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Five things we learned in the Bundesliga

Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski netted a hat-trick as leaders Bayern Munich thrashed Hamburg 8-0 and RB Leipzig won again to keep up the pressure in second, while some of German football’s biggest names are in danger of the drop.

Here are five things we learned from the Bundesliga this weekend:

Bayern just love to beat Hamburg

Heading to Munich, Hamburg were sitting firmly in the relegation places and needed a win to leapfrog Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg to safety. What followed was a footballing lesson, although it probably shouldn’t come as such as a surprise for anyone who has watched these sides over the past few years. In the seven most recent encounters between Bayern and Hamburg, the German champions have scored an astonishing 44 goals and conceded only three. The Bavarians kept to the script, putting three past Hamburg by half-time and adding a further five after the break. Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti, celebrating his 1,000th game as a coach, called it a “perfect day, perfect game. The team was fantastic and I’m delighted”. Hamburg finish the weekend 16th of 18 teams and will need to improve fast if they want to maintain their record as the only Bundesliga side never to have played in the second division.

Goalscoring race heats up

While the Bundesliga table might look a little different in 2016-17 than in previous years — notably with RB Leipzig in second — there’s a fair sense of familiarity at the top of the goalscoring charts. Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are locked on top of the table with 19 goals apiece, with Lewandowski adding three and Aubameyang two over the weekend. Cologne’s Anthony Modeste sits in third with 17. Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel welcomed “Auba’s” return to form, saying that the Gabonese striker can fall victim to overthinking on the field. “We need an Aubameyang who doesn’t think too much and is constantly looking forward to his next goalscoring opportunity,” Tuchel said. “That’s the Aubameyang we need.” 

No late-season wobble from Leipzig 

After 22 games newly promoted RB Leipzig sit in second place in the Bundesliga table, just five points behind leaders Munich and eight ahead of third-placed Dortmund. After two straight losses against Dortmund and Hamburg, there were plenty of whispers that the newcomers might be set for a late-season wobble. But after back-to-back wins over Moenchengladbach and Cologne, the Red Bull-owned upstarts look almost guaranteed of qualifying for the Champions League in their first season in the top flight. And if they can close the gap on Bayern in the coming weeks, their home clash against the Bavarians in the penultimate week of the season might have telling implications for the Bundesliga title race.

Is Thomas Mueller back in business?

This season looks like being another successful one for Bayern Munich, as they’ve thundered towards another Bundesliga title while also sitting pretty in the Champions League and the German Cup. For local hero Thomas Mueller, however, the season has represented the first real form slump of his career. This year, his goal-scoring output has been significantly down. He broke a 999-minute goalscoring drought scoring in the Champions League against Arsenal, but still seems to be having trouble matching his high standards of seasons past. But after Bayern’s annihilation of Hamburg, is Mueller back? While he failed to get on the scoresheet, he turned provider, and was singled out for special praise from coach Ancelotti. “Thomas was the key man for us today. The best player on the field. He was involved in every attack,” Ancelotti gushed.

Germany’s big guns in danger

While smaller clubs like Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig sit towards the top of the table, a few of Germany’s traditionally large clubs are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone. While Darmstadt look all set for the drop, Schalke, Werder Bremen and Hamburg sit in 12th, 15th and 16th respectively. If one or more of those sides was to go down, particularly at the expense of the 17th-placed Ingolstadt — who were only created in 2004 — expect the debate about money versus tradition in German football to ignite.

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