It has been an eventful last 10 days for German football as their national side confirmed their tickets to the World Cup finals in Brazil with wins over Ireland and Sweden. The German Bundesliga returned to action on matchday 9 with some enthralling fixtures that saw crucial battles being fought at either end of the table. From Leverkusen ghosting their way past Hoffenheim to Hamburg’s thrilling encounter with Stuttgart, The Hard Tackle looks into the key points of matchday 9.

How did that go in?

Kießling's 'Phantom Goal'

Was a question on everyone’s lips in Hoffenheim and for that matter much of Germany as Kießling’s 70th minute headed effort seemed destined to find the side netting and go out for a goal kick. Miraculously seconds later the ball was in the back of the net much to the surprise of Hoffenheim custodian Koen Casteels and goal scorer Stefan Kießling, who’s expression after he headed the ball clearly suggested that he had missed his chance. The ball had gone in through a hole in the side netting and should have been disallowed. But what followed was a goal awarded to Leverkusen by referee Felix Brych giving the visitors a 2-0 lead at that point.

Bayer Leverkusen came into the game in third place knowing that a win will be needed for them to keep the pressure up on the top duo of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. After a rather slow start from both sides, the game came to life as Levekusen excellent trio of Hegeler , Sam and Kießling troubled the home side’s backline with some quick movement. Hegeler who has been a regular starter in place of South Korean Son ever since his last minute goal in the Champions League,was much the tormentor bringing his side into the game often. But it was top scorer Sidney Sam who broke the deadlock with a brilliant left footed drive in the 26th minute after cutting in from the right wing. Referee Brych and his linesmen were definitely not having the best of days as they disallowed a potential Hoffenheim equalizer from Kevin Volland. Anthony Modeste headed the ball across goal to find the feet of Volland, but the Hoffenheim summer signing was deemed offside by the officials, with replays suggesting he was well onside.

Both sides battled it out in the middle of the pitch and in the 70th minute, the visitors earned a corner that was taken by Gonzalo Castro. Kießling’s head rose the highest as he guided the ball towards the side netting that had the hole. With the goal being given, Hoffenheim started to up the tempo of their attacks and in the 82nd minute were rewarded with a penalty. Bernd Leno who had an excellent outing on matchday 8 against Bayern once again showed why he was one of the best in the league with a save to deny Roberto Firmino’s spot kick. Schipplock gave the homeside some hope with an 88th minute effort but it was too late for a turn around.

With most of Leverkusen being apologetic with the goal, Rudi Völler was the least sympathetic going on to say that

“Hoffenheim have spent a lot of money on a nice stadium. Maybe next time they should buy some proper nets.”

Back in 1994, Thomas Helmer scored a ‘phantom goal’ for Bayern against Nürnberg resulting in a 2-1 for his side. Nürnberg successfully lodged a complaint with the DFB resulting in the match getting replayed. Hoffenheim can be expected to go down a similar path and but one cannot deny that the ‘phantom goal’ will haunt them forever.

Götze shows why Bayern paid ‘that’ amount

Mario Gotze - Top Five Bundesliga Transfers

Götze changed the game with some mesmerizing play

It has been a difficult start for Mario Götze since he made his move to Bayern Munich over the summer. His hamstring injury at the end of last season made him miss Bayern’s start to the season and when he did make a return, an ankle injury in the UEFA Super Cup game kept him out for a further month. Recovered from his injury, the German international sat on the bench as he saw his side play out a grueling first half against a determined Mainz 05 side on Saturday.

Having occupied the summit for the first time this season, Guardiola fielded a starting eleven, most of who were involved in the final round of World Cup qualifying fixtures over much of last week. Frenchman Frank Ribery was nursing an injury and Thomas Müller was given the task to create chances from the left wing in Bayern’s 4-1-4-1. Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Kroos handled issues in the midfield with Diego Contento getting a rare start at left back.

The first half as expected was dominated by Bayern, seeing plenty of the ball and failing create much. Mainz to their credit dug dig to defy their opponents with occasional counter attacks through their pacey frontline. Some of the tiredness from the qualifiers looked to have affected the home side as most of their passing seemed lethargic and the ball players lacked ideas. They were dealt a huge blow just before half time when key defender Dante limped off the field after colliding with Mainz’s Zdenek Pospech. The injury is expected to keep him out for 10-14 days meaning Bayern will have to do with only Daniel van Buyten and Jan Kirchhoff as the only recognized center back pairing when they take the field against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League midweek. If things couldn’t get any worse, Boateng misjudged a high ball played by Mainz, allowing Shawn Parker to get past him and open the scoring for Mainz.

