It was a week of contrasting passion in Bundesliga. At one end Hamburg were eager to celebrate its 125th anniversary with a win. On the other end, Hoffenheim, in a bid to portray solidarity for Boris Vukcevic and his family, were hungry to register a win against a struggling Augsburg side. Klopp demanded a reaction from his side following a couple of disappointing outings. TheHardTackle’s weekly column, Beer And Bratwurst, reviews all the action from week 6.

Bayern Leave It Late To Continue 100% Record

Bremen had been playing well in matches only in parts, right from the start of the season, with very little to show for. Two hard-fought defeats, a couple of morale-boosting victories and an unfortunate stalemate with the club leading 2-0 at the break against Stuttgart – that was Bremen’s story so far. This Saturday, they were pitted against Bayern.

It was obvious that with the kind of football Bayern had been playing, Bayern will get their chances via the customary momentary slip of concentration in the Bremen defense, something which has been Bremen’s flavor of this season. Bayern controlled the game in better parts with nearly 70% of ball possession but failed to capitalize on the chances created by a mesmeric Ribery.


The difference maker

Despite doing almost everything right, Bayern were not clinical enough when it mattered most and Heynckes was forced to replace a relatively quiet Kroos with Shaqiri and Mandžukić in place of a subdued Pizarro. In later stages even Javi Martinez was brought in as the last throw of the dice to keep the winning streak going. It was Luiz Gustavo whose flighted long-range effort, avoiding the jungle of legs inside the box, that broke the deadlock.

The 81st minute goal made Bremen desperate for an equalizer. They upped the ante and won a corner. But Bayern pounced on the counter, Ribery released Shaqiri on the left, who instead of shooting chose to pick out Mandžukić in a more favorable position and the Croat made no mistake to double their lead and to take his tally to six goals in as many games for Bayern.

Even though Bayern won the game, Sammer was found spewing venom at the players’ dispirited performance. Heynckes went even farther,

“We slowed things down too much in the first half. The players tested my patience a little too much but, at the end of the day, it was enough to beat a strong Bremen side. I had to use some strong language at half-time.”

Five Star Dortmund End Dismal Run

At the back of conceding three goals in each of their last two league games, losing one and drawing the other, Dortmund needed to make a morale boosting statement prior to their important Champions League clash against Manchester City. And so it was. Marco Reus rose to the occasion and  bludgeoned his former employers with an exceptional performance.

Gladbach were not playing particularly well with six points from five matches and no win in the last four Bundesliga outings. The only good thing was that they were yet to lose on the road in Bundesliga; played twice and shared honors on both occasions. Little did they know what was in store for their future. And despite ter Stegen’s brilliance, all Gladbach could do was to assist Dortmund in accomplishing the Borussian “veni vidi vici.”

The way Dortmund conceded their lead twice in the midweek game against Frankfurt, left Klopp livid. He was not happy with the side’s defending and rued losing ball possession at favorable positions. This game saw a bit of change in Dortmund’s approach to the game. Dortmund made a cautious start,  maintaining a slow tempo during build-up. The fullbacks were more committed with aiding defensive support.

It all started with a 35th minute solo-effort from Reus who was fortunate enough to pounce onto his own intercepted-and-ricocheted pass, and ran about 30 meters before clinically putting the ball into the net through the legs of ter Stegen. Reus refrained from celebrating as a gesture of respect for his former club. Dortmund doubled the lead five minutes before the break when Subotic headed in from a corner.

In the next half Dortmund were again back to their menacing best, running all around, moving off the ball, even hitting Gladbach on the counter. Yet another solo effort from Reus, a precisely released projectile from a tight angle saw Dortmund go up by three goals with 20 minutes to spare. Before that goal, Gladbach were still in the game thanks to ter Stegen.

But a third goal and an injury to ter Stegen only made it worse for the visitors. The home side was not done yet. In a span of six minutes, Dortmund netted twice through Gündoğan and Kuba with perfectly executed counter-attacks, forcing Heimeroth (ter Stegen’s deputee) to cut a sorry figure amidst the ruin of the visiting side.

