Saturday’s Bundesliga Review: Schalke Shock Bayern, Frankfurt Sink Mainz
While the goals haven’t been flowing yet in this round, there have been some surprise results and a lot of great drama. With the league leaders not playing until tomorrow, the pressure was on some of the Bundesliga’s title hopefuls to keep the pressure on Dortmund. Let’s get to the results.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1 – 2 Hannover 96
Gladbach fans must be feeling very nervous about their side’s chances of staying up after this loss. With really only one consistently impressive player in the side in the form of Marco Reus, it’s hard to see where Gladbach will find their edge in terms of the relegation dogfight. He may be fantastic, but he can’t keep that team up by himself. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens to that Gladbach side if they were to go down. Michael Bradley, Raul Bobadilla, Thorben Marx and Marco Reus… I’m sure they’ll all be picked apart by bigger clubs. If they don’t sort it out at Gladbach, it could be dark days ahead for the side. Michael Bradley opened the scoring just after the quarter-hour mark from a long-range free-kick. Unfortunately for the hosts, Bobadilla was sent off for a high challenge on Sergio Pinto and that definitely put their position under threat. Mike Hanke and Didier Ya Konan sealed the win for Hannover with 15 minutes left to go, and condemned Gladbach to another week at the bottom of the table. Mirko Slomka’s side go third, just two points behind second-placed Mainz. It’s a fantastic achievement from Slomka’s men, and they’ll be looking to remain consistent and nick a European spot for next season.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2 – 1 Mainz
How great was it to see Ioannis Amanatidis back for Frankfurt? Gekas and him looked superb together despite the latter’s long injury absence, and that’s definitely something to look forward to for Frankfurt fans. Marco Russ put the hosts one-nil up after Mainz failed to clear a ball, but the away side hit back from the penalty spot through Andre Schuerrle after Halil Altintop brought the youngster down in the area. Frankfurt scored a penalty of their own to win the game just minutes before time though, when Jan Kirchhoff handled the ball in the area. Gekas stepped up and slotted it in, and the win puts Frankfurt back on track. Mainz have been far from their early season best, but they’re still up there and as long as they can pick up wins at home they’ll finish well above where they were expected to this season.
SC Freiburg 1 – 0 Hamburg SV
Guess who’s back? Papiss Cisse is! The Senegalese hitman put his side 1-0 up after just three minutes from after latching onto a free-kick, and then Freiburg held firm to deny their opponents. Cisse, as I’m sure everyone is aware, has been a revelation for Freiburg this season. His finishing ability inside the 18-yard box is superb, and his off the ball movement makes him a deadly poacher. Hamburg completely dominated possession and maybe should have scored a few, but Freiburg had their chances as well. Still, Veh’s side deserved more and they’ll rue missed opportunities here. The win puts Freiburg up to 5th, while Hamburg sink to 9th. Despite that, they’re still in the race for a European spot as long as they can turn their fortunes around quickly and take advantage of their rivals’ slip-ups.
VfB Stuttgart 1 – 1 TSG Hoffenheim
Well Stuttgart really could have won this, and they really do need it too because they’re still mired in the relegation zone. Sejad Salihovic put Hoffenheim one-nil up through an Andreas Beck cross, but Stuttgart got back on level terms through Martin Harnik on the counter-attack. Hoffenheim’s Isaac Vorsah was sent off just minutes before half-time, but Stuttgart were unable to take advantage of that, and they really should have. Any Stuttgart fans out there? How are you feeling about your side’s survival chances this season?
VfL Wolfsburg 0 – 0 Werder Bremen
I thought this game would have been a goal-fest. In the end, it was nowhere near as riveting as I was hoping it would be. The goalkeepers stole the show for both sides, producing numerous saves to deny their opponents. The big controversy came late in the second-half, when a penalty was awarded to Werder Bremen after Josue brought Philipp Bargfrede down in the box. Torsten Frings stepped up to put his side in for the win, but Diego Benaglio denied the German veteran. He’s missed three or four I think already this season, definitely not like him. Three minutes later, Sebastian Prodl brought Mario Mandzukic down in the area, and Edin Dzeko stepped up to slot it home. Unfortunately for the Bosnian and for his side, he smashed it well over the net and the game ended even on nil. This is not the start to the season Steve McClaren and his side were looking to make. The English tactician will want to head into the winter break for some time to rethink his tactics and organize his midfield, because they’ve been nowhere near their best.
Schalke 2 – 0 Bayern Munich
Here it is, the match we’d all been waiting for. Bayern Munich piled on the pressure in the first half, and maybe could have scored six if it wasn’t for Manuel Neuer between the sticks. Metzelder and Howedes played well, but their high-line was being caught out time and again for pace and Schalke really could have been dead and buried by the break. Still, the German number one proved his worth yet again and kept them in it. After the break, it was Schalke who were on the up. A long goal kick from Neuer was controlled well by Raul, who then wriggled past Breno and looked ready to score only for Huntelaar to knock him off his stride. Still, the ball fumbled away from the Spanish striker and landed at the feet of Jose Jurado, who blasted home and put Schalke in the driving seat. Ten minutes later, a Peer Kluge cross found Beni Howedes, whose header smashed the post. Luckily enough, Howedes reacted quickest and poked home from about a yard away. With Schalke two-nil up, it was up to Louis van Gaal to urge his side forward. Mario Gomez scored with minutes left on the clock and for me it was wrongly ruled offside, but it would have mattered little at that point. Bayern Munich lose more ground on their rivals, and it looks a nearly impossible task now for them to defend their Bundesliga title this season.