Match day 19 featured a derby apiece in the north and the south of Germany, and drama enough for the distance in between. From Hamburg’s 3-2 win over Bremen to Schalke’s draw to Bayern’s continued dominance, THT reviews all the weekend’s action in our weekly Bundesliga column, Beer and Bratwurst.
Hamburg victorious in dramatic Nordderby
The latest installment of the Hamburg-Bremen rivalry was a derby par excellence, replete with goals and fouls and dramatic turnarounds. A goal from Assani Lukimya in the 9th minute got Bremen off to a quick start, before Hamburg responded with a dazzling goal from Heung-Min Son to level the score. Mehmet Ekici and Rafael van der Vaart were ever-present threats, but neither side was able to get the upper hand, and the first half ended with things tied at one goal apiece for Hamburg and Bremen.
What began as a relatively cool affair then combusted after the break. In the first minute of the second half, Dennis Aogo broke through a wavering Bremen back line to put Hamburg ahead. Aogo was at it again 6 minutes later, this time setting up Artjoms Rudnevs for Hamburg’s final goal of the night. Down 3-1, Bremen responded with a vengeance and for the third time in 10 heated minutes the ball hit the back of the net, this time thanks to Sokratis.
With the rising goal tally went the tension. Clemens Fritz earned himself a yellow in the 57th minute, as Bremen pressed hard for the equalizer with chances falling to Schmitz, Arnautovic, and de Bruyne. The aggression backfired on Bremen, however, as Fritz was sent off in the 80th minute for a second offense, and bookings quickly followed for Sokratis, Nils Petersen, and Arnautovic — who, following his captain’s lead, earned himself a 91st minute exit by picking up two yellow cards in quick succession. Rene Adler topped off the evening’s action with a 93rd minute booking, but it detracted nothing from Hamburg’s victorious joy when the whistle blew for Hamburg 3, Bremen 2.
Thorsten Fink’s side have come a long way from being the team that looked relegation bound at season’s start. Called “the Dinosaur” of the Bundesliga, Hamburg have never been relegated from the top flight of German football and that streak now looks set to survive the league’s 50th anniversary. Rather than succumbing to the passage of time, the Dinosaur has evolved. The 98th Nordderby showcased two great partnerships developing in this Hamburg team: van der Vaart and Son — and Jansen and Aogo. Against Bremen, Aogo gave arguably his best performance to date, with a goal and an assist and 90+ minutes of strict midfield enforcement.
“It was high time we beat Bremen,” said Van der Vaart after the match. This win marked Hamburg’s fourth consecutive home victory, as well as Fink’s first ever derby win. Bremen, meanwhile, are winless in their last four matches and have conceded 13 goals in the process. The only team to have allowed more goals at this point are 17th placed Hoffenheim, with 43.
Dortmund and Bayern a cut above the rest
The defending champions and champions-elect have a simple message for the rest of the Bundesliga: even when playing at less than 100%, Dortmund and Bayern are still capable of dismantling their opposition. Match day 19 underscored this difference in class, with Dortmund’s 3-0 victory over Nuremberg, and Bayern’s 0-2 win away at Stuttgart.
Nuremberg have not won at Dortmund since 1990. On Friday, Der Club showed spark early on, with Tomas Pekhart and Markus Feulner forcing Roman Weidenfeller into a spectacular double save in the 15th minute. But a quick brace from Jakub Blaszczykowski sealed Nuremberg’s fate, and Robert Lewandowski added a final touch of polish with an 88th minute goal to make it 3-0. Though Dortmund visibly took their foot off the pedal after Blaszczykowski’s second goal, Nuremberg were unable to so much as get a look in edgewise. At times, Dortmund had the look of a team playing a practice match. And little wonder: that Jürgen Klopp has the luxury of bringing a player like Nuri Sahin on as a 77th minute substitute says something for the quality of Dortmund’s starting 11. The sheer gap in ability proved too much for Nuremberg.
For all that, Dortmund are still 12 points adrift of league leaders Bayern Munich, who took three points from an ugly encounter with VfB Stuttgart in the Southern derby. Bayern’s title march this season has not been without its rough patches, but it is precisely the ability to win even when not playing at their best that has allowed Bayern to accumulate 48 points and a +41 goal difference. Against Stuttgart, Bayern were at best mediocre, but bursts of individual brilliance from Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Müller were enough to capitalize on Stuttgart’s mistakes and take the game 0-2. With second-place Leverkusen dropping two points at Freiburg this week, Bayern now have an 11 point lead.
Schalke and Leverkusen drop points
It’s not often that Schalke play 90+ minutes without seeing a single goal. The Royal Blues’ visit to Augsburg this Saturday produced just that, as Markus Weinzierl’s team and tactics gave Schalke a run for their money. All told, the team to rue the two dropped points are not the visitors — but the lowly-ranked home side. The Augsburg trio of Sascha Mölders, Ja-Cheol Koo, and Dong-Won Ji attacked with a buoyant confidence after their win last week at Düsseldorf. Though they were ultimately unable to convert their chances this Saturday, Augsburg played with such boldness and tenacity as to stun Schalke into submission, thus securing another point in their battle against relegation.
Meanwhile at the Dreisamstadion, Leverkusen and Freiburg split points in the second 0-0 draw of match day 19. Both teams were denied by the woodwork but fought right up until the final whistle in an extremely well-balanced match. Neither Leverkusen nor Freiburg were able to convert their numerous chances in the end. A goalless draw proved a decent result for Leverkusen, who retained second place. Freiburg meanwhile missed a chance to close in on European qualification as fellow contenders Gladbach pulled ahead.
Hannover 2-1 Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Hoffenheim, Gladbach 2-1 Düsseldorf, Greuther Fürth 0-3 Mainz.
1. Bayern have conceded only 7 goals after 19 match days, a new Bundesliga record.
2. Only Stuttgart in 1991 (two wins, 9-0 goals) had a better start to the Rückrunde than Dortmund in 2013 (two wins, 8-0 goals)
3. Ilkay Gündogan had more touches (147) and passes completed (126) than any other player this match day. He was only 8 touches off an all-time Bundesliga record (155) set by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
4. Schalke’s 0-0 draw against Augsburg was their first goalless affair in 65 Bundesliga matches, dating back to February 2011.
5. Martin Harnik earned a second yellow for the second time this season, joining an elite two-man club of repeat offenders, with the other being Frankfurt’s Karim Matmour.
Player of the Week
Eintracht Frankfurt are having quite the season, and Kevin Trapp has been one of the contributing factors to their success. The 22-year-old goalkeeper put in another superb performance this Saturday against Hoffenheim, defending Frankfurt’s goal with four stunning saves to ensure a 2-1 victory. If Trapp continues developing as he has been, a national team call up may be on the horizon in this young man’s near future.
Flop of the Week
Stuttgart put in one of the worst team performances this week, and amidst a cringe-worthy 0-2 home loss, Cristian Molinaro stood out as one of the biggest culprits. The left back was directly at fault for both Bayern goals, first with a clueless back pass that found Mario Mandzukic rather than his own keeper, leaving Sven Ulreich with next to no chance of stopping the Croatian striker. For the second goal, Molinaro was nowhere to be found when Mandzukic made his run down the left; with acres of room to spare, Mandzukic calmly placed an inch-perfect cross for Thomas Müller to slot home.
Goal of the Week
Down 0-1 on derby day, Heung-Min Son rose to the occasion with this crackling goal that jump-started Hamburg’s 3-2 victory over rivals Werder Bremen.