Bayern Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions with their 0-1 win at Frankfurt. Elsewhere, Nuremberg downed Mainz 2-1, while Markus Gisdol celebrated his debut as Hoffenheim head coach with a 3-0 demolition of Fortuna Düsseldorf. All this and more in THT’s weekly Bundesliga review column, Beer and Bratwurst.
Bayern win 22nd Bundesliga title in record time
With six match days still remaining, Bayern Munich became the earliest Bundesliga champions ever on Saturday at Eintracht Frankfurt. The home side put up a staunch and disciplined resistance. The score remained 0-0 at halftime, and with news coming in of Dortmund down 1-2 to Augsburg, it seemed Bayern might wrap up the title with a goalless draw.
But settling is simply not part of Bayern’s vocabulary this season. In the second half, Philipp Lahm produced a trademark moment of inch-perfect brilliance, with a low cross that found Bastian Schweinsteiger poised before the goal mouth, and the midfielder finished the play with a delightful back heel goal to lift Bayern to a 22nd Bundesliga title.
“This has been an outstanding title success,” said Bayern club president Uli Hoeneß. Though to him, the season is far from over:
“It’s great that we can cross the Bundesliga as the first title off our list. We’re going to continue playing as if nothing has changed, though. It’s crucial for us that we maintain our rhythm until the end of the campaign.”
The previous record for an earliest Bundesliga title win was on match day 30 — also set by Bayern in 1972/73 and 2002/03. The Bavarians are the first team in Bundesliga history to win 11 games in a row in one season. They have furthermore set a new away record with 40 points earned from their matches on the road this season — and there are still three more to go. Other records up for grabs include: highest point total (current record: 81), biggest winning margin (16), and best goal difference (+64).
Nuremberg continue sterling Rückrunde form
Nuremberg continued their rise up the table on Sunday, as a brace from Per Nilsson sank Mainz 2-1 and secured all three points for Der Club. Nuremberg played a characteristically defensive strategy, sitting deep and allowing the visitors to enjoy the lion’s share of possession. Adam Szalai was Mainz’s best hope early on, pressing Raphael Schäfer into a save at full stretch before winning a penalty minutes later. But the chance to go up 0-1 went begging as Szalai hit wide from the spot.
Mainz would rue this missed opportunity when Nuremberg took the lead just after halftime through Nilsson’s header off a Kiyotake free kick. Nicolai Müller then leveled things up with an über-cool lob over Schäfer at the other end. But another well-taken set piece from Hiroshi Kiyotake allowed Nilsson to score Nuremberg’s winning goal.
Markus Wiesinger now holds a joint record for best-ever start of any Nuremberg head coach, tying Udo Klug’s 1981 record of 18 points won after 11 games played. Indeed, Nuremberg have exhibited some sterling form since Dieter Hecking’s departure in December. Wiesinger’s side have lost just one of their last 10 games, and that was to defending champions Borussia Dortmund. With wins over Gladbach, Schalke, and now Mainz, Nuremberg are steadily making inroads on the top half of the table and have become an unlikely contender in this season’s jam-packed race for Europe.
Relegation battle intensifies for Hoffenheim and Augsburg
A new broom sweeps clean, as the adage goes, and if any club were in need of some spring cleaning, it was 17th place Hoffenheim. New head coach Markus Gisdol enjoyed a dream debut on Friday as Hoffenehim defeated Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-0, taking the Sinsheim team to within a point of Augsburg and relegation play-offs.
“We have a realistic chance of survival,” Gisdol had commented after signing his new contract, and Hoffenheim immediately made good on his faith with a buoyant performance against Düsseldorf. Fortuna themselves did not enjoy the best of luck, as an own goal from Adam Lambertz in the 75th minute deflated the visitors’ hopes of a comeback, before Kevin Volland added a third for Hoffenheim in stoppage time.
Meanwhile, fellow relegation battlers Augsburg faced a rather changed Dortmund starting XI from usual, as Jürgen Klopp invested in some heavy squad rotation ahead of a midweek Champions League clash against Málaga. Julian Schieber gave Dortmund the early lead, and the home side looked set for a comfortable if slim victory heading into halftime, when two quick goals from Daniel Baier and Kevin Vogt suddenly had Augsburg up 2-1. Dortmund then took control in the second half, as three more goals from Schieber, Neven Subotic, and Robert Lewandowski sealed a 4-2 victory for the home side.
Augsburg have fought hard in the second half of the season to lift themselves toward safety. But five points still separate them from 15th place, and as the season enters its final phase, it looks like the fight comes down to Augsburg and Hoffenheim duking it out for a spot in the summer relegation play-offs.
Gladbach 1-0 Greuther Fürth, Werder Bremen 0-2 Schalke, Leverkusen 1-1 Wolfsburg, Hamburg 0-1 Freiburg, Hannover 0-0 Stuttgart.
- Philipp Lahm has achieved a new personal best of 10 assists this season — the most of any defender in Europe’s top five leagues.
- Robert Lewandowski extended his goalscoring streak to 10 consecutive Bundesliga matches. He is now tied with Klaus Allofs for second place in the Bundesliga record books; no.1 still belongs to Gerd Müller, who scored in 16 games straight.
- Julian Draxler bagged another goal in Schalke’s 2-0 win over Bremen, making the 19-year-old Schalke’s top scorer with 8 goals and 2 assists.
- After four months of injury layoff, Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo returned to action on Sunday and played the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Stuttgart.
- It has been 3 years since Wolfsburg came back to win a match after being down at halftime. This streak continued with their 1-1 draw at Leverkusen this week.
Pick of the Week
Bayern Munich: It hardly needs saying when the Bavarians are the talk of the town. Record after record have fallen before Jupp Heynckes’ side this season, and there are still six match days left for them to bag a half dozen more. The race is far from over for Bayern, who are also in the hunt for a Champions League trophy as well as the DFB Pokal. But for the moment, at least, the focus can shift from doing to done as the Bundesliga trophy returns to Munich in style.
Flop of the Week
Hannover 0-0 Stuttgart. The most low-key encounter of the weekend was a disappointment for everyone involved, and none more so than the neutral who tuned in expecting a firecracker and instead got a dud. Free-scoring Hannover are one of the best home sides of the season, with the third best goal difference after Bayern and Dortmund; but against Stuttgart, Hannover managed a grand total of just one shot on target. Stuttgart, on the other hand, were unable to convert any of the 8 shots they had on Hannover’s goal. Shinji Okazaki missed the most clear-cut chance of the match in the second half, when he came in unmarked from 15 yards out, only to gift the ball straight at Zieler.
Goal of the Week
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cheeky back-heeled goal effectively sealed the title for Bayern, and is THT’s deserved goal of the week.