Following on from the midweek DFB Pokal action was another weekend of Bundesliga action with a host of teams looking to close the gap on surprise leaders Union Berlin. There were wins for Bayern and Dortmund, late comebacks, red cards, plenty of goals and the usual thrills and spills.
So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 11?
It more a case of Mainz 5-0 than 05 on Friday night as Bo Svensson’s side enjoyed a great start to the weekend with their first home win of the season in some style.
The sending-off of Luca Kilian obviously helped, but they were already 1-0 up by then thanks to Marcus Ingvartsen’s penalty. They looked like scoring with every attack and midfielders Dominik Kohr and Anton Stach made it 3-0 before the break. A sublime free kick from Aaron Martin and a long-awaited goal from Karim Onisiwo completed the rout, and the hosts even had two goals ruled out.
“We’re happy that we’ve finally won at home” coach Svensson beamed after the final whistle. “I’m very happy with the way we managed this combination of three games. We’ve had six intense days with three games, all of which we won with a clean sheet, that’s it
“Of course, it was outstanding. We played in different constellations, many players did well, and, above all, we were convincing as a team, which makes me happy.
Borussia Dortmund/ Jude Bellingham
After a lot of soul searching following last week’s loss to Union Berlin, there was certainly a reaction from Dortmund as they hit VfB Stuttgart for five at the Signal Iduna Park.
The afternoon started perfectly with a second minute opener from Jude Bellingham and when Niklas Süle scored a second after 13 minutes, the omens were good for Edin Terzic’s side- two chances, two goals. A third arrived just before half time from Giovanni Reyna and there was no way back for the Swabians.
Bellingham added a second on 53 minutes and Youssoufa Moukoko got in on the scoring in the 72nd minute to emphatically end a run of three games without a win for BVB.
“We have to continue in exactly this vein now – and not praise too much” Terzic said. “We don’t want to settle for one win; we want to start a run now.”
It’s not over until the lady with the curvier figure sings and against Augsburg RB Leipzig showed exactly why you keep going until the very end as goals can come at any time. 3-0 down with less than twenty minutes to go Andre Silva pulled one back for the Roten Bullen.
A sublime curled free kick from Christopher Nkunku in the 89th minute gave the visitors a glimmer of hope and when substitute Hugo Novoa bundled in after Tomas Koubek had saved from Silva the unlikely comeback was complete.
“We didn’t give up and we believed in ourselves” David Raum said post-match. “We worked together as a team and that’s why the point is absolutely deserved in the end. If we carried on for five more minutes, I think we’d have won that game.”
When the Freiburg midfielder scored a 79th minute penalty against Werder to make it 2-0 his unusual goal celebration had a special meaning. Wheeling away after his 39th Bundesliga goal the 29-year-old became the highest scoring Italian overtaking his idol Luca Toni in the standings copying his hand to ear celebration.
The former Bayern Munich striker needed just 60 league games to hit his 38 goals whereas Grifo has taken185. “The celebration was for Luca Toni of course” Grifo said afterwards.
“I apologize to him because he’s an outstanding striker, player and person. I’ve had a lot of contact with him. I’m honoured to have taken over his position. The goal I also dedicate it to him because I was a big fan of his and watched him a lot in the Squadra Azzurra and Bayern”
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
There is a Plan B at Bayern this season and it does involve a traditional number nine- much to the satisfaction of many. Over the past few games Choupo-Moting has shown that he can provide the goals that Robert Lewandowski used to.
It was an unhappy return to Mainz for Köln central defender Luca Kilian as the former Nullfünfer was sent off after just 28 minutes. He was caught out by the pace of Karim Onisiwo in the 11th minute pulling back the Mainz striker for a penalty, which was dispatched for a 1-0 home lead.
Kilian then naively shoulder charged Onisiwo off the side of the pitch leaving the referee little choice other than to issue a second yellow card. The 23-year-old spent the 2020-21 season at Mainz after joining from Paderborn but made just 8 appearances. His return was short-lived and ultimately expensive for the Billy Goats. Whether the defeat would have been as big had he stayed on will never be known, but he did his side no favours.
It has been a bad week for the Foals after their midweek elimination from the DFB Pokal and now a chastening home defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt. Daniel Farke’s side made defensive errors and allowed Frankfurt to counter leading to a 3-0 half time lead for the visitors from Hessen. A consolation goal from Marcus Thuram (who else?) proved just that- a mere consolation as it was Eintracht heading towards the top four and not Gladbach.
“Frankfurt were clinical in the final third today and deserved to get the win” Farke said after the match. “It felt a little surreal to find ourselves 3-0 down at half time because I didn’t think there was much between the teams. The only difference was their clinical edge. Frankfurt were able to make the most of their opportunities and we weren’t. We were too eager and were too optimistic with some of our passes. Frankfurt were particularly strong on the counter.”
Red cards don’t necessarily have to change games, but when they come as early as the 14th minute, the game plan goes out the window and the match becomes an uphill struggle. Werder Bremen captain Marco Friedl was dismissed for a bringing down Michael Gregoritsch as the last man (although some will say that Amos Pieper was on hand to cover).
Bremen held Freiburg at bay until the 56th minute and then Vincenzo Grifo scored from the spot ten minutes from the end. “Gregoritsch ran right past me, and I pulled him to the floor” Friedl explained after the match. “If I don’t touch him, I think Amos [Pieper] can still come round and cover. I haven’t seen any replays yet, but I think it was a clear red card.
Coach Ole Werner however wasn’t so sure saying, “I’ve looked at the situation again, both during the game and then after too. For me, it’s a situation where, if you know how fast he is, Amos Pieper can get back round on the cover. Yes, it’s a foul and definitely an unnecessary one, but it’s not a denial of a goalscoring opportunity for me. I thought it was a yellow card.”
In a weekend of important red cards, Augsburg’s Iago joined the list of miscreants. Minutes after his side had gone 3-0 ahead against RB Leipzig, a rush of blood saw the fullback Iago given two yellow cards in the space of a few seconds by referee Robert Schröder and was duly sent off. His first challenge on a surging Xaver Schlager merited a booking and when the Leipzig midfielder confronted him, he body checked him to the ground earning an immediate second caution. It was the beginning of a slippery slope for the home side as they ended up conceding three goals in the last fifteen minutes (two very late on) to draw 3-3.
Sacking Frank Kramer didn’t have the instant bounce back effect with the Königsblauen losing at Hertha Berlin. The loss combined with Bochum’s surprise win over Union Berlin leaves Schalke bottom of the table.
The Borussia Park Spidercam
Not a player, and not a team, but an item of technical equipment makes the loser’s section this week. The Spidercam that usually offers such impressive vistas of the Bundesliga action at the Borussia Park saw a cable break causing the match to be paused while it was fixed.