This game saw a purposeful improvement in Dortmund’s performance from their recent mundane showings. They recorded their best passing percentage in this match (87.8%) as they played cautiously in the beginning. The team’s indefatigable sprint masters, Piszczek and Schmelzer, registered their personal lowest tally of sprints/game with 23 and 21 respectively, only to give more balance to the side. The most heartening improvement was in Schmelzer, who completed 50 passes and misplaced only three – a huge improvement from his usual one misplaced pass in three attempts.

Hamburg Celebrated 125th Anniversary In Style, Rhein-Neckar Arena Hosted Football Amidst Prayers

A couple of weeks back, the Hamburgers were staring down the barrel, losing their first three games on trot. Since then they bounced back in style, ending Dortmund’s 31-match unbeaten run and splitting points with Gladbach in an absorbing game that ended 2-2. This Saturday Hamburg celebrated their 125th anniversary with a hard-fought win over high-flying Hannover by one goal to nil with Rudnevs netting the only goal. Yes, they were lucky on a number of occasions when the visitors failed to capitalize on one-on-one situations against Adler through Pinto, Abdellaoue and Haggui. Even Lars Stindl’s effort was saved off the line by Mancienne. Hamburg are now in tenth position and yes, they have turned the tide.

Hoffenheim, who were comfortably seated at the bottom of the table a couple of weeks back, decided to bring in some unpredictability in the league table and registered back-to-back victories over Hannover and Stuttgart. And many expected that at the back of such good form, the hosts will send a get well soon message to Vukcevic in style.

But it turned into a drab match that ended goalless with both teams doing little to keep the spectators interested. The only talking points are Augsburg’s humane gesture when they wore T-shirts bearing “Get well soon, Boris” message during warm up, and Salihovic’s send off during the closing stages of the match. The result keeps Augsburg at the bottom of the table.

Felix Magath’s men suffered yet another setback when they endured another heartbreak of 0-2 defeat at the Volkswagen Arena against an inspired Mainz side. This is the side’s third defeat of the season, second at home. With only five points in six matches and the worst goal difference in the league, shared with Augsburg and Furth, Magath must find some inspirations before it gets too late.

Random Five

1. Fortuna Düsseldorf have conceded not one, but two goals. At long last. But they are still unbeaten!

2. In the match against Augsburg, Salihovic came on as a substitute and was given marching orders, his second in this season after coming off from bench. This is a Bundesliga record.

3. Ibisevic’s goal against Nuremberg was his third goal scored withing first 60 seconds of a Bundesliga game. Only Gerd Müller has scored more(4) within that time span.

4. Out of all the teams, Augsburg is yet to take the lead in any of their games so far.

5. Promoted side Eintracht Frankfurt have earned 16 points from first six games. Kaiserslautern are the only other team to have achieved this feat after gaining promotion. Interesting fact is that the Lauterns went on to win the league later on in that season (1997-98).

Player Of The Week


The architect of Gladbach carnage

Marco Reus : Dortmund were going through a defensive turmoil, something that has cost them heavily in the recent past. Dortmund needed an inspiration in their game against Gladbach. And it was none other than Marco Reus, the ex-Gladbach sensation, who undid ter Stegen’s net twice with two glorious singular efforts in either half. Both goals were well taken and both meant a lot in the context of the game. The first one broke the deadlock and the second one killed of any possibility of a comeback for the visitors.

Flop of the week
Ivica Olic : Given the nod ahead of Bas Dost, the Croatian international was at his wasteful best yet again. In the first half he could not make proper head contact when he was setup delightfully by Vieirinha. However, his second half mis-head was a howler. With the side down by two goals, his header failed to find the net. It was an open header, with no Mainz defender within a one-hand radius and Olic did not even have to jump to connect to it. Yet his header flew over the bar, let alone test Wetklo.

Goal of the week
It could have been Dani Schahin’s eccentric headed equalizer against Schalke, or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s long-ranger that broke Dusseldorf’s defense for the first time this season, or Bayern’s opener against Bremen through Gustavo’s well-executed long-ranger or Marco Reus’s opener against Gladbach. But it was the sheer pyrotechnics of Reus in judging ter Stegen’s position to flight the ball from a tight angle to find the back of the net which makes it a worthy winner of this week’s edition of Goal of the Week.