Bayern Munich may be runaway leaders in the Bundesliga this season, but the race for Europe is closer than ever after a Match Day 23 full of surprising draws. THT reviews the action in our weekly Bundesliga column, Beer and Bratwurst.
Bayern celebrate Heynckes jubilee in style
Bayern Munich’s 6-1 victory over Bremen on Saturday marked Jupp Heynckes‘ 1,000th Bundesliga match as player and manager, Arjen Robben’s first start in 2013, as well as the Bavarians’ biggest win over their northern rivals in some 33 years.
Bayern’s line-up bore the distinct evidence of cup competition, as Jupp Heynckes rested many key players to give Robben, Contento, Gustavo, Shaqiri, and Gomez their long-awaited starts. If Bremen were hoping for some respite thanks to this squad rotation, they soon found their hopes dashed. Arjen Robben and 40-million-euro man Javi Martinez opened the scoring midway through the first half to put Bayern up 2-0. Sebastian Prödl tried to prevent a third just before halftime and earned himself a straight red for his trouble. And still more woe awaited on the other side of the break. Theodore Gebre Selassie knocked in an own goal within four minutes of the restart, and against a 10-man Bremen, Bayern added three more goals to their tally before the full time whistle blew.
Bremen’s only consolation of the night was to be Kevin de Bruyne’s second-half goal. It was the first time Bayern have conceded since December — that’s two months, six match days, and 576 goalless minutes. Impressive, to say the least, though Heynckes was “annoyed” to have given Bremen even that much.
“During the interval, we said to ourselves that it was important to keep a clean sheet,” said Heynckes. “But we can cope with that.”
In an unlooked for turn of events, Heynckes was not the only one celebrating a personal landmark with this 6-1 victory: Mario Gomez capped off the evening with a brace as well as his 100th career goal for Bayern. The striker may well be on his way out after this season, but his time at Bayern will surely be remembered.
This latest win takes Bayern 17 points clear of second place Dortmund. Bayern are now on track the win the league at the earliest ever date if their current lead holds. Other season records are also up for grabs, including: most points, most wins (including most away wins), biggest goal difference, and fewest goals conceded.
Dortmund and Leverkusen held to draws
Dortmund and Leverkusen performed a synchronized slip-up on Sunday, as a draw apiece for the second- and third-placed teams let Bayern pull still further ahead in the table.
All eyes were on Marco Reus this week as Dortmund paid a visit to their #11’s breakthrough club. But it would be 19-year-old Amin Younes who stole the headlines for The Foals, as Borussia Mönchengladbach held reigning champions Dortmund to a 1-1 draw. Marc-Andre ter Stegen conceded the penalty in the first half when he brought down a charging Mario Götze. Dortmund’s wunderkid stepped up to the spot himself, coolly converting for a 0-1 lead. It lasted until midway through the second half: Roman Weidenfeller kept out Amin Younes’ first shot on goal in the 56th minute, but ten minutes later, Younes’ strike found its target. It was the 19-year-old’s first ever Bundesliga goal, and it could not have come at a better time.
While Gladbach will see the stalemate as a deserved win, Dortmund are left to rue their missed chances, having dominated proceedings with 15 attempts on goal to Gladbach’s 5, nearly twice as many passes completed, and 818 touches on the ball. In the end Dortmund were simply unable to make their advantage count in terms of goals.
“It feels like a defeat,” said Mats Hummels after the match. Now 17 points adrift of runaway leaders Bayern, Dortmund can say goodbye to any vestigial hopes of another title defense.
Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-table Greuther Fürth held Bayer Leverkusen to a goalless draw in their second shock performance of the year. The Clover Leaves’ new manager Ludwig Preis had reason to smile on his debut. The team he fielded was the youngest ever to take the Bundesliga stage, but the wager paid off as Fürth held on for 90+ minutes, lead by a heroic Wolfgang Hesl in goal. Leverkusen made 24 attempts on goal, 11 on target; Hesl put in a MotM performance to deny them all.
The draw secured what was only Fürth’s fourth point of the year at home, while Leverkusen continued their run of indifferent form, with 1 win, 3 draws, and 1 loss from their last five league outings.
Hannover hammer Hamburg in Northern Derby
After bowing out of Europa League midweek, Hannover 96 rebounded in sensational fashion this weekend to hammer Hamburg 5-1 in a northern derby showdown. Hamburg’s lone goal came from the penalty spot in the 13th minute, just after Mame Diouf’s opener, but it was one-way traffic from there as first Huszti converted a penalty for Hannover before Abdellaoue and Ya Konan added three more goals deal Hamburg their biggest loss of the season.
“We played like a youth team,” said a furious Thorsten Fink after the match. “You can lose in Hanover, but the margin of the result was not acceptable.”
Hannover’s injury luck remains unchanged, however, even on such a day as this 5-1 win. Szabolcs Huszti suffered a muscular strain after an odd slip while converting his penalty kick, and will miss two to three weeks.
Freiburg 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg, Augsburg 2-1 Hoffenheim, Stuttgart 1-1 Nuremberg, Schalke 2-1 Fortuna Düsseldorf
1. On average, Bayern have scored one goal every 30 minutes this season, and conceded one every 290 minutes.
2. Some kind, anonymous fans left chocolates and hand-written notes on Bremen players’ cars this Sunday, to console them after a painful 6-1 loss at Bayern.
3. Schalke’s Joel Matip has now scored three goals this season — all against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
4. Greuther Fürth claimed a record this match day as Ludwig Preis fielded the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever side, with an average age of 22.7 years.
5. Only seven points separate 6th place Hamburg and 15th Wolfsburg. With 11 match days still to go, this is quite literally anybody’s game.
Pick of the Week
Jupp Heynckes is the man of the hour. No other manager has more wins under the belt, and this latest 6-1 victory was just another cherry atop his now 1,000-match long Bundesliga career. This season Heynckes has made Bayern into a truly formidable machine. The Bavarians have always had the quality, but they have not always had this incredible aggression and focus that is currently setting them head, shoulders, and knees above their competition this season. However many records they end up breaking by season’s end, it will all have been under Heynckes’ tutelage.
Flop of the Week
Sebastian Prödl committed a professional foul when he went in for the tackle that up-ended Mario Gomez. With seconds to go before the halftime whistle, Bremen were down 2-0 and could ill afford a third. Unfortunately Prödl was shown a straight red for his disastrous tackle, and if there was anything Bremen could afford less than a 2-0 deficit against Bayern at the Allianz, it was 2-0 deficit against Bayern at the Allianz while also down a man.
Goal of the Week
Didier Ya Konan’s goal all but decided the match for Hannover and in spectacular fashion. Hamburg’s dodgy defending let the forward through initially, but from there it was all Ya Konan as he fired an unstoppable shot past Rene Adler from 20 yards out and put Hannover up 3-1.