Full back Rafinha was scarified for Götze in the second period as Lahm moved to right back. The formation largely resembled a 3-4-3 with Schweinsteiger and Alaba playing a deeper role in midfield, while Götze and Kroos looked to create chances for the trio of Müller, Mandzukic and Robben. Bayern paid 37 million for Götze over the summer and the midfielder showed just why with a stellar performance that turned the tide of the match in Bayern’s favour. His defense splitting through ball found Robben who leveled the scoreline while the duo combined a minute later to find Müller to make it 2-1 for the home side. It was soon 3-1 as young Mario danced his way into the Mainz box to assist Mandzukic. A foul on Schweinsteiger inside the box,8 minutes before the end gave Müller the opportunity to score his second and Bayern’s fourth to round off the rout, a scoreline hardly indicative of the first period.

 Mario Götze’s two assists and his involvement in initiating attacks was something Bayern missed in the first period against a stubborn defense. If his performance is indicative of what is to be expected from the ‘ little genius’ , it won’t be long before Bayern start to stroll around the park once again.

Schalke leave it late as Hamburg and Stuttgart play out a thriller

Eintracht Braunschweig showed they had what it takes to survive in the Bundesliga on matchday 8 with an impressive win over Wolfsburg and they almost came close to taking a point of Schalke this weekend. Having earned a mere point from their four home games so far, Braunschweig shocked the Royal Blues by taking the lead in the 20th minute. Matthias Henn’s perfect ball found Orhan Ademi who made no mistake in slotting it home. Schalke controlled the tempo then on and were rewarded when 18 year old Max Meyer scored from close range to level things.

Despite constant pressure from Schalke that saw as many as four chances being denied by the home side, it was the men in yellow and blue who reestablished their lead in the 65th minutes. Like in the first period, Schalke were quick to nullify that lead with another 18 year old, Leon Goretzka scoring. Just when it looked like Braunschweig had done enough to earn a point, Roman Neustädter’s injury time goal sealed the game for the Ruhr club. The win takes Schalke to 5th in the table, a point behind Hertha while Braunschweig sit bottom.

Hamburg and Stuttgart played out a nailing biting fixture at the Imtech Arena with the scores finishing 3-3. Hamburg under new boss Bert van Marwijk were put on the back foot right from the start as Stuttgart took the lead within 3 minutes through Romanian Alexandru Maxim. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored an eight minute Hattrick last time around and he was yet again the signing star for the home side. His 22nd minute strike equalized the score but it was Stuttgart who remained dominant through the half. Their efforts were rewarded 8 minutes before the game as midfielder Christian Gentner headed in a Maxim set-piece. Bert van Marwijk is known to be a astute manager and he did just that by bringing Maximilian Beister into the mix. The attacker was quick to level things with a fierce left footed after he latched on to a Jenson cross. Despite falling behind to a Johan Djourou own goal, Beister’s influence on the pitch was on the ascendency. His inch perfect pass to Van der Vaart was smartly converted by the Dutchman and he remained a constant threat to Stuttgart.

ELSEWHERE

Marco Reus’ 4th minute penalty was good enough to see Dortmund through against Hannover 96 while young center back, Matthias Ginter was the star man for 17th placed Freiburg as they grinded out a hard earned draw against Bremen. Nürnberg held Frankfurt to a draw while Gladbach were shocked by Hertha BSC.

Borussia Dortmund 1 – 0 Hannover ; Werder Bremen 0-0 SC Freiburg ; Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Nürnberg ; Hertha BSC 1 -0 Borussia Mönchengladbach ; FC Augsburg 1-2 VfL Wolfsburg

RANDOM FIVE

  • Hamburg find themselves 15th in the table, but new boss Bert van Marwijknis yet to lose a game.
  • Mario Götze had a 97 % passing accuracy in the 45 minutes played.
  • Bayern’s 4-1 win over Mainz extends their Bundesliga unbeaten run to 34 games.
  • Hannover are at a respectable 7th, but are yet to score an away goal and or take a point on the road.
  • Freiburg and Nürnberg are yet to win a game this season.

GOAL OF THE WEEK

In a week that saw plenty of quality goals being scored, Kießling’s ‘ phantom goal’ takes the cake.