A 1-0 win in the Klassiker has put Bayern firmly in control in the Bundesliga title race. Joshua Kimmich’s deft chip, the heroic defending of Alphonso Davies and a bit of a favour from the (lack of) VAR has seen the Bavarians open up a seven-point lead at the top with just six games remaining.
It was a game Dortmund couldn’t afford to lose and one that Bayern knew would give them a huge advantage if they did. Once again Hansi Flick’s side showed the mentality of champions to overcome the Schwarzgelben at the Signal Iduna Park.
“We now have a good cushion on Dortmund” Kimmich said afterwards. “That was brutally important today. It’ll be mentally difficult for Dortmund to keep up. We have to reaffirm this lead in the next games.
“You could see that it was very, very intense and we had to work our way up to the three points. It was relatively balanced, especially in the first half we made many simple mistakes. Dortmund were very bold.”
Even though he conceded three goals, the Freiburg keeper was the standout contender for the Man of the Match award against Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday after a superb display in their 3-3 draw.
The Adler’s Timothy Chandler complained at the final whistle that they thought Schwolow literally had ‘eight arms and seven legs’. The Breisgauer keeper faced 16 shots on target at the Commerzbank Arena and saved 13 of them. “Alexander Schwolow was our best player without doubt” trainer Christian stressed after. “He was outstanding in goal.”
Freiburg may not have won, but Schwolow was the main reason they didn’t lose denying one goalscoring chance after another. No wonder he has been recently linked with moves to Ajax and Benfica.
Who saw that coming? In-form Bayer Leverkusen, fresh from their impressive win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, were brought back to earth with a massive bump with their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Wolfsburg.
A double from defender Marin Pongracic, a clever free kick from Maxi Arnold and fourth from Renato Steffen handed all three points to Oliver Glasner’s side and has cemented their place in the top six.
“Credit to the team for putting our game plan into practice” Glasner said after the match. “It was really great to watch. In the first ten minutes we struggled to get into the game, but after that we were very organised, closed down spaces and hardly let Leverkusen stamp their authority on the game. We kept attacking the spaces in behind Leverkusen’s defence and had two or three really good first-half chances that we couldn’t convert.
“I’m very satisfied and proud of the team for playing like that just three days after a very tough game against Dortmund. Congratulations to the players for a great performance.”
The positive effect that new Hertha trainer Bruno Labbadia is having continued on Wednesday as they earned a deserved point away at RB Leipzig. After two wins over Hoffenheim and Union Berlin, the real test was always going to be their short trip to Saxony to face Champions League contenders Leipzig, but the test was passed.
Rune Jarstein’s clanger aside, the side played well with Matheus Cunha particularly impressive against his former side. Hertha face Augsburg on Saturday and will be looking to move above Schalke, Hoffenheim and Freiburg in the table.
The 20-year-old turned in a match-winning display for Hoffenheim as they beat Köln 3-1 at home. Two goals and an assist proved a decent night’s work for the young midfielder, who is really enjoying the Rückrunde having scored five goals.
Speaking at the final whistle he was clearly pleased with his own contribution. “It’s all okay when you score two goals and set up another. In seriousness, what counts much more than my performance is the fact that we got the three points. Now we need to keep going and focus on what lies ahead. It was an extremely important victory.
“You could see towards the end that we were a little bit jittery. Hence why it was all the more important for Oliver Baumann to save that penalty. Now we have three much-anticipated points and we will go again on Saturday.”
It just goes from bad to worse for Schalke right now. On the plus side, they did score, but yet again, were not able to find the win as they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Königsblauen have now extended their winless run to ten league games and despite sitting in the safety of 9th place in the table, are displaying the Rückrunde form of a relegation side.
Weston McKennie gave them the lead at the Merkur-Spielarena, but goals from Kenan Karaman and Rouwen Hennings sentenced them to yet another loss.
“It’s really frustrating to have lost again” McKennie said after the match. “Especially because both goals came from set pieces. We can’t let our heads drop now. On Saturday we go again against Bremen. We need to stick together and bring a positive feeling to the pitch.”
Nice words, but Schalke need action.
Goalkeeping clangers often appear in the ‘Losers’ section here, and it’s usually a Schalke or Augsburg keeper suffering the embarrassment. This week it is the ‘unusual suspect’ of Rune Jarstein under the unwanted spotlight.
The normally very reliable Hertha keeper seemingly forgot how to use his hands when Patrik Schick sent in a relatively harmless shot in the 68th minute. He manged to flap at it completely and then somehow flip it over his head into the net. Luckily for him it didn’t prove too costly and Hertha emerged with a 2-2 draw.
After flying high in the Rückrunde with a run of 13 wins in 15 games the Werkself were brought down to earth with a crash landing against Wolfsburg. Coach Peter Bosz didn’t however look for excuses saying: “We deserved to lose because Wolfsburg were a lot better than us. We can’t complain with the margin of defeat either – we didn’t play well, and Wolfsburg played very aggressively and very well. That’s why we deserved to lose 4-1.”
Enough said. Leverkusen have the chance to put things right on Friday when they face Freiburg at the Bay Arena.
The naughty step
The ‘Englische Woche’ saw a glut of red cards with no fewer than four players sent-off. Köln’s Sebastian Bornauw was shown a straight red card in the 26th minute against Hoffenheim after VAR overturned his original yellow for a late challenge that caught Christoph Baumgartner on the calf. Later in the same match Benjamin Hubner saw a second yellow and received his marching orders.
Union Berlin’s Robert Andrich, who leads the Bundesliga this season for fouls committed, was booked twice in the first half of die Eisernen’s clash with Mainz. Over in Leipzig Marcel Halstenberg was also booked twice before going for an early bath in RB’s match with Hertha.
Another frustrating night for Werder on Tuesday as they were held to a point at home by Gladbach. A heartening display wasn’t rewarded with the much-needed win. A late chance spurned by Davie Selke could have changed the mood at the Weser Stadion completely, but alas it wasn’t to be.
With Fortuna Düsseldorf above them beating Schalke, it was a doubly bad midweek for Florian Kohfeldt’s side and the gap between them remains five points. On the bright side, they face Schalke next-perhaps the one side having a worse time of it right now.