The penultimate weekend of the Bundesliga season saw two sides clinch Europa League places for next season, while the fight against the dreaded relegation will go down to the final matchday. There were goals aplenty and no shortage of the usual excitement, thrills and spills associated with the German topflight. So, just who were the winners and losers from matchday 33?
A comprehensive 4-0 home win over Union Berlin saw the Sinsheim club secure a top seven finish and a place in next season’s Europa League. With Freiburg being beaten by Bayern, TSG’s win sees them going into next week’s final weekend with seventh place safely in the bag.
The team with nine home defeats thus far this season showed a different side and cruised to victory. Another goal from Munas Dabbur to go with his ‘Doppelpack’ in midweek against Augsburg was added to by strikes from Ihlas Bebou, Andre Kramaric and Christoph Baumgartner to seal a vital win for trainer-less Hoffenheim.
The long-term wisdom of parting company with trainer Alfred Schreuder will only be realised in the months to come, but in the short-term, the decision has not impacted too severely on Hoffenheim with European football secured for next year.
Another win for champions Bayern and two more goals for Robert Lewandowski to all-but seal yet another Bundesliga Torschützenkanone for the league’s top goalscorer.
The Pole turned provider for Joshua Kimmich’s opener before hitting a brace himself prior to half-time to turn the game in Bayern’s favour after Lucas Höler had made the score 2-1. Lewandowski now has 33 Bundesliga goals in 30 appearances adding to his best-ever season in Germany.
Despite already being crowned champions there was no let up from the Bavarians with Lewandowski still hungry for goals.
Borussia Mönchengladbach/ Lars Stindl
The battle for fourth spot took a big swing in the favour of Mönchengladbach after their 3-1 away win at already relegated Paderborn. With Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram still out, the onus was on the other players to step up to the scoring plate and what Jonas Hofmann did in midweek, captain Lars Stindl did on Saturday.
Patrick Hermann gave the Foals a 4th minute lead only for Sven Michel to equalise nine minutes into the second period. Paderborn weren’t on level terms for long though with Stindl dispatching a penalty a minute later to restore the lead.
Following Uwe Hünemeier’s red card on 73 minutes, Stindl headed home his second and Gladbach’s third fifteen minutes from time. Marco Rose’s side now have a two-point cushion over Bayer Leverkusen in the battle for fourth place with just one game remaining.
You have to wonder what would have happened this season had Borussia Dortmund signed Erling Haaland for the start of the season rather than in the Winter transfer window. In their top of the table clash with RB Leipzig, the Norwegian hit a brace to seal a 2-0 away win and secure runners-up spot for the Schwarzgelben.
With a lot of the attention on Timo Werner making his final home appearance for Leipzig, it was Haaland who stole the show. Two goals take his tally to 13 this season in just 14 matches.
It actually feels a bit cruel to keep including poor Schalke in the ‘losers’ section, but they really aren’t helping themselves. Another defeat (this time a 4-1-at home to Wolfsburg) extended not only their woe, but their club record winless streak and also saw them drop into the bottom half of the table for the first time this season.
Their litany of failure in the Rückrunde has been well documented and this loss at the Veltins Arena was just another kick in the ribs of a club already lying helpless on the ground. If this season were a boxing bout, the Schalke corner would have thrown the towel in weeks ago.
In what was considered a ‘must-win’ game, Werder lost. The fact that they get to live another day and haven’t mathematically been relegated is only down to the fact that Augsburg held Fortuna Düsseldorf to a 1-1 draw. Werder will need to win next weekend against Köln and hope that Fortuna lose at Union Berlin to secure the relegation play-off berth.
Werder started brightly against Mainz at the Opel Arena, but were undone by the defensive frailties that have been their Achilles heel all season. A lack of a real goal threat also impinged upon them against the Nullfünfer and it was only after the introduction of Niclas Füllkrug, Fin Bartels and Claudio Pizarro that they really threatened. Too little, too late.
Mainz had the individual quality to win, while Werder were left clutching at straws. They are not down yet, but the writing is very much on the wall. The glass is definitely half-empty.
Imagine watching €20 million being burned in front of you. That is what the bosses of Bayer Leverkusen must have been feeling as they watched their side give up fourth place and a possible Champions League spot to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
A 2-0 away loss at Hertha Berlin saw the Foals leapfrog the Werkself in the table and they now face a real fight next week to reclaim the coveted fourth place. After three successive losses Hertha stunned Leverkusen with goals from Matheus Cunha and Dodi Lukebakio at the Olympiastadion to give trainer Bruno Labbadia a win over the club he coached in 2008-09.
Bayer will now have to beat Mainz next weekend and hope that Gladbach lose at home to Hertha.