Bundesliga Review – A Rather Odd Weekend in Germany

Hectic, bizarre, crazy.

All of these accurately describe the weekend’s action in the Bundesliga. Whether it was the eight goal thriller in Dortmund, the sacking in Leverkusen or the non-sacking in Cologne, it was hard to know which way to turn in Germany this weekend.

The best place to commence though is in the Ruhr where Stuttgart travelled to league leaders Borussia Dortmund. The visitors weren’t expected to lose heavily and usually when you concede four goals at Signal Iduna Park, you don’t win the game. However, Bruno Labbadia managed to take a draw from what was a mad encounter. Was für ein Spiel (which translates to “What a game”) trended on Twitter in Germany after the best game of the season so far.

It appeared to be going the way of a routine Dortmund victory. For this to occur, Shinji Kagawa must score, which he did in the first half and early in the second period, Jakub Blaszczykowski doubled the home side’s advantage. Now consider the fact Borussia Dortmund have only lost once in the Bundesliga when scoring two or more under Jürgen Klopp. Then take into account they’re also on a 21 match unbeaten run. The game was over so everyone thought – everyone but Stuttgart and Bruno Labbadia that is.

Not even the most ardent Swabian follower could have predicted the nine minute triple salvo that followed. Ibisevic slotted what script writers would have had down as “the consolation” with 19 minutes to go. Julian Schieber then shredded the script. He netted a determined equaliser, beating two defenders before sliding the ball past Weidenfeller and less than two minutes later Schieber had scored again putting Stuttgart in the lead.

“How dare they score, not once, not twice, BUT THRICE!” the silent Dortmund masses seemed to say. The Champions duly responded. Centre back Mats Hummels fired in from 20 yards with nine minutes to spare before substitute Ivan Perisic swept home what was presumed to be the winner in the 87th minute, at least the exuberant jumping figure of Jürgen Klopp suggested it would be. Yet, Stuttgart had the last laugh after some comical defending from Dortmund. Schmelzer collided with Hummels as he tried to clear. The ball fell to Christian Gentner who dummied before finding the top corner making it four all. Salvation for Stuttgart, disappointment for Dortmund.

A draw was of no use to them unless Bayern could drop points at Nuremberg – they didn’t. Arjen Robben’s strike ensured the Bavarians closed the gap on BVB to just three. What makes this result all the more enticing is that the meeting between the Bundesliga’s top two is in nine days. As Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich come ever closer in the table, the importance of the game at Signal Iduna Park on April 11th is only heightened.

It’s wasn’t just the highest echelons of the Bundesliga which produced drama this weekend though. Robin Dutt was sacked as Leverkusen coach after a 2-0 loss at home to his former employers Freiburg. It comes as Bayer fell to 7th in the table having lost their last four league games. His dismissal seems harsh considering Leverkusen face three of the most out of form sides in the Bundesliga – Hamburg, Kaiserslautern and Hertha Berlin. On appointment in June 2011, Dutt said, “I didn’t come to Leverkusen to turn a second-placed team into a fourth or fifth-placed team.” Ultimately these words came back to haunt him.

As if Dutt’s sacking wasn’t enough news off the pitch on April Fool’s Day, there was then the non-sacking of Cologne’s Stale Solbakken. The Billy Goats loss at Augsburg on Saturday saw them slip into the relegation play-off spot. Solbakken’s phone went off in the post match press conference where he told reporters it was his wife asking if he still had a job.

Yet did the Norwegian coach know rumours would circulate the next day that he had indeed been sacked with even Sky Sport in Germany reporting the story at one stage. However, Cologne released a statement later in the afternoon saying Solbakken would remain at the helm.

It was perhaps appropriate then that the Bundesliga would go from providing the sublime on Friday night to showing its ridiculous side on April Fools Day with the sacking shenanigans at Leverkusen and Cologne. As Sir Alex Ferguson said after beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in 1999, “Football – Bloody Hell!”

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Matchday 28 Results:

Borussia Dortmund 4-4 Stuttgart

Augsburg 2-1 Cologne

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Freiburg

Kaiserslautern 0-1 Hamburg

Nuremberg 0-1 Bayern Munich

Werder Bremen 0-3 Mainz

Hertha Berlin 1-4 Wolfsburg

Hannover 2-1 Gladbach

Hoffenheim 1-1 Schalke

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 28 19 6 3 63:21 +42 63 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 28 19 3 6 67:18 +49 60 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 28 17 3 8 61:35 +26 54 CL*
4 Borussia Mönchengladbach 28 15 6 7 41:20 +21 51 CL* Qual.
5 Hannover 96 28 10 11 7 37:39 -2 41 EL* Qual.
6 VfB Stuttgart 28 11 7 10 48:38 +10 40 EL* Qual.
7 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 28 11 7 10 39:38 +1 40 EL* Qual.
8 SV Werder Bremen 28 11 7 10 41:43 -2 40
9 VfL Wolfsburg 28 12 4 12 40:49 -9 40
10 1899 Hoffenheim 28 8 10 10 32:39 -7 34
11 1. FSV Mainz 05 28 8 9 11 42:44 -2 33
12 1. FC Nuremberg 28 9 4 15 25:39 -14 31
13 SC Freiburg 28 8 7 13 37:53 -16 31
14 FC Augsburg 28 6 12 10 30:42 -12 30
15 Hamburger SV 28 7 9 12 32:50 -18 30
16 1. FC Köln 28 8 4 16 35:58 -23 28 Play-offs
17 Hertha BSC Berlin 28 6 8 14 30:52 -22 26 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 28 3 11 14 17:39 -22 20 Relegation

Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website