Matchday 15 in the Bundesliga saw a very quiet Saturday with a shockingly low total of just eleven goals in six games. This matchday also witnessed another episode of the epic battle between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. TheHardTackle brings to you all the action from matchday 15 of the most exciting league in the world with the Bundesliga review column, Beer And Bratwurst.
Bayern’s BVB jinx comes to an end
Mario Gomez’s struggles against Mats Hummels, Dortmund’s attacking magic, Bayern’s woeful defending and a smile on Jürgen Klopp’s face had become synonymous with the meetings between these two German giants over the past few seasons.
Bayern’s embarrassments against Dortmund finally came to an end this weekend when they managed a 1-1 draw thereby bringing an end to Dortmund’s four game winning streak over Bayern.
Jupp Heynckes was more than happy to field his staple and incredibly successful side that included Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez forming the most crucial piece in Bayern’s jigsaw puzzle. Dortmund were lucky to have their doubtful trio of Götze, Gündoğan and Hummels in the starting eleven.
Right from the whistle, Bayern showed that they were going to dominate possession and sit as deep as possible. This proved a perfect ploy to negate Dortmund’s counter attacking football and worked extremely well for the entire first half. The duo of Schweinsteiger and Martinez neutralized the threatening Gündoğan, leaving Dortmund’s midfield somewhat void of creativity.
With a share of possession that they aren’t used to having, Dortmund were unable to create chances and keep play fixed in the final third. Like their opponents, they seemed happy to sit deep and let the ball move sluggishly around the middle of the park.
Both teams came out after the break looking a little hungrier than earlier. Higher defensive lines and more curious attacking allowed the game to open up a great deal. Unlike in the first half, it wasn’t just Ribery’s magic that seemed to be able to create space.
A couple of chances fell to Dortmund around the hour mark but poor finishing and great goalkeeping ensured that there were no goals yet. This proved to be the wake-up call that the Bavarians so desperately needed and it was thanks to Toni Kroos’ sheer brilliance that Bayern had a one nil lead in the 67th minute.
Dortmund weren’t going to let Bayern get away from here on and took just seven minutes to level things at the Allianz Arena. A poorly dealt with corner saw the ball bounce into the path of Götze, who let loose a cracking left footed half volley past Neuer. 1-1 and this game was far from finished.
The equalizer opened things up, both teams now looking for that decisive goal. Dortmund’s openness for the last fifteen almost proved detrimental as Bayern came within inches of stealing the game. The team in yellow and black had only their keeper to thank; Weidenfeller making few mind-boggling saves.
After the game, Klopp said, “It was a great and intense football game. A lot was demanded of both teams and a draw is the perfect result.” Heynckes too was satisfied with the result and will be delighted to see that Bayern are comfortable at the summit.
In complete agreement with both managers, a draw seems the fairest result in what was an incredibly closely fought encounter. Bayern continue to sit comfortably at the top of the table but their lead has been cut down to eight points thanks to Leverkusen’s triumph on Saturday.
Dortmund might consider their participation in the title race to be all but over. Although this will come as a disappointment going into the winter break, they should look to pick up their game and maintain far greater consistency from this point on.
Schäfer’s brilliance isn’t enough to stop Leverkusen
Nürnberg’s trip to Leverkusen was always going to be a difficult one, more so given Die Werkself’s current form. On a bright note for the fans who travelled to the BayArena on Saturday, both sides had managed to in their score four goals respective games in midweek.
With their thumping 4-2 triumph over Hoffenheim fresh on their minds, Dieter Hecking fielded an unchanged side on Saturday. As usual a lot depended on Hiroshi Kiyotake in midfield, with Timm Klose and Per Nilsson having to marshal the defense.
Leverkusen’s managerial duo followed suit and named an unchanged eleven as well. Stefan Kießling, Andre Schürrle and Gonzalo Castro were to head the attack, with Lars Bender, Stefan Reinartz and Simon Rolfes forming an industrious midfield unit.
