The penultimate Bundesliga weekend of the season delivered yet another fantastic round of matches with the lead changing at the top of the table. One team were condemned to the 2.Bundesliga, but there is still so much to be decided during next week’s games. So, just who were the winners and losers from the weekend?
Borussia Dortmund/ Sebastien Haller
After 33 matches Borussia Dortmund have their destiny in their own hands after Bayern’s loss to Leipzig and their own win at Augsburg. The Schwarzgelben now know that a win at home next week versus Mainz will see them end Bayern’s decade-long dominance of the Meisterschale.
BVB fans were made to wait as they tuned in to see Edin Terzic’s side go up against the Fuggerstädter, but Sebastien Haller continued his fine recent form with two goals in the second half after the home were reduced to ten men. Dortmund’s number nine fired home in the 58th minute before adding a second (his ninth of the season) six minutes from time. Julian Brandt added a late third to set Dortmund up perfectly to clinch the Bundesliga title next Saturday at the Signal Iduna Park.
Leipzig chose the best possible time to secure their first-ever win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and all of a sudden morphed from being most people’s most hated team into a team the majority of neutrals (plus 100% of Dortmund fans) wanted to win.
They arrived in Munich as the form team in the Bundesliga with eight wins from their previous nine matches, but went behind to a Serge Gnabry goal in the 25th minute. Marco Rose’s side however produced a fine second half display to capitalise on the home side’s errors and uncertainty. A counter-attack goal in the 65th minute finished by Konrad Laimer (soon to be a Bayern player) got them level before two subsequent penalties (Christopher Nkunku and Dominik Szoboszlai) saw them take all three points.
The win means Leipzig are guaranteed third place and handed Dortmund a huge advantage in the title race. For a brief moment, the Saxony side were most people’s guilty pleasure for an hour at least.
With Freiburg struggling to find a way through against an organised Wolfsburg side, Christian Streich sent on experienced duo Christian Günter and Nils Petersen with twenty minutes left. On his final home appearance for the club it was always going to be an emotional night for Petersen, but he put a memorable sheen on the evening with a typical striker’s goal.
Four minutes after Günter had fired the Breisgauer into the lead, Freiburg’s number 18 got himself on the end of an excellent cross from Roland Sallai to tap home. It was his 105th goal and quite remarkably extends his record as the highest scoring substitute with it being his 34th after coming off the bench.
A second header was controversially ruled out for a previous foul in the move, but the emotion on Christian Streich’s face said it all as Petersen bade farewell to the club in true Nils Petersen style.
Schalke forward Polter got a ‘dishonourable mention’ in our Bundesliga Flops XI of the season earlier in the week, but he made that selection look unwise when scoring the late equaliser against Eintracht Frankfurt that could prove hugely significant in the Königsblauen’s battle against relegation. His only other Bundesliga goal this season came back on matchday six in the 3-1 won over Bochum, but the equaliser at the Veltins Arena on Saturday could prove to be the most important goal he’s ever scored.
What a time to get only your second away win of the season! With a win an absolute must for the Swabians, the omens didn’t look good when Mainz scored yet another goal via a corner to take the lead at the Mewa Arena.
Getting points away from the Mercedes Benz Arena has been the bane of Stuttgart’s life this season (and last), but inspired by Wataru Endo and second half substitute Chris Führich, they staged a comeback to triumph 4-1. Sebastian Hoeneß’ side now have their destiny in their own hands and know that a win next week at home to Hoffenheim will see them to safety.
The Croatian scored his eleventh and twelfth goals of the season to help fire Hoffenheim to the victory that sealed their Bundesliga place for another season. He has scored seven alone since matchday 25 and when TSG needed him, their talisman came up trumps. A penalty in the 36th minute was added to in the final minute to add to goals from Ihlas Bebou and Munas Dabbur against Union Berlin.
Relegation to the second tier was confirmed for Hertha in typical fashion. An inability to defend saw them concede a 94th minute equaliser at home to VFL Bochum with Kevin Schlotterbeck heading in to confirm what had been feared for ages. Die Alte Dame only just survived last season via the play-off and the mis-management of the club over the past four years finally caught up with them and the soul-searching will now begin.
Saturday’s draw was just the culmination of a long and painful process and the question is now whether they can bounce back or whether they will suffer a longer spell in the 2.Bundesliga à la HSV.
The possibility that Bayern could finish the season trophy-less was put into stark reality on Saturday as once again they failed to build on a first half lead and were outgunned in the second period by Leipzig. The pictures showing streams of Bayern ‘fans’ leaving the Allianz Arena before the final whistle put them out of their misery has not been seen in recent memory.
The enquiry as to whether the club got it wrong in sacking Julian Nagelsmann will have to wait until the post-season, but the fact is the Bundesliga title is no longer in Bayern’s control and BVB have one hand firmly on the Meisterschale. As long as they match Bayern’s result next week, both hands will be raising it next Saturday at the Signal Iduna Park.
Bayern fans are not reserved when it comes to letting players know when they are disapproved of and that was the case on Saturday as Noussair Mazraoui was the target of their displeasure.
Fans in the Sudkurve unfurled a banner that read: ‘All colours are beautiful. In Toulouse, Munich and everywhere. Respect our values Mazraoui!’ It came after the Moroccan fullback showed support on Instagram to Zakaria Aboukhlal who refused to take part in Ligue 1’s rainbow campaign.
Keeping Borussia Dortmund’s title-hungry attack at bay was always going to be a difficult task for FC Augsburg on Sunday, but when defender Felix Uduokhai got himself sent off in the first half, the task being gargantuan. The centre back was forced into a desperate challenge on the onrushing Donyell Malen and referee Tobias Welz deemed him the last man and dished out a straight red card. Goalless at the time, BVB went on to score three times.
A bad week got worse for Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapie when he was sent off during stoppage time of his side’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. After being knocked out of the Europa League in the semi-final by Roma in midweek, the Ecuadorian kicked out at Julian Weigl in frustration when brought down on the counter-attack. This is his third dismissal this season, but his first straight red card.