Bundesliga fans were in for one shock after another as Matchday 12 unfolded. Bayern dropped points on the road for the first time this season, Schalke went down to Leverkusen, Gladbach literally beat themselves, and Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier just can’t stop scoring. All this and more in THT’s weekly Bundesliga column, Beer and Bratwurst.
Nürnberg hand Bayern first set-back on the road
The 185th Franconian-Bavarian Derby had it all: goals, fouls, reflex saves, a sending off, and season firsts. Bayern came to Nürnberg having won all their away matches so far this season and not conceding a single goal in the process. For Nürnberg, who have won only 3 matches this season, this derby looked done and dusted on paper.
And so it began to unfold. Mandzukic opened the scoring after just three minutes, as Toni Kroos took advantage of Javier Pinola’s mistake in midfield. Xherdan Shaqiri shone throughout the match, wreaking havoc with the hosts’ defense with his clever runs and passing. Nürnberg were not content to just sit back either, but a combination of Bayern’s good defending and some poor finishing saw der Club go into halftime still 1-0 down.
In the 46th minute, a sloppy pass from Tymoschchuck saw Bayern lose possession and the subsequent defensive gaff freed Nürnberg’s Markus Feulner. With no one to close him down, the former Bayern youth player wasted no time unleashing a powerful shot from 30 yards out, the ball dipping wickedly to curl past Manuel Neuer’s fingertips and into the back of the net. The equalizer galvanized the home side, and brought out the full aggression of a derby day. Bookings rained down as Nürnberg pushed forward for the winner. Sebastian Polter was first denied by Neuer’s tremendous reflexes, before Per Nilsson’s header on the next corner went just wide.
In the end it was Timo Gebhart who handed Bayern a sniff at a comeback: the midfielder picked up a second yellow card in the 76th minute, and earned himself an advance ticket to the showers. But a 10-man Nürnberg held stoutly on for the last quarter of an hour, and the final whistle blew on Nürnberg 1, Bayern 1.
After the match, Raphael Schäfer said of Bayern that, “They weren’t as good as we thought they would be.“
But Bayern players felt a bit victimized, claiming that Nürnberg were going after players as much as the ball. “It’s not easy when you’re always getting kicked,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm. “It wasn’t much fun for us.“
Leverkusen down disappointing Schalke
Schalke had a chance to close in on Bayern in the table, but that chance went begging in one of the Royal Blues’ worst performances of the season. In the end, it would be Leverkusen who walked away with the win to remain unbeaten in their last 11 competitive matches at home.
The two teams kicked off to a loose but energetic game, featuring quick counter-attacks and plenty of action in midfield. Andre Schürrle looked dangerous from the outset, but the primary strikers for both teams, Kiessling and Huntelaar, were all but missing during the opening half of the game. With the final seconds of the first half ticking down, a Leverkusen counter-attack released Andre Schürrle who took matters into his own hands with a sensational solo run and strike from distance.
In the second half, Lars Bender rattled the woodwork with an early attempt; Kiessling sent the rebound over the bar. But Leverkusen were always fated to get a second, as a defensive mistake by Christian Fuchs allowed Kiessling to add another goal to his tally for the season. There could easily have been a third, had Leverkusen managed some better finishing from open play; the biggest chance came from Kiessling, who fluffed a penalty that Lars Unnerstall saved easily.
“We made a lot of mistakes in our build-up play and we were punished mercilessly,” admitted Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes. Manager Huub Stevens was furious with his players for this performance, claiming that, “I could have taken nine players off the pitch.“
Defensive mistakes aside, Leverkusen were fully deserving of their win — even if they probably should have won by a bigger margin. “We were a bit sloppy in converting our chances, but it’s not always easy to remain cool in front of goal when you put so much into a game,” said Schürrle after the match.
Stuck in the middle
Only one point now separates 6th place from 12th place in the Bundesliga, as a series of midtable clashes this week heated up the race for a Europa League spot. Christian Streich’s Freiburg delivered Hannover their second home defeat of the season, with goals from Jonathan Schmid and Jan Rosenthal. At the end of the day, Freiburg had 21 attempts on goal to Hannover’s 15. The visitors outran and outplayed their opponents to come away with a deserved 2-1 victory, with only Mohammed Abdellaoue’s 33rd minute penalty to mar a perfect afternoon.
Meanwhile, Hamburg got three points by the skin of their teeth in a cagey 1-0 win over Mainz. Mainz appeared the better team for much of the match, holding Hamburg back and effectively neutralizing Rafael van der Vaart with some clever man-marking. Then Heung-Min Son scored a 63rd minute winner from what might have been an offside position, and Mainz were unable to find a way back as Hamburg funneled all their resources into defending that narrow lead.
And at Borussia Park, Gladbach added another chapter to their spectacular fall from grace with a home loss to Stuttgart. A quick opening salvo saw Stranzl and Harnik strike within a minute of each other for their respective teams. Thanks to the Austrian pair, the match was tied at 1-1 after just 8 minutes gone. The stalemate would last until the 72nd minute when Roel Brouwers scored the own goal of the season, as he stuck a leg out to keep out Kuzmanovic’s cross — and instead sent the ball in a curling arc over Marc-André ter Stegen’s head: Gladbach 1-2 Stuttgart.
Dortmund 3-1 Greuther Fürth. Frankfurt 4-2 Augsburg. Bremen 2-1 Fortuna. Hoffenheim 1-3 Wolfsburg.
1. There were 6 goals scored in the first 8 minutes of Matchday 12, and 6 more before the first half was done — a season record for the Bundesliga.
2. Bayern committed 24 fouls this matchday, a season high for them. Previously they had averaged 13 per game.
3. With their 2-1 away win at Gladbach, Stuttgart now have the second best away form in the league after Bayern.
4. Nürnberg have scored 10 goals with 10 different goalscorers so far this season.
5. With 9 goals after 12 matchdays, Alexander Meier is tied for top goalscorer alongside Mario Mandzukic.
Player of the Week
Alexander Meier: Against Augsburg, Meier scored his third brace this season and is cementing his place as one of the driving forces behind Frankfurt’s improbable run to the top. At 29, Meier is the most in-form German striker at the moment. He has scored 9 goals and provided 2 assists for Frankfurt after 12 matchdays. In a time when a dearth of true strikers has Jogi Löw leaning toward a Spanish-flavored system, Meier’s record makes the case for sticking to a more traditional way of scoring goals.
Flop of the Week
Schalke 04: Perhaps they were conserving energy for Champions League on Wednesday. Perhaps it was just that time of month. Whatever the reason, Schalke were the disappointment of Matchday 12 with their performance at Leverkusen. A 2-0 result in the end was almost flattering for Huub Stevens’ side. Poor in defense, anonymous in attack, and plagued by mistakes, the Royal Blues topped off a miserable evening with an 82nd minute red card for Kyriakos Papadopoulos. All in all, it was a day to forget for the Schalke faithful.
Goal of the Week
It was going to take something special to put a dent in Bayern’s ridiculous away form this season. It took something like Markus Feulner’s goal, a wickedly dipping shot from 30 yards out that clipped Manuel Neuer’s fingertips to billow the back of the net.