Matchday 27 in the Bundesliga will go down in history as the moment Bayern Munich won the fastest title in history, but it also saw Borussia Dortmund and Schalke fight out another ferocious Revierderby. This, and much more Bundesliga action in our Matchday 27 review.
Bayern Crowned Champions
It took until March 25 to make it a mathematical certainty, but this Bayern team had won the league months ago. After setting the record for fastest title win in the history of the Bundesliga last year, Bayern broke their own record this year by wrapping up the league in only 27 games. Twenty-five points ahead of Dortmund, they are truly in a league of their own.
While the rest of the league claws it out for the remaining Champions League spots or even for survival in the Bundesliga, Bayern floated to their 24th championship in emphatic fashion by beating Hertha Berlin, 3-1. Perhaps Jürgen Klopp, ever reliable for a soundbite or a quip, put it best: “They are incredible. We truly need binoculars to see them. And I can even enjoy watching them at times because they’re playing fantastically well.”
The list of records that this Bayern team has broken could fill this entire page—undefeated this season, fastest title winners ever, 20 wins in a row—it goes on and on. As is fitting, they broke some more records on Tuesday against Hertha, records that are a testament to Pep Guardiola’s vision and to Bayern’s beautiful playing style. The Bavarians passed the ball 1,078 times at the Olympic stadium—1,078—the first time a Bundesliga team has ever reached four figures. For comparison, Dortmund played 460 passes to Schalke’s 337 in their match, while Bayer Leverkusen, rounding up the top four, registered 499. Captain Philipp Lahm, playing in the midfield role once again, epitomized his team’s perfection, completing all 134 of his passes, a figure that beggars belief.
How Bayern will approach the seven remaining games of the season will be interesting. They have already dispatched most teams in the top half of the table, with only Dortmund still left. Guardiola has warned that these games will be needed to improve “our pace, our rhythm in every single game,” and Bayern will want to see out the perfect season unruined. The team has set its sights on becoming the first team to ever defend a Champions League trophy, and as unthinkable as it is, it is even feasible that they could repeat their triple. How the rest of the Bundesliga can possibly catch up is beyond thought; Klopp should get those binoculars ready.
No Goals Necessary in Revierderby
Borussia Dortmund and Schalke may have ended proceedings with a 0-0 draw on Tuesday, but the Revierderby was anything but a bore. From the first whistle to the last, this was a game filled with opportunities, tackles, and passion—with everything except goals to offer.
Jürgen Klopp made two changes to the side that beat Hannover over the weekend, bringing back Marco Reus and captain Sebastian Kehl. Making his first league start since early February, Reus was the star of the show, involved in 11 of his team’s 18 shots on goal and combining well with the young Erik Durm to torment Schalke down the left. However, he, Robert Lewandowski, and especially Henrikh Mkhitaryan were once again guilty of wasting brilliant chances in front of goal. This was in no small part due to the heroics of Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, who almost single-handedly won his side a point by blocking, parrying, and throwing himself in front of every ball to come his way.
Still, Dortmund dominated the game and created many lovely opportunities, playing a better game than they have in months. Fast, slick, and (almost) deadly on the counterattack, this hearkened back to the BVB of yore, before the injuries came in thick and fast to tear the team apart, and if they can play like this again next week against Real Madrid, they stand a chance of repeating their upset from last year. Schalke, who fielded five players 21 and under, created a handful of chances in the first half, but spent most of the fixture on the back heel. Their young attacking trio of Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, and Leon Goretzka, were kept quiet by the Schwarzgelben defense, and Kevin Prince Boateng earned himself a yellow card that will see him on the sidelines for their next game against Hertha Berlin.
Though this result means that the two sides are still separated by only one point, Dortmund will be pleased with securing four out of the six points from this year’s clashes. However, they do have a more difficult end of the season, which puts the Royal Blues in prime position to snatch second away. In addition to Real Madrid in the Champions League and Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal, Klopp’s men still have to face Wolfsburg, Bayern, Leverkusen, and Hertha in the league, and they have yet to beat a top side at home this season. Schalke, on the other hand, have only the league to worry about, and most of their remaining fixtures are against sides in the bottom half of the table. Had Dortmund found the back of the net on Tuesday, they would have secured a four-point cushion over their rivals, and even that may not have been enough to decide that second place would once again be black and yellow.
A final note should be made for the fans. Despite pre-match fears of violence—Dortmund mustered the largest police force ever seen in the Bundesliga—the fans behaved superbly and generated a scintillating atmosphere, showcasing why the Revierderby is one of the most famous fixtures in Europe.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga…
Tuesday saw a trio of games that finished 3-1. In addition to Bayern’s triumph, Wolfsburg got their first win in five games by beating Bremen, while whipping boys Eintracht Braunschweig soared to a 3-1 win over seventh-placed Mainz. On Wednesday, VfB Stuttgart slid one step closer to relegation when they lost 2-0 away at Nürnberg. Fellow bottom teams Hamburg and Freiburg dueled out a six-pointer by securing one point each, 1-1. In mid-table, Hoffenheim beat Hannover, 3-1, with a sublime goal from Rudy. Bayer Leverkusen finally got a win—after nine games—by beating Augsburg, 3-1, while Borussia Mönchengladbach was unable to make it three victories in a row and lost to Frankfurt, 1-0.
- Bayer Leverkusen’s win over Augsburg marked their 500th victory in the Bundesliga, making them only the 11th team to reach this milestone.
- Hertha Berlin’s penalty was the first time a penalty was given against Bayern Munich this season.
- Dortmund’s 0-0 result against Schalke was BVB’s first goalless draw in 16 months, the last one coming against VfB Stuttgart on 3 November 2012.
- VfL Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking celebrated his 250th game as a coach, having previously coached Hannover and Nürnberg, among others.
- The Revierderby was short in goals but not in fouls. Dortmund had 16 fouls to Schalke’s 23, a season high for the Royal Blues.
Goal of the Week
It’s not often that Eintracht Braunschweig make the headlines, but Domi Kumbela’s delicious 77th minute overhead kick goal capped off a fantastic night for the league’s bottom team as they roared to their fifth win of the season over Mainz.