as the unstoppable Mario Mandžukić headed home in the 77th minute.
At one goal a piece Bayern wanted the win, but to everybody’s surprise, Leverkusen began to spread the game and push for the three points as well. In an incredibly open final few minutes, Leverkusen found themselves with a lot of space on another break and a poor Sidney Sam header deflected off Jerome Boateng and into the Bayern goal. Leverkusen managed to hang on by the skin of their teeth for the three minutes of normal time and the four added minutes. Bayern’s eight game winning streak had finally come to an end.
Matchday 9 results: Augsburg 0-2 Hamburg, Greuther Fürth 1-1 Werder Bremen, Schalke 1-0 Nuremberg, Freiburg 0-2 Borussia Dortmund, Mainz 3-0 Hoffenheim, Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-4 Wolfsburg, Hannover 2-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
1. Hannover’s 22 game unbeaten streak was finally broken by Borussia Mönchengladbach with the action-packed 3-2 result at the AWD-Arena.
2. Coincidentally, the last team to beat Hannover at home in the Bundesliga was Borussia Mönchengladbach. They won 1-0 on April 30th, 2011.
3. Stuttgart have picked up ten out of their last twelve points in their last four games. The Swabians seem to have hit a rich vein of form.
4. Bayern’s eight game winning streak has finally been broken thanks to Leverkusen’s narrow 2-1 victory this week.
5. For the first time this season, Wolfsburg managed to score more than a goal in one game. Looks like sacking Felix Magath was the key to their revival.
Player of the week
Adam Szalai: Scoring against Hoffenheim isn’t an immensely difficult task, but a hattrick is undoubtedly a commendable effort. Szalai was at his clinical best on Saturday as he put Markus Babbel’s defense to the sword. Szalai opened the scoring with a neatly placed header, made it two with a brilliant finish and completed his hattrick with a simple header. This hattrick now sees Szalai as the second highest goalscorer in the Bundesliga.
Flop of the week
Oliver Fink: Wolfsburg were in woeful form prior to the trip to Düsseldorf, but managed to put in their first solid performance of the season against the newly promoted side. Fink wasn’t of much use throughout the Wolfsburg onslaught and saw his side down by three goals around the hour mark. The midfielder managed to win a penalty for his side but threw everything away by getting sent off a few minutes later and gifting the visitors a penalty and thereby their fourth goal. A night to forget for Oliver Fink.
Goal of the week
Alex Meier scored a beautiful curler against Stuttgart in Sunday’s early kick off and must have thought he had scored the goal of the week. An hour or so later, Juan Arango curled in a cracker of a freekick to gift his side a 3-2 comeback win over Hannover and also earn himself TheHardTackle’s Bundesliga Goal of the week.