Hot on the heels of the ‘Englische Woche’ came matchday 30 with plenty of twists and turns with important points won at the top of the table and important points lost down at the bottom. We had record-breaking goal scorers, hope generated for some, while despair compounded for others.
So, just who were the Bundesliga winners and losers from matchday 29?
There are signs finally emerging that Werder Bremen might just have acquired the character/ willpower/ resolve/ good fortune to claw themselves out of the relegation zone.
A 1-0 win over Schalke took them to seven points in their last three games and with results elsewhere going in their favour, there is a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. Jiri Pavlenka kept a clean sheet for the third game in succession- the first time that has happened since February/ March 2014.
The Grün-Weißen are still far from safety, but the faith kept in trainer Florian Kohfeldt is slowly being repaid. With Fortuna and Mainz both losing above them in the table, the future looks hopeful.
They have a midweek game with Eintracht Frankfurt (their game in hand) so by the time next weekend comes around they may be in with a chance of crawling out of the bottom three.
Back in the starting XI for the first time since the Bundesliga restart, Borussia’s teenage sensation Jadon Sancho enjoyed a fantastic afternoon against Paderborn scoring a second half hat trick.
Sancho now has 17 goals and 17 assists to his name, putting just above Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner in the scoring charts. He also became the youngest player in the Bundesliga to reach 30 goals in the competition, eclipsing the previous record held by Kai Havertz by a matter of days.
Bayern striker Lewandowski finally scored against Düsseldorf at the fifth time of asking. The Pole had scored against every current Bundesliga club bar Fortuna prior to the weekend, but that ghost was laid to rest with a double against Uwe Rösler’s side at the Allianz Arena.
Lewandowski struck twice in seven minutes either side of the break to take his season’s tally in all competitions to 43 goals and equalled his personal best, which was set in the 2016/17 campaign.
The Breisgauer’s 1-0 win at Mainz took them level on points (42) with Wolfsburg and brings the prospect of European football next season ever closer.
Alfred Schreuder and his team will toe the party line of saying that they are ‘taking each game as it comes’, but they will surely be internally targeting 6th place. Should Bayern or Leverkusen win the DFB Pokal, then even 7th place could suffice for the side Julian Nagelsmann recently took into the Champions League for the first time.
Even when Bayer Leverkusen aren’t playing particularly well (as against Freiburg on Friday), it seems they can always rely on Havertz to pop up with the required magic. Assisted well by the run and vision of Leon Bailey, it was Havertz, once more employed as the central forward, who proved decisive for the Werkself.
Quality rises to the top and Havertz is a living embodiment of that.
The misery just goes on for Schalke. The Königsblauen suffered their fourth defeat in four games since the restart and have now gone 11 games without a win. David Wagner’s side faced a struggling Werder Bremen side, and like a week previously against Augsburg, were clearly the weaker side.
The excuses are drying up for the players and the coach and nothing other than a win will do as they try to arrest an appalling run of form. The only time Schalke have gone 12 games without a win was back in 1993/94.
It now seems a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Paderborn suffer relegation from the Bundesliga after just one season back in the topflight. A heavy 6-1 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund was not unexpected, but at the same time highly damaging.
They remain rooted to the bottom of the table, eight points behind Fortuna who occupy the relegation play-off berth. Life doesn’t get any easier with RB Leipzig (away) up next weekend.
Union Berlin have announced striker Sebastian Polter will not play for the club again this season due to “unsupportive behaviour”.
The Bundesliga side released a statement on Thursday saying the 29-year-old, whose contract expires this year, has played his final match for the club.
Club president Dirk Zingler said: “It is one of the fundamental values of 1. FC Union Berlin that we, as Unioner, form a solid, tight-knit community in which we stand up for each other and for our club.
“Sebastian, the only player in the first-team squad, coaching and backroom team, does not do this, unfortunately. This is not understandable for us and extremely disappointing. It’s my immediate task, during difficult times, to protect the cohesion of the club’s employees and squad, so we do not jeopardise the goals on the park.
“We have therefore decided that Sebastian will no longer be part of our matchday squad with immediate effect.”
Fortuna’s recent record of dropping points from a winning position, took a turn from the worse at the weekend with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of champions-elect Bayern.
They remain in the precarious position of 18th with Werder Bremen coming up quickly behind them. They have tricky games against in-form Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in their next three matches, so the pressure is surely going to mount.
The DFB control committee
“In the course of the next few days, these incidents will be dealt with and the facts examined accordingly” Anton Nachreiner, the leader of the DFB’s Control Committee, confirmed in an interview with Kicker on Monday.
The incidents in question were the acts of solidarity shown by Weston McKennie, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Thuram and Achraf Hakimi towards those protesting about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Schalke midfielder McKennie was the first to make a statement when he wore an armband with the handwritten message “Justice for George” around his left arm on Saturday. Thuram on Sunday took a knee after scoring in Borussia Monchengladbach’s win over Union Berlin, with both Sancho and Hakimi following suit later Sunday.
However, DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for the player’s gestures.
“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”
“I’m proud of them. I can completely understand the actions from the weekend. Nobody can be indifferent to what happened in the United States,” Keller said.