Matchday 9 in the Bundesliga served up two thrillers, one with no goals and the other with nine goals. Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg both asserted their positions as Bayern challengers, while VfB Stuttgart and Frankfurt gave their fans 90 minutes for the history books.
Foals Prove Their Title Credentials In Goalless Thriller with Bayern
Borussia Mönchengladbach held Bayern Munich to a scintillating 0-0 draw on Sunday, ending the champions’ six-game winning streak in all competitions. While Bayern dominated the first half, Gladbach thrived on the pressure and came back with cylinders firing in the second half. Only Manuel Neuer kept the second-placed Foals from winning and closing the gap on Bayern to just one point, proving that this year’s Bundesliga title race is far from a foregone conclusion.
Gladbach went into this match only four points behind the champions, boasting a potent attack and a watertight defense. The Foals have the second best defensive record in the league—behind only Bayern—having shipped only four goals in nine matches. Pep Guardiola sent out a strong team, and David Alaba came a fingertip away from putting Bayern ahead in the 10th minute. Having withstood the initial Bayern onslaught, Gladbach began asserting themselves on the counterattack, testing Neuer for the first time in the 34th minute. André Hahn broke down the wing and set up striker Max Kruse, who squared it with his chest but couldn’t send the ball past the giant keeper. The second half would see the Foals come close several times, with Neuer saving from Hermann, Raffael, and Hahn.
It’s a testament to Gladbach that both sides will have been relieved to leave Borussia Park with a point, and the Foals have now solidified their status as Bayern’s closest title challengers. They have a series of challenging fixtures coming up: a date with fourth-placed Hoffenheim and a visit to ailing but dangerous Borussia Dortmund, where they will hope to extend their form as the best away club in the league. If they can keep up the winning streak, Bayern have plenty to fear.
Wolfsburg End Mainz’s Unbeaten Run
After starting slowly this season, Wolfsburg ran rampant in their third-successive league win, charging to third place with a 3-0 win over Mainz. The Wolves are now level on points with Gladbach and are officially in the race to overtake Bayern. Mainz, on the other hand, lost their first match of the season but are still holding steady in sixth place.
The first two Wolfsburg goals were almost identical—headers from right-hand corners. Defender Naldo scored the first in the 15th minute and set up the second for Ivan Perisic in the 59th minute, before Caligiuri added a third from open play for the hosts. The Wolves could have had many more, as Mainz keeper Loris Karius only just managed to keep a 12th minute Olic attempt out of the goal, made two good saves against Kevin de Bruyne, and was saved from a Maximilian Arnold by the woodwork.
Wolfsburg have the second best home form in the league—only Bayern are better—and if they can improve their away form and shore up their defense, they, like Gladbach, can push Bayern far this season and seal a Champions League spot.
Stuttgart and Frankfurt Dazzle in Nine-Goal Thriller
When 15th-placed VfB Stuttgart and eighth-placed Frankfurt lined up at the Commerzbank Arena on Saturday afternoon, nobody expected what ensued: a nine-goal goalfest that saw the lead change four times and one player get sent off in the dying minutes.
It became obvious very quickly, however, that goals were in the cards. Stuttgart had several good chances early, including one particularly delectable breakaway run by Kostic and a shot by captain Christian Gentner, who evaded Frankfurt defenders with a good piece of footwork but sent the ball flying into the stands.
It was Frankfurt who scored first, however, as Madlung connected with the rebound of a header that hit the crossbar in the 21st minute. Thirteen minutes later, a deflection off Oriol Romeu sent Martin Harnik free to score (though replays suggest that Harnik was offside). While VfB may have been lucky to equalize, their second goal was a fantastic team effort that shows the positive impact manager Armin Veh has had in his second stint at the club. Just two minutes after equalizing, winger Sararer surged down the right hand side, slid the ball into Maxim, who pulled away Frankfurt defenders and tapped the ball lightly to Harnik’s feet for the Austrian to slam home. While VfB have often looked disorganized, with little structure to their attacks, this goal showed the improvements under Veh. The runs were well-timed, the players looked like they knew where they were going and why they were going there, and it resulted in a goal.
Early in the second half, Stuttgart made it three with a lovely one-two between Gentner and Maxim, but Frankfurt soon mounted their comeback, capitalizing on a sometimes ramshackle Stuttgart defense. VfB keeper Kirschbaum made the initial save on the second Frankfurt goal, but the defenders couldn’t clear and Alexander Meier poked the ball home. That was the first of three successive Frankfurt goals—all within eight minutes—and it looked like Stuttgart’s hard work would only lead to heartbreak once again, down 4-3.
18-year-old Timo Werner, however, took the game by the scruff of the neck, equalizing in the 81st minute from a composed solo run topped off by a powerful finish. 4-4. A point each could have been enough for both teams after the rollercoaster game, but it wasn’t over yet. With six minutes to go, Gentner capitalized on Frankfurt keeper Wieldwald’s mistake to score an unbelievable fifth goal, breaking Hessen hearts. Frankfurt didn’t stop trying, and emotions ran so high that striker Haris Seferovic was sent off after protesting to the referee. It was only VfB’s second win of the season, snapping a 14-game winless away streak. What a way to do it.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga…
FC Köln condemned Werder Bremen to a 1-0 defeat that saw Robin Dutt’s tenure as manager end. After a rampant Champions League showing, Borussia Dortmund lost yet again in the Bundesliga, 1-0, to a hapless Hannover. Augsburg beat Freiburg, 2-0, while Hoffenheim edged out Paderborn 1-0 to stay near the top of the table. Hertha Berlin roared to a 3-0 victory over Hamburg, and Bayer Leverkusen beat rivals Schalke, 1-0.
- Borussia Dortmund lost their fourth consecutive league game for the first time in 14 years.
- Freiburg, who lost 2-0 to Augsburg, remain one of two sides that have yet to win a game this year. They’ve now gone 12 matches without a win—their longest dry spell under Christian Streich.
- This was the first time in 40 years that Gladbach and Bayern met as the top two in the table.
- Schalke didn’t manage to reprise their achievement from last season, when they were the only team to beat Bayer Leverkusen twice.
- Hertha Berlin coach Jos Luhukay celebrated his 100th game as a top-flight coach.
Goal of the Week
Hakan Calhanoglu was a set-piece prodigy last season with Hamburg, and his talent has only grown brighter this year with Leverkusen. His exquisite free-kick in the 53rd minute finished off Schalke, who were poor throughout this clash with their neighbors.