As expected, Leverkusen dominated right from the whistle. The men in red attacked relentlessly in the first quarter of an hour but Schäfer’s heroics ensured that the scoreboard remained unchanged all the way to the half hour mark.
A few minutes later, Schürrle’s pass found its way to an unmarked Kießling at the edge of the box. Although replays suggested that the German striker was offside, the linesman didn’t flag and Kießling coolly slotted past the Nürnberg custodian.
Dieter Hecking’s side managed to dominate possession from here on, but were unable to create anything from it. Kiyotake tried valiantly to thread one of his customary defense splitting passes, but Leverkusen’s defense proved too tight to wring open.
Their inferior possession didn’t seem to deter Leverkusen’s attack as they continued to trouble Schäfer. Hecking threw all he had at Leverkusen, bringing on Tomas Pekhart, Robert Mak and Alexander Esswein past the hour mark. Unfortunately for Hecking, the scoreline wasn’t going to change and Nürnberg returned home without a point.
Against all odds, Bayer Leverkusen continue to inch closer to Bayern Munich at the top of the table. Sascha Lewandowski and Sami Hyppiä seem to have everything going their way at the moment and what is most surprising is that they have achieved this even during a period of a fair number of injuries.
Unlike the duo at Leverkusen, Dieter Hecking’s side continues to flirt with relegation. The results in Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg aided Nürnberg a bit, leaving them in 14th position.
Markus Babbel’s position at Hoffenheim has been in a precarious situation all season long. Injury problems have haunted the Rhein-Neckar Arena this season but Babbel’s team selection hasn’t aided the club in any way whatsoever. The final straw came on Sunday night when Hoffenheim were thrashed 1-4 by Werder Bremen. This was the last roll of the dice for Markus Babbel and he was sacked within 24 hours after the final whistle. Under-23 coach, Frank Kramer has been appointed as a temporary solution.
Schalke’s woeful form continued as they were held to a draw by Lucien Favre’s Borussia Mönchengladbach. Freiburg and Hamburg managed 1-1 draws away at struggling Augsburg and Wolfsburg respectively.
Mainz and Stuttgart both saw a player sent off but this wasn’t enough to prevent them from picking up victories over Hannover and Greuther Fürth. In the early kick off on Friday, Fortuna Düsseldorf turned heads across Germany when they pummeled Eintracht Frankfurt 4-0.
If Bayer Leverkusen win their next game against Hannover, they will become the only team other than Bayern Munich to manage five consecutive league wins this season.
The last time Düsseldorf scored four goals in a Bundesliga game was way back in November 1996 when they beat Werder Bremen 4-1.
Only two of the top ten scorers in the Bundesliga (Toni Kroos and Adam Szalai) managed to hit the back of the net on Matchday 15.
Javier Pinola tops the list of card-getters, averaging one every 167 minutes.
Mike Büskens has fielded the most number of players in the Bundesliga so far this season – 25!
Player of the week
Marko Arnautovic: An extremely temperamental player, Arnautovic has struggled to maintain a stable level of play at Bremen ever since arriving in the summer of 2010. On Sunday, Arnautovic gave the Rhein-Neckar Arena a masterclass in clinical finishing as he scored a delightful hat-trick against a hapless Hoffenheim. The Austrian began the scoring with a neat finish after a quick exchange of passes with Kevin de Bruyne. He doubled his tally with a beautifully curled free-kick from 19 yards out and got his third with another cool finish after a cute one-two with Joseph Akpala.
Flop of the week
Markus Babbel: Nothing seems to have gone right for this man ever since the season began and people are considering it a miracle that it took this long for him to be sacked. Babbel added to his woes when he fielded an odd-looking attacking unit with Stephan Schröck on one flank and Roberto Firmino on the bench against a defensively shaky Bremen side. Babbel then watched his side get obliterated in the first half, improve just after half time and finally drop to a new low after the hour mark. On a brighter note, looks like this is the last time Babbel’s going to be featuring in this section.
Goal of the week
Marko Arnuatovic’s curling free-kick is the pick of the goals in a surprisingly dry week of Bundesliga action